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Bersham Colliery

Bersham Colliery was a large coal mine located near Rhostyllen. When the colliery first opened it was named Glan-yr-Afon Colliery and run by Bersham Coal Company. The first shaft was sunk in 1864 on the site of a brickworks immediately adjacent to the Shrewsbury to Chester railway line, however due to difficulties the pit did not reach the main coal seams and the site was left abandoned until 1871 when the pit was deepened by new owners, the Barnes family of Liverpool. Coal production started in 1874 with two shafts.

By 1908 there were 848 men working at the colliery and the local communities of Rhostyllen, Rhosllannerchrugog and Johnstown grew dramatically in size to support the coal industry in the area. Until mechanisation appearing in the mine in 1935, mining at the colliery was done by hand.

On 1 January 1947, along with the rest of the coal industry, Bersham was nationalised and placed under the control of the National Coal Board. The colliery was immediately modernised, completed in 1954 with a new block housing new pithead baths, canteen and offices designed to cater for up to 1,100 men. The pit ponies at Bersham numbering near 100, which had been underground for most, if not all of their lives, were retired in the same year and replaced with mechanical traction. The colliery reached its largest size in 1958, with 1,011 men employed at the site. In 1961, more mechanisation was brought into the mine, including conveyor belts to convey coal to the surface faster.

Bersham Colliery was closed with the loss of 480 jobs in December 1986 due to unfavourable economic conditions and loss of markets. The large amounts of equipment still underground meant that salvage operations continued into 1987 however a great deal was left in place.

The most obvious memorial to the generations of miners at Bersham Colliery is that of its spoil tip, known as Bersham Tip, which recently hit the news with the addition of a Hollywood-like sign ‘Wrexham’ which, after a furore about its origin, turned out to be an advertisement for Vanarama, who were using the takeover of Wrexham AFC by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney to publicise both their own van hire business and the National League, whom they sponsor.

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