Oral History collection: Leonard Daniel Matthews (born 17 Sep. 1910) interviewed by B.C. Fagg about Boyhood in Hafod, 1914-1920; work as clerk in Davy George Box Co.; King's Dock; work experiences as administrator in the Tinplate Industry, and a Secretary to Tinplate Conference, etc. .

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 216 TH 42A-B
  • Dates of Creation
      12 Jan. 1977
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 audio recording

Scope and Content

Track 1. [00:00:00] General: Barry Matthews introduces Len Matthews on 12th January 1976. [00:00:20] Community: Len Matthews describes his birth in 1910 and early life in 68 Aberdyberthi Street, Hafod. [00:00:51] Community: Len Matthews recalls the religious background of his family, including temperance movement the Rechabites. [00:02:05] Community: Mr Len Matthews describes the Hafod in 1910, including the occupations of the residents there. Also how his Great Grandfather built the first houses on Aberdyberthi Street. [00:05:38] Community: Describing how the skilled and unskilled workers who lived in Hafod had similar lives but differed politically between Labour and Liberal. [00:07:42] Industry: Mr Matthews recalls where his Father worked as a Wheelwright, including helping out in school holidays. [00:09:09] Community: Playing as a child around the river, the canal and the tip in the Hafod. [00:12:10] Industry: Describing seeing boats and ferries on the river and canal. [00:12:57] Community: Recalling the 'treat' for attendees of Aberydyberthi Chapel, a trip to Sketty Green on the trams. [00:14:49] Transport: Remembering the early buses in Swansea. [00:15:14] Industry: Describing the Swansea valley and the area around the Hafod. [00:15:47] Industry: Recalling the impact of the inter-war depression on the area, including the invasive means-testing for benefits. [00:20:03] Industry: Describing the first impressions of the inside of the Morfa park and childhood aspirations to careers. [00:21:15] Education: Mr Len Matthews recalls his early schooldays, including a rememberance of Empire Day. [00:24:41] Education: Winning a scholarship to Dynevor School (one of the few from Hafod to do so). [00:27:25] Education: Leaving Dynevor in 1928, not wishing to go on to Metriculation. [00:29:29] Industry: Getting employment as a clerk in David George Box factory. [00:31:02] Industry: Describing 'Turnplate', a mix of 80% Tin and 20% Lead and its uses. [00:32:43] Industry: Explaining the invention of David George. [00:33:45] Industry: Recalling the size of the factory. [00:34:36] Industry: Mr Len Matthews describes his duties as clerk in David George and his journey to work every day. [00:36:11] Transport: Remembering the docks. [00:36:46] Industry: Leaving David George and starting work at Galway's Yard. [00:37:56] Industry: Leaving Galway's Yard and getting a job with the Tinplate Conference starting on 13th Aug 1934. [00:39:14] Industry: Describing the Tinplate Pooling Scheme, a co-operative manufacturing scheme between the tinplate factories during economically lean times. [00:41:08] Industry: Describing the International Tinplate Cartel, including USA, Germany, UK, etc. Includes Hitler's push in the 1930s to source foreign currency. [00:43:17] Industry: Mr Matthews gives a brief history of the Welsh Plate and Sheet Manufacturers Association (formed 1899) and previous similar bodies from 1874. Also functions of the 'sliding scale' of price and wage fluctuations. [00:53:00] Industry: Mr Matthews describes his duties working for the Tinplate Conference, working for Hughie 'Tinplate' Thomas. [00:58:31] Industry: Mr Len Matthews recalls joining the Tinplate Conference at an exciting time, working alongside Sir William Firth, Ernest Bevin and Sir Arthur Pugh. [01:00:15] Industry: Describing the work towards a superannuated pensions provision for Tinplate workers (till recording ends at 67m 37s).

Track 2. [00:00:10] Industry: Mr Len Matthews continues discussing the failed negotiations between unions and Tinplate factory owners over pension provision. [00:05:30] Industry: The Tinplate Trade Labour Fund and the opening of a factory in Ebbw Vale and the downturn in the Tinplate industry in the 1950s. [00:13:21] Community: Mr Len Matthews explains how it was 2000 Italians came to be working in the Swansea Tinplate industry. [00:26:17] Community: Discussing the relations between local workforce and the Italian workers. [00:28:13] Industry: Mr Matthews remembers a typical career progression in the Tinplate factories and how the workers voted for or against the superannuation fund. [00:30:37] Industry: The establishment of Trostre, Felindre and Ebbw Vale works and the changes in working that the new factories engendered. [00:36:40] Industry: The process for siting the new strip mills in the 1930s. [00:39:58] Community: Mr Matthews describes the personal qualities of Sir William Firth and Ernest Bevin. [00:44:47] Industry: The end of Sir William Firth's career and the missed opportunities to agressively compete with German and American producers. [00:48:09] Industry: Mr Matthews gives his opinion on industrial relations in the Tinplate industry since 1914. [00:54:01] Industry: Discussion of the levels of organisation and support for union activities. [00:55:04] Community: Memory of Dai White of Morriston, a tinplate worker with communist sympathies who played Rugby for Swansea, beating the All Blacks in 1935. [00:56:25] Industry: The impact of hard left-wing union members in the factories. [00:57:44] Industry: The experience of walking around the smaller mills, including the arrival of Afro-Carribeans into the post-war workforce. [01:00:52] Industry: Describing the low levels of accidents in the industry. [01:02:50] Industry: Describing the 2 types of mills in existence. [01:06:49] Industry: Industrial relations (till recording ends at 68m).