The Ocean and National Magazine, 1936: Reminiscences through a Time-book at Bute Merthyr

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

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Cover of Vol 9, No.3, March 1936, D1400/9/9/3

Stories from individual collieries also feature within the Ocean and National Magazines. In 1936 a series of articles attributed to ‘I.B.’ discuss the contents of an historical time-book found at Bute-Merthyr Colliery. The author describes:

…wiping away the quarter inch of grime that encased its front cover…an accumulation of 20 years… [and opening] up a field of reminiscences.

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Reminiscences through a time-book at Bute Merthyr, D1400/9/9/3, p.93

The articles talk about people whose names appear in the time-book, including some men who were still alive at the time of writing. He first notices the name of David Timothy, who was a Tipper, and tells us that Mr Timothy …is still alive and well at 93… and that he was still working at Bute-Merthyr at the age of 79, drawing the dole in the 1921 strike. Long service is also commended in the case of Thomas Griffiths, a Pumpsman whom the author recalls being told had the longest record of service at Bute-Merthyr, followed by his brother Dai Griffiths. Mr W.D. Jones, otherwise known as ‘Billy Jones, Reading Room’, is also mentioned for long service, working at Bute-Merthyr for over 50 years.

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W D Jones, long serving Bute Merthyr employee, D1400/9/9/7, p.236

The author also uses the time-book to draw attention to the role of the Bute-Merthyr workforce in the First World War, noting that 157 joined His Majesty’s Forces during 1914-16. In the May edition, a focus was put on those who had served in the First World War. The author recalls a number of men who went to serve, including John Candy. At 18 years of age, Candy, who had lost an eye and had a bullet track in his left arm, came back from the War and in October 1916 was registered as a weigher. The author then observes the names Peitre Arents and Louis Popilier within the time-book, commenting that these were …hardly names one could expect to see on a Time-Book associated with Welsh Collieries. This prompted a reminder that Belgian refugees lived in the area during the War.

In the April edition the time-book also prompts memories of deaths and accidents.  Seeing the name of Walter Durrant, a Pumpsman, revives memories of his death as a result of a snowstorm in 1925. Another name found is that of Thomas Llewellyn, who had been a drift workman, and the author is reminded of a tragic accident that befell Mr Llewellyn in 1896. A group of people had obtained detonators and powder which exploded, which cost Mr Llewellyn two fingers from his right hand.

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An example of a Pay Book from Bute Merthyr Colliery within the Glamorgan Archives collection, Jan-Nov 1926, D1411/2/1/16/1

These articles offer an interesting look at how historical documents can be used to prompt memories and tell the stories of those featured within them. The time-book that is referred to in this article does not survive at Glamorgan Archives, however other pay books from Bute Merthyr Colliery and other collieries can be found in the collection and are available to consult in our search room.

Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

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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

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, 1933: Philosophy from the Mine

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

 

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Colliery histories, sports, science and technology all have their places in the Ocean and National Magazines. Literature also features, with poems and other literary contributions. In 1933 the Ocean and National Magazine started printing a series of articles entitled ‘Philosophy from the mine’, by a writer referred to as ‘Maindy’. These articles consider mining terms and describe their literal and philosophical meanings.

 

Maindy’s first article, in the January 1933 edition discusses clean coal, explaining the importance of pit-head notices telling workers that …clean coal only must be filled. After explaining the economic reasons for workmen to fill clean coal only, Maindy then takes the term as an analogy of life in general, wondering whether people’s contributions to life (their actions, speech and thoughts) were ‘Filling Clean’. Maindy returns to the subject of clean coal again in the November edition, with the picking belt used as the metaphor.

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In the next article, Maindy describes pointers and partings, as used on the mine’s rails, and how if they were used correctly and kept clean they would save time and unnecessary labour. Maindy again turns this into an analogy about life, suggesting that people have their own pointers in life and that if influenced properly these three pointers or judgments (judgments of the heart, judgements of conscience and judgements of intellect/reason), will lead people safely across the parting of moral challenges.

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The pattern of using analogies continues in Maindy’s subsequent articles, with the March 1933 edition likening the props and rings used to support the work area to moral props and …rings of friendship. May’s issue compared the laws of construction to the laws of society in general, whilst in June the subject was …the boss, with Maindy posing the question, Are you ‘boss’ of yourself?

 

In July the ‘demon’ of gas in mines drew parallels to the ‘demon’ of war, while in August finding the correct balance in Weighing Machines was likened to maintaining the correct balance of forces governing one’s life. In October the ventilating fan was compared to some people who …don’t make a lot of noise, but their very presence exhilarates us.

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Finally the December article looks at the sprag, a piece of timber pushed between the spokes of tram wheels as a simple method of braking. Here the sprag is likened to the control of the human mind, with Maindy writing, Like a good haulier or rider, always keep the idea of control in mind, and see, before you set out upon any of life’s roadways, that you are equipped to meet any temptation to moral ‘speeding’.

 

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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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

The Ocean and National Magazine, 1931: Impressions of a Voyage to Australia (and New Zealand!)

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

D1400-9-4-1 Cover

 

[Image: Cover, January 1931, D1400/9/4/1]

 

Alongside articles on the South Wales coalfield, the magazine also features other types of articles, including travel pieces. In 1931 and 1932 the magazine included a series of articles written by W.H. Becker, director of Messrs. Latch and Batchelor Ltd., Wire Rope Manufacturers, Birmingham, detailing his visit to Australia and New Zealand. The articles started in March 1931, and continued until August 1932.

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[Image: The SS Empress of Scotland, leaving Miraflores Locks, D1400/9/4/3, p.89]

 

Becker starts his account with the voyage from Southampton to the Panama Canal. It had been Becker’s dream to visit the Panama Canal and through his detailed description of the seven hour journey across the canal, readers can see that he was not left disappointed. On completing the journey across the Panama Canal, the April 1931 edition continues with Becker’s journey across the Pacific Ocean, including the crossing of the Equator, where Becker describes the weather as being intensely cold. As his journey across the Pacific continued, Becker records meeting the inhabitants of Pitcairn Island and describes some of the wildlife that he saw on the journey.

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[Image: A glimpse of Pitcairn Island and some if its male inhabitants, D1400/9/4/4, p.121]

 

After crossing the Pacific, Becker lands in Wellington, New Zealand. His article in the May 1931 edition sees Becker exploring Wellington, before crossing to the South Island of New Zealand and enjoying an exciting drive through undulating country, wooded valleys and two mountain ranges. He recalled the latter stage of the journey as not being very rapid, averaging eight miles an hour because of the bends in the road. He continued to explore the South Island in the June issue, visiting Nelson, the site of an earthquake that had struck in 1929.

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[Image: A typical motoring road in New Zealand, D1400/9/4/5, p.162]

 

Still on the South Island, the July issue sees Becker visiting coal mines in Greymouth and timber mills in Hokitika. Numerous coal drifts were seen close to the road in the Greymouth area and the party stopped at one such drift to talk to a group of miners – discovering that some of the workers had come from Britain, including Evan Jones, a miner from south Wales!

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[Image: A group of happy-looking coal miners, Greymouth, New Zealand, D1400/9/4/7, p.231]

 

The August and September issues see Becker climbing the Franz Joseph glacier, then taking the train to Christchurch. By the end of 1931 Becker is back in Wellington, where he visits the Houses of Parliament. Heading for Auckland, he describes Wairakei and the geysers within the national reserve.

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[Image: Prince of Wales’ Feathers’ Geyser, D1400/9/4/11, p.398 ]

 

Although titled a ‘Voyage to Australia’, by the end of 1931 Becker’s account was still in New Zealand and it is not until the April 1932 edition that he gets to Australia, where he recounts having seen the Sydney Harbour Bridge nearing completion. The last article on the voyage appeared in the August 1932 edition.

 

Andrew Booth, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

 

Image: Cover, January 1931, D1400/9/4/1

Image: The SS Empress of Scotland, leaving Miraflores Locks, D1400/9/4/3, p.89

Image: A glimpse of Pitcairn Island and some if its male inhabitants, D1400/9/4/4, p.121

Image: A typical motoring road in New Zealand, D1400/9/4/5, p.162

Image: A group of happy-looking coal miners, Greymouth, New Zealand, D1400/9/4/7, p.231

Image: Prince of Wales’ Feathers’ Geyser, D1400/9/4/11, p.398

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