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Haunted - Ynysfach Engine House


The Ghosts of Ynysfach 

Many men were tragically killed while working in the Ynysfach Blast Furnaces but a greater number died when sheltering in the old Ironworks here. In February 1866 the Merthyr Express had the following story entitles:-Two More Men Suffocated At Cyfarthfa. On Monday morning we saw, stretched on boards borne by workmen, the blackened and shrivelled corpses of two men who had been suffocated at the Ynysfach Works, the previous night. The men no doubt got into the works unperceived, and being probably half intoxicated, crept into a warm place near the boilers. They were suffocated by inhaling the carbonic acid gas and then when steam was got up they were literally roasted. The coroner ruled that ‘If men will put themselves in such a dangerous position, no one else can be held responsible for their lives.’

Again on the 23rd July 1870 the headline - Shocking Death Of Two Miners. On Monday morning as the engineer at the Ynysfach Works was going his rounds to examine the boilers, he saw two men lying in one of the gas-holes. He got assistance and picked them out, when their bodies presented a frightful spectacle. They were, comparatively speaking, perfectly roasted, and there is, no doubt they did not survive but a few moments after entering the place of their doom. They were lying in the attitude of sleep, with their arms and legs bent, and so scorched were they that it was impossible to straighten their limbs. It appears they came from Aberdare on Saturday night, no doubt for the purpose of a spree,’ as they were seen in China’ late on Sunday night, and having spent all their money, were glad to get a lay down anywhere. The mystery is how they got into the works, as they are surrounded by a wall several feet high.

In June 1874 there was a shocking accident which resulted in the immediate shocking death of 2 men and the burning of two others so severely that they are not expected to live. At the beginning of the twentieth century the homeless, destitute and generally disreputable elements of the town of Merthyr Tydfil made their home in the Ynysfach Coke Ovens. This was their refuge but many died here too.

In 1900 it was reported that as many as 50 persons were to be found in the Coke Ovens. Fatalities were common; on the 1st February 1902 the local paper reported Death From Exposure On Ynysfach Tip.  Early on Wednesday morning it was reported to the police at Merthyr by Alfred Williams that he had seen the body of a man lying on the Ynvsfach Tip, police officers proceeding to the spot found the body in the position indicated. The man had evidently died from exposure. His clothes were frozen, and apparently he had been dead some hours. The body was removed to the mortuary in Brecon-road. The deceased was about 36 years of age, five feet six inches in height and had on tweed trousers, lace-up boots, serge jumper jacket and cap. The deceased was subsequently identified as Morris Ryan, who had lived at a lodgings house at Caedraw.


The Weekly Mail 6 June 1903 reported the gruesome discovery of a body in the cistern of one of the Ynysfach Engine Houses. The facial features were completely eaten away by maggots and the body decomposed but the corpse was identified as being a Sidney Holder aged 23 by the workhouse ticket in one of the coat pockets.     It seems that Sidney had been in the Merthyr Tydfil area for less than a year and had failed to find regular work. It is uncertain how and why he ended up travelling all the way from Hertfordshire to meet his end in such a horrible way in Wales.


The White Lady of Ynysfach

The police thought the area was a den of thieves and robbers. Such an ‘unfortunate’ was Mary Ann Rees who was murdered by her younger lover. She was thrown down a disused furnace and her neck was broken. In May 1909 William Foy was hung in Swansea goal for her murder. There has been talk that Mary Ann Rees is the White Lady of Ynysfach who haunts the area around Merthyr College. There have been a number of sightings of the White Lady and there are some who strongly believe in her existence. She seen to be a sad lady in a long white dress and there are no stories of her causing any harm.  In the late 1980s the janitor of Merthyr College looked back at the building from the car park after locking up and saw a distressed lady looking out of the window. He rushed back thinking she must be very anxious after being locked in an empty building and re-entered the building. However, although he searched and searched this white faced worried looking lady was never found.



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