CWM Coke Works,South Wales
Coking plants are filthy, colossal and dangerous, one of the most physically arduous types of heavy industry for men to work in.
Coke is a near pure fuel with a high carbon content which has been a vital ingredient since the industrial revolution in fuelling blast furnaces within the metal making industry.
Negative by-products of coking include ammonia, coal tar and dangerous gases which can potentially cause great ecological damage if leaked into the environment. A stone's throw away from the town of Pontypridd, CWM (which is pronounced Coomb) was opened in 1958 in the rural village of Beddau, South Wales which owes its existence to the coke industry it was built around.
During the 1960's as the industrial economy in Wales thrived, the works employed over 1,400 men, sadly CWM shut down its furnaces in 2002 and has since been left abandoned. As the rust and decay have taken precedence, since closure the site has also been the victim of arson attacks, metal stripping and neglect which threatens to destroy any chance of preservation for CWM.
Exploring a derelict site such as this one comes with its own perils. Groans emanating from loose hanging scraps of metal threaten to plummet at any given time and during my visit the howling of the wind engulfed the entire site.
Such a hostile environment requires the utmost care when navigating gantries that have become slick with slime and rainwater. Booby trapped holes that have been covered with a fine layer of coke would guarantee a shortcut straight to hell. As redevelopment of the site is inevitable, all trace of the works will disappear forever and sparing the scar left behind on the landscape, future generations will be left with no reminder of the rich industrial heritage that once surrounded them.