Cwmaman Institute

Scope and Content

Committee minute books 1912-1915 and 1919-1936 (also serving as an issue register); Annual, General and Committee minutes 1932-1936; Committee minutes 1936-1944; account books 1936-1941; wages book 1913-1915; register of discarded books, undated (c1924-1954); obituary tribute to James Ray, associated with the Institute 1892-1934 (photocopied from the 'Ray Memorial Fund Log Book') 1934-1935.

Administrative / Biographical History

The first references to there being a 'Reading Room' at Cwmaman appear in 1871, but no precise details are known. In 1880 a 'Reading Room' was established at 63 Fforchaman Road by a committee of local tradesmen. The room contained a selection of old magazines and an order for two daily newspapers. In 1881 the reading room moved into larger premises at 10a Railway Terrace and consisted of a reading room and a bagatelle room. Members paid a subscription of three pence a month.

In 1884 expansion was planned by a number of eminent local men including the Agent, Manager and Under-Manager of Cwmaman Colliery. Larger premises were secured at Glanaman Road, Cwmaman and the colliery workmen agreed to a halfpenny a week poundage from their pay enabling the establishment of a proper library and reading room. The new premises also included a billiards room.

In 1889 a new committee consisting of the Agent of Cwmaman Colliery, the Manager of Fforchaman Colliery and the ministers of three local nonconformist chapels secured a lease of 99 years on a plot of land which was part of the Cwmneol Estate with a view to constructing a purpose built Hall and Institute. Funds were obtained from a variety of sources including the remaining funds from the previous reading room (50) and from the Old Management Committee of the Cwmaman British School (450) as well as from appointed Trustees and the workmen of the Cwmaman Colliery, who in 1891 agreed to increase their contributions to a penny a week. Building on the new site was completed in 1892. In that year the new Hall and Institute was opened by Henry Austin Bruce, the Rt. Hon Lord Aberdare. The new premises included a library and reading room, a public hall and rooms for various entertainments and activities.

In 1896 the Hall and Institute were wrecked by fire. A temporary home for the Institute was found at premises in Fforchaman Road during rebuilding. In 1897 parts of the new Hall and Institute were reopened with an official public opening by the second Rt. Hon Lord Aberdare and Joseph Shaw, Esq. of the Powell Duffryn Coal Company, held six months later in 1898. In 1906 a second hall, called the 'Lesser Hall' was added at the rear of the building. Cwmaman Institute also maintained a branch reading room at Lewis Street, Aberaman. However a new Aberaman Public Hall and Institute was built and opened 1907-1908 and so the branch reading room closed in 1909.

The Institute was a meeting place for many organisations, clubs and societies, including those of political parties, miner's unions (ie Miners' Federation of Great Britain), friendly societies, sports and handicraft clubs and dramatic and musical societies. There was a gym and since the beginning of the twentieth century a theatre and concert hall. Lectures and adult education classes were held at the Institute. Other facilities included a library, a reading room and a games room. During the 1950s the theatre was turned into a cinema, although this closed in about 1966.

In 1965 the last working colliery in the village, Fforchaman, was closed down. This meant the end of the contributions from the miners towards the upkeep of the Institute and so serious decisions had to made about the future of the institute. Negotiations were started about the chance of opening a licensed club on the premises of the Institute and this opened in 1968. The extra income gained from this helped to support the Institute as a home of local socieities. The Institute is still in existence and known as Cwmaman Public Hall and Institute.

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