The first recorded venture into coal production by Thomas Powell was in 1823 when he, in partnership with Thomas Prothero, leased from J.H. Moggridge all the coal under Plas Bedwellty, except that worked from the Rock and Penmaen levels.7 The demand for house coal at this time was growing apace, and independent 'sale-coal' collieries were rapidly developed to meet the demand that existed at the Newport river wharves, although, of course, production was as yet small compared to that of the collieries producing for the iron-works to the north. The availability of good transport facilities meant that in the first half of the century it was in the Sirhowy Valley and its environs that most of the collieries that supplied Newport were concentrated. The Sirhowy tramroad and later the Penllwyn and Hall's tramroads gave the coalowners of this area such an advantage that by 1839 a weekly average of 12,000 tons was carried on the Sirhowy tramroad alone. When Powell purchased his first lease, the exploitation of the shallow Mynyddislwyn house-coal seams was proceeding apace, as the following list of collieries shows: 1804 Gellihaf (nr. Fleur de lys) 1812 Penmain Level 1814 Maesyrhyddid 1816 Pennar 1817 Cwmdows c. 1820 Rock 1820 Penllwyn 1822 Gwrhay Fach 1823 Woodfield 1827 Llyspentwyn (Cwm Philkins) The size of some of these collieries can be seen by the figures in the Children's Employment Commissioners' Report of 1842.9 The largest undertaking in the area at that time was Buttery Hatch which employed 158 men and boys; Rock Colliery employed 132; Manmoel and Cwrtybela together employed 130. In 1848 Powell's undertaking at Llyspentwyn was producing 3,000 tons a month, and Waterloo 2,400 tons. Small workings continued to proliferate; at Cwmdows, near Newbridge, there were at least four small independent owners by the 1850s. Thomas Powell was, of course, only one of a number of entrepreneurs to see the opportunities at hand. The largest participants were Thomas Prothero of Malpas Court and Rosser Thomas, whose main undertakings were on the Glamorgan side of the Rhymney. John Jones of Llanarth, who had inherited the Penllwynsarph estate, was another early participant; the early workings at Gellihaf were on his land. Joseph Beaumont, a trustee of the Monmouthshire and Glamorgan Banking Co., was another, owning the Gellideg, Penllwyn and Tophill collieries. Martin Morrison of Newport purchased and developed the Kendon colliery, together with small pits at Millbrook, Bush and Trinant. Thomas Phillips, knighted for his part in the defeat of the Chartist rising, owned both the Manmoel and Cwrtybela collieries. 1810 Gellideg (nr. Maesycwmmer) 1812 Argoed (largest of early workings) c. 1815 Waterloo 1817 Manmoel 1819 Gwernau (se. of Maesycwmmer) c. 1820 Cwrtybela c. 1820 Bryn 1823 Plas Bedwellty 1824 Gwrhay Fawr