Welsh: Y Porth
Rheola Bridge, Porth
|Council:||Rhondda Cynon Taf|
Porth is a small town in the Rhondda Valley of Glamorgan. At Porth the Rhondda Fawr and Rhondda Fach valleys meet and the town calls itself the gateway to those valleys: the name "porth" means "gate".
Porth grew around the coal mining industry during the late 19th to mid 20th centuries though all the coal mines in the area have since closed. The Rhondda Heritage Park in Trehafod, which celebrates the history of the Rhondda coal mining past, is situated near the town.
Tynewydd Colliery disaster
On 11 April 1877 the Tynewydd Colliery was the scene of a mine disaster that led to a notable mine rescue operation following which four first-class and twenty-one second-class Albert Medals for Lifesaving were awarded.
Approximately 100 miners were employed at the mine but only fourteen were working underground at the crucial moment on that day. A build-up of water in old workings of the neighbouring Cymmer Colliery flooded into the Tynewydd mine.
Four of the trapped miners were rescued after eighteen hours but a fifth, William Morgan, was crushed to death by an escape of compressed air. Four other miners were drowned.. The remaining five (Daffyd Jenkins, Moses Powell, George Jenkins, John Thomas and the boy David Hughes) were located behind a thirty-eight yards thick barrier of coal with a large quantity of water and compressed air and probably gas behind it. It took four days to cut through the barrier until on 19 April only a few yards remained. At this stage operations were halted because there was a danger of pent-up water behind the barrier bursting through. In spite of this danger four, or alternatively five, of the rescuers volunteered to continue, according to some reports Daniel Thomas, Isaac Pride, John William Howell and William Beith.
(There is some confusion over the number and names of the rescuers - Daniel Thomas, listed as one of those awarded the first-class medal, is referred to as owner of Brithweunydd Level., the Tynewydd colliery owner is reported to have been considered for but not awarded a first-class medal because of his impending trial on manslaughter charges albeit that he was acquitted, and Gwilym Thomas is seen in a photograph of "three of the rescuers" with Isaac Pride and Abraham "Abby" Dodd.)
An escape of inflammable gas under pressure extinguished the rescue team's Davy lamps but they continued working in darkness. At 3.00 p.m. on 20 April the breakthrough occurred.
Because of the problems posed by the potential escape of air under pressure, the mine engineers erected stout air doors to contain any escaping air and gas and confine possible explosions. One was built within a yard of the face. Isaac Pride who volunteered to break through the barrier had to work within a very confined space. A blast of air was released as his pick broke through and threw him back against the air door, but he quickly set about enlarging the hole, assisted by "Abby" Dodd.
They found the five trapped miners too weak to stand. Between them Pride and Dodd pulled the five to safety as the water level rose.
It is claimed that "Abby" Dodd was not awarded an Albert Medal because of an interview he gave to a journalist criticising the colliery owners, at a time when there had been considerable conflict in the Welsh coal mines between miners and owners.
The Albert Medals awarded at Tynewydd were the first awarded for gallantry on land. The medal had been introduced a decade earlier to honour heroic lifesaving efforts in rescues at sea. The Albert Medal First Class awarded to William Beith can be seen as part of the permanent exhibition in the Coins and Medals Gallery at the National Museum of Wales in Cathays Park, Cardiff. William Beith was a mechanical engineer at Harris's Navigation Colliery, Quaker's Yard, Merthyr Tydfil.
The town today
Today the main internal economy of Porth is retail and the centre of Porth is home to the shopping district based around Hannah Street. Most other business are located on nearby Pontypridd Road and Porth Street. Presently, Porth is home to around 6,000 people living in different areas of the town, namely Birchgrove, Britannia, Cymmer, Glynfach, Llwyncelyn, Mount Pleasant and Porth town centre.
Porth crater on Mars is named after the town.
Sport and leisure
- Rugby: Porth Harlequins RFC
- Football: AFC Porth
- Rallying: The South Wales Automobile Club, is based in Porth. They are the organisers of the RDp Welsh Rally, which first ran in 1937 and has seen many top international rally drivers taking part over the years.
- BBC Radio 4 Making History 3 June 2009
- ‘’My Tribute to the Rhondda’’ by Gareth Williams
- http://sites.google.com/site/minesrescuehistory/disasters-1800-to-1899/the-oaks-barnsley-1866/tynewydd-1877 "Heroes of Mine" website, accessed 15 December 2010
- Welsh Coal Mines: Tynewydd
- ‘’The Tynewydd Colliery Disaster’’ by Judy Sopronyi
- "New Gallery Honours Rescue", Western Mail, 12 April 1990