The Ocean and National Magazine collection is an amazing resource for discovering what life was like for people living in the south Wales coalfield in the 1920s and 1930s. Published by the Ocean Coal Company Ltd and United National Collieries Ltd, with contributions by and for the workforce, this magazine series contains a wide variety of articles on the coal industry and its history, including industrial relations, employees, technology, culture and sporting events. Andrew Booth, one of our volunteers has recently completed the indexing of this fantastic collection. This is the fifth of a series of blog posts in which Andrew highlights stories from the Ocean and National Magazines.
With many articles and contributions featuring Ocean Coal and United National staff, the magazines were relevant to the readership. In 1932 the magazine started including cryptic descriptions of staff in their Cardiff offices. No prizes were offered for the solution of the riddles and at no point were these people named. Extracts from these fun teasers are shown below:
No.1, June 1932:
He served in the senior service during the war and came out none the worse for his experiences. Probably as a result of this service he is said to be as good a yachtsman as we have amongst us. We have two on the Staff.
No.2, July 1932:
This is a side of him which few people know, but during most dinner hours in winter he may be seen cycling up Bute Road, en route for the public library, and we understand that his part – although a small one – in a recent amateur dramatic performance in his own town was admirably done. Knowing him as the possessor of a charming light tenor voice, this does not surprise us in the least.
No.3, August 1932:
Holding a responsible position on the Staff, he rather gives the impression of thinking that this is a job in which he has been specially called by Providence, much as a man feels the call of the Church, and, indeed, in so far as it provides ample scope for a display of genuine tact and politeness to all, Providence could not have made a wiser choice. All who remember the Montgomeryshire Hospitals’ Fete at Llandinam a few years ago will realise how these latter qualities were then brought into prominent relief.
No.4, October 1932:
Far from being a moody individual in the accepted sense of the term, nevertheless his mood is apt to change so quickly that he presents somewhat of an enigma to many and possibly lays himself open to a certain amount of misunderstanding and misjudgement.
No.5, November 1932:
His reputation here, although not sought exactly ‘in the canon’s mouth’, was nevertheless considerable, for thanks to his experience as a chorister he was called upon to take an active part in concert party and similar work behind the line. Our Treorchy friends who still cherish happy memories of ‘Captain Mack’, can well imagine that the morale of the troops in the Salonika area was kept well up to scratch.
No.6, December 1932:
(An Imaginary Interview)
You know, I cycle fifteen or twenty miles a day back and fore to work, and pass two or three of my posters on the way. Oh yes. And I must say they don’t look too bad, either. I was only saying to my wife the other day that when our boy grows up I think we’ll put him to sign-writing or in the advertising business. There seems to be money in it doesn’t there?
Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer