Oral History collection: Mrs Betty Keys (née McCormick) (born 15 Nov. 1928) interviewed by Julie Barnett and Sue Northcotte about her parents, her memories of growing up, the tinplate works and life in Pontardawe.

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 216 D/D SCS 16/12
  • Dates of Creation
      10 Sep. 1986
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 audio recording on cassette; also digital copy in MP3 format

Scope and Content

Track 1. [00:00:01] Personal Details: Betty Keys[00:?], father arrived from London 1908, bridgebuilder, then went to Gilbertson's steelworks 1910. [00:01:10] Female Employment: Mother was undercook, £2pa, 1 day off in 3 months. [00:05:50] Industry: Children used to play in the works, and cook stuff on white-hot sheet metals[00:!]. [00:08:40] Industrial Accidents: Boy loses foot using it to stop railway truck. [00:09:38] Industrial Equipment: Blue-tinted goggles for steelworkers. [00:11:40] Steel Industry: Acid vats used for cleaning steel sheets post-mill. [00:12:00] Industrial Clothing: Heavy scarves - put in mouths. [00:13:04] Industry: Salt tablets for workers, to deal with heat. [00:13:40] Industry: Tri-monthly rebricking of furnaces. [00:14:29] Industry: Salt tablets causing health problems - gangrene, blood pressure. [00:17:40] Clothing: Flannel shirts, knitted wool socks. [00:18:30] Holidays: Porthcawl for most. [00:21:50] Currency: Gilbertson's made coins, local unofficial money, though wages always in Sterling. [00:23:50] Retail: Local shops open until post 11.30pm. [00:24:40] Retail: Very local - 4 general stores in street. [00:26:40] Wartime Rationing: Illegal pigs - rather like "A Private Function". [00:32:00] Diet: "Small beer", home-made wine, mead, no confectionary in wartime. [00:33:21] Clothing Rationing: Coupons - 1 frock. [00:34:10] Leisure: 3 dancehalls in Pontardawe. [00:37:35] Leisure: 3 cinemas in Pontardawe. [00:40:40] Pollution: Heavy pollution: nothing will grow. No verdigris on roofs cf Mond or Skewen oil works. [00:43:20] Pollution: Interviewee influences Gilbertson works to raise stack by 25', and put in filter, in mid-50s. [00:47:20] Industrial Relations: Only one strike at Gilbertson's, in 1930s. [00:48:01] Housing Costs: 3/6d pw, shared house.

Track 2. [00:00:11] Strike: Father injured prior to strike, then strike for weeks. [00:06:30] War: Luftwaffe bomb targeting. [00:07:14] War: Metal Box - bomb components, tails, in H29 section of works. [00:07:52] Labour Conscription: Labour Drafts for mines (Bevan Boys). [00:10:10] Wartime Industry: Overage men in industry, joined by women. [00:18:29] Industry: Interviewee went to Metal Box post-school. [00:20:20] Pontardawe: Not changed much. [00:23:08] Housing: House price £300, freehold.