Miners' Institutes Study

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 217 >GB 217 SWCC : : AUD/Project/1/10
  • Dates of Creation
  • Physical Description
      6 recordings

Scope and Content

Recorded interviews. Subjects covered include the role of the Miners' Institute in the community, history of institutes, institute activities,helping to run the institute, book selection for the library, the institute cinema and the decline of the institute. Also included are memoirs of life underground and other aspects of community life, such as war experiences, recreation, relationships between workers and officials. The recordings were made 1973-1974 but cover the period 1875-1974 (c) in subject matter.

Administrative / Biographical History

This study was conducted in order to look closely at Miners' Institutes, Libraries and Welfare Halls through the eyes of individuals closely associated with them.

The Miners' Institutes and Halls developed from the latter part of the Nineteenth century. This co-incided with the development of the coalfield when a great influx in population created new demands for self-education and a need for meeting places for both lodge business, evening classes and community recreation. The institutes strongly reflected the role of the community and as a result they became the focal points for the mining village and its locality. The institute's were largely financed by the miners themselves through weekly deductions from each miner's wages at the local colliery, although sometimes coal-owners made contributions. In 1920 under the 1920 Mining Industry Act, theMiners' Welfare Fund was set up to be administered by the Miners' Welfare Commission. The fund provided ammenities for the miners, including welfare halls and institutes, pit-baths and scholarships. Many institutes and welfare halls received maintenance grants after 1920 form this fund.

The Miners' Institutes contained libraries, reading rooms, games rooms and other facilities for recreation. They also provided accomodation for meetings, notably National Union of Mineworkers (South Wales Area) lodge meetings. In many instances lodgecommittee members were also heavily involved in the running of the institutes.

The golden era of the institutes after World War Two was followed by their demise in line with social trends. These included the provision of secondary education and local library facilities, changes in socialactivities, bingo, television and the development of clubs and most importantly,the contraction of the coalfield following the pit closures from the 1950s onwards. Many of the old halls and institutes ended up being converted into miners' clubs.