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Editorial Team Lead Editors Maria Parker Ceri Carter Co-Editors Ryan Fackrell Sam Evans Special Thanks Dr Jane Finucane Prof. Chris Evans Kris Carter

Contents Editorial Maria Parker & Ceri Carter


A turning point in History: The lesson in brinkmanship which made the University of Glamorgan. Denize McIntyre


Recalling the Riots Maria Parker


The Life, Death and Rebirth of the Pontypridd Rail Network Mark Jones


‘Industrialization saved the Welsh language’- Discuss Ceri Carter


Evaluating the Significance of Women in Munitions Production during the Second World War in South Wales 1939-1945 Ian Prosser


Have historians overstated the importance of organized sport in the construction of a Welsh identity in the late Victorian and Edwardian period? Ryan Fackrell


‘A farrago of filth…every page teems with clotted idiocies [Western Mail]…the literature of the sewers [The Welsh Outlook]’. Why did commentators respond so angrily to Caradoc Evans’ My People (1915)? A Discussion. Huw Edwards


China’s hierarchy- the Welsh ‘slums’ criminal class and how changes in historiography have led to doubts about its existence. Samantha Rickards


Editorial Croeso and welcome to the first issue of the University of Glamorgan’s student history journal, History from the Forest. A group of postgraduate students embarked on this exciting venture aiming to set up a student history journal which would showcase the talent of students at the university. We recognise that it is so difficult to establish oneself as an academic and we hope that this publication will enable students to gain vital experience at having work peer reviewed and published. The buzz surrounding the first issue has been outstanding amongst students and staff alike. Our authors and editors have worked extremely hard to compile this issue for its St David’s Day release, and we are immensely proud of the outcome. Why the St David’s Day launch? 2013 is the year we celebrate the University’s centenary as an educational institution. To coincide with the one-hundredth anniversary, the theme of the first issue has been dedicated to Welsh history. For this issue we have been fortunate enough to obtain an article from Denize McIntyre, who is currently producing a book for the University’s centenary. And the journal begins with McIntyre’s article on the history of the University of Glamorgan and its beginnings as the School of Mines; looking at the tensions that surrounded the school’s establishment. From the School of Mines to the mines themselves, postgraduate student Maria Parker takes us to Tonypandy in 1910 and the riots that took place there. Using Tonypandy as an example, Parker explores the use of memory as an historical tool and debates the way we choose to remember events in our past and how memories change over time. Staying with the important theme of the coal industry, undergraduate Mark Jones in his journalistic article tracks the history of the railway network in South Wales and discusses its significance specifically to Welsh industry. He plays particular attention to the railways in the Pontypridd area and draws upon personal knowledge having grown up in the town. Industrialisation had an enormous impact of the South Wales valleys and the makeup of the population: MA student Ceri Carter tackles the historiography surrounding the debate into the influence of industrialisation on the Welsh language. Undergraduate, Ian Prosser, moves us forward in time to the Second World War and investigates the importance of women to the war effort in industry. Prosser examines the role


women played as a reserve workforce called upon to fulfil vital job roles whilst the men fought overseas. From the industrious battle field to the playing field, MA student Ryan Fackrell tackles the role that sport played in creating a Welsh national identity; specifically focusing on Rugby Union and its huge influence in South Wales. Continuing with the theme of national identity, graduate Huw Edwards looks at contemporary responses to Caradoc Evans’ My People. Edwards poses the question of whether such reactions to Evans’ book were justified? Finally, undergraduate Samantha Rickards delves into the infamous Welsh slums in Merthyr’s China district examining Keith Strange’s categorisation of a professional criminal class. Rickards challenges whether such a criminal class really did exist. This journal is a celebration of history. We have high ambitions that it will become an enormous success in the future and we hope that it serves as a useful development tool for students today and in the future. Maria Parker & Ceri Carter Lead Editors


A turning point in History: The lesson in brinkmanship which made the University of Glamorgan. By Denize McIntyre Whether we are looking at enormously significant international events which may have caused or ended a war, or a more prosaic incident at a family or community level, there is often one point in a history which time reveals to be the turning point – a pivot - which dictated the future path of that story. There is one such moment in the history of the University of Glamorgan. In 2013, the University of Glamorgan celebrates its one hundredth anniversary and, in the best of traditions, a book is being authored to mark the occasion. Some writing on the history of the University has already been done: Professor Dai Smith and Meic Stephens book, A Community and its University1; Basil Isaac’s articles, From Pitboy to Professor 2and The Iron Prince’s Mansion3; and Peter Harries PhD thesis, Colleges for Miners 4 are probably most of the known examples. But these (recommended) writings naturally take a view from the author or editor’s particular focus. Smith and Stephens’ work looks at the community of Pontypridd and the University’s place in it, Isaac’s interesting items focus on small but key elements of the history, and Harries includes the University (in its earlier identities) in its contribution to miners’ education. The University’s planned publication intends, optimistically, to walk the line between a history of the institution and its people, and a souvenir of its important birthday. In undertaking the research for the history an important and revealing document came to light.

The document is an almost

verbatim record of a meeting which took place in April 1928 to arrive at a final solution for the future - or not - of the College, and it is an object lesson in brinkmanship. To paraphrase the reputed words of US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, at the climax of the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, it was the point where the key parties went ‘eyeball to eyeball and the other fellow blinked’5.

Dai Smith and Meic Stephens (Eds), A Community and its University: Glamorgan, 1913-2003, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2004). 2 Basil Isaac, ‘From Pitboy to Professor’, Country Quest, 30.4 (1989), pp 22-23. 3Basil Isaac, ‘The Iron Prince’s Mansion’, Country Quest, 32.2 (1992), pp 38-39. 4 P.H.G. Harries, ‘Colleges for Miners’, (doctoral thesis, Aberystwyth University, 1999). 5 Various sources including Thomas Blanton, ‘Annals of Blinkmanship’, The National Security Archive, The George Washington Universit,<> [Accessed 14 February 2013]. 1


The background to the showdown is this: By the early twentieth century, coal production dominated South Wales’ industry, economy and society and its scale of influence is beyond the imagination of all but the most ardent fans of Welsh industrial history. For example, in 1913, the year of peak production in the coalfield, around 56 million tons of coal were produced and close to 233,000 men were employed.6 This massive output was, at various times, shipped from the Bristol channel ports of Newport, Cardiff, Barry, Port Talbot, Swansea, Llanelli, Milford Haven, Gloucester, Bristol, and, on times, Barnstaple and Bridgewater.7 At that time the industry was in the private ownership and management of magnates who organised themselves into the powerful Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners’ Association.

The Association

recognised their industry’s needs for a qualified pool of men from which to draw for their colliery officials. Following lengthy deliberations stretching over a period of years, a proposal to establish a School of Mines for the advanced education of miners was formulated and circulated to members of the Association. In November 1912, enough members of the Association had returned their ‘positive’ reply slips and the plans were put into motion. As it happened, the resulting activities were very quick indeed, really impressive, and considering achievements versus timescales it can only be regarded as a measure of what’s achievable in a benign dictatorship with strong intentions and robust bank balances! In January 1913 the Board of Management, which had been set up to run the new School, interviewed and appointed its first Principal, Professor George Knox. Prof Knox then worked with the Board to appoint the rest of his small team of staff, design the curriculum, equip and establish the building, and set and run the entrance examinations. The first students enrolled in October 1913: 29 full-time and 110 part-time students. However, mining education already existed in the area - a lot of it, with a long-standing history. It was run by those organisations one would expect: the (then) University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in Cardiff, established in 1883, had an existing department of Mining and Geology, and the local authorities ran non-advanced mining education in local centres as well as their mainstream education. Discussions with the University College had taken place with a view to enlarging and equipping its department to cover the needs of the Coal Owners. But, putting it simply, the arrangements just did not suit: the curriculum at Cardiff couldn’t cope 6 Unknown

author, ‘South Wales Coalfield Timeline’, Coalfield Web materials, Swansea University (2002), <> [accessed 14 February 2013]. 7 ‘Quantities of coal, coke, and patent fuel, exported, supplied for bunkers, and shipped coastwise each month from the year 1895’. Compiled by Finlay Gibson, Secretary to the Monmouthshire & South Wales Coal Owners’ Association, Cardiff, 1920, in Glamorgan Archives (Cardiff) [henceforth GA]. 4

with the desired ‘sandwich’ system of education in which a significant element of practical work dove-tailed with the classroom-based learning. Neither would the governance arrangements of the University College allow ‘interference’ in management from the Coal owners, who wanted to have a say in the courses they were paying for and the appointment of the teachers who would deliver it. The local education authority, primarily the (then) Glamorgan County Council also bemoaned the investment in this privately-funded institution. In a document accompanying a letter from the County Council (30 January 1917) to members of a ‘Deputation to Education Authorities regarding grants on Treforest Mining School’ there is clear evidence that the Council did not understand why the Coal Owners chose to fund and establish their school. The document argues that significant investment in miners’ education had already been made in Cardiff [the University College] and the document reports that ‘no single complaint has ever been received about the standards, or scholarships or any other matter’.8 Even after the founding and opening of the School of Mines in 1913, which should feel like a ‘done deal’, the discussions about whether it should become a department of the University College went on. And on! For years! In fact, some discussion went on right up until the first years of the Second World War. The documents covering the extent and repetition of these talks makes exasperating and depressing reading even today but it is illustrative of the frustrations that many in authority felt towards this maverick, privately funded institution which, to irritate them more, went on to volunteer for formal inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectors of Education – and came out of the process with glowing praise for its standards.9 It’s extremely unlikely that those who were against the Coal Owners’ decision to fund and run their own School were overly pleased when it proved so successful. This is clear from numerous reports produced for ‘conferences’ held by the representatives of local authorities and the School of Mines senior staff from 1916 to 1923 when discussions about an all Wales scheme of mining education were considered, as was a third location for the School of Mines at Swansea (a second campus had been opened at Crumlin in Monmouthshire in 1914). For example, Alderman W.N. Jones, representing Carmarthenshire, said that they [his County Council] would ‘wipe out Treforest altogether and have the School of Mines at Cardiff with a branch in Monmouthshire and Swansea’.10 GA GD/E18/52. Report of HM Inspectors on the South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines (Crumlin, May 1916), and Report of HM Inspectors on the South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines (Treforest and Crumlin, February 1927). 10 ‘Report prepared for the Miners Welfare Fund’ (July 1922), University of Glamorgan archives. 8 9


So, from 1913 to 1928 there is a privately, and generously, funded institution of advanced learning delivering high quality education which meets the needs of the industry which held the purse strings. But those providers of publicly-funded education would have much preferred the investment to be made into their institutions without any funder’s strings attached. And there is no doubt that there was plenty of acrimony around this situation. The point where the future of the successful School of Mines arrives at the brink is at the end of the general strike in 1926. The School of Mines had received heavy investment to set it up. The Coal Owners had spent £50,000 establishing the School and were spending a further £15,000 on annual maintenance and running costs.11 A grant of £22,595 from the Miners’ Welfare Fund had also been made toward the founding of the School. The Coal Owners cash input was derived from applying a levy of 0.1 of a pre-decimal penny to every ton of coal produced by the subscribing colliery companies. Therefore the continued funding for the School depended entirely on coal being produced. If coal production dropped, or ceased, there would be no funds. From shortly after the end of the Great War when the demand for coal had been high largely due to the needs of war, the mining industry throughout the UK experienced dropping prices for coal, colliery closures, and changing markets. The Coal Owners consequently expected their miners to take cuts in wages and work longer hours. This view was somewhat backed up by the findings of a Royal Commission which found the industry needed a major reorganisation and that some miners should take a wage cut, although the level of the proposed cut was set by the Coal Owners. Industrial action, strikes, followed which culminated in the call-out by the Trades Union Council (TUC) of most of the British workforce: the 1926 General Strike. After a relatively short time most workers returned to work but the miners continued until the end of the year when their pitiful circumstances drove them back; it was the most difficult of times. For the School of Mines the obvious consequence was that in the period May 1926 to the end of the year almost no coal had been produced which, in turn, meant that the funding dried up. The Coal Owners were no longer in a position to fund the School. Neither did the longer term prospect look as if it were likely to see old markets resurrected and the high level of demand return. A new solution to paying for the School of Mines had to be found, and fast. At this

Letter from Hugh Ingledew, Secretary to the Board of Management of the School, dated 25th October 1921 to the Under Secretary for Mines (a now defunct cabinet office position). 11


point it is interesting, although maybe not historically valid, to speculate on the feelings and attitudes of the University College’s management, and the committees of aldermen of the local authorities. Some of that bile which is so evident in the early reports and letters must have surfaced in comments made behind closed doors and in quiet conversations in corridors. However, the good news was that the government did not want to lose the School of Mines; it had earned a respected reputation after just 15 years of life, and its staff had done very valuable research work on a number of safety issues in mines.

The School had even received

international recognition for its excellence and for its sandwich model of education; the Treforest School was used as the model for establishing the Imperial School of Mining and Geology at Dhanbad in India in 1920. A temporary stop-gap to the missing funding was found in the form of a grant from the Miners’ Welfare Fund, which was a major funder of miners’ education across all areas of the coalfield, but that couldn’t continue indefinitely. A conference was organised to try and find a solution, a lasting solution. The conference was arranged to take place on Tuesday, 10 April 1928; less than 15 years after the opening of the School. Among those present were the key decision makers: Lord Chelmsford, spokesman for the Central Committee of the Miners’ Welfare Fund; Principal A. H. Trow of the University College, Cardiff; Hugh Ingledew, Secretary to the Board of Management of the School of Mines; the Hon W. N. Bunce, representing the University of Wales; and Alderman Hubert Jenkins, representing the Glamorgan County Council. This is the moment where the decision on the future of the School would be made. The options available were to close the School, or to give it to the University College where it may have become a department, or to transfer ownership from private hands to public ownership through Glamorgan County Council. An almost verbatim record of this meeting exists in the Glamorgan Archives in Cardiff.12 The tension in the meeting is palpable in the document. It is possible to hear one party’s voice as they try to get their way. The reader can imagine the firmness of voice and the hand banging the table. Lord Chelmsford spoke about the possibility that the University College might take over the Treforest school and use it for part-time study with teaching in chemistry and physics stripped out (as that was the province of the University). The report of the meeting goes on to record that Lord Chelmsford


GA GD/E/18/76 7

… pleaded with the governors [i.e. the Coal Owners] to keep the school open for another year in order that a scheme might be prepared in the meantime’. He said ‘I do ask the governors to seriously consider this: If Crumlin and Treforest are dropped, they will become derelict. Once the continuity is broken, it could not be resuscitated. The institutions would be left with whatever is in them, but material might be stolen…13 The Hon W. N. Bunce, representing the University said ‘The University can contribute nothing at present to the maintenance of the School of Mines and do not consider Crumlin, only Treforest, in any case’. 14 And Principal Trow of the University College felt that the local authorities should decide first; the University College would, as he said, “hold its hands”. Hugh Ingledew, for the Coalowners, explained that his Board had hoped to hand over the schools to the local authorities from the 1 February 1928, but they were likely to have appreciated the difficulties of the authorities which had been caused by the economic depression. As a result, the Coal Owners had “agreed to struggle on until June or August 1928”. Without the income from the levy attached to coal production this most likely means that the individual men, the members of the Association, were financing the School from their own resources. Mr Ingledew added The governing bodies have now decided to close the schools on 31st August [1928] and the staff have been given notice. The constituent members have been finding £11,000 per year. It must be taken as definite that the coal owners are not prepared to carry on the school indefinitely, with the pious hope that the LEAs or the University will take it.14 In response to another round of suggestions that the Coal Owners might carry on paying up for a short while longer he firmly replied that […] the coal owners are going nowhere after 31st August, and many students are in the middle of their course at present, and they [the County Councils] must make arrangements for these students almost immediately.14 It is clear from the language used and the terseness of the report that this was it, the brink, and a decision was going to be made in this room on this day. Mr Ingledew, one can imagine, had been


GA GD/E/18/76 Ibid.



left by the Coal Owners with absolutely no alternative but had instructions to pass along the schools to one party or the other. He was holding firm. And he won. The County Councils were not prepared to close the School which had so quickly won a first class reputation when the training and safety of miners was an issue of national importance. This is the day the decision was made which means the University of Glamorgan is a flourishing place of learning today. The School of Mines grew, changed its title to reflect a growing breadth of courses. It became a polytechnic in the 1970s and a university in 1992. And the current status quo is almost certainly down to the persuasive prowess and steely nerve of Hugh Ingledew, Secretary to the Board of Management of the School; a Cardiff solicitor, and former Welsh rugby International player.


Recalling the Riots By Maria Parker Many of us can recall the riots which took place in London, Manchester and the West Midlands in August 2011 - although the cause behind these riots is perhaps more difficult to determine. In the initial few days of the riots many of us simply appeared to be disgusted and perhaps afraid of the level of destruction and violence which was taking place. As the media exhibited these acts of rioting and looting in the newspapers and on television reports, members of the public seemed to call for tough judicial sentencing. However, by 16August 2011, some ten days after the riots initially began, there seemed to be a change in opinionon the toughness of sentencing with civil rights group claiming that punishments were disproportionate to the crime.1 But why this sudden change in opinion - why did people alter their point of view from absolute disgust with the rioters, to one of sympathy over the tough punishments administered? One possibility is that this change in opinionwas associated with our system of processing memory. As individuals we specifically arrange our memories so that we can make sense of our past and present lives, however, our memories are also shaped by our ‘ideologies, social relations and culture’.2 Therefore, whilst society was disgusted by the behaviour of the rioters - was the act of administering tough sentencing on all involved felt to have been in opposition to the ideologies of our society, and hence this change of opinion? Memory as an historicalsource is placed under the same umbrella as ‘oral history’. Prior to the 1970s, oral history and memory was not favoured by historians. It was deemed to be too inaccurate to use as a historical source because as demonstrated above, individuals ‘construct’ their memories to fit in with their ‘ideologies, social relations and culture’. From the 1970s however, oral historians like Alessandro Portelli, argued that the importance of oral historyis that it provides historians ‘with new ways of understanding the past, not just in what was recalled, but also with regard to continuity and change in the meaning given to events’.3 This paper will 1Owen

Bowcott, Helen Carter, et al., ‘Facebook riot calls earn men four-year jail terms amid sentencing outcry’, The Guardian, (16 August 2011), <> [accessed 30 December 2012]. 2Ann Green and Kathleen Troup, The houses of history: A critical reader in twentieth-century history and theory (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), p.240; Graham Smith, ‘The making of oral history: Sections 1-2’, Making History: The changing face of the profession in Britain, Institute of Historical Research, <> [accessed 10 November 2012]. 3Alessandro Portelli, 'What makes oral history different', in The Oral History Reader, ed. by Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson (London: Routledge, 2006), cited in Smith, ‘The making of oral history’ : Sections 10

consider memory, specifically memories associated with the Tonypandy Riots of 1910.In the words of historian Dai Smith, ‘Tonypandy is one of those sites where public and private memories intersect’.4 Today, the Tonypandy Riots are most predominantly recollected as an emblem ‘of working-class resistance and struggle in the face of murderous troops’.5 They are dramatic events which continue to ignite passion amongst communities of South Wales, as well as creating tensions in parliament. They have also inspired writers and poets to produce literature such as, Lewis Jones’ novel of 1937, Cwmardy and Alexander Cordell’s novel of 1977, This Sweet and Bitter Earth.6 This discussion will look at both how our society remembers the Tonypandy Riots and how contemporaries recalled the events at the time. The Tonypandy Riots of 1910 are not being compared to the riots of 2011 – in fact unlike the riots of 2011, the cause of the Tonypandy Riots is clearly understood. Long ongoing disputes had begun in the coal industry of South Wales in September 1910, when miners refused to accept a price list of 1s 9d per ton of coal plus 1d per ton of hard stone –amounts which miners felt were simply too low to live off and support a family from.7 Negotiations began between the owners and the workers of the Cambrian Colliery in the SouthWales valleys, but by November negotiations had come to a standstill.8 Men from the Ely pit had already been on strike since September 1910, and by 1 November a further 12,000 men came out on strike from the collieries of Tonypandy, Penygraig, Llwynypia, Clydach Vale and GilfachGoch.9 On 2 November 1910, the miners decided that no officials or replacement workers would be allowed to enter the collieries, and on 7and 8 November in Tonypandy, rioting commenced as miners tried to stop black legs from entering the colliery.10 This rioting included the destruction of colliery property, attacks on and looting of shops in Tonypandy, and violent clashes between miners and the police. Miners from the Cambrian Combine were not the only workers to strike or display scenes of violenceduring this period in Welsh history. For example, in the Cynon valley about 11,000 miners employed by the Powell Duffryn Company came out on strike in 1910 again for wage 1-2’, Making History: The changing face of the profession in Britain, Institute of Historical Research, <> [accessed 10 November 2012]. 4Dai Smith, In the Frame: Memory in Society 1910-2010 (Cardigan: Parthian, 2010), p.298. 5Dai Smith, Wales! Wales? (London: Allen & Unwin, 1984), pp.60-61. 6Ibid., pp.60-61; Lewis Jones, Cwmardy (Cardigan: Parthian, 2006); Alexander Cordell, This Sweet and Bitter Earth (Sutton: Severn House, 1996). 7Kenneth O. Morgan, Rebirth of a Nation: A History of Modern Wales (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), p.146. 8Ibid., p.146. 9Smith, In the Frame, p.2; Morgan, Rebirth of a Nation, p.146. 10Ibid. 11

disputes; and in the national railway strike of 1911 around 145,000 workers throughout Britain went on strike for disputes concerning wages and want of recognition.11 However, this is just a small sample of the industrial disputes ongoing at that time. The significance of the miners’ strike in Tonypandy can be understood when we consider how vital the coal industry was to South Wales. This industry not only created mining jobs, it also created jobs through the transporting and exporting of the product. The South Wales coalfield produced about a third of the world’s coal exports and is believed to have been one of the most profitable coalfields in the world at that time.12 Welsh coal was said to have been used in ‘the domestic heating of eastern and central Europe, the railways of France, Italy, Brazil and Argentina [...and] all the oceanic steam-driven carrying fleet of the world’.13 Bearing this in mind, it seems quite remarkable that these workers had to strike to achieve a reasonable pay. The conflict between workers and employers in the coal industry, rested on the employers drive for profit. Back in 1908, the government introduced the Eight Hour Day act and this meant that there was a shorter working day, which consequently meant that there was a decrease in the amount of coal produced per day–and subsequently this meant lessprofitwas being made. The concept of less profit was not a viable option for capitalist coal owners therefore wages were to be reduced to make up for any profit shortfalls. Miners who made up a significant proportion of the population of South Wales (about a quarter of a million people alone were employed as miners) could not afford to have a reduction in wages, especially since the price of food was rising swiftly at this time.14 A reduction in wages would have meant ‘considerable discomfort to those millions of people who lived on the subsistence level or just above’.15 Ultimately, because workers like those miners from Tonypandy chose to strike and act out against the coal owners, this industrial action helped contribute to the eventual introduction of the Minimum Wage Bill of 1912. The benefit this law had and continues to have today on the lives of individuals across Britain is undeniable, because it produced a reliable wage system.

Chris Williams, ‘‘The hope of the British Proletariat’: the South Wales miners, 1910-1947’, in Miners, Unions and Politics 1910-47, ed. by Alan Campbell, Nina Fishman, et. al (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1996), p.124; Smith, Wales! Wales?, p.57; Deian Hopkin, ‘The Great Unrest in Wales 1910-1913: Questions of Evidence’, in Class, Community and the Labour Movement: Wales and Canada, 1850-1930, ed. by Deian Hopkin and Gregory S. Kealey (Llafur: CCLH, 1989), p.249. 12 Morgan, Rebirth of a Nation, p.125. 13 Ibid., p.125. 14Ibid., p.125; Hopkin, ‘The Great Unrest in Wales’, p.254. 15Hopkin, ‘The Great Unrest in Wales’, p.254. 11


Consequently, the Tonypandy Riots of 1910 are proudly remembered in the South Wales valleys today. Historian Kenneth O Morgan best summarises the general opinion held when he states that: Tonypandy has become a symbol, the name itself is now associated with great popular uprising brought by social injustice and state brutality, not just in Wales but further afield. Those actions at Tonypandy not only left a local legacy but a wider one.16 The centenary of the riots has only recently passed and a commemoration of the acts of 1910 was eagerly celebrated by the current residents of Tonypandy and the Rhondda Cynon Taff County. This was the first official commemoration to take place and the method of celebration included a parade, live music and entertainment, a firework display, lantern making, miner helmet making and family history tasters.17 These celebrations were certainly family orientated – but whilst they demonstrated the joyful aspect of the legacy of the Tonypandy Riots, they did not necessarily portray the true passion which the riots are able to ignite. For example, a serious bone of contention for miners back in 1910 was that the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill had deployed soldiers to Tonypandy to quash the dispute. A telegram from the Miners’ Federation to the Home Office in 1910 stated that: While deeply regretting the disturbances which have occurred, consider that the civil forces are sufficient to deal with such disturbances, and strongly deprecate theemployment of the military for such a purpose, and if the military have been sent into the district affected asks the Home Secretary at once to recall them.18


Morgan, ‘Tonypandy miner’s struggles secured the town’s place, not just in Welsh history but further afield’ , Western Mail, (6 November 2010), <> [accessed 10 November 2010]. 17Josie Ensor, ‘It Was a Pivotal Moment’, Wales on Sunday, (7 November 2010), < 01AE160&p_docnum=15&p_queryname=3> [accessed 10 November 2010]; ‘Riots to be remembered during family fun event’, South Wales Echo, (23 October 2010), < D8643788&p_docnum=38&p_queryname=3> [accessed 10 November 2010]. 18Gwyn Evans and David Maddox, The Tonypandy Riots 1910-1911 (Plymouth: University of Plymouth Press, 2010), p.95. 13

For the people of Tonypandy and the South Wales valleys the presence of the soldiers was seen as an arbitrary act – and it is an issue which continues to ignite distaste amongst Welsh communities today. It is an issue which can also provoke tensions in parliament. For example, in November 1978 when new mining issues arose, Prime Minister James Callaghan caused uproar in the House of Commons when he asked MP Winston Churchill (grandson of former Home SecretaryWinston Churchill), ‘I hope that the hon. Gentlemen will not pursue the vendetta of his family against the miners [...] at Tonypandy for the third generation’; and again on 21 July 2010, Conservative junior minister Crispin Blunt apparently said that ‘it was marvellous that today was the one-hundredth anniversary of Winston Churchill making a superlative speech on prison reform’, to which Chris Bryant the Labour MP for Rhondda responded stating that the people of Wales had very different memories of Churchill.19 Within Gwyn Evans and David Maddox’s book, The Tonypandy Riots 1910-1911 there are a collection of memories of the events of 1910 including photographs; newspaper reports; telegrams; and eye witness accounts from miners, members of the public, the police, and soldiers. Through these accounts we can build up a picture of how individuals viewed the riots at that time. For many, whether members of the public, police or soldiers – the reaction to the riots was one of fear and shock. However, the rioters were not an out of control mob. For Smith, ‘the crowd was not organised but it knew what to do’.20 For example, the crowd did not destroy the shop owned by revered former Welsh international rugby football player, Willie Llewellyn. And the controlled aspect of the crowd is also demonstrated in the eye witness account of Sarah Ann Jones from 7November 1910. On the night of the 7 November, she and her aunt went to the colliery to see what was taking place, they stood near the policemen whilst the miners were up on a bank prepared with stones as ammunition – and before any stones were thrown the miners arranged for the women to head for safety.21 There are many eye witness accounts from women in Evans and Maddox’s book and they all portray a rather negative image of the riots. Sarah Ann Jones stated that ‘it was frightening to hear the crowd outside’ their houses; Lilly Pontsford described how she helped bathe the wounds of men on the first night of rioting, ‘there were ever such a lot, men and young boys, and they were hit about in all shapes...beaten with the truncheons’; and Annie Mary Thurston described the ‘terrible noise’ as rioters walked 19Morgan,

Rebirth of a Nation, pp.146-147; Hansard 30 November 1978, cited in Evan and Maddox, The Tonypandy Riots, p.162; Simon Hoggart, ‘Coalition government is a nest of liberalism’, The Guardian, (21 July 2010), <> [accessed 10 November 2012]. 20Smith, In the Frame, p.403. 21Evan and Maddox, The Tonypandy Riots, p.51. 14

down the streets ‘carrying these different implements with them, and as they were coming down the street they were smashing the windows each side’.22 An eye witness account from PC Knipe of the Swansea police also shows an unflattering image of the rioting, ‘I have never seen anything like it my life. It was terrible. There was blood everywhere, and injured men were lying about all over the place’.23 And for Major-General Sir Wyndham Childs reflecting back on the situation from 1930, he stated that: I can honestly say that in France I saw towns and villages evacuated by the Germans which were in better condition than those rioters had wrecked. All the shops had been looted, and not only the contents, but the actual fittings (such as gas brackets, shelves etc) had been carried off. There was hardly an unbroken pane of glass in the place.24 The accounts from newspapers are similarly judgemental of actions taking place in Tonypandy in 1910. The newspapers describe the events as ‘a state of anarchy’, ‘distressing and disgusting’, and miners as ‘molesting the unfortunate officials’.25 The Western Mail newspaper includes quite detailed accounts of the events of the riots, but the focus of these events by newspapers alters depending on geographical location. For example, some mention of the riots can be found in the Cardiff Times where attention is specifically focused on the destruction and looting of shops; but no mention of the riots appears in local papers like the Barry Herald.26 And for newspapers outside of Wales, such as The Times and the Sheffield Telegraph, the focus rests on the absence of military involvement and criticism of Churchill.The Times on 9 November 1910 stated, ‘the absence of troops which had been asked for was severely felt’; and the Sheffield Telegraph reporting on 11 November 1910 wrote, ‘Mr Churchill does not cut a very brilliant figure. To delay compliance with the urgent request of the local authorities for the help of the military was a highly questionable measure’.27 These latter newspaper reports are interesting. As noted previously, troops were sent to South Wales at that time and their presence was disapproved of by miners - and it continues to offend members of the South Wales valleys today. Essentially, the deployment of soldiers can be seen as the full force of the state acting against the interests of the impoverished mining community – which is why it continues to ignite anger amongst former 22Ibid.,

p.78, p.74, p.86. p.73. 24Major-General Sir Wyndham Childs, Episodes and Refelections (London: Cassell and Co. Ltd, 1930), cited in Ibid., p.92. 25‘Mad Scenes in the Rhondda’, Western Mail, 9 November 1910, p.5. 26‘At Tonypandy Today’, Cardiff Times, 12 November 1910, p.7. 27‘Welsh Strike Riots’, The Times, 9 November 1910, p.10; ‘Editorial’, Sheffield Telegraph, 11 November 1910, cited in Evan and Maddox, The Tonypandy Riots, p.95. 23Ibid.,


mining areas in Wales. However, the research undertaken by Evans and Maddox demonstrates that the soldiers on duty in areas like Tonypandy actually had quite a good relationship with the people in the mining communities – in fact, they had a better relationship with the miners in comparison to the police. Accounts show that soldiers married women from these communities, played sports with the miners, and so on.28 The memories outlined in the eye witness accounts above are of fear and disgust. And such feelings are unsurprising because the scenes of destruction were still fresh in the minds of the witnesses- and ideologically the concept of violence in a perceived civilised world would appear as immoral. However, this initial disgust would shortly change for contemporaries within these communities. The strike at Tonypandy continued for approximately ten months and during that time the ability to feed families was extremely difficult. Concerns for the hunger of mining families, especially the children of these miners – was widespread, and some aid was provided in the form of soup kitchens. The miners did finally return to work in September 1911, and at that time they had not necessarily achieved the cutting price which they had hoped for – however, their industrial action did play a part in the introduction of the Minimum Wage Bill of 1912.29 It is this latter achievement which must take precedence in the memory of Welsh communities – and it undeniably was the focus of the one-hundredth anniversary celebration. The violence undertaken in the riots and the challenges faced by families involved in the strikes are not forgotten by the communities of South Wales, they are experiences which are deeply considered and understood. Consequently however, the memory of Churchill as someone who used the full force of the state in opposition to the plight of the miners – is one which appears cannot easily be erased. As previously noted, it is an issue which still has the ability to create a reaction both inside and outside of Wales. For example, in July 2010, when Chris Bryant the Labour MP for Rhondda stated that the people of Wales did not have fond memories of Churchill; Simon Hoggart writing in the Guardiangave the following comment: They have long memories in that part of the world. Even most middle-aged people in Britain now vaguely assume that Tonypandy was a children's puppet show on TV, featuring Andy Pandy and Looby Loo.30


and Maddox, The Tonypandy Riots, p.99. p.149. 30Simon Hoggart, ‘Coalition government is a nest of liberalism’, [accessed 10 November 2012]. 29Ibid.,


But as noted above, the achievement of the miners from the early twentieth century takes precedence in the memory of Welsh communities today, especially if we consider the centenary celebrations where the focus was on reform - not rioting or the controversy of Churchill. These family orientated celebrations, whilst not necessarily representing the passion that the events of 1910 could ignite – perhaps demonstrate the desire to involve the whole family because it is Welsh families who haveabove all benefitted from the experiences and achievements of their ancestors. To re-iterate the words of Dai Smith, ‘Tonypandy is one of those sites where public and private memories intersect’.31 Only a selection of the range of memories which exist for the Tonypandy Riots have been explored in this discussion, but as demonstrated, the events of 1910 continue to ignite passion to the communities of South Wales and consequently new memories are ceaselessly created. Furthermore, because memories are shaped by our ‘ideologies, social relations and culture’, as our ideologies and culture change over time so too do our memories and how we choose to recall events. Within this discussion, there was an exploration of how memories of the Tonypandy Riots changed from initial disgust at the range of violence and destruction, to the emergence of the legacy of the riots as a stance against social injustice. The topic of memory is just one of the many fascinating ways of researching this significant period in Welsh history, and it is one topic which is worthy of further study.


In the Frame, p.298. 17

The Life, Death and Rebirth of the Pontypridd Rail Network By Mark Jones If it can be said that Birmingham was/is Britain’s waterway equivalent of Venice then,1 due to the extensive mileage of railway track, South Wales can be deemed its rail counterpart; the major hub of which is Pontypridd. By looking at the transportation of consumables and the changes in railway companies and systems, this article will provide a brief outline and basic history of our local rail network and former coalfield. From the mid 1800s, firstly via canal then rail, there was a need by industrialists to transport their consumables to the docks of South Wales, most notably coal and iron. However, due to the geographical constraints of South Wales, specifically its steep valleys, there was competition to meet that need which ultimately saw the formation of various railway companies in a comparatively small area. Such companies were the Taff Vale Railway (TVR) which existed from 1836 to 1922; the Rhymney Railway (RR) which existed from 1854 to 1922 and the Barry Railway (BR) which existed from 1884 to 1922. All of these companies were incorporated into the famous Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1922. The formation of these companies led to a criss crossing network in the valleys with many lines and destinations being duplicated. It was once possible to catch a train from Pontypridd to Barry with a choice of two routes. Before the upgrading of trunk roads or the opening of motorways, South Wales was not the easiest place in which to transport goods via road; its geographical constraints being its steep valleys. Thus, the railway at that time was indeed ‘king’. But times and ideas change and from 1950s onwards there was a move towards people buying into the idea that railways were outdated, and that having their own car or mode of transport was the way forward. This coupled with the decline of major and traditional heavy industries meant that our local rail network was going to start being rationalised beyond recognition.

S. Jeffries, ‘It has more miles of canals than Venice, more trees than Paris and smells of brown sauce. Ar, I'm proud to be a Brummie’, The Guardian (23 June 2006), <> [accessed 17.12.12]. 1


The South Wales, and in particular the Pontypridd area coalfield has always been a fluctuating market. Various collieries have risen and fallen; but from the sixties onwards there was only one way the South Wales coalfield was going and that was spiralling evermore downward. Newbridge Colliery in Pontypridd closed in 1897 and between 1948 and 1966, the Aber Rhondda, Nantgarw and Albion collieries had closed with the Coed Ely, Cwm, Great Western and Lady Windsor Collieries closing between 1983 and 1988 and all within roughly a 5 mile radius of Pontypridd.2 Evidently, collieries were being closed in the local area from the late 1800s; although, it can also be seen that there was a spike in the 1980s. Nonetheless only four of the collieries mentioned were closed after the Miner’s Strike of 1984 -1985. From this we can deduce that the local Pontypridd area coalfield was in a downward spiral well before the miners’ strike and the actions of the coal board and the then Conservative government. Coal was the main freight export of the local rail network. There were rail linked quarries at both Penderyn at the top of the Cynon Valley and Creigiau, which is situated just to the north west of Cardiff, both of which closed in the 1980s. The shrinking of the coalfield inevitably led to a shrinking of the rail network. The closure of collieries and the publication of the much commented on ‘Beeching report - ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’ published by the British Railways Board 1963 led to the closure of idyllic branch lines and lines with heavy freight usage alike.3 Today Pontypridd is still a major artery for the rail network with lines heading northwards to Aberdare, Merthyr and Treherbert. And the valleys last flow of coal from a deep mine the Tower Colliery (Hirwaun) - to mainly Aberthaw power station still continues daily. Although, the closure of many lines has had a negative effect it has also had a few upturns. For example, walkers and cyclists in the area benefit from the ‘Taff Trail’, a very enjoyable scenic walk, much of which in the Pontypridd area is on old track bed. The line from Abercynon to Aberdare was reinstated as a passenger line in 1988 after being axed in 1964; this was achieved by British Rail. The much acclaimed electrification of the valleys network is next with an estimated cost of 350 million and with work taking place between 2015 and 2019. This clearly shows that Pontypridd and the valleys are still seen as an important area financially and socially, although, the majority ‘Introduction’, Welsh Coal Mines, <> [accessed 1 February 2013] 3 ‘Institute of Railyway Studies and Transport’, The University of York, <> [accessed 1 February 2013]; ‘New Adlestrop Railway Atlas’, SystèmeD,<> [accessed 1 February 2013] 2


of passengers are students and commuters.4 Coal may well be in its final death throes in Pontypridd and the production of coal will eventually come to an end - although the date is yet to be specified.5 Nonetheless rail seems to have a bright if somewhat unrecognisable future to that of forty to fifty years ago. In conclusion, the main commodities of our local rail system have changed and people are now of more value than coal. The reason for the ‘iron road’ to exist has changed, yet its necessity remains as passenger figures have grown to the extent of overcrowding.6 Thus it will be of interest to read and hear what fellow historians make of a likely changed local rail system in the future. Nothing is guaranteed, however, its existence looks bright.

‘Valleys Lines electrification to be completed by 2019, minister says’, Wales Online (18 October 2012), < > [accessed 1 February 2013] 5 ‘Tower Colliery’, Miner’s Advice, <> [accessed 1 February 2013] 6 ‘Rail passenger numbers and crowding on weekdays in major cities in England and Wales: 2011’, Gov.Uk, [accessed 1 February 2013] 4


‘Industrialization saved the Welsh language’- Discuss By Ceri Carter The absence of the Welsh language in the South Wales Valleys has been hotly discussed on many forums, including nationalist politics. Those who do speak Welsh in South Wales, speak an anglicised version of the language. Different hypotheses have been posed to explain the reasons behind the decline in Welsh usage. One argument is that industrialisation significantly reduced the numbers speaking the language for a variety of reasons; however, industrialisation is also claimed to be the saviour of the language. It is also contended that the decline in the use of Welsh had nothing to do with industrialisation but was part of a wider social and political problem. The nineteenth century saw a dramatic change to the Welsh landscape, particularly in South Wales where industrialisation took the biggest hold. The growth of industries, such as the iron works and coal mines, saw a striking shift in population patterns in Wales. Immigration into the country was rapid; the population of Wales increased by 406 per cent between 1801 and 1911; this coupled with huge migration within Wales, from rural areas to the industrial south.1 Prior to 1801, ninety per cent of the Welsh population spoke Welsh and seventy per cent were monoglot Welsh speakers.2 The 1891 census, the first to include figures on the Welsh language, showed that that figure had dropped to 54.4 per cent of the population (for persons over the age of two) spoke the language, varying from place to place; of those fifty six per cent were monoglot.3 By the 1911 census, these figures had decreased again with only 43.5 per cent claiming to speak Welsh.4 These figures, on the surface seem to confirm the belief held by many Welsh in the early twentieth century, that ‘industrialization and capitalism were a powerful Anglicizing force which swept over most of Wales in the nineteenth century’.5 Janet Davies blames the decline in proportion of Welsh speakers on the rise in the population between 1891 and 1911. This is particularly due to immigration into industrial Wales of people seeking work; the only country 1Geraint

H. Jenkins, ‘Introduction’ in Language and Community in the Nineteenth Century, ed. by Geraint H. Jenkins (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998), pp. 1-20. [p.1.] 2 Ibid., p.2. 3 Janet Davies, The Welsh Language (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1993), p.53. 4 Ibid., p.56. 5 Brinley Thomas, ‘A Cauldron of Rebirth: Population and the Welsh Language in the Nineteenth Century’, in The Welsh Language and its Social Domains 1801-1911, ed. by Geraint H. Jenkins (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), pp.81-99. [p.81.] 21

attracting more immigrants at the time was the United States.6 There is certainly an argument for this when looking at the numbers; over 100,000 people migrated from England to industrial Wales.7 It is easy to blame industrialisation and capitalism for the downfall in Welsh speakers, the figures show a dramatic decrease at a time when industrialisation is on the rise. There are, however, other factors to consider both in favour and against this argument; after all, the figures only show a fall in the number of Welsh and not the reason. For instance, industrialisation had been occurring all through the nineteenth century and as Davies points out, in the period leading up to 1900 the Welsh were able to cope with the influx of immigrants by assimilation. 8 However, that does not account for the fall in the speakers between 1801 and 1891. The negative effects of industrialisation on the Welsh language do not account for the fact that the 1891 census reveals seventy two per cent of residents in the most industrialised counties (Glamorgan, Flintshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire and Caernarfonshire) were Welsh speakers.9 This is likely down to the internal migration from North and South-West Wales to the coalfields of the South Wales Valleys, a factor that Gwyn A. Williams suggests had been previously underestimated.10 Williams also supports Davies’ point that prior to 1900, immigrants from outside Wales were assimilated; apart from the Irish who were segregated for religious reasons. Many English, Spanish and Italian immigrants learned the Welsh language, though on the whole the majority of the working population of Wales during this time were Welsh.11 This moves away from the seemingly logical argument that immigration caused the downfall of the Welsh language, if the majority of migration was internal and immigrants were learning the language. The argument for industrialisation saving the Welsh language was largely brought about by economist, Brinley Thomas. Thomas compares the figures for Wales with that of Ireland, which was largely bypassed by industrialisation. He claims that between 1841 and 1901 the population of Wales doubled to two million with nearly half speaking Welsh; whilst in Ireland the population halved to just under four and a half million with only nineteen per cent speaking Irish Gaelic.12 Thus, the argument is that had Wales not been industrialised the vast majority of the population would have had to migrate elsewhere, such as the United States, taking the Davies, The Welsh Language, p.56. Ibid., p.56. 8 Ibid., p.57. 9 Thomas, ‘A Cauldron of Rebirth’, p.81. 10 Gwyn A. Williams, When Was Wales? A History of the Welsh (London: Penguin, 1985), p.179. 11 Ibid., p.179. 12 Thomas, ‘A Cauldron of Rebirth’, p.85. 6 7


language with them and allowing it to die out there. This is an argument principally supported by Williams, who goes further to suggest that industrialisation not only saved the Welsh language but saved Wales as a ‘recognisable entity’.13 Obviously, this does not count for the rapid influx of outside migration post 1900 which Davies blames for the degradation of the Welsh language.14 One possible reason for the stark contrast between the two periods of immigration is the rise in political awareness and the movement from a liberal Welsh workforce to a Socialist workforce. The second half of the nineteenth century saw liberalism take hold of Welsh Society. Liberalism, Nonconformity and Welshness were intertwined;15 the Welsh language playing an integral part. Not even the damnation of the Blue Books in 1847; a derogatory report on education in Wales by English, Anglican commissioners; could prevent the growing usage of Welsh in the years following.16 The area playing host to this industrialisation also happened to be the place where a new national identity and mythology was being born.17 Clearly this is evidence that the migration of English workers to the region was seen as a threat to the Welsh ‘identity’ and language. There does appear to be a correlation between the demise of the Welsh language in industrialised areas and the rise of Unionism and Socialism. All of a sudden workers’ rights became more important than preserving Welshness and the Welsh language. Gwyn Thomas remarked that ‘The Welsh language stood in the way of our fuller union and we made ruthless haste to destroy it. We nearly did’.18 The Welsh language’s alliance with liberalism forced workers to choose between their language and their rights. Liberalism failed them, therefore so did the Welsh language. They were part of a bigger social unity now, in British workers’ unions, and the Welsh language did not fit into that unity.19 The election of Britain’s only socialist Member of Parliament in Methyr Tydfil in 1900 is evident of the precedence socialist unity was taking over Welsh only interests. Keir Hardie was neither a Welshman nor a Welsh speaker; he hailed from Scotland and had hoped that he would be elected in Preston, but after suffering a heavy defeat he received an ‘unexpected

Williams, When was Wales? p.180. Davies, The Welsh Language, p.57. 15 Ibid., p.57. 16 Thomas, ‘A Cauldron of Rebirth’, p.91. 17 Philip N. Jones, ‘The Welsh Language in the Valleys of Glamorgan c’ 1800-1914’, in Language and Community in the Nineteenth Century, ed. by Geraint H. Jenkins (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1998), pp.147-180 [p.148]. 18 Gwyn Thomas quoted in Davies, The Welsh Language, p.57. 19 Davies, The Welsh Language, p.57. 13 14


invite’ from the miners of Merthyr who elected him to the two seat constituency.20 This speaks volumes of what was important to the Welsh working population, certainly in Merthyr Tydfil. So why does industrialisation play such an important role in the story of the Welsh language during this period of time? Brinley Thomas also alludes to class to explain the fall in Welsh speakers. However, instead of the working classes, he looks to the middling classes’ reliance on English for ‘material gain’.21 Something that seems to coincide with the argument that English was the language of the British Empire and therefore business transactions abroad had to be conducted in English; a point in favour of industrialisation as damaging to the Welsh language. Thomas is also keen to point out that religion was the major downfall of the Welsh language, with Welsh ministers giving sermons in English to cater for the ‘spiritual needs’ of the English immigrants. He claims that this anglicised the Welsh more than it evangelised the English.22 Again, an argument in favour of industrialisation damaging the Welsh language; because had Wales not been so successfully industrialised there would not have been any English immigrants to provide for. His argument that the British Empire and imperialism had more of a detrimental effect on the Welsh language than anything else is an argument that resonates through the ages. 23 Even when talking about the language’s high points in the nineteenth century, they are nowhere near one hundred per cent of the population. The spoken language has been deteriorating since its conquest by the English; Gwyn Williams alludes to the point that Dr John Dee was from the non-Welsh speaking Radnorshire part of Wales.24 Although the Welsh language looked to be on the rise after the publication of the Blue Books, Thomas contends that subsequent British governments had based their Welsh language policies on the doctrines of the Blue Books. An hypocrisy in his opinion when compared with the positive way in which the British dealt with the preservation of French in Quebec.25 In conclusion, it is clear that there is very little difference in the reasons behind the arguments for and against industrialisation saving the Welsh language. There definitely is a case that industrialisation was severely detrimental in the survival of Welsh as a widely spoken language, particularly in the beginning of the twentieth century. Brinley Thomas and Gwyn A. Williams argue that if it was not for industrialisation there would not be a Welsh nation or a Welsh people Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘Hardie, (James) Keir (1856–1915)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011) <> [accessed 19 Feb 2012] 21 Thomas, ‘A Cauldron of Rebirth’, p.94. 22 Ibid., p.94. 23 Ibid., p.96. 24 Gwyn A. Williams, The Welsh in Their History (London & Canberra: Croom Helm Ltd, 1982), p.16. 25 Thomas, ‘A Cauldron of Rebirth’, p.96. 20


to speak of let alone a Welsh language; so in that sense the language was saved by proxy. However, it is clear that despite the initial assimilation of migrant workers in the growth years prior to 1900, the rapidity of immigration after that date meant that assimilation was not possible. The argument that social-political unrest and the radicalisation of the workforce put the Welsh language on the backburner, slowly allowing it to decay, has at its roots industrialisation; no industry, no downtrodden workforce to radicalise. Thomasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; point that nonconformity had a greater role in the demise of spoken Welsh by giving English language sermons to cater for the English immigrants; also has industrialisation at its heart; no industry, no immigrants to provide for. The case against the British Empire is perhaps the strongest. It cannot be doubted that British Imperialism had the largest part to play in the demise of the Welsh language; the precedence is clear over a longer period of time. However, there is a case to be put forward that the language was not in any real danger until industrialisation took a hold in Wales. Therefore, it is possible to argue that industrialisation was only the catalyst and that imperialism is the root of the decaying language. Perhaps the better statement; and perhaps the most important point for Wales as a surviving nation; should be â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Industrialisation saved Walesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Though the Welsh language took a devastating hit in the early part of the twentieth century, the language that bears the closest resemblance to the original language of the Britons is being saved; this would not be happening had Wales been allowed to disappear.


Evaluating the Significance of Women in Munitions Production during the Second World War in South Wales 1939-1945 By Ian Prosser The employment of women to sustain the British workforce during the Second World War raised debates about a womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s role in the workplace and her home life, but it also opened opportunities for women to demonstrate their skills and abilities through their contribution towards the war effort. The employment of women during the period 1939 to 1945 in the realm of the munitions industry was particularly significant in South Wales. The need for female workers and the significance of maintaining a sustainable female workforce are raised here and compared with the financial opportunities that it provided in using women in the manufacture of weapons. With the advent of the Second World War inevitable, the civilian female population of Britain were already earmarked by the government as a potential workforce that would be required to assist with civilian defence and as auxiliary labour. The latter involved both employment in the manufacturing of arms and weapons, but also engineering and agricultural employment. The labour strategy of using women as a replacement workforce had been used previously by the government in the First World War when in 1916, the government requested women volunteers to work in industry, shops and offices and also on public transport. Women were intended to take over the roles that normally involved the employment of men.1 Following the armistice of the First World War, the female volunteer workforce that aided the war effort on the home front were informed that it was now their duty to return to the domestic lives they had prior to the start of the war. The encouragement to women that it was â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Their duty to return to the homeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; was also promoted by the trade unions.2 This stance was further strengthened by enforcing employment that was originally associated with women (a form of employment agreed as acceptable for women), such as the civil service and the nursing profession. However, these forms of employment offered limited opportunities because once a woman married, she was expected to forsake any employment and resolve to a life of domesticity.3 Carol Harris, Women at war 1939-1945:The home front (Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd,2000), p. 1. p.1. 3 Ibid. p.1. 1



In 1938, with the possibility of another large scale war on the horizon, the government realised the importance of women to the war effort. The recollection of the First World War initiated a campaign aimed at the female population, which resulted in the formation of the Women’s Volunteer Service (W.V.S.) in 1938 under the main title of the National Service.4 This organisation was central to generating volunteers and then using their assistance and support for other volunteer organisations in civil defence such as the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) and other auxiliary services. One of the key roles of the W.V.S. upon first entering the war effort was the planning and organisation of the evacuation of children from the primary targets of the expected aerial bombings. The duties of women volunteers during these evacuation procedures included organising the billeting of the children being evacuated and overseeing their welfare. Many posters depicting images of women assisting in the evacuation process appeared; they urged women to help in the evacuation of children from expected targeted cities as part of the recruitment drive. However, this was a limited role based around child welfare and women were soon looked to for a more involved role to underpin the war effort. By 1940 it became clear that even with the new organisations in civil defence and other Auxiliary services there would be a shortfall of labour. Sir William Beveridge, who was appointed undersecretary to the minister of labour, was assigned the task of calculating the required numbers needed for the reserved occupations expected during the war.5 His 1940 report found that to achieve the numbers of men required to sustain the armed forces it would leave a deficit of approximately one and a half million in the labour force. To compensate for this shortfall the same amount of women would be needed to sustain and maintain the work force in the auxiliary services. Following the report and the registration of employment order of 1943 this number was achieved with the compulsory recruitment of women (conscription).6Most women secured employment in agriculture and other auxiliary employment, but as the demand for munitions increased and as the war lengthened, many women found themselves involved in the manufacturing of munitions and arms, and working in the heavy industry associated with the war

The Women’s Voluntary Services (W.V.S) was established in 1938 by Stella Isaacs, the Dowager Marchioness of Reading. The Women's Voluntary Service was to act as a support unit for the ARP and in matters of civil defence. 5 Eugenia Low, ‘Biography of Sir William Beveridge’, Liberal Democrat History Group, (29 December 2008), <> [accessed 16 January 2012] 6 Mark Donnelly, Britain in the Second World War, (London: Routledge, 1999), p.39. 4


effort. This led to a different working and home life which most women had not experienced before, especially in terms of skills and independence. A number of publications written about women in the auxiliary services and their employment during the Second World War highlight the significance and value of women’s employment in the area of munitions manufacturing. Women’s contribution to the war effort can be ascertained through primary source evidence such as private diaries and letters, as well as through the observation diaries collated through the Mass Observation project that ran from 1937 to 1950.7 This source gives an insight into the lives of the women that had been employed in the munitions factories and other associated employment related to the war effort, describing both the disruption to their existing lives and the importance of their roles. A more focused source by Maria Williams entitled, ‘A Forgotten Army’: Female Munitions Workers of South Wales 1939-1945 is a valuable record of Welsh women’s lives and the effect on those who worked in the munitions factories in Wales (or munitionettes as they were known). 8 Using reconstructions from primary source evidence, Williams explores the wider context of the parts these women played and she offers an insight into their social, cultural, and economic lives during this period. What many of these women faced was not just finding themselves in employment for the first time, but a total change in lifestyle as many who had husbands away fighting in the war found themselves juggling home life, family, and work. An article appeared in the South Wales Argus, on 3 July 1943 by Alexander M. Thompson in which he commented on the effect that the war had on the working women of Wales, where thousands of women now found themselves working in the munitions factories. Thompson’s concerns were that, despite the appreciation of women’s contribution to the war effort, he feared that there would be consequences of this revolution in the national habit. In his opinion, these war time conditions had changed the traditional role of women in the work place and had permanently altered their social standing with shifts in the traditional gender model of women.9 He was concerned that, once these women had found a type of independence in the work place, after the war they would not want to return to their original domestic lives, but in fact many of the women who entered employment in the munitions industry managed both their work in the factories and their domestic lives. Many women worked eight hour shifts,

The Mass-Observation diaries were initiated in August 1937 by the social research organisation Mass Observation as an anthropological study of the everyday lives of men and women in Great Britain preceding and during the war years 1937-1950. . 8 Maria A. Williams, ‘A Forgotten Army’: Female Munitions Workers of South Wales 1939-1945 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002). 9 Alexander M. Thompson, cited in Williams, ‘A Forgotten Army‘ p.109. 7


returned home after their long shifts and completed all their domestic tasks, including taking charge of childcare arrangements. The significance of the role of women in the wartime factories and other auxiliary services proved to be crucial. The employment of women was a turning point in gender evaluation in the short term in respect of the self-perception of the women, but also in its long-term effects which altered the attitudes of those involved in the employment of women in the work place, especially in the munitions manufacturing sector. However, the need to use women in the war effort did cause concern and debate amongst the coalition government of the time. They knew that they had to sustain a substantial workforce and that women would be able to complete the work required but there was also concern that the traditional female role was being changed from home maker/ mother because the perception was that a women’s place was with the family.10 But, in reality a substantial workforce was needed and the women of war time Britain provided a solution. 1940 to 1941 saw a large insurgence in the number of women recruited for the munitions factories, especially in Wales and this is the period when the impact of the war was fully realised. Thousands of women were recruited for five new Royal Ordnance Factories (R.O.F) that were built in Bridgend, Glascoed, Haran, Llanishen and Newport in South Wales. 11 By 1943 the two Welsh factories of Bridgend and Glascoed had employed a total of 50,000 people, of which 35,000 were women.12 Employment figures show that during the period 1940 to 1941 the workforce of Wales was essentially made up of women, with the number of female employees in the munitions industry growing dramatically.13 The financial gain for women working in the Royal Ordinance Factories provided a new opportunity for Welsh women, and the high wages offered a further incentive. Many mothers of teenage children, especially teenage girls, found it more beneficial for their daughters to give up their lesser paid work and to stay at home to look after younger brothers and sisters, whilst they themselves went out to work. In 1941 a young girl who worked in a retail store in Maesteg South

Penny Summerfield, ‘Women and Social Changes in the Second World War’, in ed. by B. Brivati & H. Jones What Difference Did the War Make?(Leicester: Leicester University Press), p.66 cited in Donnelly, Britain in the Second World War, p 42. 11 Donnelly, Britain in the Second World War, p.55 12Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (5th series), vol.329, 395, (17th November1937); ibid vol 334, 1281 (14th April 1938); Earnest street, Royal Ordinance Factory.Glascoed’, Gwent Local History No 60(1986), 15-18 cited in Williams, ‘A Forgotten Army’, p.55 13 Williams, ‘A Forgotten Army’, p.68. 10


Wales finished work to stay at home to look after her two younger brothers whilst her mother went to work in the munitions factory at Bridgend as it proved to be more lucrative.14 The government strategy and employment figures show the change in the role and expectations of women during the Second World War, particularly in the munitions and arms industry, but also in other war time employment. Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employment was essential to the war effort and played a significant part in sustaining the workforce in the munitions industry that was paramount to the war effort. South Wales was a major contributor of female labour in the arms industry, with nine factories in Wales all manufacturing weapons and other engineering products associated with the war.


Ibid., p.116 30

Have historians overstated the importance of organized sport in the construction of a Welsh identity in the late Victorian and Edwardian period? By Ryan Fackrell ‘A game democratic and amateur is a rare thing – a unique thing to be cherished, and therefore the concern of thinking men who value … higher levels of citizenship… Wales begins… evolutionary turns forward’. The Welsh Outlook, January 1914 Readers would be forgiven for incorrectly assuming that the focus of the above extract is political in nature. The mention of democracy suggests politics; however, in fact the subject being so passionately described is rugby. Similarly, have historians incorrectly overstated the importance of organized sport in the construction of a Welsh identity in the late Victorian and Edwardian period? D. Gareth Evans acknowledges rugby as the Welsh national game that represented national pride and expression.1 Gareth Williams claims Wales’ win against New Zealand in 1905 to be as important as the publication of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.2 Is then the proposed question flawed? Should it specifically assess the influence of organised rugby only? Dai Smith states rugby was just one representation in a golden age of sporting achievement that included champion cyclists and boxers.3 So why does rugby continually steal the limelight while other sports are left on the ‘bench’? In understanding the process of how rugby became the national game, it can be further understood how that game represents the nation both externally and internally. To create a recognisable nation there must be social solidarity or a common identity: the sharing of a common history or, the sharing of common culture like a language is just two examples.4 The creation of a national identity fundamentally occurs in a number of phases: most

D. Gareth Evans, A History of Wales 1906-2000 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), p.60. Gareth Williams, ‘From Popular Culture to Public Cliché: Image and Identity in Wales, 1890-1914’, in Pleasure, Profit, Proselytism: British Culture and Sport at Home and Abroad 1700-1914, ed. by J.A. Mangan (London: Frank Cass, 1988), p.126. 3 Dai Smith, ‘Focal heroes: a Welsh fighting class’, in, Sport and the working class in modern Britain, ed. by Richard Holt (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), p.199. 4 Graig Calhoun, Nationalism (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1997), pp.4-6. 1 2


importantly in this case are social construction and expression.5 This paper argues that movements like nonconformity and liberalism were important in constructing a Welsh identity. Furthermore, organised sport was essential to the construction and expression of this national identity. The foundation of any national identity must be a shared history: for national identities to progress societies require knowledge of ancestral experiences that have contributed to their current social climate. ‘…Welsh people have been oppressed by the English State for some seven centuries’.6 This oppression stifled the flourishment of a Welsh culture; furthermore, notable gaps have been left in an independent Welsh history.


Therefore, Welsh nationalists of the

Victorian and Edwardian periods resorted to inventing or exaggerating traditions: one example is the Gwerin a semi-mythological group of ancestors from Wales’ not so distant past. Self reliant and progressive the Gwerin were a conceptualisation that was endorsed by Welsh scholar O.M. Edwards.8 Gwerin translates into a multitude of meanings, and each translation relates to specified contexts. Gwerin translates as ‘force’ or ‘warriors’; therefore, the Gwerin could be guardians of Welsh culture and society. More humbly Gwerin translates as working class or common folk and portrays the everyday values of being progressively self reliant.9 The integration of organised sport into Welsh culture was a new to the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Rugby was a product of England’s middle class schools, which filtered into Victorian Wales via English landlords. However, Welsh nationalists wanted to forge their own links to the game of rugby. In 1603, George Owen gave a detailed description of a ball game called Cnappen: played in Pembrokeshire, Cnappen was viewed as a violent and primitive form of rugby. 10 Similarly, in 1914 The Welsh Outlook claimed that Welsh rugby had an ‘unassailable tradition’. 11 This is true regarding the national team’s achievements of 1900 to 1914, however, with regards to time, Welsh rugby was not popular until the early twentieth century. The invented tradition Ibid., p.6. Raymond Williams, ‘Wales and England’, in Who Speaks for Wales? Nation, Culture, Identity. Raymond Williams, ed. by Daniel Williams (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 2003), p.16. 7 Raymond Williams, ‘Welsh Culture’, in Who Speaks for Wales?, Williams, pp.5-11, 8-9. 8 Evans, History of Wales, pp.127-8. 9 Prys Morgan, 'The Gwerin of Wales - Myth and Reality,'pp.134-152’, in, The Welsh and their Country: Readings in the Social Sciences, ed. by I. Hume and W.T.R. Pryce (Llandysol: Gomer Press, 1986), pp.134-38. 10 George Owen [1603]. In, The Description of Pembrokeshire, ed by Henry Owen (London: 1892), pp.270-82. Cited: Martin Johnes, A History of Sport in Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales, 2005), pp.1-2. 11 The Welsh Outlook (1914), <> [accessed 2 February 2012] . 5 6


was also influenced by ethnic concepts that would differentiate the Welsh from their neighbours. Welsh nationalists began to associate themselves with an ancestry all of their own. One example is the Celts, an ancient warrior race that refused to conform and challenged the might of Rome. 12 In turn ‘Celtic’ came to resemble physical and mental qualities like courage, strength, speed and others that typified the Welsh race and their sporting achievements.13 To create common cultures, social movements are required to establish social structures which give nations purpose and direction. In the Victorian period the non-conformist chapel became the central hub of life in Wales: It influenced socio-cultural undertones and provided moralistic guidelines that could lead to individual salvation.14 Coincidently, the rise of Liberalism enforced the democraticization of the nation, and enforced the idea of a nonconformist nation. In 1907, the founding of the National Library of Wales and the National Museum of Wales were notable achievements. The establishment of a network of university colleges in turn provoked a revitalisation of nationalistic understandings.15 In contrast, domestic sport created social divides in early twentieth century Wales, however, the unifying qualities of national sporting achievements contributed to nationalism in unique ways. The emergence of sport and leisure in the twentieth century threatened the Victorian non-conformist tradition. Nonconformist officials believed the nation was turning to vain pursuits like sport and drinking which undermined the chapel’s traditional values.16 The chapel was central to nonconformity, whereas, the local ‘arms’ was central to organised sport. The religious revival of 1904 to 1905 clearly defined the contrasts between the nonconformist pursuits and the moral indecency of sport. One rugby veteran claimed during the revival: ‘I used to play full-back for the Devil, but now I am forward for God’.17 National identity is a collective of numerous locally formed identities that flux according to geographical, cultural and ethnic factors. In the early 1900s, football was a middle class pastime and was popular in Northern Wales.18 Similarly, tennis was more symbolic of an individual’s social status rather than preferences regarding leisure.19 Contrastingly, rugby and boxing were

Williams, ‘Welsh Culture’, p.8. Examples in: Smith, ‘Focal heroes’, in Sport and the working class, ed. by Holt, pp.214-15, and Johnes, A History of Sport, p.31. 14 C.R. Williams, ‘The Welsh Religious Revival, 1904-5’, The British Journal of Sociology, 3.3 (1952), 242-259 (pp. 242-43). 15 Evans, History of Wales, pp.1-6. 16 Williams, ‘Religious Revival’, pp. 242-46. 17 Gareth Williams, 1905 and All that (Llandysul: Gomer Press, 1991), pp.76-7. 18Johnes, A History of Sport, p.34. 19 Ibid., p.38. 12 13


primarily working class pursuits that thrived in the industrialised valleys of South Wales.20 These sports typified the physical force and masculinity required by the average industrial worker. When these forces collided in recreational sport a common outcome was violence: violence that typified regional rugby teams who defined their identities from those around them by way of victory.21 There was also a clear gender divide in organised sport as women played an entirely passive role. Sport was typified by manliness and women were treated as second class citizens even in times of leisure, and this was the case regardless of class or social standing.22 The domestic game created numerous social divides but the national sport was a different ‘ball game.’ The national rugby team had no visible class boundaries: ‘Embracing well-educated, white-collar backs (for their skill) and manual worker forwards (for their strength)’.23 Furthermore, the team was free of ethnic differentiation: caps were being won by men from Somerset, Devon and Tyneside.24 This attitude filtered into the fan base, for example, after their win against New Zealand in 1905 crowds were filled with people of both sexes and of different races and nationalities.25 The experience of the national game is one that embodies the aims of both nonconformity and liberalism in creating a unified Welsh nation. Using sport as an expression has its limitations, primarily; the quality of the expression directly reflects the quality of the sporting achievement. Positively, the period 1900 to 1914 was a golden age of Welsh sport that witnessed notable achievements in numerous pursuits.26 Despite notable achievements, Welsh liberalism was still bound to and therefore limited by the English/ British government. The nonconformist religion was only as strong as its congregation, and in the early twentieth century its influence came under attack from social influences like organised sport. 27 Therefore, sport was in a healthy position to represent a progressive Welsh nation. But why in this golden period does one sport, namely rugby, get the lion’s share of the glory? Quoits is a game which involves throwing iron rings around spikes: it was popular in working class areas and attracted large amounts of spectators who witnessed notable successes against England. However, quoits was not as exciting as rugby; furthermore, it did not display the same levels of

Smith, ‘Focal heroes’, in Sport and the working class, ed. by Holt, p.199. Williams, ‘Public Cliché’, in Pleasure, Profit, Proselytism, ed. by Mangan, pp.131-32. 22 Andy Croll, ‘Popular Leisure and Sport’, in A Companion to Nineteenth Century Britain, ed. by Chris Williams (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), p.407. 23 Williams, 1905, p.80. 24Ibid., p.80. 25 South Wales Daily News, 18 December 1905, cited in Ibid., p.70. 26 John Davies, A History of Wales (London: Penguin Books, 2007), p.480. 27 Williams, ‘Religious Revival’, p. 246. 20 21


masculinity that epitomised working class sports.28 In the early twentieth century the industrial valleys of the south produced boxers like Jim Driscoll, Freddie Welsh and Jimmy Wilde, who were emblematic of sporting achievement and their society. However, boxing never established a strong tradition or a strong symbolism in Wales.29 ‘The boxer stands alone. His relationship to his particular society is as complex as the spectator’s role is ambivalent’.30 Football is followed widely in modern day Wales, however, Victorian and Edwardian Wales viewed it as an alien game that represented England.31 David Lloyd George once attributed the political non responsiveness of Monmouthshire to a ‘morbid Footballism’.32 Rugby was commonly viewed as the national game because it represented everything that the sports above failed to. It was a violent game that first and foremost provoked spectator excitement, furthermore, it symbolised masculinity inherent within the industrial working class. There was also an extensive amount of skill involved that highlighted physical qualities that were believed to be typical of the Welsh race. Organised sport is a phenomenon in Welsh history in that on paper it has no socio-political qualities. Symbolically, organised sport and specifically rugby represented all the achievements of a progressive Welsh nation. Domestic sport at times created divides in society that was marginally harmful to the construction of a national identity. However, national sporting achievements at times reflected the democratic ideals that were typical of liberal politics. Due to monumental and global successes, organised sport transcended the social restrictions of the Victorian and Edwardian period. Therefore, sport could represent a Welsh national identity more effectively than the movements that had become limited by the social structures they had influenced.

Johnes, A History of Sport, pp.37-8. Ibid, p.42. 30 Smith, ‘Focal heroes’, in Sport and the working class, ed. by Holt, p.200. 31 Williams, ‘Public Cliché’, in Pleasure, Profit, Proselytism, ed. by Mangan, p.141. 32 Johnes, A History of Sport, p.32. 28 29


‘A farrago of filth…every page teems with clotted idiocies [Western Mail]…the literature of the sewers [The Welsh Outlook]’. Why did commentators respond so angrily to Caradoc Evans’ My People (1915)? A Discussion. By Huw Edwards ‘The repute of the man who defrauds servant girls with coloured bibles was fairer in Wales than mine’1 The ‘snippets’ of invective contained within the article title and aimed at Caradoc Evans’ My People are from two publications; The Welsh Outlook and the Western Mail. A brief analysis of the profiles of these publications provides a strong clue as to the nature and vested interests of the vicious opposition to Evans’ debut work. The former prided itself on being an erudite mouthpiece for an educated, allegedly classless Welsh society, attempting to promote, in 1915, the under-fire notion of y gwerin. The owner of The Welsh Outlook was D.A. Thomas [Llandinam], a Liberal M.P and owner of the vast Ocean Mining Combine. Its editor was Thomas [TJ] Davies, a man who would go on to achieve Cabinet Secretary status under Lloyd George. The Welsh Outlook is described by Dai Smith as a journal whose educative mission was to defend ‘…moderate trade unionism against belligerent employers and insisting upon the value of The Workers Educational Association and of the university movement in the fight against the spread of rank and file agitation and Marxist pedagogues’.2 It is no small wonder, therefore, that they should invoke a reference to the ‘sewer’ in their criticism of My People. The second, the Western Mail, is described succinctly by John Harris as a ‘…newspaper of Tory persuasion but one which, for all its dealings with Caradoc Evans, appropriated the tones of militant Liberalnonconformity’.3

Caradoc Evans cited in ‘Introduction’ by Gwyn Jones to My People, (London: Dobson,1953). Dai Smith, Aneurin Bevan and the World of South Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1983), p.57. 3 John Harris. ‘Introduction: “The Banned, Burned Book of War”, in Caradoc Evans, My People (Bridgend: Seren Classics, 1987), p.9. 1 2


On examination of the context of socio-political forces at play in early twentieth century, Edwardian Wales, the anger and vitriol displayed against Evans is unsurprising. David Lloyd George was Minister of Munitions in the Liberal government and heading for the position of Prime Minister of a country waging fervent war against Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany, with a Navy powered by the renowned Welsh steam coal from a heavily industrialized South Wales. The Kaiser himself was known to be an admirer of this Welsh product. Many Welshmen had volunteered to do their duty and fight in the British World War. Liberal-nonconformity was in crisis in South Wales. The religious revival of 1904-1906, characterised by collier’s son, Evan Roberts, ‘God’s chosen instrument’, had petered out and the country was reeling from an uneasy period of unrest and industrial protest, strikes and riots. In the land of the supposedly ‘classless’, quasi-mythological gwerin, the syndicalist movement and the irresistible rise of the forces of organised labour ensured that the voice of a burgeoning working class was heard. Both Liberal politics and religious non-conformity could have no cause for complacency and pallid conciliation, the age of Mabon had passed. It is not surprising therefore that a work such as My People, coming at this time, met with vehement opposition from both chapel and state. The timing of the publication of My People could not have been worse…or better, dependent on one’s political, cultural and religious outlook. In short, it was clear that Evans was seen as ‘off message’ and running contrary to the nationalistic image that the forces of Liberalnonconformity were keen to project to a world where Wales was holding centre-stage industrially. M.Wynn Thomas describes My People as being ‘…part of the product of a specific historical crisis, a period of power-transference as the Socialists wrested political power in Wales from the grasp of the Liberals’ and that opposition to the book, as exemplified by the extracts in the title of this article, ‘…proclaimed it to be an impure fantasy and claimed the author had adulterated the truth as unscrupulously as other Londonised Cardis had watered their milk’.4 Evans, as can be seen from the quotation on the front-sheet of this article accepted his reputation and notoriety. To a certain extent he relished it and encouraged it. He wrote with his usual provocative impishness in the Western Mail in November, 1915 in response to being accused of a ‘farrago of blasphemy and obscenity’ that:


M. Wynn Thomas. ‘My People and the Revenge of the Novel’ The New Welsh Review, 1 (1988), pp.17-25. 37

Wales would be brighter and more Christianlike if every chapel were burnt to the ground and a public-house raised on the ashes thereof…for I have heard no song, only young servant girls screaming frightfully in the arms of praying men.5 Having described the ‘battle-lines’ drawn between Caradoc Evans and his fierce detractors, this article will seek to answer two seemingly simple questions; what did Evans’ critics accuse him of that inspired such anger and venom? And was there any justification for their hostility? , was there indeed, as Gwyn Jones maintains, ‘a tincture of truth’ in the criticisms of a work where the Welsh rural gwerin are portrayed as ‘…elementals, stripped to the very fork, and at one with the soil and the beasts’?6 The main criticisms levelled against Evans were treachery against his countryfolk and language, lies and lack of realism, blasphemy, sacrilege and misogyny. This brief discussion will attempt to address these four main areas of criticism and will cite literary and historical academic sources alongside extracts from several of the fifteen mordant short stories of which My People is comprised. Lloyd George said of Evans in 1919, ‘Pride of race belongs to the lowest savage. This man is a renegade’.7 Evans had made some powerful enemies; he was considered a betrayer of his race; he was accused of ‘…gaining popularity by pandering to his English audience’s prejudices about the gothic and barbaric Welsh’.8 Whilst the ‘tincture of truth’ may be residual in that he undoubtedly benefited from English book sales and had had to move to the English capital, as many other creatives felt compelled, to pursue his art, the accusation of anti-Welsh treachery is unfounded. In January 1917, the Western Mail accused Evans of living ‘…in a moral sewer’ and that his characters were ‘…gross and repulsive…and not Welsh and certainly not Welsh peasants’. His reply was that he wrote because ‘…I believe that the cesspools of West Wales should be stirred up, because I want to see my people freed from religious tyranny, because I love my country so much that I would exhibit her sores that they may be healed’.9 Evans also admits his complicity in growing up with nonconformist values. In a 1924 lecture he confessed ‘You may say that no man should accuse unless he himself is clean…And in accusing my people, I accuse myself’.10 Caradoc Evans, Western Mail, 27 November 1915. Gwyn Jones, (Introduction) to My People (London: Dobson,1953). 7 Trevor Lloyd William, Caradoc Evans (Cardiff, 1970), 21. 8 Ibid. 9 Caradoc Evans, the Western Mail, 23 January 1917, cited in John Harris (Ed). Fury Never Leaves Us (Bridgend: Poetry Wales, 1985). 10 Caradoc Evans, ‘Lecture at University College, Bangor, November 1924’, Cited in Harri Roberts, ‘The Body and the Book: Caradoc Evans’s My People’, Welsh Writing in English: A Yearbook of Critical Essays. 11, (2006/7), p.48. 5 6


The second count of treachery levelled against Evans is that he wrote the book in a desultory, mock-biblical, invented Welsh dialect and not in his native tongue and first language, Welsh. John Harris and M. Wynn Thomas, feel that Evans’ opponents miss the point and fail to understand his unique and clever use of a stylistic language. In his introduction to the 1987 edition of My People, Harris recounts how Evans was inspired by randomly opening the bible ‘…at the homely eighteenth chapter of Genesis. I read that chapter seven times, and as I closed the book I made a vow to write My People’.11 The Old Testament proved an innovative template for Evans that fired his artistic and political mission. Harris maintains that ‘Genesis 18, the chapter in which Abraham intercedes on behalf of Sodom, helped convince Evans of his high mission…to save Wales from itself’. The biblical-style dialogue increases the power and authority of the narrative and adroitly becomes ‘a satiric weapon for attacking those who would commandeer biblical language and precepts for their own dark ends’. He then asserts that ‘Ministers and deacons had made rhetoric their ‘hateful weapons’; Evans would now turn it devastatingly against them’.12 My People is replete with examples of this theory, In ‘Lamentations’, the self-important deaconess and village gossip, Bertha Daviss admonishes village renegade, Evan Rhiw, ‘Awful are the fingers that will grasp you by your rib trousers and throw you into the Fiery Pool’.13 Thomas believes that Evans had developed a ‘…baroque language to convey…the indwelling ugliness of perverted spiritual shape, of his people’.14 Belinda Humphrey agrees and summarises the issue economically, His strength is in his style; overall he blends the cadence of the Old Testament and Marie Lloyd’s music-hall storytelling skill through what she didn’t say. The ponderous biblical style is, of course, ironic, given its evil usage in Caradoc’s peasant community.15 The case can be made that should Evans have written My People in Welsh, then the power and impact of this clever satirical style might well have been lost.

John Harris. ‘Introduction: “The Banned, Burned Book of War” in Caradoc Evans, My People (Bridgend: Seren Classics, 1987) p.9. 12 Ibid., p.11. 13Caradoc Evans, ‘Lamentations’ , My People, (London: Dobson, 1953), p.141. 14 M. Wynn Thomas. ‘My People and the Revenge of the Novel.’, The New Welsh Review,1 (1988), p.23. 15 Belinda Humphrey, ‘Prelude to the Twentieth Century’, Welsh Writing in English V11, (Cardiff: UWP, 2003). 11


As can be seen from the feverish criticism of My People by publications such as the Western Mail and The Welsh Outlook, Liberal-nonconformity had taken a kick in its rigid underbelly from Caradoc Evans and protested loudly that he had drawn a scurrilously inaccurate portrait of the Welsh rural ‘yeomanry’. Russell Davies, in his fascinating, and painstakingly researched, history of rural West Wales [1996], disagrees. He states that in the …traditional view, rural Wales is seen as an idyllic Eden. The cottages are clean and whitewashed, with ivy growing on the walls, and latticed porches overgrown with pink roses. The inhabitants of these houses are rosy-cheeked, fit healthy and sturdy.16 Nothing could have been further from reality. Davies chronicles an area of Wales teeming with suicide, mental illness, crime, class division, putrid housing, appalling sanitation and disease; high infant mortality rates, incest, baby farming and misogyny. This is the heartland of Liberalnonconformist Wales. The gwerin were portrayed by Liberal-nonconformity as ‘classless’. Davies argues that Nonconformist religion actually promoted class division between the Minister, Deacons and congregation. This was overlaid socially with patriarchal class hierarchies that included the rich landowners, revered clergy, rich farmers, ‘shopocracy’ and teachers and finally the cottagers and the destitute poor in workhouses or on ‘indoor’ or ‘outdoor’ relief. Davies found a strict correlation between religious and social prestige, where Deacons in Baptist chapels, a group for whom Caradoc Evans reserved special vitriol, were ‘…largely drawn from the farming and shopkeeping classes; very few were workers’. He then quotes from a picante item from the Carmarthen Weekly Reporter in 1896, which postulates the idea that ‘Class division might not exist in Heaven, but if Christ went to some of the Carmarthen Chapels he would have to sit near the door whilst his ‘betters’ sat ‘higher up’.17 Evans begins My People with ‘A Father in Sion’ and introduces the reader to the pompous and evil Sadrach, Danyrefail the epitome of Evans’ target group. Sadrach is a relatively prosperous farmer thereby purchasing kudos and status as a Capel Sion deacon, enforcers and henchmen for the all-powerful ‘clerisy’, known as ‘rulers’. His false religiosity is satirised when Evans describes him in the initial paragraph as ‘…a man whose thoughts

[as opposed to his deeds] were continually employed upon sacred

subjects…he often prefaced his remarks with ‘on my way to Sion I asked God what he meant’--’ His false divinity, greed and hypocrisy is exposed when the reader learns that the farm belongs, in fact to his wife Achsah who, after bearing him eight children, he declares ‘mad’ and

16 17

Russell Davies, Secret Sins: Sex, Violence and Society in Carmarthenshire 1870-1920 (Cardiff: UWP, 1996). Davies, Secret Sins, p.205. 40

‘charitably’ keeps her locked in the harness-loft and exercises her by driving her as a cow in a bovine halter rather than imitating the ungodly act of ‘Twm Tybach who sent his wife to the madhouse of Carmarthen’. Sadrach has purchased his status in the Seiet, the ‘…solemn, soulsearching assembly’, with publicly visible gifts of baskets overflowing with ‘chicken, two, whitehearted cabbages, a peck of potatoes, bread and half a pound of butter’.18 Possessions are the status symbols of the avaricious residents of Manteg, social standing is equated to wealth and membership of the deacon class entitles residents, like Sadrach, to claim an enhanced closeness to the Big Man [God], who they constantly refer to intimately as ‘Big Man Bach’ or ‘Little White Jesus’. Russell Davies confirms the high incidence of lunacy amongst women in patriarchal West Wales and also of madness inspired by childbirth and poor midwifery, ‘puerperal mania’. Along with blasphemy, Caradoc Evans is continually accused of misogyny. As previously stated, Evans admits his own collusion, but it is the misogyny of his characters, in particular to pious religious hypocrites that are under attack. Liberal Welsh nation building was strictly gendered from politics, religion and the arts down to sport and employment. Harri Roberts notes that Sadrach ‘manipulates biblical discourse in order to justify behaviour…such as lust, avarice and bestial carnality’.19 He justifies the insertion of Achsah’s ‘substitute’, Martha by invoking a skewed interpretation of Genesis 2:20, in which carnality is denounced as making man ‘no better than the beasts in the fields’, by stating ‘Man was born to be mated, even as the animals in the fields’.20 The fate of his daughter, Rachel is equally grim. Whilst hoeing turnips in the twilight she has an epileptic fit and expires in an irrigation ditch. The next morning Sadrach notices that ‘Death had come before the milking of the cows’, and upon emptying the manure cart, ‘…cast Rachel’s body into the cart, and covered it with a sack and drove home singing the hymn which begins: ‘Safely, safely gathered in; far from sorrow, far from sin’’.21Many of Evans’ critics appear not to appreciate that My People is a satire. The Manteg inhabitants are grotesque caricatures, gross exaggerations of human types; exaggerated to make an allegorical point, in the manner of a Hogarthian political cartoon - but the misogyny and superstition are real. In Manteg society, women are painted by Evans as being less valuable than farm stock. Even the most impressive matriarchal figure in My People, Nanni of ‘Be This Her Memorial’, is seen as complicit in her own downfall by regarding the ‘Respected Josiah Bryn-Bevan’ whom she had ‘swaddled in her own

Caradoc Evans, My People (London: Dobson,1953), pp.8-9. Harri Roberts, ‘Body and the Book’, 37. 20 Evans, My People, p.12. 21Evans, My People, p.19. 18 19


flannel petticoat’, as ‘greater than God’.22 Nanni is the a major threat to the Nonconformist patriarchy with her talents as receiver and transmitter of oral folklore, Nanni ‘saw the phantom mourners [toili]…and the spirit hounds [cwn annan]’;23 she is eventually devoured by the rats she has to consume in order to pay for the gaudy bible, a gift for her ‘God’, Bryn-Bevan. This metaphor is blatant; the stranglehold of the Liberal-nonconformist ‘unholy alliance’ devours those who succumb to its hypocritical cant. She is the ‘Woman of Bethany’ who anointed the feet of Jesus in Matthew, from where ‘Be this her memorial’ is taken. Evans choses his titles carefully, this is MY People [my emphasis]. Although Wales was in the vanguard of the Atlantic economy and was considered to be amongst the world’s most religious countries, Russell Davies notes that, despite being in a churning maelstrom of ‘…rapid educational, scientific and technological change’ in South West Wales ‘… a large number of the rural population were preoccupied with survivals from a pagan and mediaeval age’ and that in the families of the idealised gwerin ‘…envy, cruelty, hatred, malice and spite were often the dominant emotions in a savage , vicious world’. He concludes that ‘…even in an intensely religious period, there was a beast in Welsh man, and in his heart there remained a pagan darkness’.24 The anger and venom exhibited towards My People was understandable if unjustified. M.Wynn Thomas concedes to the view of Tecwyn Lloyd in that ‘Caradoc contributed shamefully to a long-established literature parodying the Welsh and their way of life…racist mockery designed to make the colonial Welsh seem sub-human’.25 He continues by paraphrasing the review of the Seren edition of My People by Hywel Teifi Edwards who asserted on Radio Cymru that ‘Nonconformist Wales saw the treachery of this book…as a repeat of the Treachery committed by the Blue Books in 1847’ which depicted the Welsh ‘…as a licentious and retarded people, brutalised by their primitive language’.26 However, the views of Gwyn ‘Alf’ Williams are probably most pertinent here by pointing out that ‘…Caradoc Evans’ My People with its ‘mean vignettes of a sly, crabbed peasantry’ to whom hypocrisy was a way of life…was not as remote from reality as it may seem; it would hardly have been so effective if it had been’.27

‘Be This Her Memorial’ in Evans, My People, p.96. Ibid., p.95. 24 Davies, Secret Sins, 11-12. 25 M. Wynn Thomas. ‘My People and the Revenge of the Novel.’, The New Welsh Review, 1 (1988), p.23. 26 Ibid., p.20. 27 Gwyn A. Williams, When Was Wales? (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p.238. 22 23


China’s hierarchy- the Welsh ‘slums’ criminal class and how changes in historiography have led to doubts about its existence. By Samantha Rickards Keith Strange in his 1980 article, ‘In search of the Celestial Empire’ examined the criminal class of Merthyr Tydfil’s ‘China’;1 an iconic slum described as a ‘criminal Alsatia’.2 The structures presented by Strange, those that describe the operation of a professional criminal class with a distinct hierarchy, have however, become outdated falling behind the modern views based upon new evidence. With newspapers and other forms of print becoming cheaper and easier to obtain throughout the nineteenth century, as well as increasing levels of sensationalism, stories of burglary, murder and pickpockets sold by the thousands to a bloodthirsty audience just waiting for the next drama to unfold. 3 Strange’s characters, such as the delinquent ‘Rodnies’ and the debaucherous ‘Nymphs’ with their ‘Bully’ protectors, along with less notable players almost certainly existed, as we can see from the newspaper reports and articles of the time. The slum of ‘China’ as a geographical location also existed and was even represented on maps of the era, 4 but Strange’s setting, the socalled ‘Empire’ of organised crime which lurked in ‘Chinese’ basements seems to be of the authors creation; as fictional as Fagin’s layer in Dickens Oliver Twist. In this article, there will be a discussion on each of Strange’s characters and an assessment of their contribution to his claimed hierarchy. The article will also examine the evidence used by Strange and the problems it presents. ‘Rodnies’ are Strange’s take on the classic juvenile delinquent, young men committing a multitude of crimes who turn to the lifestyle for both economic and psychological reasons, 5 which are a main outcome of the slums ‘culture of poverty’, 6 poor economic and environmental conditions. In Keith Strange, ‘In search of the Celestial Empire’, Llafur: the Journal of Welsh Labour History, 3.1 (1980), pp.4486. 2 Clive Emsley, Crime and Society in England 1750-1900 (Harlow: Pearson education limited, 2005), p.178. 3 Christopher A. Casey, ‘Common misperceptions: the press and Victorian views of crime’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 41.3 (2011), 367-391 [p.373]. 4 The area is named ‘China’ on an Ordinance survey map, 1828. 5 Strange, ‘In search of the Celestial Empire’, p.46. 6 Ibid., p.56. 1


contemporary terms, Rodnies were the Victorian equivalent of media-hyped ‘ASBO teens’. The name Rodnies was given to these boys in newspapers of the era and was borrowed from such publications by Strange. These poverty-stricken young men roamed the street stealing what they could - petty theft often being ‘the only means of providing regular meals’.7 The Rodnies place in the criminal class hierarchy is relatively low, often working under the influence of older and generally more skilled professional criminals. Young people were often sent in by their leaders to do the ‘most dangerous tasks’ as they received shorter sentences than their tutors; however they appear to be apprehended more frequently, reflecting their lack of finesse.8 But Strange’s view of youth crime is flawed, as modern historians have discovered a far more authentic reason for its existence; ‘rather than the offenders being in thrall to Fagins, it seems probable that a considerable amount of pocket picking, especially by juveniles, was the result of opportunism’. 9 The slum’s ‘culture of poverty’ certainly did play a part in the creation of petty thieves, however, the stronger pull seems to be that of opportunism in the form of an open first storey window, or washing left unattended on a line, or an expensive handkerchief seen in an upper-class gentleman's back pocket. So, Strange was correct in one aspect of his analysis because poverty was an important factor, however, poverty created the need for opportunistic petty theft rather than skilled organised crime. It is highly unlikely that the Rodnies pickpocketing benefited anyone other than the young man himself, rather than a whole troupe of juveniles and their master ‘Kidsmen’. ‘Nymphs’ and ‘Bullies’ are Strange’s terms for the prostitute and her protector. An interesting union who both live and work together, but are not engaged in anything more than a business relationship,10 and appear to show the only concrete form of hierarchy within the slum. Again the slums ‘culture of poverty’ rears its ugly head in causing young women to head out walking the streets or to work in brothels, as well as forcing them into a corrupt environment. Cheap accommodation meant the poor flocked to ‘China’. The dishevelled appearance of prostitutes held them back from obtaining better jobs, of which there were few. Limited job opportunities existed for women at that time and no employer would take on a girl who ‘had no shoes to wear to work’.11 However, prostitution may not have occurred on such a large scale as presented by Strange or even by some primary Ibid., p.46. Ibid. 9 Emsley, Crime and Society in England, pp.174-175. 10 Ibid., p.50. 11 Ibid.,p.56. 7 8


sources of the time, sensationalism within the media was rife when it came to predicting the number of girls selling themselves.

The number of Nymphs on the streets, estimated by Patrick

Colquhoun12, is said to be roughly 50,000 in London alone.13 These figures are discredited by David Philips;14 they were given in a works trying to persuade the public that London needed a police force, so Colquhoun’s appeared to ‘exaggerate the relevant figures, in the interests of exciting apprehension about the size and threat of the “criminal class”’.15 The Bullies ‘acted as protectors for their partners in crime… they assisted the girls in robberies, attempted to prevent the latter’s capture and conviction by the police, and tried to ensure that no other members of the underworld deprived their particular girl of her “pickings”’.16 The relationship between the two is symbiotic; the bullies often lived off of their partner’s earnings17 and in return provided the protection needed to survive life in ‘China’. However, though they display a weak form of hierarchy based upon mutual gain, they are not linked to any of the other criminal classes in a significant way; ‘Brothel keepers’ being the only other persons who may procure minor gains from this relationship by employing Bullies to protect their Nymphs based within their brothels.18 Some minor characters, such as ‘Brothel keepers’, ‘Smashers’ and ‘Vagrants’ also play a part in the so-called ‘Celestial Empire’, but again show very little link to each other or even to the major players. ‘Brothel keepers’ ran establishments that ‘doubled up as lodging houses, cheap eating places and beershops’ 19 and obviously interacted with Bullies and Nymphs, but as discussed before, this relationship is minor in comparison to the overall hierarchy suggested by Strange. The only hierarchical structure present is seen between the Brothel Keepers and the Nymphs, as the latter is in the formers employment and gives him a portion of her earnings. Also discussed is the brothel’s location as meeting place for the criminal classes to discuss and plot their dastardly deeds.20 This role is again overplayed by Strange, due to the lack of organised crime in ‘China’. What little Colquhoun (1745-1820) was a wealthy Scottish merchant who wrote in support of an organised police force, so was liable to exaggerate figures in his work to almost shock the public into supporting his cause. 13 David Philips, ‘Three “moral entrepreneurs” and the creation of a “criminal class” in England, c. 1790s1840s’, Crime, Histoire and Sociétiés, 7.1 (2003), 79-107. [p. 83]. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid. 16 Strange, ‘In search of the Celestial Empire’, p.50. 17 Ibid., p.51. 18 Ibid., p.53. 19 Ibid., p.65. 20 Ibid., p.65. 12


occurred was probably discussed in a unlicensed public house of some form, however it is difficult to prove that these events did occur, Strange himself having to rely on a 1846 Chief Constable report that calls the establishments a ‘vast nuisance’ but gives very little information on the plotting of crime in these locations.21 On top of this, if the public houses would not have existed, or had been monitored closely by the police, would it really have prevented such ‘organised’ criminals coming together? If there were such high rates of organised, rather than opportunistic, crime, then these discussions would have taken place at a different convenient location if the brothels were not available, displaying their insignificance within the suggested hierarchy. Other minor characters discussed by Strange are the ‘Smashers’ and the ‘Vagrants’, the ‘Smashers’ counterfeited coins while ‘Vagrants’ begged for other people’s. The skill of fake coin production appears to be one that ran in the family, as Strange uses a case study of ‘Ellen Mulcahy and her daughter, Catherine’ who both were found counterfeiting coins in their house by a Superintendent 22 to support his view that environment plays a role in the creation of criminals. However, the benefit of counterfeiting coins appears only to apply to the family who are producing them, they appear to be the only ones who receive any monetary gain from the endeavour, so their contribution to the supposed criminal hierarchy is again minor. As well as this, Smashers sometimes travelled from area to area in an attempt to evade the law or to ‘work’ a new district,23 meaning they would not have adequate time to integrate themselves into any hierarchies they may encounter; making their involvement all the more questionable. Vagrancy also had no contribution to this hierarchy, the need for cheap accommodation brought the beggars to ‘China’ and led to further opportunistic petty thefts 24 which would only benefit the individual; another victim of the Victorian ‘culture of poverty’.25 The major flaws in Strange’s argument lie in the evidence he uses to produce his views on these characters that inhabit ‘China’. Some of the main primary sources he uses are written by Henry Mayhew, a ‘social explorer’ of the era who regularly published articles in newspapers about the state

Ibid. Ibid., p.67. 23 Ibid., pp.66-67. 24 Ibid., p.68. 25 Ibid., p.56. 21 22


of the slums. He provided ‘real-life counterparts to the characters and stories of Charles Dickens’26 and recorded notes of their interviews, in which they would demonstrate to an audience their criminal skill. However, these interviews were a sham, and Mayhew’s articles are now seen to be highly exaggerated by contemporary historians, such as Roger Sales. In his article ‘Platform, Performance and Payment in Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor’ Sales reveals that Mayhew paid his clients for their stories, so exaggeration would have gained a higher wage than a simple story of a stolen handkerchief.27 Sales also claims that Mayhew should be seen more as a journalist than a social explorer, which makes sense, newspapers in general are not the greatest sources of information. Sensationalism must be taken into account when discussing these texts, as should the tastes of the audience being written for, two factors which Strange fails to acknowledge adequately. Sensationalism was a key feature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and still continues today. Reports on crime in the Victorian era were much like the reports on the modern ‘footballer sex-scandal’; people wanted to hear all the gritty little details, so they were supplied by the writers to thrill and shock. Casey puts this ‘obsession’ with crime down in the press to the ‘gradual increase in the size of the reading public’,28 and it’s easy to see why. The Victorian culture was consumed by the gruesome, with broadsides that detailed even the most grisly of murders being sold as souvenirs at major crime scenes. 29 So, as discussed, exaggerations and assumptions made by reporters would have gained extra interest, Casey even claims those who wrote the articles were aware of the effect they were having: ‘media outlets were conscious of how exaggerated coverage of violence might distort contemporaries’ (not to mention future historians’) perception of the crime rate during the period’.30 Despite outlines of the distinct groups within Merthyr’s ‘Chinese’ district, Strange fails to provide viable, strong links between them. To be considered a hierarchy, the groups must be linked together, benefit each other and have a set structure, with one group above another. The only links ‘Henry Mayhew (1812-87)’, Science Museum Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine, <> [accessed 4 January 2013]. 27 Roger Sales, ‘Platform, Performance and Payment in Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor’ in Journalism, Literature and Modernity: From Hazlitt to Modernism, ed. by Kate Campbell (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University press, 2000), 54-71 [p.55]. 28 Casey, ‘Common misperceptions’, p.372. 29 Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians revelled in death and detection and created modern crime (London: Harperpress, 2011), p.4. 30 Casey, ‘Common misperceptions’, p.375. 26


seen between groups have been of either mutual benefit or have not included more than three categories of criminal, with no distinct leader. The only thing that links the classes is their shared participation in the ‘culture of poverty’, which not only forces them to turn to crime out of sheer desperation, but also into the realm of ‘China’ to look for cheap accommodation in the first place. If any criminal structure existed in Merthyr Tydfil we can be certain that it was not created by the individuals who dwelled in the damp slum, but by both the fiction and non-fiction writers of the era.


History from the Forest  

University of Glamorgan Student History Journal Volume 1: Issue 1

History from the Forest  

University of Glamorgan Student History Journal Volume 1: Issue 1