Cambrian Combine Dispute Study

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 217 >GB 217 SWCC : : AUD/Project/1/11
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      6 recordings

Scope and Content

Recorded interviews with individuals mainly focusing on the Cambrian Combine disputes 1910-1911, the events leading up to the dispute and its aftermath and their own experiences. Additional subjects covered include accidents in the mines, life working in a dairy and in a grocery shop and life in the police force, recreation and the position of the Welsh language. The recordings were made 1969-1974 but cover the period 1898-1973 (c) in subject matter.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Cambrian Collieries Limited was formed in 1895 by D A Thomas. In 1907 the Cambrian Trust Limited was formed and between 1907 and 1913 the following coal companies were acquired: Albion Steam Coal Company, Glamorgan Coal Company, New Naval Collieries Company, Britannic Merthyr Coal Co. Ltd., Fernhill Collieries Co. Ltd., Cynon Colliery Co. Ltd., Celtic Collieries Limited. In 1913 the Consolidated Cambrian Limited was formed. In 1916 the following companies were acquired: David Davis and Sons Ltd., North's Navigation Collieries Ltd., International Coal Company, Imperial Navigation Co. Ltd., Welsh Navigation SteamCoal Co. Ltd. and Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery Co. Ltd. In 1923 the Combine mergedinto Welsh Associated Collieries Limited and in 1935 the Welsh Associated Collieries merged with Powell Duffryn to form the Powell Duffryn Associated Collieries Limited.

As can be seen from the above, already by 1910 the Cambrian Combine was a highly significant giant, employing around 12,000 miners and producing almost 3 million tons of coal each year. In 1910 it was decided in the Ely Pit in Penycraig (part of the Naval Collieries) to work the Bute Seam. The miners asked for a higher price per ton than the owners were preparedto offer, saying that the seam was a particularly bad seam to work. No agreement was reached and on 1st September 1910 a lock-out started at the pit. Miners employed throughout the pits of the Cambrian Combine came out in support of the men of the Ely pit two months later. The South Wales Miners' Federation imposed a levy on all working miners to pay for relief to those miners who were on strike. However in response, the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners Association came out in support of the Cambrian Combine and agreed not to employany of the strikers in their pits and to protect the Combine against any losses.

On 7th November 1910 riots took place at Llwynypia and continued into the following night at Llwynypia and Tonypandy. Riots and disturbances continued to occur until the end of July 1911. The strike lasted until August 1911. By then, the workers had become forced through poverty to accept the coalowners most recent pay offer. By October 1911 the collieries of the Cambrian Combine were back in full production, although several thousand of the strikers were not re-employed.

The study consists of interviews with individuals recalling the Cambrian Combine Dispute 1910-1911.