JAMES TINSLEY OF EBBW VALE AND his STEAM CAR by Helen Holmes The steam car of James Tinsley was the first in Ebbw Vale. He registered it on the 30th May 1904 under the registration number AX94. It was therefore one of the first steam cars in Monmouthshire, most of the earliest registrations being for steam lorries. The following day James Tinsley's son, George, aged 20, took out his licence to drive. The photograph shows the Tinsley family and their prestigious vehicle. James stands proudly at the side. His son George is at the wheel, with his mother, Grace, alongside. Behind Grace sits the eldest daughter, Susan. Her youngest brother, James (Jim) is in the middle and a friend next to him. As the assistant colliery manager for the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company, James Tinsley had a very good job. He had come to South Wales in the late 1890s from the South Lancashire Coalfield. He was born in October 1854 in the Scholes district of Wigan, an area so cruelly described years later by George Orwell in The Road To Wigan Pier. His father, Matthew, was a hand-loom weaver, a group of workers who experienced very difficult times during the American Civil War, when their main source of raw materials dried up. By 1861 Matthew's wife Catherine had died and he lived alone with his young son, James. Matthew gave his occupation as 'coal miner'. They were by this time living in one of the small terraced houses about a mile from the town centre and near the Ince Coal and Cannel Company, one of hundreds of small collieries in the Wigan area. The census of 1871 shows that James had joined his father in the colliery, this time at Shevington, a village five miles from Wigan. He married a local girl, Grace Barron, in 1874. They were to have six surviving children. It is possible to follow James's climb up the ladder of promotion through 'colliery fireman', to 'colliery underlooker'. He was always living near small mines in country areas that had a few rows of colliery houses. The excellent Mining College in Wigan provided opportunities for ambitious young miners to better themselves through study at night school. In the 1901 census returns James described himself as 'colliery manager'. He had reached the top. In doing so he had uprooted his family and moved to South Wales. They were to enjoy the trappings of his success. They lived in the manager's Bridge House (now a nursing home) and they even had a maid AND they were soon to have a Gardner-Serpollet Steam Car. It was the French designer, Serpollet, who had devised the steam car and it had