search the folktrax site



A social documentary, recorded in the Miner's Club, Treorchy in the Rhondda in 1953. Tom Thomas, Dai & Gomer Williams and John Rowland talk about their life as miners, their work and play, their low pay, the Unions, strikes & blacklegs, pneumo-silicosis, "miner's pitances", and memories of Winston Churchill sending in the police and soldiers. They talk about the their love of theatre and opera and the characters in the barber's shop where we hear extracts of "The Christmas Mummers Play". Their talk is interspersed with male choruses: 3 songs in Welsh, incl. "The Farmer's Boy", 3 in English and a hymn in each language.

1. SOSPAN FACH (The Little Saucepan) Tom Thomas with male chorus - 1'12"

2. Tom talking about pay - 0'24"

3. Story about "pea-soup" - 1'36"

4. How he started working in the coal-face - 0'40"

5. 3 stories about his "butty" in the mine - 3'05"

6. Mummers performance in the Barbers Shop and in a Back Kitchen includes: Father Christmas, Captain Wallace, Happy Jack, Dr. Brown - 3'13"

7. A travelling ballad-singer selling penny song-sheets & song (title given in Welsh and English): YR ENETH GADD EI GWRTHOD (The Rejected Maiden) - 3'32"

8. Further talk about ballad-singer and 2 songs in English: THE GOLDEN RING and DAISY BELLE - 2'30"

9. Further stories about the Barber's Shop, Religion and Going to the Theatre instead of Chapel incl names of plays for each night of the week - 5'55"

10. The old ministers and dancing, not being allowed to whistle on Sunday, sweet shop, disrepect for elders by boys playing marbles etc - 3'25"

11. GUIDE ME, O THOU GREAT JEHOVAH (W.Williams/Tune: Cwm Rhondda: J.Hughes) (Sung in Welsh and English) - 2'04"

12. THE BEST LITTLE DOOR BOY sung by John Rowlands (73) with chorus - 1'49"

13. Talk by John about the door boy's work - 0'33"

14. Tom talks about the 6-month strike of 1898; going round country districts singing; farmer who said the miners were unable to use a scythe, how his brother was rich compared to those paying 20% to help the strikers - 3'48"

15. A miner looking for a place to stay; "collier not a cuckoo" Starvation: "The grass better at the back" - 2'30"

16. HOGYN AMAETHWR (The Farmer's Boy) sung in Welsh by John Rowlands - 1'26"

17. Talk about being stopped by the police for a bag of firewood; the Unions incl "The Spencer Union" supported in England by the "Masters" and "Blacklegs" - 5'16"

18. Gomer Williams talks about his life as a miner: Starting work; chapel; Sunday School; prayer meeting; singing school; going for a walk; opera house; theatre and Tom Thomas on not daring to go out because of parents - 2'56"

19. Hymn in Welsh to tune of TONY-Y-BOTL (Tune in a bottle) sung by Dai Williams - 1'22"

20. Story of song - 0'47"

21. Talk about Coaldust and Compensation - 5'39"

22. Churchill sending in police and soldiers - 1'00"

23. THE BEST LITTLE DOOR BOY (One verse only) - 0'28"

Recorded by Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy 1953. Edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax Cassettes 1975.

home about us contact us CD DVD order