Amgueddfa Blog: Diwydiant a Trafnidiaeth

Dyma rhai o'r tywyswyr Big Pit - Barry Stevenson, Richard Phillips a Len Howells - i rannu atgofion o weithio yn y pyllau glo.

Mae'r ffilmiau yn cynnwyd lluniau o'r Casgliad Cornwell. Fe'u cynhyrchwyd yn wreiddiol i'r arddangosfa 'Bernd a Hilla Becher: Delweddau Diwydiant', ynghyd â'r ffilm yma am yr offer weindio:

Yn ystod mis Medi 2019, cwblhawyd gwaith atgyweirio, glanhau a phaentio ar offer weindio Big Pit. Gwyliwch y broses yn y ffilm timelapse isod.

Mae angen gwaith adfer ar yr offer i osgoi niwed a chyrydu. Mae’r gwaith yn sicrhau bod ymwelwyr yn medru parhau i fwynhau profiad tanddaearol unigryw'r Amgueddfa, a bod Big Pit yn medru parhau i adrodd hanes pwysig dylanwad y pyllau glo ar gymunedau, y gymdeithas a'r byd diwydiannol.

Mae'r ffilm hon am yr offer weindio yn dangos sut mae popeth yn gweithio:

Cefnogir y project gan Gronfa Treftadaeth y Loteri Genedlaethol a grant adfer gan y Gymdeithas Archaeoleg Ddiwydiannol.

Saturday 6th October 2019 8.30am

I took my breakfast cereal into the living room and looked out at the sky for any hint of what the weather might do. It had been raining and very windy for days, the remnants of hurricane ‘Lorenzo’ had been battering Wales all week. The sky was cloudy, a hint of drizzle against the glass and the weeping willow in our front garden was doing a samba.

Today I had more than a passing interest in the forecast as I had a boat trip planned for later that morning, in a very special boat.

The Ferryside Lifeboat to be precise, a 6.4 metre long RIB, the ‘Freemason’ which cost about £90,000, £50,000 of which was donated by the Freemasons, hence the name.

The crew had bought all new safety suits and gear and had offered the museum one of their old suits for our maritime collection. We jumped at the chance to acquire this very important piece of our seagoing history. One of the crew members is Mark Lucas who happens to be Curator of Wool at the National Woollen Museum in Drefach Velindre, Carmarthenshire and it was at his suggestion that the suit be donated to us. The lifeboat crew were running sea trials that morning and had asked me to go along to experience the conditions for myself and collect the gear.

We have three lifeboats in the National Collection, two of these have wooden hulls and in 2011 we collected a RIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) from Atlantic College in St Donats, where the original RIB design was created and patented by the college. So the fact that the suit was from a RIB crew made it even more special.

Eleven o’clock found us at the Lifeboat Station on the Towy Estuary in Ferryside. The Ferryside Lifeboat is an independent station, as are many around our coastline, and not funded by the RNLI. Just like the RNLI they are run by volunteers and rely on donations and grants.

The crew were gathering and getting changed into their ‘new’ suits and they had one for me to wear too. Now, getting into a ‘dry suit’ is no easy task, especially for a novice like me. To say it was a struggle is an understatement, and after ten minutes of performing like a contortionist and the ensemble heckling me that

‘people are drowning come on!’

It was then they decided that I needed a bigger suit. Hmm…

The weather by this time wasn’t too bad, a slight wind and light rain and the estuary looked fairly calm, this was indicated by the fact that the new ferry was sailing between Llansteffan and Ferryside.

‘That looks OK, not too rough’ I thought to myself, and it was OK in the estuary…

The giant Talus tractor pushed the lifeboat the ‘Freemason’ down the slipway and into the water. I was already installed by this point having been pushed unceremoniously over the rubber tube by the crew as I struggled to climb aboard in an extra 20 kilos of suit and gear. The rest of the crew climbed aboard (easily) and we set off.

As I thought the estuary was fairly quiet, but the coxswain pointed out to sea where I could see large white breakers rolling in over a sandbar which runs roughly from Laugharne to St Ishmaels.

‘That’s where we are going, it’s a bit lively out there, all good fun though’.

It was very lively. The crew put the boat through its paces doing figure eights and three-sixty manoeuvres, all at high speed whilst I hung on tightly and braced myself against the G-force of the turns. The boat will do 30 knots flat out, about 26 miles an hour, which doesn’t seem fast in a car on the road but in a boat is a different matter.

I kept thinking how brave these guys are to come out in all weathers and try and rescue people. The sea we were in wasn’t that rough and it was broad daylight. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like in a gale and in the dark.

Eventually we headed in and back to the comparatively flat calm of the river Towy. My trip was over and what an experience!

We headed for the Lifeboat Station and the crew presented me with a dry suit, life jacket, radio and GPS locator which are now part of the National Collection and on display at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea.

Ymlaen â ni â blwyddyn ryngwladol tabl cyfnodol yr elfennau cemegol ac, ar gyfer mis Medi, rydym wedi dewis carbon. Gellir dadlau mai carbon - mewn glo - yw’r elfen a gafodd y dylanwad mwyaf ar dirwedd adeiledig a diwylliant Cymru.

Meysydd Glo Cymru

Am ryw ganrif a hanner, cafodd y diwydiant glo ddylanwad enfawr ar hanes diwydiannol, gwleidyddol a chymdeithasol Cymru. Erbyn 1911, roedd 2,400,000 o bobl yn byw yng Nghymru, sef dros bedair gwaith yn fwy na’r  587,000 oedd yn byw yma yn 1801. Dylanwad y diwydiant glo oedd yn gyfrifol am y cynnydd bron i gyd: naill ai’n uniongyrchol trwy greu swyddi yn y glofeydd neu drwy ddiwydiannau oedd yn dibynnu ar lo fel tanwydd (e.e. cynhyrchu dur).

Mae dau brif faes glo yng Nghymru, un yn y gogledd-ddwyrain a’r llall yn y de.  Glo anweddol iawn, sy’n rhwymo’n gryf neu’n weddol gryf, oedd yn cael ei gynhyrchu’n bennaf ym maes glo’r gogledd sydd â hanes maith o gynhyrchu glo. Erbyn 1913, roedd yn cynhyrchu tua 3,000,000 tunnell y flwyddyn ond bu dirywiad araf wedi hynny.  Caewyd glofa olaf yr ardal, y Parlwr Du, yn 1996.

Mae maes glo’r de yn helaethach nag un y gogledd.  Mae’n fasn synclin hir sy’n ymestyn o Bont-y-pŵl yn y dwyrain i Rydaman yn y gorllewin, gyda darn ar wahân yn Sir Benfro. Mae’n mesur tua 1,000 milltir sgwâr i gyd.

Mae maes glo’r de’n enwog am fod yno wahanol fathau o lo, yn amrywio o lo meddal i wneud golosg a nwy, glo stêm, glo stêm sych, a glo caled. Câi’r gwahanol fathau eu defnyddio at wahanol ddibenion: mewn cartrefi, cynhyrchu stêm, cynhyrchu nwy a golosg a mwyndoddi copr, haearn a dur.

Roedd toeau brau a rhai ag uniadau llac yn fwy cyffredin ym maes glo’r de nag ym meysydd eraill Prydain ac felly byddai damweiniau’n digwydd yn aml wrth i doeau ac ochrau gwympo. Mae’r gwythiennau dwfn yn ‘danllyd’ iawn hefyd gan arwain at drychinebau lu. Rhwng 1850 ac 1920, yng Nghymru y bu traean o holl farwolaethau diwydiant glo’r Deyrnas Unedig. Mewn cyfnod cymharol fyr, rhwng 1890 ac 1913, cafwyd 27 o drychinebau glofaol mawr yn y Deyrnas Unedig, 13 ohonynt yn y de, yn cynnwys y ffrwydrad yng Nglofa’r Universal, Senghenydd, lle bu farw 439 o ddynion – y nifer fwyaf i golli eu bywydau mewn trychineb lofaol yn y Deyrnas Unedig.  Ychydig o drychinebau mawr fu yn y gogledd ond, yn 1934, lladdwyd 266 o ddynion mewn ffrwydrad yng Nglofa Gresffordd, y trychineb gwaethaf ond dau yn hanes y diwydiant glo yng Nghymru.

Mae glo stêm a glo caled o dde Cymru’n wahanol i lo o wythiennau eraill am fod partins (’slipiau’) yn digwydd yn aml ar ongl o ryw 45 gradd rhwng y llawr a’r to.  Roedd hyn yn golygu bod y glo’n eithaf hawdd i’w gloddio am ei fod yn syrthio mewn blociau mawr.  Fodd bynnag, roedd y glo mawr wedi’i orchuddio â llwch mân, sef prif achos niwmoconiosis neu glefyd y llwch, a oedd yn fwy cyffredin ym maes glo’r de nag yn unrhyw faes glo arall yn y Deyrnas Unedig. Yn 1962, roedd 40.7% o holl lowyr y de yn dioddef o’r clefyd.

Datblygodd perthynas glòs rhwng y diwydiant glo a’r gymuned leol.  Mewn llawer o bentrefi roedd bron bawb yn gweithio yn y pwll glo. Ym Morgannwg a Sir Fynwy, roedd hanner yr holl ddynion oedd yn gweithio yn ymwneud yn uniongyrchol â’r diwydiant glo ac mewn mannau fel y Rhondda a Maesteg gallai’r ganran fod mor uchel â 75%.

Oherwydd daeareg a daearyddiaeth neilltuol yr ardal, roedd glowyr y de yn araf i ymuno ag undeb. Fodd bynnag, ar ôl methiant digalon streic 1898, daeth angen am undod ac, erbyn 1914, Ffederasiwn Glowyr De Cymru (“y Ffed”) oedd yr undeb llafur mwyaf, â bron 200,000 o aelodau.

O ddechrau’r 1920au tan yr Ail Ryfel Byd, aeth meysydd glo Cymru trwy ddirwasgiad maith gan fod llongau wedi dechrau defnyddio olew a bod meysydd glo wedi’u datblygu dramor. Cwympodd nifer y glowyr o 270,000 i 130,000. Cafodd y diwydiant ei wladoli ar ôl y rhyfel a gwelwyd newidiadau enfawr wrth i dechnegau ac offer newydd gael eu cyflwyno. Roedd mwy o bwyslais ar ddiogelwch erbyn hyn ond roedd y meysydd glo’n dal yn fannau peryglus. Yn 1960, bu farw 45 o ddynion yng Nglofa’r Six Bells, bu farw 31 yng Nglofa’r Cambrian yn 1965 ac efallai mai’r drychineb fwyaf oedd colli 144 o bobl, yn cynnwys 116 o blant, pan lithrodd tomen lo yn Aberfan.

Erbyn yr 1980au, roedd bygythiad y byddai llawer o’r pyllau’n cau. Ym mis Mawrth 1984, dechreuodd y streic fawr olaf gan bara am 12 mis. Ar ôl i Undeb Cenedlaethol y Glowyr gael ei drechu, roedd pyllau glo’n cau yn rheolaidd. Erbyn canol yr 1990au, roedd mwy o amgueddfeydd glofaol nag o byllau glo dwfn gweithiol yng Nghymru.  Caewyd y pwll dwfn olaf, Glofa’r Tŵr, ym mis Ionawr 2008. Daeth un o’r dylanwadau pwysicaf ar fywyd cymdeithasol, diwydiannol a gwleidyddol Cymru i ben.

A few years ago the chemical works BP Baglan Bay called me and said they were clearing out the offices as the site was closing and would I like to see if the museum wanted any objects for our Modern Industry collection?

I couldn’t wait to go and have a look, and as there was quite a lot to go through I took our museum van in the hope of a few accessions.

There were lots of photographs, some in frames, some big aerial photos too. There were overalls, hats and jackets with logos on them – just the sort of things that tell a great story when exhibited for displays.

There were tools specific to the industry and other bits and pieces like signs and gauges.

I loaded a few things in the van to take back to the museum so I could go through them to decide what we would like to keep and what should be returned.

But as I was about to leave they called me back and asked if I wanted the paintings? I hadn’t noticed these as they were covered in bubble wrap and stood against a wall.

One of the paintings was quite big, about 4’6”x 6’ (1.5 x 2.1m) and I couldn’t see the subject for the wrapping. The other was much smaller about 2’ x 2’6” (0.6 x 0.76m). I was told the bigger one was an oil painting of Baglan Bay at Night and the smaller one a watercolour of a power station. I put them in the van, got the paperwork signed and left for our stores in Nantgarw where I could spread things out and examine them properly.

About a week went by and I still hadn’t looked at the paintings as I had been going through all the other objects first.

When I did take the bubble wrap off I was really surprised by the quality of both paintings. The oil painting was really striking and the BP staff had told me that it had hung in the office since the 1960s.

I looked for a painter’s signature and then the real surprise hit me! In the bottom corner was ‘Vicari’.

Bells rang deep in my head, where did I know that name from? A quick internet search answered that. The richest living artist in the world. The official Gulf War artist. Artist to the Saudi Royal family. And born in Port Talbot. This fitted my collecting policy perfectly, being an industrial scene in Wales painted by a Welsh artist. The only snag from my point of view was that it could be quite valuable and BP might want to keep it.

I contacted them straight away and told them about the artist and its possible value. One of their directors, David, called me and told me that they were happy it would be going to the National Museum of Wales and he couldn’t think of a better place for it.  This generosity meant that we could save a national treasure for future generations.

So far we had treated the painting as if it were a genuine ‘Vicari’, but was it really?

I contacted the ‘Vicari’ website and sent them an image of our painting asking them if they could confirm if Andrew had painted it.

I checked my email every day. No replies. How else could we confirm this if they didn’t get back to us?

One sunny morning about three weeks later my phone rang. I could tell from the number it was someone in France calling. This was not unusual as we have many visits from French schools and as my schoolboy French is just about good enough to get by, my number was very often given to schools as a contact.

After answering with who I was, a deep, rich voice said:

‘Ah, Andrew here, I hear you’ve found the lost Vicari’

I couldn’t believe it! Andrew Vicari calling me from his home in France! To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement!

Andrew told me he had painted Baglan in the early 1960s and was really glad of the commission at the time (when he wasn’t so well known). We spoke for about half an hour about all sorts of things and he went on to tell me an incredible  story from 1966.

Andrew had painted a picture that was to be auctioned for the Aberfan Disaster Appeal and went along to the auction in Cardiff. Before it got underway, two burly men approached Andrew and said someone needed to talk to him in private. He was shown to a room and waiting there were two more men in sharp suits, looking a bit ‘dodgy’ (his words). These two told him they wanted to buy the painting, and asked how much did he want for it? He told them that it wasn’t his to sell as he’d given to the appeal and it was out of his hands. They kept on that they wanted it and he needed to get it for them. They were getting more and more insistent. After repeating that he couldn’t a number of times, they finally left, to Andrew’s relief.

It turned out that they were the Kray twins! He laughed ‘I’m one of the few people to have said ‘no’ to the Kray twins and lived to tell the tale!’

He told me that he was very happy his painting was going to be in the National collection and that he would do anything for Wales!

We never had the chance to speak again; sadly Andrew died in Swansea, in 2016 aged 84. It’s lovely that we have such incredible paintings to remember him by.

This story happened in 2009 and the painting has been in our stores in Nantgarw where is has been conserved and a new glazed frame made. We’ve been waiting for a chance to exhibit it and finally it will happen.

You can see the painting as part of an Andrew Vicari exhibition from 13th July to 3rd November 2019 at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.