The great ‘dash for North Sea gas’ in the 1970s sounded the death knell of solid fuel fire as the popular means of heating the home in Britain. The time when coal was delivered to every house in sacks and stored ready for use in the coalhouse was drawing to an end. Locally, the nearby colliery at Cynheidre worked its last shift in 1989. This demise in the use of coal as a fuel saw the gradual winding up of the numerous coal delivery merchants that once operated in Llanelli - J. G. Pudner was one such merchant.
John (Jonnie) Pudner commenced his coal delivery business during the First World War, initially delivering the coal by horse and cart. One cart was still in operation in 1934 the horse being stabled in Ropewalk Road.
At the end of the war Charlie, George and Albert Pudner joined their brother in the business and it was then known as J.G. Pudner. The business later divided when Charlie left the company to form another group which was to be was called Pudner Brothers (Coal Merchants).
The delivery of coal was not the only activity carried on by the Pudners, because in 1924 the company had purchased a bus or charabanc which they proudly called the ‘The Silver King’. A number of advertisements appeared in the local press during the 1930s announcing coach trips to ‘exotic’ places including ‘Grand trips to The Tenby Races’ and tours to Llandeilo, Pendine and Porthcawl as well as mystery tours, each costing between four to five shillings. Other destinations included Pennard, Gower and even as far a field as the Ascot Races, where one or two of the Pudner brothers gained the reputation of being avid tipsters. One of the coach drivers for the company for 35 years was Jack Pearson. The bus section of the company ceased to operate at the outbreak of the Second World War.
The company operated from no. 1 Fron Terrace, Tyisha, where they had an office and a garage for their coal lorries. This was a convenient location, for the main coal sidings of the Llanelli railway goods yard was in very close proximity. Here the coal was brought down by rail to be unloaded from coal trucks, weighed and bagged into sacks then distributed by the various coal merchants operating in Llanelli.
Many houses in the town had no rear entrance which meant that the coal had to be carried through the house to the coal shed or coalhouse, as it was then commonly called. The coal business closed about 1973.
Today you would be hard pressed to find any child under the age of twelve that has seen a real coal fire.
Photographs and information supplied by Mr Glyn Millard