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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D1400-9-6-1 Cover

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

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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

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