About the book
Tyronne O'Sullivan is the chairman of Tower Colliery, Hirwaun, South Wales. He led the team of miners that fought to buy the pit from British Coal in 1995. He and 238 miners each paid 8,000 from their own redundancy settlement to become shareholders and borrowed a further £2 million. This was, and still is, a unique achievement - no other mine, in the history of British Coal, has been bought by the workforce.
For over 20 years Tyronne was the National Union of mineworkers branch secretary, leading a radical group of men in what had to be a militant colliery. Tyrone was effectively fighting British Coal for wages and conditions all his working life but it was in the latter years that the fight became about the very survival of the pit.
Tower is now the last surviving deep mine in Wales and is a profitable going concern. British Coal, towards the end of its regime, earmarked Tower as a pit with no future and were determined to close it down. This would have resulted in not only the loss of a colliery and the accompanying unemployment but also in the devastation of the local community. The Tower miners refused to lie down and they fought like no other group of miners in the land. The miners' faith in Tyrone and his buyout team has paid dividends as the workers are now being rewarded as joint owners of a successful business, sharing equally in its profits and have even become the subject of a major feature film from the makers of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill.
The book is about both Tyrone's life and the pit. A valley boy, he has risen from mining apprentice to union official and, ultimately, to the chairman of the new company. While he is dedicated to earning profits, he is still a committed socialist, concerned with the fair distribution of monies and with supporting the local community in a variety of ways. First and foremost a union man, this Welsh valley boy proved that under the extremes of capitalism, socialism is still a viable option.