Universal Colliery was a coal mine located in the town of Senghenydd in the Aber Valley, roughly four miles north-west of the town of Caerphilly. It is within the county borough of Caerphilly, traditionally within the county of Glamorgan, Wales.
Opened in 1891, it became a ventilation facility for the Windsor Colliery in 1928 before complete closure in 1988.
Senghenydd, along with its neighbouring town Abertridwr, make up the majority of the Aber Valley, and became urbanised in the 1890s, when the Universal (1891) and Windsor collieries were sunk in the region, along with the 1891 opening of the Rhymney Railway's Senghenydd extension branch.
The colliery was developed and owned by William Thomas Lewis. As he pressed the development of the mine to greater depths for access to thicker seams of steam coal, in 1901 an explosion at the colliery killed 81 men. The Mines Inspectorate were highly critical of Thomas-Lewis for not improving safety. In 1911, Thomas Lewis was created 1st Baron Merthyr. The Mines Inspectorate gave Thomas Lewis an extended deadline of September 1913 to complete the safety plan implementation, but again this deadline was missed.
The Windsor Colliery was closed in November 1986.
Universal Colliery suffered the first of two major gas and coal dust explosions on 24 May, 1901. Damage was sustained to both shafts, resulting in a restricted rescue attempt, and 81 of the 82 men working in the mine were killed.
On the 14 October, 1913, Senghenydd suffered from what would become the very worst mining disaster and the single worst industrial accident in Britain's history, when a second gas explosion occurred, resulting in the loss of 439 lives. Nevertheless, many of the surviving miners went back to help their workmates who were either trapped or buried alive.
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) page 2 ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6
- Welsh Coal Mines website
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) page 809 ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6