The Ocean and National Magazine, 1935: Why Doesn’t Someone Localise our ‘Snakes and Ladders’ Board?

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 eighth of a series of blog posts in which Andrew highlights stories from the Ocean and National Magazines.

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In 1935 The Ocean and National Magazine printed a series of articles with the question ‘Why doesn’t someone…?’ In August the subject of this article was the idea of a localised version of the board game Snakes and Ladders. A plan of the board is shown on one of the pages, and there were also 20 locations with instructions as to what to do when they arrived there. Anyone who knows the area around the Rhondda valleys might find the locations and their instructions quite amusing.

Snakes and Ladders_edited 

  1. Stag Hotel – Hard to Start. Must score six or ask for a glass of water. Otherwise miss two turns.

 

  1. Red Cow – Meet a friend and stop. Miss one turn and go back to 1.

 

  1. Swamp – Save sheep’s life but run over goose. Jump over one (number).

 

  1. Lungi’s Ice Cream – Forget the game, discuss Abyssinia and have a cornet. Miss two turns.

 

  1. Pentre Police – Absent-mindedly wish the Sergeant ‘A Merry Xmas’. Go back two.

 

  1. Prudential Office – Arrested by agent who pushes you back three steps – for life.

 

  1. Bridgend Hotel – Meet old friend who tells you about his operation. Miss four turns.

 

  1. Ystrad Station Exit – You are run over by an ‘Echo’ boy. Go back six to get your breath.

 

  1. Estate Office – You pay your ground rent before time. Leap 4 for joy.

 

  1. Ton Co-op – Mistaken for football coupon-seller. Arrested for three turns. Move back to No.5.

 

  1. Windsor Hotel – Stop to recover. Withstand temptation to have a ‘Corona’ and move forward three steps.
  2. Ton Police Station – Miss three turns through forcible attendance at court. Details censored. Go back two, and watch your step.

 

  1. Ton West End – Invigorated by odour of river. Move forward three – quickly.

 

  1. Pentwyn Hospital – Make detour down the marble steps. Meet young probationer. Lose twelve turns, but take short cut to No.3.

 

  1. Nantymoel Junction – Withstand temptation to take a girl-friend along new road. Skip six.

 

  1. Cwmparc Junction – Invited to a pithead bath. Shock entails loss of four turns.

 

  1. Ocean Offices – Mistake it for a Salvation Army headquarters and miss two turns reviving.

 

  1. Pengelli Hotel – Enter in error. Fall in river (hidden trap) and go back to 14.

 

  1. Surgery – Having plenty of time you sit to wait for your next bottle of medicine. You are taken back to 12 feeling better.

 

  1. Park & Dare Institute – Home at last! Fall asleep. See Mae West and call and see her some time.

 

Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

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The Ocean and National Coal Magazine, 1934: Reflections on Armistice Day

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The year 1934 marked the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, and for the November 1934 edition of The Ocean and National Coal Magazine, a large section was devoted to thoughts on that war and on the prospect of war in the future.

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The magazine opens with a guest editorial by Lord Davies of Llandinam, the patron of the magazine (Davies normally only wrote editorials at Christmas).  This piece starts with Davies’ recollections of how the War was dealt with at the time. Lord Davies likens the idea of going to war to a time when disputes in civilian life were solved by fighting, either in a duel or a battle. He then points out that in civilian life these had been replaced by the principles of law and order, but that there appeared to be no such system for disputes between nations, until the creation after the War of the League of Nations. However, not even that organisation was immune from criticism from Lord Davies, who claimed that …we have helped to turn it into a debating society.  He predicted that there would be another war in Europe, which would come with no warning, and could only be stopped by both a Tribunal and a police force.

Photo 6-Bombs were dropped and no damage was done

Over the next few pages, employees of the collieries owned by Ocean and National gave their recollections of the War, all with the intent of persuading the readers that peace was a better option than war. Some photographs are also printed, two of them showing buildings in London that had been bombed. One poignant photograph shows a collection of dead soldiers under the heading ‘Crisis Over!’ In addition to the photographs a pair of newspaper articles, reprinted from the Daily Express and Le Matin, refer to the horrific events that took place during the War.

Photo 7-War Fever Crisis Over

The final section of this dedication to the War begins with a cartoon depicting a giant man labelled ‘War’ being zapped by aircraft belonging to the International Police Force. The cartoon is titled ‘A Direct Hit!’ with the cartoonist, Mr Dick Rees, commenting, Sooner the better!

The final article of the anti-war feature is titled ‘The Oldest Racket’, subtitled ‘Wanted! – A New Police Force’, where the case was made for the formation of an International Police Force, either as a replacement for the League of Nations …or its effective reinforcement by the addition of the power which enables the Council to enforce its decisions. This proposed Police Force would be discussed in detail in the December 1934 edition.

Cartoon 4-A Direct Hit

From this point until the final issue in the collection at the end of 1936, the magazine adopted an anti-war rhetoric. Although the Second World War had not happened by then, 1936 had seen the start of the Spanish Civil War and before that the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1935 and the Japanese invasion of the Manchurian region of China in 1931.

Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

The Ocean and National Magazine, 1932: Cardiff Office Personalities

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.

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D1400-9-5-5 Cover

Cover, June 1932, D1400/9/5/5

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.

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Cardiff Office Personalities, No.1, Without Malice Afterthought, D1400/9/5/5, p.184

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.

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News from the districts heading, D1400/9/5/5, p.203. Each edition of the Ocean and National Magazine featured news from individual collieries, under the heading ‘News from the Districts’

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.

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Magazine pages demonstrating some of the subjects covered in the magazines, D1400-9-5-8

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

Charles Chaplin at the Theatre Royal, 11 February 1891

Glamorgan Archives holds an extensive collection of the original playbills from the Theatre Royal, Cardiff for the years 1885-1895.  Situated on the corner of Wood Street and St Mary Street, a site later occupied by the Prince of Wales Theatre, the Theatre Royal provided a wide variety of entertainment including pantomime, opera and plays.

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One of the playbills that catches the eye is the bill for 11 February 1891 that includes Charles Chaplin singing ‘Duty Calls’. In fact this was Charles Chaplin senior, for young Charlie Chaplin was only 2 years old at the time. Charles Chaplin and his wife Hannah were both music hall entertainers and, in February 1891, Charles was appearing at the Empire in Cardiff. Such was his popularity that he was loaned ‘for one night only’ to appear at the Theatre Royal for a special and extended performance of the pantomime Sinbad the Sailor. Charles and Hannah’s marriage was not a success. Their music hall careers faded and sadly they did not live to see their son’s career blossom as an internationally acclaimed comic actor and film maker.

If you would like to see the Charles Chaplin playbill or others in the Theatre Royal collection they are held at Glamorgan Archives, reference D452.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

The Ocean and National Magazine, 1930: Tour of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire Coalfields

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 third of a series of blog posts in which Andrew highlights stories from the Ocean and National Magazines.

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Cover of January 1930 edition, D1400/9/3/1

Many contributions to the magazine include technical and scientific articles concerning coal mining processes. One such feature appeared in 1930, with a series of articles from a party of then-current or former members of Ocean’s coal mines in south Wales, concerning the tour they made of the coalfields of north east England.

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Group taken at Seghill Colliery during tour of collieries of north-east England, D1400/9/3/1, p.13

Machinery and mining techniques are discussed within the articles, with L. Phillips, Manager, Nine Mile Point Colliery, discussing, in January 1930, how machines were being used in the north of England to assist miners. He remarks that using machines in a coal mine was not as straightforward as using machines in steelworks or tinplate mills or car factories, but notes that over 22% of the total coal produced at the time was cut by machinery. He discusses the types of conveyors used to deal with the large quantity of coal cut by the coal-cutters and how perfect cooperation between officials and men is needed to ensure the efficiency of this system.

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Sketch plan of face and belt truck conveyor, D1400/9/3/1, p.9

Coal mining methodology is also discussed in the February edition by Ben Phillips of Park Pit. Within his article he compares methods of working the coal seams in south Wales and the north-west of England. He discussed the board and pillar and long wall methods. He notes longwall had been introduced …as the result of the exhaustion of the thicker seams of coal in the Northern coalfields… and writes about the variations found within both methods.

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Methods of working compared with South Wales, D1400/9/3/2, p.45

At Ashington Colliery, Daniel J. Thomas, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (formerly engaged in the Engineers’ department, Treorchy) comments that at Ashington Colliery his group had the pleasure of lighting a cigarette at the coalface, within 10 feet of an electrical coal cutter. Although impressed by the use of electricity at Seghill Colliery, he was disappointed when he visited the colliery, as …although electricity was solely used they did not generate any. Other collieries within the coalfield of north east England were also benefitting from the use of electricity. When Thomas’ team visited Haworth Colliery, they were able to see a pair of electric winders, capable of raising 7½ tons of coal per wind from a depth of 1000 yards.

Differences in working practices were also mentioned. In one particular article from the January edition, Daniel J. Thomas, a former Treorchy engineer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, comments on the strange shift times of the miners at Usworth: …some men went in at 5am and others at 11am.

Through these articles readers would have been able to gain an understanding of the technical side of mining and the similarities and differences in the working practices of the south Wales and northern England coalfields.

Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

The Ocean and National Magazine, 1929: Boys’ Clubs

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 second of a series of blog posts in which Andrew highlights stories from the Ocean and National Magazines.

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Welfare provision, society and culture are key themes of the magazines. Throughout the 1929 editions, this theme was highlighted through the discussion of Boys’ Clubs affiliated to the Ocean Area Recreation Union. Colonel R.B. Campbell questioned what happened to 14 to 18 year old boys once they had finished their shift at work (the age at which children could leave school was lower than it is today), if indeed they worked at all for …unemployment is rife. Campbell pointed out that only 1 in 5 boys belonged to a boys’ organisation, e.g. Boys’ Club, Boy Scouts, Boys’ Brigades. This article lead to a series of pieces discussing the role and success of boys’ clubs in colliery communities.

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In March, an anonymous writer took up the thread of this topic, looking at the subject of hobbies, and how Boys’ Clubs could use them to the benefit of their members. Examples of hobbies thought to be beneficial included carpentry, metalwork, carving, painting, modelling, photography, gardening, nature studies, net making and stamp collecting.

In May, T. Jacob Jones highlighted the establishment of numerous boys’ clubs in a short space of time within the area covered by Ocean. While he saw positive aspects of his local club, notably that several activities and the library had been successfully maintained, he was keen to know if other areas run by Ocean were having similar success or not. One of his main concerns about the club was a lack of non-sporting activities, such as drama, music, debating, hobbies, reading and rambling. He also felt the clubs were …in danger of being isolated from the village life – the Church, the School, and the Social Unit.

In June, Ap Nathan was asked to publicise his ‘candid’ criticism of Boys’ Clubs. Furthering T. Jacob Jones’ criticisms, he wrote that too much emphasis was placed on games and sport and not enough on culture. However, unlike Jones, Ap Nathan saw the role of religion in such institutions as controversial. Within his article, Ap Nathan emphasised that the type of leader for these groups was key, stating: …what is really needed is not an able administrator or organiser, but a great lover of boys.

Money was also seen as an issue in the success of the boys’ clubs, with the Reverend D.L. Rees discussing the matter in the July edition. Again reference is made to cultural activities, however Rees refers to a Club that had tried to organise rambles and gardening, but they were not popular and were dropped.  However, there must have been some success at organising cultural activities, for in September the magazine published the results of a drama competition, with entrants from Treorchy, Wattstown, Treharris and Nantymoel.

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In October the magazine planned a series of competitions for the winter of 1929-30, split into the categories of Hobbies, which included Handicrafts, Drawing, Reading, Essays, Story-Telling and Recitation, and Drama, which involved producing a play.

Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

 

The Ocean and National Magazine, 1928: The Eisteddfod at Treorchy

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 first of a series of blog posts in which Andrew highlights stories from the Ocean and National Magazines.

1. preparations for the national at treorchy

Preparations for the National Eisteddfod at Treorchy, Ocean and National Magazine, Aug 1928, D1400/9/1/5

In the summer of 1928, the National Eisteddfod was held in Treorchy, the first time it had been held in the Rhondda. The Ocean and National Magazine dedicated their August 1928 issue to the event, with contributors discussing the upcoming festival and their favourite aspects of the event.

2. general view of treorchy

General View of Treorchy, Ocean and National Magazine, Aug 1928, D1400/9/1/5

Music is a key part of the Eisteddfod, and Humphrey G. Prosser wrote that he was looking forward to the Monday of the festival which would be …inaugurated with massed music in excelsis, for it is the day devoted to the interests of the blaring trumpet and booming drum!…and the air will be heavy with harmony from dawn till dusk! Discussion of music extended to the choirs, with much attention being paid to the outfits to be worn by the female choirs. Choral Chairman R.R. Williams noted that the main concern for them was the length of the sleeves of the women’s dresses. It was decided that most women would wear long sleeves, and that those who were wearing short sleeves …are only probationers …and are making valiant efforts to merit confidence so as to be accepted as full members and thereby be entitled to wear long sleeves.

3. treorchy eisteddfod staff

Eisteddfod Principal Officials and Special Correspondents, Ocean and National Magazine, Aug 1928, D1400/9/1/5

Education is a topic that often features in the articles of the Ocean and National Magazines and here in this special Eisteddfod edition H. Willow writes an article debating the question of what education is. When discussing education in relation to the Eisteddfod, Willow writes that the …educative purpose behind it could be said to make it unique. He goes on to make the point that using drama as an instrument in the teaching of language is of …tremendous value, and notes that the Eisteddfod pays a …large sum in terms of prizes to different types of writers and age group.

4. scenes at the proclamation ceremony

Scenes at the Proclamation Ceremony, Ocean and National Magazine, Aug 1928, D1400/9/1/5

In this particular year, the Arts and Crafts section of the Eisteddfod also added science to its remit. Llewellyn Evans, Honorary Secretary of the Arts, Crafts and Science Section refers to the addition of the Science section specifically due to the location, admitting it is a broad label, as it mostly concerns mining, local geology and geography, as well as the crafts associated with the coal mining industry.

Other writers were interested in how the Welsh language, culture and traditions could be kept alive outside of the Eisteddfod. One particular contributor discusses Urdd Gobaith Cymru, a society in which the Reverend T. Alban Davies had the intention of …building up as an enduring defender of the Welsh language and of Welsh tradition and culture. With every issue containing a least one article written in Welsh, the Ocean and National Magazine editors championed the Welsh language, not only in this special Eisteddfod edition but throughout the publication.

Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer