YOUR MP WRITES: Islwyn MP Chris Evans

Chris Evans

Chris Evans

First published in News

The power of the spoken word With the closure of Oakdale Colliery in 1989 the era of deep coal mines in Islwyn came to a close. However, their effect on the valleys is still being felt. Many clubs and societies were founded by the efforts of miners and their families.

The history of the South Wales valleys has regularly been passed on through word of mouth. However, as people get older we face a real danger that this tradition could be lost forever.

This was brought home to me recently by students at Coleg Gwent in Crosskeys who made a film about the Black Vein Colliery disaster, a pit explosion in Risca which took the lives of 142 men and boys in 1860. Sadly, this event has been largely forgotten with the memorial at the site becoming overgrown and only re-discovered in 2010.

The Independent Living Skills students (ILS), who were behind the film, are determined that those who lost their lives are remembered, attempting to raise money for a memorial plaque and bench at the site.

This week I gave a lecture to the Fleur-de-Lys history society about former Merthyr MP, SO Davies and the valleys communities in which he lived his life. Afterwards, everyone had memories about their experience of the mines. It got me thinking that unless we begin recording our experiences these stories will be gone.

When researching or reading history our first stop is old documents or history books which tend to focus on political giants and world changing events.. Very often it is the stories of people who lived through different times and experienced historical events first hand that bring that time back to life.

To me, in this age of I-pads, I-phones and other multi-media devices we have a unique opportunity to record the experiences of people which can provide us with a different perspective on our past, we just cannot get through a book or film.

If everybody took an hour to sit down with an older family member, neighbour or friend and record their life story we can give younger generations the opportunity to re-live our history and discover their heritage.

If more of us did this I hope the memory of all those who lost their lives in disasters like the Black Vein Colliery will be properly remembered by future generations.

Comments (4)

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9:46pm Sun 9 Sep 12

dodo777 says...

Sooner tories out the better people will feel.So far cuts to public jobs and welfare is having an awful affect on people.
Cutting tax for the wealthy has shown where the tories stand.The war on the poorest is just cruel and mean.They are out next election the sooner the better
Sooner tories out the better people will feel.So far cuts to public jobs and welfare is having an awful affect on people. Cutting tax for the wealthy has shown where the tories stand.The war on the poorest is just cruel and mean.They are out next election the sooner the better dodo777
  • Score: 0

10:26pm Sun 9 Sep 12

gingertom says...

Oakdale has suffered more than most because the institute that the miners paid for is now in st fagans and the hospital which the nhs took over has since closed and was not given back to the community (which was a disgrace) to use for the benefit of the whole community. This is not good enough! The village deserves better. The oakdale hotel is closed and the public toilets were taken down.
I agree with chris that life in the valleys and especially that of the miners and their daily struggles should be documented but we must also ensure that these buildings that these fine men paid for are not closed or given to others who do not use it for which it was intended and that was for the benefit of the whole community.
Oakdale has suffered more than most because the institute that the miners paid for is now in st fagans and the hospital which the nhs took over has since closed and was not given back to the community (which was a disgrace) to use for the benefit of the whole community. This is not good enough! The village deserves better. The oakdale hotel is closed and the public toilets were taken down. I agree with chris that life in the valleys and especially that of the miners and their daily struggles should be documented but we must also ensure that these buildings that these fine men paid for are not closed or given to others who do not use it for which it was intended and that was for the benefit of the whole community. gingertom
  • Score: 0

10:34pm Sun 9 Sep 12

gingertom says...

Let's us have a cinema and a bowling alley at blackwood gate retail park to compensate for the lack of facilities in villages such as oakdale, crumlin,newbridge, abercarn, cwmcarn, crosskeys and even down to risca.
Perhaps a memorial could be sited there aswell that could represent and be a tribute to all the miners of the valleys that lost their lives over the years.
Let's us have a cinema and a bowling alley at blackwood gate retail park to compensate for the lack of facilities in villages such as oakdale, crumlin,newbridge, abercarn, cwmcarn, crosskeys and even down to risca. Perhaps a memorial could be sited there aswell that could represent and be a tribute to all the miners of the valleys that lost their lives over the years. gingertom
  • Score: 0

12:47pm Wed 12 Sep 12

gingertom says...

A good source of information regarding welsh coal mines can be found at:

www.welshcoalmines.c
o.uk
A good source of information regarding welsh coal mines can be found at: www.welshcoalmines.c o.uk gingertom
  • Score: 0

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