South Wales Miners' Gala

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Recording of the 1983 South Wales Miners' Gala held in Swansea, involving marches, speeches and entertainment. Speakers include Arthur Scargill and Michael Foot.

Administrative / Biographical History

The use of video recording in historical research and adult education was first realised at the South Wales Miners' Library in the mid-1970s. Links with an educational centre in the USA prompted the Miners' Library to develop its own programme of video recordings, beginning with the tape recording of Extra-Mural speakers and studio interviews, and then moving to on-location filming. The Second South Wales Coalfield Research Project (1979-1982) made a major contribution, collecting material that was edited to produce tapes such as the Glyncastle Project (GB 217 SWCC:VID/Project/1). Co-operation with other bodies produced more tapes, such as the 1981 Strike (GB 217 SWCC:VID/Project/2) produced with Cardiff Community Video Workshop.

Extra-mural classes organised by the Department of Adult and Continuing Education in what is now Swansea University, were a significant focus of the recording, such as an adult local history class in the Dulias Valley which worked as a research group in producing Maesmarchog Local History Class (GB 217 SWCC:VID/Project/7), a social history of the valley. Several teaching tapes were produced using a range of local historical sources, such as Dan Lewis Remembers (GB 217 SWCC:VID/Project/14), which was widely used in schools, community groups, adult education classes, conferences and colleges.

The video recordings also played an important role in archival work, teaching and research, for example being used on Extra-Mural miners day release and residential courses. Funding provided by the Welsh Arts council led to the recording of Waste of Our Time (GB 217 SWCC:VID/Project/6) by Tim Exton, depicting the changing local industrial landscape.

The video recordings consist mainly of interviews, including some with such figures from the South Wales coal industry as Dai Francis, Emlyn Williams and Phil Weekes. Also included amongst the video collection are conferences arranged by the National Union of Mineworkers, the Trades Union Congress, Llafur and other groups along with recordings of the cultural activities of the mining communities including the Miners' Eisteddfod and the Miners' Gala; recordings of various news reports, including American news coverage of the 1984-85 miners strike; and various documentaries recorded from television broadcasts, including topics such as the Spanish Civil War.

Unlike other British coalfields, there is not a long tradition of holding galas in South Wales. In fact the first gala was held in June 1953 in Cardiff. The galas became very important social and political gathering for the miners. In the early days, the galas were very political occasions with speakers such as Aneurin Bevan. In the 1970s and 1980s, the galas became more social events, with brass bands, folk dancing and art and craft exhibitions.

The establishment of the miners' gala saw the advent of miners banners in South Wales. With a few exceptions, most of the miners banners in South Wales date from the mid 1950s. The banners display a remarkable degree of uniformity of political outlook with such slogans as 'Workers of the World Unite for Socialism' (Abercrave); 'International Friendship: Policy: leadership: Unity' (Seven Sisters); 'The World is our Country Mankind are our Brethren' (Markham); 'For Solidarity of All Miners' (Blaengwrach); 'Onward to Socialism and the Liberation of Mankind' (Cambrian). The slogans and images which appear on the banners of the South Wales miners reveal a strong commitment to world peace, racial equality, the brotherhood of man, and international working class solidarity - everything that the miners' gala stood for.

Conditions Governing Access

The videos are held at the South Wales Miners' Library which is located in Hendrefoelan House, two miles from the Archives. The address is:

South Wales Miners' Library

Hendrefoelan House

Gower Road

Swansea

SA2 7NB

Tel: 01792 518603/518693

Fax: 01792 518694

Email: mailto:miners@swan.ac.uk miners@swan.ac.uk

URL: http://www.swan.ac.uk/lis/library/libraries/swml/

Please contact the South Wales Miners' Library for further details regarding access.

Some video clips maybe viewed on the Coalfield Web Materials' website at http://www.agor.org.uk/cwm/

Note

Finding aid encoded by Julie Anderson July 2003 with reference to the 8th Report of the South Wales Miners' Library, 1982-3.

Other Finding Aids

The videos are part of the South Wales Coalfield Collection. An online catalogue can be found at http://www.swan.ac.uk/swcc/

Custodial History

In 1994, the Library obtained a British Library Grant for Cataloguing and Preservation of 5000 to catalogue the audio and videotapes in what is now the South Wales Coalfield Collection. The video collection has been structured to reflect the relationship between the various individual projects and type of recordings. However, difficulties in numbering consecutively arise when different types of recordings have been recorded on the same video cassette.

Geographical Names