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Penallta Colliery Baths Building

A Grade II* Listed Building in Gelligaer, Caerphilly

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Latitude: 51.6536 / 51°39'13"N

Longitude: -3.2463 / 3°14'46"W

OS Eastings: 313876

OS Northings: 195717

OS Grid: ST138957

Mapcode National: GBR HV.724K

Mapcode Global: VH6DD.PP5P

Plus Code: 9C3RMQ33+FF

Entry Name: Penallta Colliery Baths Building

Listing Date: 5 November 1991

Last Amended: 18 July 2001

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 13580

Building Class: Industrial

Location: Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The Baths Building faces Penalltau Road, on the west of the complex.

County: Caerphilly

Town: Ystrad Mynach

Community: Gelligaer

Community: Gelligaer

Locality: Penalltau

Built-Up Area: Ystrad Mynach

Traditional County: Glamorgan

Tagged with: Building

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Penallta Colliery was built between 1905 and 1909, at the height of the South Wales coal trade. It was established by the Powell Dyffryn Steam Coal Company, the region’s largest mining company, on the most modern principles as the ‘super-pit’ of its day. The surface buildings were laid out in matching architectural style in a spacious, artificially levelled area, on a rectilinear plan giving the ideal spatial arrangement of activities. The design of the enormous engine hall in particular was an important innovation copied at many later collieries. The colliery became one of the largest in Wales with 3,200 miners and a high output of top-quality steam coal. By 1935, Penallta held the European record for coal produced in a single week.

The Baths at Penallta were built in 1938 by the Miners’ Welfare Committee, and said at the time to be ‘probably the finest and biggest pithead baths in the country’. Many baths were built during the 1930s through a Programme by the Miners’ Welfare Committee to improve conditions in mining communities. From the Mining Industry Act of 1926 the capital costs of baths construction could be met by a levy wages and royalties, and the baths given over to trustees. A Miners’s Welfare Committee Architects Department was established to design baths across Britain, and a house style developed, based on pithead baths on the continent and design principles of the International Modern movement. The Penallta baths provided for 2,016 miners, with showers on two floors and two drying lockers for each miner, one for working clothes and one for clean clothes. The building was also designed to house a canteen and a medical centre.


Pithead baths block. The plan is irregular, forming a stepped shape with several wings and a central light-well. Built into the hillside, it has two storeys at the front and three at the rear. Of brown brick with white concrete dressings and multi-pane metal framed windows, and with a flat felted roof with long glazed rooflights.
Front elevation, to Penalltau Road, has a continuous row of windows with concrete mullions, and a tall blank wall above topped by a deep concrete eaves cornice. Tall water tower at S end, emphasised by vertical windows on two sides to the staircase occupying its lower part. Single storey wing to the front and S side contained the Medical Centre, which is entered by a sloping formerly covered walkway from N. The main doorway gives onto the base of the staircase and the water tower. The entrance has vertical banding of brick headers to either side, multiple string courses and small windows, with a concrete canopy over the doors and a fanlight with a glazing pattern of small squares and horizontal rectangles. Another single-storey wing to S contains the canteen, the principle feature of which is a continuously-glazed semi-circular front, making it originally an extremely light room: further well-lit areas of canteen and kitchens to S and E. A low boundary wall to Penalltau Road is built of similar brown brick with concrete cappings and some of the original metal railings still in place.

The rear and sides of the building have continuous bands of metal-framed windows lighting the shower and locker areas, with white concrete bands and mullions and horizontal multi-pane metal windows. Circular ventilator openings are picked out with white concrete surrounds; some metal ventilators at base. There are doorways into the boilerhouse level from N and into the baths area from the pithead to E; concrete canopies over horizontal-panelled doors. Rear staircase with vertical metal windows over 3 storeys.


Inside the building, the entrance from Penalltau Road and the base of the staircase have green glazed tiles with a black dado band. This leads into the baths on one side and the canteen on the other. The concrete cantilevered stair is well lit by large windows. The canteen has a panelled dado with a curved skirting moulding for easy cleaning, and roof lights as well as its large bay front. The arrangement of the showers is the same on both floors, with lockers filling the wings to the east and south, and showers filling two square areas between. The lockers and showers on the east were for dirty clothes, with a separate staircase from the pit-head side of the building providing access, and those on the south for clean. The original plenum lockers with hot air piped through them are in place on the ground floor but have been partially removed above. The original showers are still in position, with semi-circular pipes to the shower heads and white tiled individual shower stalls. The showers are colour coded with single coloured tiles on each stall to indicate cleaning rotas. The top floor showers are well lit with ample rooflights. A central light-well with white glazed tiling provides ample light to all shower areas. A basement level on the north side provides access to the plenum hot air and water tanks and the boilers, which are located in a prefrabricated extension to the west.

Reasons for Listing

Listed Grade II* as the best surviving example in Wales of a pre-War pithead baths, as an important example of International Modern movement design in Wales. Group value with other listed items within this exceptionally fine colliery complex.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Penallta Colliery Lamp Room
    Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The Lamproom is immediately to the south of the Workshops.
  • II Penallta Colliery Pit-top Offices
    Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The Pit Top Offices are to the east of the baths building.
  • II Penallta Colliery Workshops
    Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The Workshops are at centre of the colliery complex, west of the Engine Hall.
  • II Penallta Colliery Old Stores
    Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The Old Stores are to the west of the main workshops.
  • II* Penallta Colliery No.1 Headframe
    Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The western of the two headframes, at the centre of the complex.
  • II* Penallta Colliery Engine Hall and Fan House
    Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The Engine Hall is at the north side of the colliery complex.
  • II* Penallta Colliery No.2 Headframe
    Situated between Ystrad Mynach and Gelligaer, on the east side of Penalltau Road. The eastern of the two headframes, at the east of the complex.
  • II Capel Hengoed (also known as Hengoed Baptist Chapel)
    Situated above Hengoed, close to Cefn Hengoed; set back from hill road that runs north from Ystrad Mynach. Burial ground to front with good C19 monuments.

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