Oral History collection: Edward Griffiths (born 1903) interviewed by E.C. Williams and K.R. Morgan about Boyhood as orphan in Llansamlet area; work in Aber tin- works; emigration to USA; Welsh people in USA and experiences there in 1920s.

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 216 TH 40
  • Dates of Creation
      12 Oct. 1976
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 audio recording

Scope and Content

Track 1. [00:00:00] General: Kevin Morgan and Colin Williams introduce Mr Edward Griffiths of Llansamlet. [00:00:15] Community: Mr Griffiths gives a brief outline of his family background, where his predecessors came from and the Fuel Inn public house. [00:01:30] Community: Why his Grandfather moved from Pontardulais to get employment as a Puddler in Morriston, and the impact of Cholera on the family. [00:05:45] Education: Mr Griffiths describes how his Father, raised by his Grandmother, could not afford to send the boys to school and how he got work at age 12 for a shilling a day which paid for his younger brother to go to school. [00:07:12] Education: Edward Griffiths describes how a Mr Tom Davies taught his Father to read at the age of 23 in Sunday School and became a devout Methodist. [00:09:57] Community: Mr Griffiths outlines how his Father opened a shop, became a Deacon in the Chapel and married a Baptist lady, unusual for the time. [00:11:12] Industry: Mr Griffiths gives some background of his Mother's work, and the communal singing that took place. [00:12:08] Industry: Explaining how his Father also worked in the mines, Birchgrove, Seven Sisters and sometimes the Rhondda, sometimes walking great distances to and from work. [00:13:44] Community: Mr Griffiths recalls the Llansamlet of his childhood, living in colliery cottages, which had been converted from stables. [00:14:43] Community: How his Mother bought an organ and sent his Sister to lessons to learn to play it. [00:15:22] Community: Describing the facilities and furniture in his childhood home and the practice of miners washing in a tin bath in the kitchen. [00:16:52] Community: Describing a typical weeks activities, centred on and directed by the Chapel. [00:21:44] Community: Relations between Anglicans and non-conformists in the area. [00:23:12] Community: some more background on Mr Griffiths' Grandparents, including a relative who lost a hand following an accident on the railway. [00:24:09] Community: Mr Griffiths outlines the extent of Welsh speaking in the area. [00:26:35] Education: Recalling his early schooldays, including a song, circa 1908, about motor cars. [00:28:38] Community: Describing the sewerage arrangements in the Llansamlet area, how the buckets would be collected at night. [00:29:19] Community: Sporting activities such as Cricket and childhood games. [00:32:30] Education: Describing class sizes and discipline in school. Also being taught by older pupils. [00:36:22] Industry: Leaving school at 14 and starting work in the Tin Mill, including typical duties and hours of work and wages. [00:39:54] Industry: Recalling the women that worked in the Tin Mill and the duties they typically undertook. [00:41:46] Industry: Describing how poor the provision of clothing and equipment from the factory was, also the industrial accidents. [00:43:52] Industry: Mr Griffiths expands on the Tin rolling process. [00:45:18] Community: Recalling spending 11 months unemployed in 1938. [00:46:12] Community: Mr Griffiths describes how at 22 he went to America in 1926 to improve his prospects, utilising family contacts. Including paying a bribe to the American Consulate in Swansea to expediate the process. [00:52:06] Community: The voyage to New York and travellling to Warren, Ohio and getting work at the Trumbull County Steel Mill. [00:57:40] Community: Being disillusioned with the pay at Warren, moving to Aliquippa, Pennsylvania as a furnace-man. [00:59:42] Community: Adjusting to American life, society and religion (recording ends).

Track 2. [00:00:00] Community: Mr Griffiths continues describing life in America, including the Welsh language Chapels in Newcastle and Aliquippa Pennsylvania, Martins Ferry, Youngstown, Niles Ohio and the extent of the Welsh ex-pat community in the Mills he worked in, also meeing Mr Evan Morris from Llansamlet there. [00:03:16] Community: Mr Griffiths recalls hearing Welsh spoken in a cinema there, and also being approached by prosititues on the street. [00:04:25] Community: Mr Griffiths describes the other cultural pursuits he undertook in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. [00:06:17] Community: Describing the poverty he saw in Cincinnati Ohio and Richmond Virgina and also being involved in anti-alcohol (Prohibition) activities. [00:08:52] Community: Recalling helping out an impoverished man, Will Evans, from Birchgrove who had fallen on hard times in Canada. [00:11:45] Community: Mr Griffiths recalls organising for his younger brother to join him in America. [00:13:04] Community: Mr Griffiths describes visiting a 'Speakeasy' with Arthur Eynon from Burry Port in Prohibition era Pittsburgh, and another occasion in Buffalo, New York. [00:14:47] Community: Starting to keep chickens, going fishing, hunting and eating Bullfrogs. [00:18:46] Community: Mr Griffiths explains the circumstances that led to him returning to Wales, including the impact of the Wall Street Crash. [00:23:19] General: Closing the recording.