History of Abertillery and Ruby's Cottage.
Abertillery means “the mouth of the Tyleri” and is where the Tyleri Brook and the Ebbw Fach River actually meet. This site is now covered but is roughly where the Tesco supermarket now stands. In the 18th century a small stone bridge crossed the Tyleri and Abertillery was the name of a farm which stood close by.
In 1846 the Abertillery Tin Works was built on this spot. The surrounding mountainsides were heavily wooded thus the essential requirements for the production of tin were at hand – wood for charcoal to fuel the furnaces and water for power in the works. The first settlement in Abertillery grew up around the Tin Works on what was called The Twmp.
Around the same time, coal production started in the area. The colliery in Cwmtillery and the Penybont and Gray collieries originally extracted coal from the the Tillery or Tilestone seam, as it was formerly known which is one of the upper seams of Red Ash coal. Tilestone was the name derived from the tilestone rock that overlies the coal and from the quarries where roof tiles for the houses and homesteads of the district were obtained.
There was also iron production in the town with the foundry located on the banks of the Tyleri Brook. The choice of site was excellent, water was available and, more importantly, the foundry was served by the rail link carrying coal from the collieries.
Tillery Street is on the north side of Abertillery close to where the Penybont and Cwmtillery collieries used to be. The area was known as Gelly Crug and was where the miners were housed.
Built circa 1870 the cottage, along with 12 others and the land surrounding them on part of the Gelly Crug Estate, was sold to Phillip Samuel Phillips on a 99 year lease by the gentlemen of The Brynmawr Coal and Iron Company with a ground rent of 13 shillings and ninepence payable per annum.
In 1897 Daniel Drew and his son Tom purchased the remaining years of the lease and on 6th February 1914 Tom was able to purchase the freehold of the properties from Powells Tillery Steam Coal Company Ltd. For the sum of £213 and 15 shillings.
When Tom Drew died in 1934, his estate was divided between his sisters and nephew and nieces. Numbers 62 through to 68 became the property of his sister Alice Robinson.
Upon Alice's death in 1954, the cottages were sold to Mrs Emily Weeks of 78 Tillery Street for the sum of £400.
Number 66 was occupied by Emily's newly married daughter Ruby and her husband William Fox.
After the death of her husband John George Weeks in 1962, Emily sold number 66 to her daughter and son-in law for the sum of £200. For over 60 years this cottage was home to Ruby .Here she lived almost all of her adult life and raised her family.
And so, when we purchased this much loved family home in 2017, we decided that Ruby should lend her name to the future of the cottage.