Elwyn Morgan aged 87 talks about growing up in the beautiful village of Deri in the Darran Valley. He shares a memory with the Darran Valley History Group entitled, ‘Principles, Effort, Attitude, Values’.
Born in Deri on 7th March 1929, he lived in the village until the late 1960’s – he is proud of his heritage and to be called a ‘Deri Boy’.
His valley roots and Deri school gave him a good start in life and also set his outlook, which was to improve society by enhancing the working conditions and treatment of ordinary folk.
Elwyn started his working life as a messenger boy in Ogilvie Colliery, (now Parc Cwm Darran) and remembers the hooter and the Lloyd George. He has recollections of Evan the Co-op, the barber shop and some comical pigeon tales. Elwyn had a wide and varied career. He was involved in Trade Unionism, Health and Hospital Trusts, District Council and Local Government. Throughout his life he met many interesting and influential figures, such as Reverend Desmond Tutu, Lt. General Mordechai (Moto) Gur of Israel and Harry Secombe to name a few. The highlight was being awarded the MBE from the Queen for his contribution to society over many years. This is a fascinating memory and highly recommended viewing.
Fochriw Memorial Stone Unveiling – Thursday 25th September 2014 – Photo Courtesy of Eddy Blanche, Fochriw
At 12.30pm in the small village of Fochriw in the Darran Valley, a crowd gathered to witness the much belated unveiling of a memorial stone. The stone monument with inscribed black marble plaque, commemorates those who lost their lives in the first world war and those who lost their lives in the mining industry. The stone was unveiled by Mayor David Carter and Mr. Alan Thomas: a former Fochriw boy. The beautiful red South Wales Miners’ Banner was held proudly by former miners: David Small and Ron Stoate.
Fourteen soldiers from Fochriw, Pentwyn and Penybanc were killed during the great war. Peter Price’s research uncovered the names of: one hundred and forty one men killed in mining accidents in Fochriw and Cae Glas collieries. The children of Fochriw school read out the names of those men and boys who lost their lives in such tragic circumstances. It was a poignant moment and the Fochriw Primary School children should be proud of their outstanding reading. Their voices were slow, clear and concise enabling everybody to hear the deceased’s names properly. The names of those who lost their lives fighting for their country were read out by a representative of The British Legion.
Councillor Alan Higgs: Arms Forces Champion, CCBC then laid a poppy wreath upon the stone in memoriam. The Reverend Gwyn Davies dedicated and blessed the memorial stone. The afternoon continued with refreshments in Fochriw Community Centre. The History Group had assembled a very interesting exhibition including memorabilia from the Great War. There was also memorabilia from local coal mines. Peter Price also presented the children of Fochriw School, with a book that he compiled documenting the history of Fochriw School in photographs. Cllr. David Hardacre gave a short thank you speech to those involved in the project. Ron Stoate: former Lodge Secretary for Penallta pit, then gave an emotive speech about the perils of mining. Ron highlighted the fact: that unless there were more than 5 deaths in any mining related incident they were considered accidents and not disasters; this fallacy was held in high contempt after the Gleision Mine tragedy in September 2011. Ron also talked about the sad closures of the collieries in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s resulting in the lack of employment we see today.
The Darran Valley History Group became involved with this project last year. Peter Price suggested the construction of a memorial because Fochriw, was one of a few villages within the local authority, that didn’t, have a memorial acknowledging lives lost during the war and within the coal mining industry.
The history group agreed to Peter’s proposal. We then had to consult with local residents regarding the location and design of the memorial. The preferred site was unanimously decided as just above the existing culvert. Planning permission was sought and granted from the local authority, as was the lease of the plot of land. The Darran Valley History Group part funded the project; and then sought the aid of additional sponsors to raise the full amount needed. Fochriw now has its memorial.
The Darran Valley History would like to thank the following sponsors for coming to our aid:
- Green Acre Memorials
- Miller Argent
- Area Forum Budget – CCBC
- Merthyr Salvage
- The Darran Valley Community Council
We would also like to thank everybody who contributed to the project. A lot of information was given to us by DVHG members: Eirwen, Jim and Ben Davies. Thank you to Fochriw School for their participation in the event; it always adds to this type of occasion when young people are involved – they, after all, are our future.
Thanks also to DVHG member: Brian Jarrett, for his outstanding photographs, which will continue to give everyone a visual memory of the afternoon for many years to come.
AN APPEAL to fund the first ever Welsh National Mining Memorial is being launched by the First Minister on the site of Britain’s worst ever pit disaster.
The Rhymney Valley wept on the 14th October in 1913 when Senghenydd Colliery suffered an explosion, killing 439 men and boys from towns including Nelson and Llanbradach.
Carwyn Jones AM was today unveiling plans for a powerful tribute to mining communities throughout Wales at the Universal Colliery.
The memorial, costing £200,000, is expected to be close to the site of the original mine.
Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/rhymney-valley/2012/06/28/first-ever-welsh-national-mining-memorial-launch-at-the-site-of-senghenydd-colliery-91466-31275758/#ixzz23LjBWDmA
The project, developed by the Aber Valley Heritage Group, will feature a statue designed by artist Les Johnson as well as a landscape garden and wall of remembrance.
It could be unveiled on October 14, 2013 – the centenary of the Senghenydd blast.
Jill Jones, a volunteer for the group, said not only would it pay tribute to the miners who lost their lives in disasters, but all those who paid the price for Wales’s mining heritage.
“With the Senghenydd disaster, lots of people were listed from the town but they came from all over, just to work – it was a disaster that affected us all,” she said.
“There were 160 disasters in Wales, claiming close to 6,000 men and boys. But then you add all those who were killed during their normal working lives through disease, we are talking thousands and thousands.
“But the price these men paid has been forgotten, and that’s wrong. It was their sacrifices that this country was built on.”
It is hoped the memorial will become a focal point of remembrance for the mining industry in Wales, with the likes of New Tredegar and Rhymney represented alongside others.
Councillor Harry Andrews, leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “We fully support this exciting scheme to recognise the generations of men and boys across Wales who worked underground – many of whom lost their lives in the process.
“The tragic history of the Aber Valley, together with its significant contribution to the Welsh Coal industry, makes it a fitting location for a Welsh National Mining Memorial – the very first of its kind in Wales.”
The First Minister said: “Mining is central to the story of Wales. It has shaped our history and communities and its social and physical legacy is still with us to this day.
“There was a time when mining tragedies were sadly all too common and only recently we saw four men lose their lives at the incident at Gleision, an event which was a sharp reminder of the dangers of the industry.
“It is only right that we have a permanent memorial to those – both in the past and present – who go underground in search of coal.”
Wayne Thomas, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary for South Wales, said the memorial would highlight both the importance of the mining industry to Wales and also act as a reminder of the sacrifices workers made.
“I think people have forgotten that,” he said.
“We have seen some high-profile media coverage of the Gleision disaster, which was horrific and unprecedented in my lifetime.
“Those kind of instances were regular occurrences on a daily basis.”
He added: “It’s important that we look back and recall exactly how difficult it was.
“But even with all those difficulties and hardships, which I have never found in my lifetime, they still had the vision to put forward the NHS, for instance, and workers co-operatives.”
Broadcaster Roy Noble, who used to teach in Senghenydd and was expected at today’s launch as patron of the Aber Valley Heritage Group, said the memorial would help educate future generations about the lives lost in the industry.
“It really is hugely important to remember the true cost of coal,” he said.
For information or to donate, contact the Aber Valley Heritage Group on 029 2083 4445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/rhymney-valley/2012/06/28/first-ever-welsh-national-mining-memorial-launch-at-the-site-of-senghenydd-colliery-91466-31275758/#ixzz23LjL6C7c