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).

Picture 1

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.

Picture 2

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.

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