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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Tears as colliery closes
Betws Colliery
Miners marched out of Betws Colliery for the last time
More than a century of mining in a west Wales valley came to end on Friday when Betws Colliery closed its gates for the last time.

Around 60 miners and their families marched out of the colliery marking the end of an industry that employed thousands in its heyday in the Amman Valley.

There were tears as well as laughter as 110 men who had worked side-by-side, many at the coal face, finished for the last time.

The colliery has been forced to close because of rising insurance costs and a drop in the market price of the anthracite coal that was excavated there.

I don't know what the future holds but my children are now grown up and we'll manage
Miner Keith Sutton

NUM lodge secretary Anthony James said: "It's a sad day.

"The miners have gathered here to celebrate the achievements of Betws and also to commemorate the sad demise of the last deep mine in the Amman Valley.

"Over the last 10 years Betws Colliery has put into the local economy in excess of 30m.

"It's a big void for someone to fill.

"We've had some marvellous times and some tragic times.

"It's comradeship and friendship, something that cannot be touched in any other industry."

Last-ditch talks to try and secure further financial support from the government were held in Westminster last week but without success.

Anthony James
NUM secretary Anthony James said it was the end of an era.

Keith Sutton, one of the long serving workers at the colliery, said: "It's a very emotional day.

"All of a sudden it's the end and I don't think there will be anyone coming back here.

"It's been hard work, there is no getting away from that, but I have great memories.

"I don't know what the future holds but my children are now grown up and we'll manage."

Many communities in the Amman Valley were founded on coal mining and between the two world wars there were more than 30 working pits in the region.

Betws councillor and former miner John Dorian Evans had tears in his eyes but said the community would bounce back from the jobs blow.

"It's a very sad as 110 people are being made redundant," he said.

"It will have an affect on the local economy because these were relatively high paid jobs.

"We have been here before when the pit was closed by British Coal back in 1995.

"It's a tribute to the resilience of the people of the Amman Valley that they have always been able to adapt to new jobs.

"Most of the men are middle-aged but I'm quite confident they will be able to find new employment.

"These men are likely to be the last generation of coal miners and the skills they have accumulated and their experience will be lost and possibly lost forever."


SEE ALSO:
In Pictures: Colliery closes
01 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery
Miners surface for last time
01 Aug 03  |  Wales
100 jobs to go as pit shuts
23 Jul 03  |  Wales
Pit closure inevitable, says MP
22 Jul 03  |  Wales
Insurance threat to mine jobs
25 Jul 02  |  Wales



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