Glamorgan’s Blood: health and welfare records in the coal industry collections – Newspaper cuttings

The current cataloguing and conservation of the National Coal Board and pre-vesting colliery company records held at Glamorgan Archives has been made possible by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant. The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health and as such one of the project’s main aims has been to improve access to records related to medical and welfare issues. In this series of blog posts project archivist, Louise Clarke, highlights some of the types of material that you are able to find on this topic within the coalfield collection.

Newspaper cuttings

Volumes containing newspaper cuttings are an excellent way to get a snapshot of life in the coalfield. Although of lot of newspaper material is now available online, the advantage of these kind of volumes is that they bring material on the same subject together – a handy tool for any researcher!

One particular volume within the National Coal Board collection concerns the provision of social welfare for miners, including the opening of workmen’s institutes and pithead baths, grants for welfare schemes, and recreational activities. Dating from 1926-1934, this volume can be used to give a sense of the welfare activities taking place at the time.

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Newspaper cutting volume containing cuttings relating to welfare in the coal industry (DNCB/15/6/17)

Fourteen of the newspaper cutting volumes within the collection relate to strikes and stoppages, mainly the Tonypandy Riots of 1910-1911.

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Newspaper cutting volume containing cuttings relating to the Tonypandy riots (DNCB/15/6/6)

Alongside newspaper cuttings, press digests also feature within the collection. These offer a wider view of the representation of the coal industry within the media, and overall they cover the periods 1943-1958 and 1988-1991. Within the National Coal Board collection there is also a set of local and national newspaper cuttings and press releases concerning the Aberfan disaster.

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Front page of the Sunday Citizen, one of the newspaper cuttings in the National Coal Board collection relating to the Aberfan disaster (DNCB/4/1/12/1)

Glamorgan’s Blood: Health and Welfare Records in the Coal Industry Collections – Photographs

Cataloguing and conservation of National Coal Board (NCB) and pre-vesting colliery company records held at Glamorgan Archives has been undertaken through the Glamorgan’s Blood project, and made possible by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant. The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health and, as such, one of the project’s main aims has been to improve access to records related to medical and welfare issues. In a series of blog posts over the coming weeks we will highlight the types of material that you are able to find on this topic within the coalfield collection.

Photographs

The National Coal Board collection contains a large number of photographic prints and negatives, some of which can be used in the understanding of health and welfare within the coal industry.

Photographs of the interiors and exteriors of the pithead baths show the architecture of the buildings and the facilities on offer for colliery workers, such as medical treatment centres and first aid rooms.

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Pithead baths, Wyllie Colliery, mid-20th century (DNCB/14/4/135/23)

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First Aid Room, Western Colliery, 1951 (DNCB/14/4/133/1)

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First Aid Room, Aberbaiden Colliery, 1951 (DNCB/14/4/1/1)

Images within the NCB negative collection show men at the Talygarn Rehabilitation Centre. In 1957, Talygarn treated 1,018 patients and at that time 88% of the men treated there were fit to return to some form of work, with 59.6% of the men treated returning to their normal work.

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Talygarn Miners’ Rehabilitation Centre, 1966 (DNCB/14/4/147/108)

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Talygarn Miners’ Rehabilitation Centre, 1951 (DNCB/14/4/153/272)

The negative collection can be used to show the importance placed on first aid training by the NCB, with images of NCB inter-colliery first aid competitions from the 1960s showing men being assessed on their first aid skills in scenario based challenges. There are also images showing first aid procedures that were used for an NCB handbook, along with images of safety equipment such as the trambulance and underground first aid stations.

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Members of Coedely Plant First Aid Team during competition, 1968 (DNCB/14/4/158/9/1/30)

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Trambulance, 1955 (DNCB/14/4/87/100)

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Rescue/medical training exercise, Penllwyngwent Colliery, [1950s] (DNCB/14/4/104/9)

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Ambulance competition, 1953 (DNCB/14/4/155/43)

The NCB photographic collection is now fully catalogued under reference DNCB/14.

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NUM Executive being retrained into self-rescuers, Dinas Rescue Station, 1973 (DNCB/14/4/158/8/7)

 

Glamorgan’s Blood: Health and Welfare Records in the Coal Industry Collections – Pithead Baths Plans

The current cataloguing and conservation of the National Coal Board and pre-vesting colliery company records held at Glamorgan Archives has been made possible by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant. The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health and as such one of the project’s main aims has been to improve access to records related to medical and welfare issues. In this series of blog posts project archivist, Louise Clarke, highlights some of the types of material that you are able to find on this topic within the coalfield collection.

Pithead baths plans

From 1926 onwards, the Miners’ Welfare Fund issued a levy to fund a baths building programme. Plans relating to baths built under the Miners’ Welfare Fund, right the way through to baths built or modified by the NCB post-1947, are available to view at Glamorgan Archives, with the catalogue of the 915 building plans within the National Coal Board collection now available on our online catalogue (DNCB/1/4).

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Fernhill Colliery pithead baths, sketch plan, 1950 (DNCB/1/4/21/1)

The pithead bath plans show the showering and changing facilities on offer to workers as well as additional welfare areas such as medical treatment centres and canteens. Through floor plans, site plans and elevations researchers are able to see the facilities were on offer to colliery workers, including separate clean and dirty entrances and locker rooms, shower facilities, boot cleaning areas, medical treatment centres and canteens.

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Cwm Colliery, Pithead Baths, Perspective View from Approach Road, 1952 (DNCB/1/4/13/2)

The architecture of these buildings was also important, with the pithead baths designed to create an atmosphere of health and brightness. They used a lot of glass as light, especially natural light, was deemed necessary not only to aid cleaning and hygiene, but to create an atmosphere of health and brightness – very important for miners who had just spent a shift in poor light underground. Window schedules and building elevations within the collection show how glass was incorporated into the design of these buildings.

Glamorgan’s Blood: Health and Welfare Records in the Coal Industry Collections – Mining Disasters

The current cataloguing and conservation of the National Coal Board and pre-vesting colliery company records held at Glamorgan Archives has been made possible by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant. The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health and as such one of the project’s main aims has been to improve access to records related to medical and welfare issues. In this series of blog posts project archivist, Louise Clarke, highlights some of the types of material that you are able to find on this topic within the coalfield collection.

Disasters

It is often the large mining disasters that we most closely associate with death in the coal industry. One such disaster was that at Universal Colliery, Senghenydd, which occurred on 14 October 1913. The explosion, and subsequent release of poisonous gas, killed 439 miners, making the Senghenydd pit disaster the most lethal and tragic mining disaster in British history.

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Statement showing details of compensation paid, 1915 (DPD/4/11/2/4)

As part of this project, a small number of items relating to the Senghenydd disaster have been catalogued, including a statement showing details of compensation and funeral expenses paid by the owners of Universal Colliery, Lewis Merthyr Consolidated Collieries. This statement lists each individual killed in the disaster, gives details of their name, occupation and age and notes whether they had any dependents.

Other items within the National Coal Board collection relating to the Senghenydd disaster include the minutes of the inquiry into the disaster, inquest proceedings and photographs which appeared in newspapers and as postcards within days of the tragedy.

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Photograph of the funeral of the victims of the Senghenydd disaster, 1913 (DNCB/14/1/2/3)