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

 

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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