The village of Deri is a little known jewel nestled in the Darran valley, an offshoot of
the Rhymney valley. Originally a mining village it is now a much sought after residential
area which maintains the best of traditional valley community life. Deri is surrounded by
countryside parks and areas of natural beauty and is in easy reach of major commercial
centres and National Parks.
(Photographs courtesy of Ralph Williams)
Many organisations, clubs and societies existed at various times from the 1800’s
when pigeon fancying became one of the earliest communal activities.
All ages and tastes were catered for and while many organisations were merely
pleasant pastimes others were of a more serious nature. A wide variety of sporting
interests were catered for including pigeon racing, whippet racing, quoits,
rifle-shooting, boxing, rugby, soccer, cricket, skittles, billiards and snooker.
Music also played a large part in the social life of Deri with the Deri Silver Band
and various choirs.
The focal point of social activity in the Darran Valley for much of the 29th century
was the Deri Working Men’s Institute, known locally as the “Stute”.
First opened in 1922 the “Stute” served the community in many ways including
band practices, choir practices and St John Ambulance practices. There were also
sewing classes, gymnastic classes, shoe repairing classes, horticultural classes
Here the Rechabites, Deri Harmonica Band and local council met, and polling booths
were placed at election times. There was a reading room, and a library and it is from
there that many a future professional got his first glimpse of the world beyond the
slagheaps and away from the pits.
The “Stute” was the largest building in the village and became the centre of Deri’s
social and cultural life. It provided the means for Deri people to hold their concerts,
their eisteddfodaau, their drama competitions, their variety shows and during the strikes,
their soup kitchens.
In 1920 a committee was formed to organise a hall “for the use and pleasure of
Elected officers were John Evans (Long) as chairman, John Edwards (Shoeshop) as
treasurer and Gwilym Llewellyn as treasurer.
Money required to build the new hall would be raised by making a deduction from the men’s
pay of one penny a week. Much of the building work was done by the men themselves,
especially the digging of the foundations. The officers and committee gave their
The first commmittee members were Rev Isaac Evans,
W.J.Giles (draper), T.J.Holifield, John Owen, W.B.Todd, D.J. Meredith, D.A.Bowen an,
Edgar Bowen (miners).
The first caretaker, who also doubled as librarian was Mr. W R John from Ynysybwl,
appointed out of a total of 348 applicants from all parts of Wales. He was a popular figure
who became a local councillor and later chairman of the Gelligaer Urban District Council.
He was also appointed a Justice of the Peace and became a member of the
Glamorgan County Council.
During the long hard months of the 1926 lockout, special eisteddfodau, concerts, dramas
and first aid competitions were organised to raise finds to provide a soup kitchen which
was held in the “top hall”.