10 years after Tower Colliery shut, what next for the site?

The headframe of Tower Colliery

January 25 marks ten years since the closure of Tower Colliery in Hirwaun.

The pit was reopened by its miners in 1995 and ran successfully for thirteen years, finally closing after workable coal reserves were exhausted in 2008.

Now there are plans to transform the area for housing and a business park.

  • Watch my report from Wales at Six below:

Chairman Tyrone O'Sullivan, who led the buyout of the pit in 1994/95, says the site's legacy is as strong as ever.

This was an international issue. We weren't going to close Tower Colliery. They weren't going to take it off us easily. The emotion was there with the men.

There's no doubt we shook the world up. The system shook the world up. We proved that ordinary working guys could make a difference.

– Tyrone O'Sullivan
Tyrone O'Sullivan by the Tower headframe

Coal extraction at the Tower opencast site came to an end in 2017, after changes in environmental regulations meant principal client Aberthaw Power Station would no longer take its coal.

Tyrone O'Sullivan hopes the long heralded redevelopment of the site can now go ahead.

The opencast site will be redeveloped for housing and business use

While the pithead buildings near the Tower shaft will be preserved, the bulk of the redevelopment would see the opencast site landscaped and reused.

The pit closed with a celebratory march in January 2008

Mining historian Dr Ben Curtis says the success of the Tower buyout vindicated many of the arguments made by miners.

The winding down of the industry in the UK, was done in a much more headlong and rapid kind of way than the much more managed process elsewhere in Germany and France.

Rsearch has been done which shows the difficulty of regenerating the South Wales coalfield, and shows that they were right to want to hang on to the pits and work them, and in the case of Tower, work them at a profit.

– Dr Ben Curtis