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Llay Main Colliery

Llay Main Colliery

Llay was a rural area during the war. Its war memorial records that only one local man was killed in the war. After the armistice, work resumed on digging the shaft for the new Llay Main colliery, which opened in 1921 and became Wales’s largest deep coal mine. Llay main colliery, once the largest pit in Wales and after the No. 1 shaft (downcast) was deepened to over 1000 yards in the 50’s the deepest winding shaft in the country. Its massive steam winding engine had a conical winding drum instead of a balance rope to aid equilibrium.

Hundreds of houses were built for the large numbers of miners and other workers and their families.

Soon the population justified its own church, which initially came under the parish of Gresford. In 1944 St Martin’s Church became the parish church of Llay.

The church is dedicated to St Martin, a fourth-century Roman soldier who converted to Christianity after dreaming of Christ wearing the half of his cloak which he had given to a beggar. He became Bishop of Tours, France. In the Middle Ages, a garment said to be Martin’s cappa (cloak) was taken around Europe. Shacks known as capelli were erected to house the cloak on its travels, and the word chapel (capel in Welsh) comes from this.

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