After a few days spent walking, drawing, testing the ground with my feet and scanning the land with my eye I wanted to learn more about this area and join up some of the dots from conversations I have had with my hosts on the farm. They knew of a few old shafts and colliery waste heaps that exist on the farm or because of contact they’ve had with the coal board due to accidents like sink holes and surveys undertaken about the land, but most of this network of mines, their age and even where they surface is largely unknown. The current OS map shows the site of one, at the back of the wood at Harrolds, but mentions nothing of those identified by the coal board and interestingly the board doesn’t recognise the one at Harrolds.
I visited a museum in Narberth, a market town about 5 miles away, that had an extensive collection on local life dating back to the early medieval period, when the land started to become defined by settlements and castles. Something my early research of this place noted was that the majority of the mining companies were English and operated from places in England although its workers and land were Welsh. This area of Pembrokeshire sits on the English side of a centuries old divide known as the ‘Landsker’ line, a political division dating from the Norman occupation of land south of Haverfordwest down to Laugharne in the neighbouring county of Carmarthenshire. This divide is both political and linguistic, defining a separate anglicised culture from the traditional Welsh speaking culture of the north. I am finding this parallel between the invisible divide of political tensions and the physical one of the seam of coal that runs the breadth of this area following almost exactly the positioning of this line remarkable as one echoes the instability of the other. Tension between land, tension between earth, a sense of instability in both the underpinning of this ‘development high risk area’ (a term used by the Coal authority that outlines areas at risk of instability from the legacy of coal mining operations) and the historic development of the instability of land occupation. The English occupation and continued control over autonomy has been contested for centuries, and is still ongoing in both politics and the legacy of the industry created by this land.


This first entry comes after the second day of this residency on a working agricultural farm on the South West Coal coal field, at a site in Jeffreyston, Pembrokeshire. The first two days were spent walking and researching the area, from online records and local historians who have produced publications.

Through discussions with the family who work this farm they have reccalled events where the old workings of the mines (which were open in pembrokeshire until 1948) have made themselves known in one way or another throughout their time, and the living memory of their relatives and neighbours who live in the surrounding areas. There is an understanding of these mines existence, but even those who own the land are unsure of their whereabouts. In some cases there are shafts sunk here up to 60 fathoms deep (1 fathom = 6 ft), and cause high levels of rising groundwater, sink holes and instability of the earth, that have lead to locals being on standby for emergency evacuation.

Over the first weekend and two days of the residnecy, I have begun to connect up a few names in corrolation with areas of the farm, stilled named after some of the shafts that were present from the early 1700’s until the early 1900’s. These being:

Harrolds shaft (c. 1799), an area they were aware of to the south west of the farms land, down what is still called Harrolds Lane. Rising water stains pools with iron rich mineral deposits from deep groundworkings, and mounds of colliary waste are dug out by badgers.
Jeffreyston Pit, towards the top of a field they call Ten Acre, where a sink hole opened up some years ago about “three times the hieght of the front room”. Mounds of Colliary waste are still visible here too, although the shaft is unknown.
Furzey park (c.1792), which still goes by this name, although the whereabouts of the shaft is unknown, again colliary waste heaps are present here.

Other areas I am interested in are Loveston, site of the most recent major mining incident, and still remembered by locals who tried to get a memorial plaque erected before the incedent and mine entrace workings are out of living memory. Here also lie old railway workings used to transport the cole across the landscapes to nearby ports and harburs such as St Issels, now Saundersfoot. The best records of these workings and location comes from the records of icidents and deaths, which I have been matching up with local knowlege about place names, but some of these are still a mystery.

Also if interest is the Quay of Cresselly, a major port of Cole exportation on an inland tributary of the Cleddau river, that runs out to Pembroke Dock. I have been told in the Inn at the Quay they have old photographs and books on the mining history on which it was built.

The first few days of exploration have taken me through Green leet (Near to Harrolds Pitt), and down through Furzey park, both have rising groundwater, and while Furzey is reletively inaccesible, I can see in Green Leet that the water is stained red with iron, coating the foliage at defining the bottom of the pool, it also coats the rocks and large cornerstones embedded into the land. I intend to look into this more as I go along the residency.

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