[from Islington Gazette]
Grandfather fears mining ‘heirloom’ may be worthless
06 March 2008
A GRANDFATHER who thought he owned the last bit of coal ever to be mined in Wales was dismayed to discover somebody else selling FOUR TONS of the stuff online.
Retired Lawrence Dowse, of Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park, had intended to give his coal to grandchildren as a keepsake. Back in 1990, when the last Welsh coal mine closed, a brother of Mr Dowse – who is of Welsh descent – travelled to the valleys to snap up the last chunks ever to be mined.
Mr Dowse has treasured the coal ever since and considers it a family heirloom. But he was stunned when he read a national newspaper which said a man from Aberdare, South Wales, was selling lumps of coal at £27 each on eBay – that he also said was the last to be mined. Unknown to Mr Dowse, the mine had briefly reopened, allowing the man to buy four tons of the “historic” coal to sell at a profit.
Mr Dowse, who has a certificate vouching for the authenticity of his coal, said: “When my brother went to Wales it was the last Welsh coal mine and we wanted to get the last bit of coal mined from it. But it reopened and this man has been selling it over the internet. On paper I have the last bit of coal – but now I am not sure if it is the real last bit. It is a strange situation.”
He added: “I wanted to hand it to the grandchildren. I thought I was being clever when I got it, but I was never trying to make a killing from it like this man.