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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Site launch lights up mining past
Miner's lamp
The miner's lamp is one of the potent Welsh symbols
The boss of Wales's last remaining deep coal mine officially launched a website celebrating one of the country's most emotive symbols - the miner's lamp.

Tyrone O'Sullivan of Tower Colliery opened first website of its kind to chart the history of the lamps.

Tower colliery
Workers at Tower bought the site out
They are still produced by Aberdare-based E. Thomas and Williams - the world's oldest miners' lamp manufacturer.

Mr O'Sullivan, who launched an employee buyout of closure-threatened Tower in Hirwaun in 1994, put the spotlight on the website at the Rhondda Heritage Park, the site of the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery, on Wednesday.

Simon Donovan, managing director of family-owned E. Thomas and Williams, said: "Our lamps have been exported to every country in which coal mining has taken place.

"We have a vast archive of material and information spanning two centuries in which miners's lamps have been a major part of our industrial history.

"I am delighted that the partnership has created this important new cultural and educational site."

Lamp heritage

The Welsh Miners's Lamp Heritage Partnership, formed to create the website, was led by the Rhondda office of the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce.

Other partners in the project included the University of Glamorgan, web design company MAWR and ntl who hosted the site.

We have a vast archive of material and information spanning two centuries in which miners's lamps have been a major part of our industrial history

Simon O'Donovan, lamp site owner
As the only approved manufacturer of safety lamps in Wales, ETW produces 21st-century safety lamps which are still in use at Tower Colliery and other mines throughout the world.

Despite the decline of the Welsh coalfield, sales of the Welsh lamps produced at their Cambrian Lamp Works factory have gone from strength to strength.

The lamps are in high demand on the worldwide collectables markets in Japan, the USA and Australia. But the largest export market for lamps is currently Scandinavia.

Today, lamps are produced in a range of models and sizes, individually numbered and accompanied by a short history and certificate of origin.

Their collectability is enhanced by the fact that they are not models, but genuine, working, industrial artefacts.

Derek Allinson, Regional Manager for Rhondda Cynon Taff Chamber said: "Our initial concept was simply to create an e-commerce based website to enable E. Thomas and Williams to further develop its export activities.

"Through the impetus of Simon Donovan himself, the concept has grown into something far more significant and exciting.

"We believe the site will provide an important contribution to promoting Welsh heritage and identity to the world."

See also:

30 Jun 00 | Wales
Film fame for Tower miners
13 May 00 | Wales
Memorial marks mining tragedies
18 Dec 00 | Wales
Pit buyout leader joins WDA
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