Material relating to Nelson Workmen`s Institute and Library (1941-1977) and Penallta Halls and Institute (1926-1941).
Nelson Workmen`s Institute and Library, and Penallta Halls and Institute
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Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Penallta Workmen's Hall and Institute was situated in Ystrad Mynach [Ystradmynach], Rhymney Valley, with Nelson Workman's Institute situated close by.
The miners' institutes and halls developed from the latter part of the nineteenth century. This coincided 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 focal points for the mining village and its locality.
The institutes 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, the Miners' Welfare Fund was set up to be administered by the Miners' Welfare Commission. The fund provided amenities for the miners, including welfare halls and institutes, pit-baths and scholarships. Many institutes and welfare halls received maintenance grants after 1920 from this fund.
The miners' institutes contained libraries, reading rooms, games rooms and other facilities for recreation such as cinemas, theatres and billiard rooms. They also provided accommodation for meetings, most notably National Union of Mineworkers [NUM] (South Wales Area) Lodge meetings. In many instances lodge committee members were also heavily involved in the running of the institutes. The libraries provided a rich educational resource for the community and some of them at their peak rivalled the largest public libraries then existing in Britain.
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 social activities for example the growing popularity of television, bingo 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.
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Finding aid encoded by Julie Anderson June 2003 with reference to GB 217 SWCC:MNC/I/8
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