Glamorgan’s Blood: Health and Welfare Records in the Coal Industry Collections – Fatal Accident Reports

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.

Fatal Accident Reports

In terms of fatalities in the mining industry, it is often large disasters that we hear most about, those tragedies that took the most lives are shocking and would have devastated the local communities. However, we must remember that many fatalities also occurred during day to day work in the mine. All too often, accident books have entries written in red ink to denote when an accident had resulted in a fatality. Post-1947, we hold a series of 113 files of Fatal Accident Reports and Inquest Files from collieries across south Wales, including Glamorgan, Carmarthenshire and Gwent.

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Surface reconstruction of haulage chain accident, [c1950] (DNCB/14/2/24/3)

Investigating the causes and circumstances of an accident may have also included a reconstruction of the scene. The National Coal Board photographic collection includes images that depict these reconstructions.

Please note that access to material less than 100 years old may be restricted.

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

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.

Pneumoconiosis Registers

Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis was discovered in the late 1930s, and by the 1940s the Welsh valleys had the worst dust problem in the UK.

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‘Pneumoconiosis, The Deadly Dust’, Miners’ Gala, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (DNCB/14/1/42)

Three pneumoconiosis registers within the collection, dating from 1945-1953, contain information on compensation received by individuals suffering from the lung condition. These registers show the compensation schemes that individual pre-vesting colliery companies, and then the NCB, operated for workers suffering from dust related lung conditions.

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Pneumoconiosis Register (DNCB/3/5/3)

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Pneumoconiosis Register (DNCB/3/5/3)

Files within the NCB Legal Department records (ref.: DNCB/4/2) demonstrate scientific research undertaken by the NCB’s Area Chief Scientist in preparation for legal proceedings relating to pneumoconiosis claims in the 1970s.

The Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners’ Association Records (ref.: DNCB/15/1) include 20 reports of the General Research Committee and The Coal Dust Research Committee dating from 1941-1946.

Please note that access to material less than 100 years old may be restricted.

Glamorgan’s Blood: Health and Welfare Records in the Coal Industry Collections – Accident and Compensation Registers

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.

Accident and compensation registers

The dangers of working in the coal industry are no more apparent than in the contents of the accident and compensation registers within the National Coal Board and pre-vesting date colliery collections.

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Accident and Compensation Register, Western Pit, 1902-1904 (D1400/1/1/1)

The above image is an example of an accident and compensation register from the Ocean Coal Company Ltd Records (ref.: D1400). This volume from Western Colliery dates from 1902-1904 and a typical entry records name, occupation, age, address, cause of injury, and amount of compensation paid. In the entry shown on this page, John Clark, a doorboy, aged 14, suffered an injury when a pit horse suddenly moved, pulling an empty coal dram over his foot. Door boys or doorkeepers were commonly young children. John Clark here was 14, but in the early half of the 19th century there were instances of children as young as 6 in this role. Their job was to open and close ‘air doors’ to allow air flow around the mine. Fatalities in this job were all too frequent as it was easy for doorkeepers to slip and fall under heavy drams. With this in mind, it appears that in this case, John Clark had a lucky escape with just an injured foot!

With many of these volumes going into detail about how accidents occurred, the injuries people sustained and the compensation they received, these volumes can be used for a variety of research topics concerning the health and working conditions of those working in the mining industry. Colliery accident and compensation registers within the scope of the project date from 1902-1951. Please note that access to material less than 100 years old may be restricted.

Cardiff People First: The Pink Ladies Project

Cardiff People First is a self-advocacy organisation run by and for people with a learning disability in Cardiff. They stand up for their rights and campaign to change attitudes, get better services and enjoy more opportunities. They fight for equality, understanding, respect and acceptance.

Cardiff People First members have worked on a number of important projects.  During 2015-2017 they received funding from Comic Relief for a Pink Ladies Project aimed at ensuring women were more confident and empowered to access more services and activities within their community.

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Pink Ladies Project Officer Dawn depositing documents with Glamorgan Archives

The members of Pink Ladies are women with a learning disability. They have identified the most important things to them, the barriers that stop them living their lives. They’ve met with mainstream and learning disability services developing good working relationships and want to do more. The themes they want to concentrate on are: increased access to education and work opportunities; increased understanding of and access to health opportunities; and increased understanding and access to mainstream women’s identity services.

Project papers now held at the Archives (ref. D1351) include questionnaires, feedback papers, evaluation forms, work plans, agendas and reports, newsletters and various information packs relating to women’s health.

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You can find out more about the Pink Ladies project by watching their films on You Tube: https://bit.ly/2YSvu2k

The Pink Ladies project is just one of several initiatives undertaken by Cardiff People First.  Their work continues, and we’re looking forward to seeing their Archive grow as well, reflecting the full range of their amazing work.

The day that Japan came to Wales, June 1976

All eyes in Wales will be on events at the Tokyo Stadium in Japan on Friday 20 September when Crown Prince Akishino formally opens the Rugby World Cup 2019. For the travelling Welsh supporters there is some respite with the first game, against Georgia in Toyota City, not scheduled until the following Monday. However, as they take in all that Japan has to offer, there may well be some who recall the day when the then Crown Prince of Japan, Akishino’s father, paid a visit to South Wales. The date was 22 June 1976 and the story of the visit of Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko is told through records held at Glamorgan Archives.

The couple’s arrival at what was then called Glamorgan Rhoose Airport on 21 June 1976 created something of a sensation, with five television companies on site and one of the largest press corps ever seen at the airport. It was discovered too late in the day that the airport did not possess a red carpet, as the Prince and Princess were whisked through the terminal to a fleet of cars with an escort of special branch officers to spend the night at the home of Sir Cennydd Traherne, Lord Lieutenant of the Counties of Glamorgan.

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A copy of the programme drawn up by the Welsh Office for the visit is held at Glamorgan Archives. Time was tight, with the couple due to leave for London on the morning of 23 June. Yet there was a determination to cover as much ground as possible. The following day the Crown Princess visited Tintern Abbey and Chepstow Castle before undertaking afternoon visits with the Crown Prince to St Fagan’s Museum, the Royal College of Music and Drama and Atlantic College. The day ended with a medieval banquet at Cardiff Castle hosted by the Foreign Office.

Pride of place on the itinerary, however, went to the visit made by Crown Prince Akihito to Deep Navigation Colliery in Treharris. The Prince had requested briefings from mining experts in Japan prior to the visit. Almost the entire morning had been cleared so that he could meet the men, examine the workings of the mine and go down to the coal face. This was no easy feat in that it involved crawling forty yards after walking three quarters of a mile underground. His visit is recorded through a series of photographs held in the National Coal Board collection at Glamorgan Archives.

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It was reported that on the day he took away a piece of coal that he had cut from the work face, a fern shaped fossil and a miners’ lamp presented to him by 17 year old mining craft apprentice, Keith Picton. There was no time for rugby on this visit, but the NCB South Wales Director, Philip Weekes, could not resist a rugby analogy when describing how well the Crown Prince had coped with the cramped conditions:

He moved very well underground – like a scrum half. He is very fit.

As Wales take to the pitch for their first game there may well, therefore, be memories in both Japan and Wales of the day in June 1976 when Japan came to Wales.

Crown Prince Akihito became the Emperor of Japan some 13 year later in 1989. He recently abdicated in favour of his son and is now known as the Emperor Emeritus.

A copy of the programme drawn up by the Welsh Office for the visit in 1976 can be seen at Glamorgan Archives, ref. DX31/23, along with six photographs of the visit to Deep Navigation, ref. DNCB/14/3/23/6-11.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Cymer Independent Chapel and the Rhondda Relief Road

The Rhondda Relief Road, which runs from Trehafod to Pontygwaith via Porth, opened to traffic in 2006 and was officially opened the following year – after landscaping work was completed – by the First Minister for Wales Rhodri Morgan. Although the need to divert traffic away from homes in the Porth area had long been acknowledged the scheme was not without controversy. At a cost of £98 million it is one of the most expensive roads ever constructed in the UK, working out at £18 million per mile. However, much of the controversy surrounded the route of the road and the fact that it would pass through the historic graveyard of Cymer Independent Chapel. This would require the exhumation of over eight hundred bodies.

The present Cymer Independent Chapel was built in 1834 to replace, improve and expand upon the previous chapel of 1743. It was founded by Reverend Henry Davies, famed for his evangelical zeal and and is recognised as the first non-conformist chapel to be built in the Rhondda. It would be a further hundred years before a second Independent chapel would be built in the Rhondda, at Carmel, Treherbert, in 1857.

The chapel’s congregation grew and flourished as the population of the Rhondda expanded. However, when Mid Glamorgan Council conducted their chapel survey in 1978 – the records of which also reside with Glamorgan Archives (ref.: MGCC/CS/54/10)the congregation was documented as shrinking and as such were no longer able to obtain the services of a full time minister. The chapel eventually closed its doors permanently in 1987.

In 2005 surviving records of the chapel were deposited at Glamorgan Archives (ref: D342). The collection includes financial records for the chapel, cemetery accounts and a quantity of photographs. Included in the cemetery accounts is a hand drawn plan of the graveyard, produced in 1877.

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The plan seeks to recreate the graveyard, with each individual grave carefully hand drawn in great detail.

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Each grave is numbered and adjacent to the drawing is a key listing the purchaser of each plot. Among the carefully recreated graves can be found the resting place of the founding minister Reverend Henry Davies, buried in a simple grave in the shadow of the chapel he helped build.

Later in 2005 the bodies buried at the Chapel graveyard were exhumed and re-interred in a portion of remaining land unaffected by the road. Some were moved to different graveyards at the request of surviving relatives. The 1877 hand drawn plan of the graveyard is our best representation of the chapel graveyard as it existed, now lost under the tarmac of the A4233.

The Motorway Archive Wales

The Motorway Archive Trust was established under a Declaration of Trust in 1999 and registered as a charity in January 2000. The trust developed from the suggestion of Sir Peter Baldwin, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Transport that an archive relating to the motorway achievement in the UK should be created by those involved in the work, in order to safeguard the records for present and future research. In Wales, a regional committee was formed to carry forward this work and the records from The Motorway Archive Wales were deposited at Glamorgan Archives.  The trust was wound up on 31 December 2014 and ownership of the archive material was transferred to the Institution of Civil Engineers Wales.

Not only do the records provide a fascinating insight for transport and civil engineering enthusiasts, they also document Wales’ biggest motorway achievement; the making of the M4, the only motorway in Wales. Of the 123 miles of M4 motorway, 76 miles are in Wales and are the responsibility of the Welsh Government.  The records cover the project from early schemes such as the Port Talbot Bypass in 1966 to the completion of the Second Severn Crossing in 1996.

The 1970’s were a busy period of construction on key motorway junctions in Glamorgan, with 1977 seeing the most completed roadworks during the entire making of the M4. Junctions 28-29 Tredegar to St Mellons, 32-35 Coryton to Pencoed, 37-39 Stormy Down to Groes, and 46-49 Llangyfelach to Pont Abraham (Pontarddulais Bypass) were all completed in this year; a total of 31 miles in eight months at a cost of £130 million. 115 structures were built, 12 million cubic metres of material was excavated and 10 million cubic metres used in embankments. In total well over 1 million trees were planted around the M4 roadway in Wales. In 1976, at the peak of motorway construction in Wales, monthly certificates totalled some £4 million in value, and employment at peak periods was almost 4,000.

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Construction of Stormy Down Viaduct

However, construction did not come without its difficulties, especially in the case of the Stormy Down to Groes section between junctions 37-39. Ewart Wheeler, project manager of the scheme, had the unusual experience of giving evidence at the Public Inquiry in promoting the alignment on behalf of the Welsh Office, whilst at the same time objecting to certain aspects of the route on behalf of Glamorgan County Council. This scheme featured a substantial cutting in marl, and several rights of way crossed the planned route of the motorway, resulting in drastic changes to the landscape. Despite suggestions of alternative routes by the Port Talbot Deputy Engineer, in 1974 it was decided that the village of Groes had to be demolished to make way for Junction 39. Although all 21 families were rehomed in 1976, the historical octagonal Beulah Calvinistic Chapel was dismantled and rebuilt in Tollgate Park.

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Margam to Stormy Down staff photograph

Glamorgan Archives has recently completed a project to catalogue the Motorway Archive (ref.: DMAW), funded by the Business Archives Council’s John Armstrong Award for Transport Archives.  The catalogue is now available to search via Canfod at http://calmview.cardiff.gov.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=DMAW&pos=1