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.