Archibald Hood (1823 – 1902)

Archibald Hood was one of the mining engineers who transformed the coal industry in Europe in the course of the 19th century.

He was born at Kilmarnock, Scotland, the son of a colliery overman. His family moved to Glasgow where he was able to study mining engineering, and for a time he supervised the mining operations of Dunlop & Wilson, an iron-making company in South Ayrshire. In 1856 he took a lease from Archibald Primrose, 4th Earl of Rosebery (1783-1868) of Whitehill Colliery at Rosewell in the Lothian Coalfield, and developed the business by using a proportion of the coal raised in the manufacture of bricks and tiles. He sank a new shaft at the Rosewell pit in 1878, extended railways to serve his various enterprises, and developed the colliery village, building well-designed houses for the pitmen, encouraging a co-operative retail society, and adopting the "Gothenburg" system, by which profits from sales of alcohol were devoted to the creation of parks, libraries and other community facilities. He enjoyed the sport of bowls, and laid out greens on which his miners could play in their leisure hours.

In 1890 he amalgamated his company with the mining interests of Schomberg Kerr, 9th Marquess of Lothian (1833-1900) to form the Lothian Coal Co, which in the same year began to sink the Lady Victoria pit, now the Scottish Mining Museum (& ERIH Anchor Point). The colliery came to employ 1200 men and had a 91 year working life. The company controlled 5700 ha of mine workings and accommodated its miners in 700 cottages, many of which were in the village of Newtongrange alongside the Lady Victoria pit.

Hood was also a prominent figure in the coal industry of South Wales. In 1862 he established the Glamorgan Coal Co, and from 1867 was resident in Cardiff, where in 1876 he built a mansion called Sherwood in the Gothic style, on Newport Road. The centre of his operations was at Llwynpia in the Rhondda Valley, and he did much to expand mining in the upper parts of the Rhondda. One of his mines at Gilfach Coch was known as the Scotch Colliery. He did much to expand markets for Welsh steam coal, in particular through agreements with the Admiralty to supply the ships of the Royal Navy, and added value to the coal raised from his pits by building large brickworks and coke ovens.

He was a strong supporter of the Barry Docks & Railway Co, established to provide competition for the docks at Cardiff that were owned by the Marquesses of Bute, whose railway was opened in 1889. He encouraged the use of new technology in mines, particularly of compressed air and electricity.

He is buried in the cemetery at Cardiff and commemorated by a statue erected in 1906 on the site of his Glamorgan Colliery at Llwynpia.