Six Bells grew up as a village in the middle part of the 19th century
with the small collection of houses and cottages probably taking their
name from the Six Bells pub itself. Most of the village was within the
Llanhilleth parish which was separated from Aberystruth parish
(containing Abertillery) by a boundary that ran up through Cwm
Nant-y-Groes, marked by small wooden crosses that gave the stream its
name (nant-y-groes - stream of the cross).
Another local watering hole was the
Coronation pub which lay within Aberystruth parish and which
later was renamed (and likely rebuilt) the Coach and Horses. The
oldest parts of Six Bells still remain around High Street.
Early employment would have been provided
by the small Hafod Fan pit. This became defunct but a greater deep mine
was established at the end of the 19th century by John Lancaster and
company with the Arael Griffin colliery bringing its first coal to the
surface in 1898. Three years earlier in the sinking of the mine, four
men lost their lives as their bowk capsized, sending them hurtling to
the bottom of the shaft. It was not to be the end of tragedies at Six
Bells culminating in the awful disaster of June 1960 (click here).
As the Arael Griffin pit expanded, new
houses were erected such as Arael, Griffin and Lancaster Streets, this
time under the auspices of the Abertillery Urban District which had
swallowed up the village. The Vivian Colliery had also opened just a few
years earlier in 1891 with a massive influx of new workers, and by the
early twentieth century, the newly-built Alexandra Road and Richmond
Road eventually joined together Abertillery and Six Bells.
Once again Abertillery Online is very
much indebted to its contributors from around the world. Most of the
pictures below have been sent by Abertillery and Six Bells ex-pats and
give a feel of the history and characters that shaped Six Bells.
Six Bells Cycling Club 1905
Back row: Left to right
G Radford, O Oldland, Jack Powell, Tom Powell, Jabe Davies, unknown,
unknown, G Cook, Rideout, William Brown, Yendell, J Redwood
Middle. left to right:
Phil Lewis, Mark Blacker, H Edwards, A Redwood, J Triller, C Moore,
F Dayton, Jim Challenger
Front, left to right.
unknown, Phil Powell, Watt Davies, Geo Boucher
This photograph is of the prize-winning
club, taken by A & G Taylor of Newport.
William Brown, the third gentleman from the
right in the back row, opened
the first newsagents in the Western valley in 1888
at what became the eponymous Brown's Corner
(see bottom image and
here).The image was very kindly supplied by one of
his grandchildren, Rob Brown
Six Bells circa 1920
This postcard image shows the Arael
Griffin Colliery in full flow at the start of the twentieth century.
Behind the old village of Six Bells is
clearly visible with new houses being built at Windsor Road up
towards Cwm Nant-y-Groes (click
Six Bells School circa 1916-22
The image and details were very
kindly supplied by Maggie Ganderton who now lives in
Australia. Her mother and aunt (Daisy and
Muriel Meredith) were pupils at the school around that time.
Six Bells school 1928
Muriel Meredith is second from the right
(middle row) and on her right is Sian Galey's mother who went on to
run the drapery shop in Bridge Street.
The image and details were very kindly
supplied by Maggie Ganderton
Nurse Daisy Wilcox
here in Windsor Road around 1948, she continued to work as district
nurse in Six Bells and Brynithel areas until her retirement in 1970s.(click
here). Image and details very kindly
supplied by Maggie Ganderton
Whitsun walks, 1961
and details very kindly supplied by Maggie Ganderton. She writes:
'There are one or two names I remember--Elizabeth Evans (our next
door neighbour in the 1950s),Alison T Scotney and Denise Trim (I was
at school with her) and we are just passing Mr & Mrs Tossell's shop!
I wonder if anyone else
recognises themselves or anyone in these photos!!'
Whitsun walks, 1961
Image and details very kindly
supplied by Maggie Ganderton (see above)
Six Bells Colliery, late 1970s
A winter's image of the colliery
with mist and smoke obscuring the view up the valley. Picture by Phil Mason
(now in Australia)
A snowy Brown's Corner, 1981
The road to Brynithel looks blocked
as winter grips the area. The Newsagents on the corner established
by William Brown (see top image) is barricaded by snow though there
seems to be a slight gap for the doorway to the Six Bells Hotel. Picture by Steve Mason
Old Shop and Post Office with Hafod
Fan tramway, very early 1900s
This shows the view facing
the other way back around Brown's Corner. The shop with people stood
in its doorway was at one time the post office for Six Bells.
In the background, the disused
tramway leading up the mountainside used to take waste, visible at
the top, probably from the Hafod Fan pit. Two small quarries were
also created either side of the tramway in the late 1800s. Picture supplied kindly by