Ffos Y Fran
About the project
British Institute for Geological Conservation couldn’t possible work in the South Wales Coalfield without close collaboration with extractive industries. Miller Argent are currently undertaking the remediation and restoration of a huge area of derelict, once industrial, land just to the south east of Merthyr. In order to fund the remediation Miller Argent are surface mining and extracting around 30 coal seams from the lower part of the Coal Measures succession.
BIGC have teamed up with Miller Argent to enhance the educational and geological experiences on site at Ffos-y-fran and provide exciting geological activities at public events throughout South Wales.
The Ffos-y-fran site has been at the heart of industrial Merthyr for over 250 years. The hillsides here have been mined for the rich bands of iron ore and abundant coal seams leaving the area pock marked with dangerous old shafts and spoil tips.
The excavation and surface mining removes many of the old underground workings and provides a wonderful geological section almost 300m high, through the Westphalian A and B strata of the lower, productive coal formations.
On site at Ffos-y-fran we’ve been equipping Miller Argents purpose built education centre with display cases containing a range of fantastic geological specimens recovered from the site. We’ve collected a wealth of fossil plant material from the extensive spoil heaps and we’ve found a good range of coal measure minerals that are typically associated with the bands of ironstone nodules.
Some of our more exciting finds have been of the wonderful Merthyr Diamonds ( beautifully clear, double terminated quartz crystals) and of the beautiful fine, hair like, Nickel Sulphide mineral, called Millerite (no relation to Miller Argent). Millerite was actually first discovered and collected in Dowlais, Merthyr and named by Wilhelm Haidinger in 1845 in honour of the English mineralogist, Professor William Hallowes Miller [April 6, 1801 Velindre, Wales, UK – May 20, 1880 Cambridge, England, UK], University of Cambridge, who first studied the crystals.
Many of these fossils and minerals are now on display alongside some of the fantastic archaeological finds that were unearthed during the initial site clearance. To help explain the long geological history and history of occupation at the Ffos-y-fran site, BIGC has designed five large interpretation panels which now hang on the walls of the education centre.
In the near future we’ll be looking at developing additional on-site, curriculum linked, educational activities that will add additional interest and value to your class visit to Ffos-y-fran.
The Ffos-y-fran Education Centre can be booked for meetings or events and school and special interest groups can book trips into the mine itself. If you can’t get to the site itself, perhaps you’ll be able to catch up with us at one of our Fossil hunts that we take out to community events in and around the Merthyr area or to regional shows like the RHS in Cardiff each year.
About the site
The Ffos-y-fran site and education centre are not open to the public. If you or your group or school would like to visit the site please contact Miller Argent to request access. Good views of the site can be found from Merthyr Common and the Bogey Road.