The Last of the Welsh Coal Trains (Key Publishing)

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A portrait of the last trains to haul coal from the South Wales mines, by Chris Davies.

Despite the substantial decline of coal mining in the UK over the last three decades, coal was still a vital energy source for the nation’s power stations until the second decade of the twenty-first century. In South Wales, Aberthaw power station had been the principal customer for domestic coal, but a tradition of using South Wales coal that had lasted more than half a century ended in 2017 when imported coal began to be used instead. It marked the beginning of the end for the power station, which finally closed in late 2019.

In 2020, coal was still mined in South Wales and supplied by rail to Tata steel in Port Talbot, to British Steel’s Scunthorpe works, to Breedon cement works in Derbyshire and to Immingham for export. Although substantial amounts of coal were still required for the UK’s steel and cement industry, the future of rail-borne coal remained uncertain with the trend towards more eco-friendly forms of energy.

The Last of the Welsh Coal Trains looks at the remaining coaling operations that were active in South Wales from 2013 to early 2020. It includes 195 colour photographs of coal trains running to and from the mine sites through the scenic South Wales Valleys, and along the picturesque Vale of Glamorgan line along the coast to Aberthaw.

The opening pages of the book contain a brief history of coal mining in South Wales, followed by six further chapters covering:

  • South Wales Coal Flows 2013-2020
  • Cwmbargoed
  • Tower
  • Onllwyn
  • Gwaum-Cae-Gurwen
  • Aberthaw Power Station

Most of the photographs are presented in two-per-page format and all are accompanied by detailed captions. 128 pages.

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