Entertaining the miners: Children from Ysgol Gynrad Pontiets

THE first of many celebrations planned to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the building of the Miner’s Welfare Hall in Pontyates took place today, Monday (Mar 5).

A large number of former miners, their wives and miner’s widows were provided with bowls of cawl, Welshcakes and Bara Brith. Children from Pontyates CP School provided the musical entertainment. The school received a grant to help provide two song writers to run a workshop for the children to write their own songs with a mining related theme. Documents detailing the history of the hall were also on display.

The Miners Welfare Halls have been an important part of our communities for many years. They were originally built with contributions out of the Miners wages, paid weekly. There are approximately 38 Welfare halls remaining in south Wales.

Irfon Jones, Chairman of Carmarthenshire county council and county councillor Tyssul Evans attended the event where Wayne Thomas the General Secretary of the National Union of Miners gave a talk on the importance of the miner’s welfare halls.

Links to the past: Andrew Morse and Wayne Thomas

Speaking to Llanelli Online Mr Thomas said: “The history of the NUM is very important in these mining communities. Before the NUM you had the South Wales Miners Federation. The coal industry was Nationalised in 1947 and we saw the birth of the NUM. The main reason was to look after the health and quality of life of miners and their families. Even though the mines have gone the legacy of the industry is very important to us i.e. there is still ill health related to the industry and the widows of course and we continue to assist those who were involved in the industry.”

Speaking about the importance of the hall Mr Thomas said: “You see the Pontyates scenario across the valleys of South Wales other parts of the coalfields in England and Scotland as well. They are often very deprived communities with poor transport links so there were very few opportunities to get outside of the mining areas. For Pontyates to have the hall was very important. The volunteers have worked extremely hard to keep this place going. It is fantastic to see so many ex miners and miner’s widows here being entertained by local children, in some cases the grand children and great grand children of miners. It speaks volumes.”

Pontyates Miner’s Welfare Hall has moved with the times and now incorporates a local produce market, a library, meeting rooms, a performance area including a stage and is host to a large number of local organisations including a ladies choir, a history group, Brownies, Welsh classes and WI.

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The South Wales Regional Manager of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) Andrew Morse was also at the event. He said: “The primary objective of the national charity is supporting former miners and their families with help and advice to alleviate disadvantage arising from disability, ill health or financial hardship.

“Ever since the Mining Industry Act of 1920 an extensive array of welfare provision has been provided for employees in the mining industry, former employees, and the wives/widows of such individuals, together with recreational and health facilities located in mining or former mining communities.”

If you worked in South Wales, the West Country or the Forest of Dean coalfields contact: Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, Woodland Terrace, Maesycoed, Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan CF37 1DZ Tel 01443 485233 Email nicola.taylor@ciswo.org.uk

You can also visit their website http://www.ciswo.org.uk/

Photos: ©2018, Dai Lenscap, Angharad Evans & Iwan Lewis

You can watch out film of the day here:

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