28DL Full Member
Was on a brief trip to South Wales with little planning recently when I came across this gem. Having already seen Cwm Cokery, I was struggling to find more industrial ruins to go and see. After having a look at Penallta and Navigation Collieries, albiet unable to gain access, as well as quick stops at Big Pit and the Blaenavon iron works, we found ourselves on somewhat of an industrial colliery tour of SE wales. Luckily, this bad boy sprang to my attention and didn't seem to have been documented thoroughly before, so I decided to clamber in and hope for the best. This was wishful thinking as the place was extremely attention-seeking along a main street, and looked frankly a bit grim from the exterior. Expecting to be greeted with a proverbial 'twll cachu', we ventured through the first couple of rooms to be greeted by an impressively large room which I would imagine was either the stripped bathroom or more-likely a locker room (any suggestions please add). There was also a short tower with a nice staircase, which I would imagine was some kind of water tower. Not in the greatest condition, this was still an unexpectedly large find with a few nice details and not much actual trash thrown in so fortunately the awkward ninja-ing had paid off.
These baths were built in 1941, quite late after the actual colliery began way back in 1850. I suppose the need for hygiene was not on the priority list for the coalminers of Llanhilleth. Essentially, pit head baths were constructed so that miners could wash themselves clean after a hard days work after being blackened with coal, and were also used for locker storage of any possessions and 'good' clothes which they might change into so they could return home or hit the town in a somewhat presentable manner. This is my understanding at least, don't quote me. The colliery closed fairly early in 1969 and the baths stood derelict since which the rest of the colliery was largely removed without trace. Whilst the baths are one of the few monuments remained of the colliery, their position and fairly utilitarian design has led to them being seen as an eyesore amongst many locals. Their owner refuses to let them loose into the hands of residential developers despite pressure from the council, having objected a compulsory purchase order in 2007. He claimed to intend to develop them into a kind of factory, but this intention never materialised. In 2021, new debate has emerged including the possibility of redevelopment again. Some locals still would like the site to be recognised better for its heritage. Like many abandonments, its future remains in a state of uncertainty.
Stalactites and stalagmites form from the salt leaching from the rain-soaked concrete
The perception of the baths as an eyesore is not unreasonable considering it faces residences
Some areas of the baths had become heavily damaged by the damp
My favourite shot
The main large area - possibly locker room
Bonus shot of the nearby Penallta Colliery remains