Minutes 1922; Correspondence 1920-1937; Price-lists 1886-1959; South Wales Miners' Federation directory 1940-1941; Handbills 1929; Membership cards c.1919
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Maerdy (or Mardy) Lodge was a branch of the National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area).
Maerdy Lodge represented the interests of miners working at Mardy Colliery. In 1919, Arthur Lewis Horner was elected checkweigher of the colliery and as such became a member of the Lodge committee. A noted socialist, Horner encouraged the Lodge to support the Communist Party of Great Britain. The Lodge became increasingly political and soon earned the nickname of 'Little Moscow' as a result of its strong relationship with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and the Soviet Union.
During the 1920s, the Welsh coalmining industry had been hit by the economic depression and suffered badly during the General Strike of 1926. The Ministry of Health refused to support the unemployed miners and encouraged local Boards of Guardians to refuse or limit the amount of relief given to unemployed miners and their families. This resulted in a number of 'hunger marches' in protest of the new Unemployment Bill. In 1927, the Lodge established the Maerdy Distress Committee to provide aid from the unemployed.
In 1930, Maerdy Lodge officials were asked to reconsider their affiliation to the Labour Party. This was largely because they still retained strong links to the Communist Party through the disaffiliated Rhondda Labour Party. When the Lodge refused, the SWMF removed their support and financial contributions from the Lodge. The SWMF then established a new 'official' lodge which they encouraged all the employed miners to join.
Maerdy Lodge continued to represent the unemployed miners in the area and established a Council of Action to help families to evade the bailiffs. In 1931, Horner and other Lodge members tried to to prevent a family from being evicted from a property in Maerdy. Thirty four men and women were subsequently arrested and summoned to court on a charge of unlawful assembly and incitement to riot. All of the defendants, including Horner, were found guilty and sentenced to terms of hard labour. This act was met with outrage and the Lodge established the Mardy Defence Committee to provide political and financial support for the prisoners and their families. However, the Committee failed to gain much support because of its perceived communist sympathies and the Home Secretary refused to review the case.
Maerdy Lodge struggled to regain support and recognition from the SWMF until its political affiliations changed. It was only after Horner left to become the miners' agent for Gwendraeth that Maerdy became more acceptable to the SWMF. In February 1934, Maerdy Lodge was merged with the official SWMF Mardy (New) Lodge.
Source: Hywel Francis and David Smith, The Fed (London, 1980)
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