For this year’s Journal, the 5th to be produced by our Society, I thought a suitable subject to write about would be the history of the Ogmore Valley Workmen’s Hall and Institute.
To enable this to be accomplished, it meant visiting the Library at Swansea University, where my wife, Barbara, and I spent a number of days perusing the available Minute Books of the Institute in their Coalfield Collection.
Unfortunately, not all of the Minute Books were deposited in the Coalfield Collection, there being no record of the first year of opening from January 18th 1911 to April 1912. Neither is the collection complete from 1912 to 1962 with twenty two years of that period missing.
From 1963 to the dissolution of the Institute`s finances on April 11th 1990, Minute Books covering this period were held by Mr. L.S. Nicholas, the Institute’s Consultant of James and Nicholas, Engineering Consultants. Mr. L.S. Nicholas was kind enough to pass them on to our Secretary, the books being of great assistance to me, in writing the following account.
It is our intention to give the Minute Books to Swansea University Library, to be included with the others in their Coalfield Collection.
I wish to thank local newspapers, including the Glamorgan Gazette, Western Mail and all other sources of information made available, and our Secretary, Mr. Huw Daniel, for his co-operation, suggestions and technical help in placing photographs in the text.
Hopefully, my endeavour to report as accurately as possible, the on-going functions of the Institute and what it meant to the inhabitants of the Valley, will make interesting reading
Ogmore Valley Workmen’s Hall and Institute. 1885-1990
In 1872, a meeting took place in the Corbett Arms Hotel in Ogmore Vale. There were approximately six people in attendance. The purpose of this meeting was to try to establish a “reading room” for the people of the valley.
From this humble but far-sighted meeting a small building was erected on the plot in Commercial Street, which would eventually become the site of the Ogmore Valley Workmen’s Hall and Institute.
This original building was opened on July 22nd 1885 by Mr. W. Blakemore, the General Manager of North’s Navigation Collieries (1889) Ltd, known prior to this as the Llynfi, Tondu and Ogmore Coal & Iron Company Ltd., and was in use until 1893, when the Committee decided to vacate these premises for a more suitable site, which was the now-empty building of the first Tynewydd School, situated at “Caution Corner”, at the Northern end of Tynewydd Row.
On April 1st 1905, at the second Ogmore Vale Hall, which was the vacated premises of the first purpose built Tynewydd School, it was recorded that a gold watch and marble clock were presented to Mr. Dan Davies. He was the then colliery manager of North Navigations` Tynewydd Colliery. The reason for the presentation was probably the closure of the Tynewydd Colliery, which had occurred on 10th January 1905.
From this time on, discussions had been held regarding a new Hall to meet the needs of the members, so it came about that in early 1909 a decision was taken to build a new Hall on the land where the first small building was erected, in Commercial Street.
This new Hall was to satisfy the needs of the expanding population, with great emphasis on education and local needs, including socialising.
Swansea Education Authority was the leaseholder of the land, bequeathed to them by Hugh Gore, the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, having been purchased by him in 1682 from Sir Edward Mansell of Margam.
So it was to them that the Committee turned, in order to obtain a lease for the ground. There must have been either very hard bargaining by the Committee or very generous benefactors in Swansea Education Authority, for a lease was granted on the ground for the princely sum of one shilling per year.
On the other hand, the new proposed Hall would carry the name “Institute”, as did most of the miners’ halls throughout the South Wales’ coalfields, the word “institute” denoting a place of further education and Swansea Education Authority would be very supportive in this decision.
The funds held by the Hall Committee at the time amounted to £1,100, quite a considerable sum of money but not enough to secure a building that would fit the aspirations of the Committee. In order to boost the holdings, the workmen of both Wyndham and Aber Collieries gave a promise to increase their annual subscriptions by way of donations to the building fund.
As soon as building commenced, and true to their word, the Wyndham workmen and Aber workmen sent £577-18-5 and £230-11-7 respectively. In addition, it was also agreed to increase their contributions from a half penny in the pound of their earnings to one penny in the pound and consideration was also given to increasing it further to two pence in the pound.
This did not come into effect until May 1912, after the Hall was opened, when it was agreed the charge of one penny in the pound be implemented. It was known as the “poundage system”. It was also agreed that members between 13 years of age and under 16 years, not employed, would be charged three pence per lunar month, over 16 years, six pence per lunar month.
The person who was responsible for the system was Mr. D.J. Thomas, who thereafter was commonly known as “Dai Pound”, a name by which he would be known by for the rest of his long life. Many years later, in the 1940’s, I heard him being addressed in the office of the Nantymoel Co-operative Society, where we both worked, as “Mr. Pound”.
There were also donations from wealthy people in the area, most notably a donation of £200 from the late King, who was represented by Mr. Arthur Lawrence, of the Duchy of Lancaster. The total monies donated amounted to £395-13-6.
Since building commenced, income and contributions collected amounted to £2,700. The building costs, including architects’ fees, etc., amounted to £9,000, leaving £6,300 to be paid.
Mr. Watkin Williams of Cardiff undertook the task of building the Hall. The foundation stones were laid in September 1909, by Lady Evans, wife of Sir S.T. Evans. She was accompanied by her son, Mr. Horace Evans. The Chairman of the proceedings was Mr. John Howells, Chairman of the Institute’s Committee.
Other distinguished guests at the ceremony were Mrs. W.P. Nichols, Mr. J. Blandy Jenkins, Mr. D. Llewellyn (Solicitor to the Institute’s Committee), Mr. T.W. Job (Treasurer), Mr. Fred Jones (Secretary), Mr. John Howells, Mr.Tom Jones (Miners’ Agent) and Mr. Charles Burt.
Silver trowels, suitably inscribed, were handed to the officiating ladies and gentlemen by Messrs. D.C. Williams, John Keogle, William Ashman, John Rees, James Cottrel, George Broadway, Walter Webster, T. Morgan and John Howe.
Local stone and red brick were to be used in the construction so that the building was in keeping with the surrounding houses and shops. Low-pressure hot water radiators and pipes would provide heating and it would be lit by electricity generated by a separate plant in the basement.
The building would be one of the largest of its kind in South Wales, a real showpiece. It would seat 1,000 people in the Main Hall and 200 in the Lesser Hall. It would provide a Billiards’ Room with four tables and a Refreshment Bar.
There would be a large suite of Committee Rooms, accommodation for a Caretaker, Reading Rooms and a first-class Library, the prime reason for the Hall being built. In all there would be fourteen rooms, with brass numbers transfixed to each door.
The opening ceremony of the Hall was conducted by Alderman W. Llewellyn, J.P., on Wednesday afternoon January 18th 1911, in the absence of Mr. J. Blandy Jenkins, Chairman of the County Council. Mr. T.W. Job, Treasurer, was the only present surviving member of the original group of 1872, who stated in the opening ceremony how he remembered the first meeting very well. Mr. T.W. Job was the Tynewydd School Attendance Officer and lived in 21 River Street, Ogmore Vale.
Mr. W. Beddoe Rees of Cardiff, who was the Architect, handed to Alderman Llewellyn a golden presentation key to open the new building. This key was given to Mr. Blandy Jenkins at a later date, he not being able to attend the function, due to a family bereavement.
As soon as the doors were opened, the public flocked into the Hall and were made welcome by Mr. John Howells (Chairman of the Institute Committee), together with Alderman W. Llewellyn, Mr. A. Lawrence (Representative of the Duchy of Lancaster), Mr. Beddoe Rees (Architect), Mr.W. Williams (Builder), Mr. H. Lewis, Mr.Tom Lucas (Miners’ Agent), Mr. D. Llewellyn (Solicitor), Mr. T.W. Job (Treasurer of the Committee), Mr. D.J. Thomas, Mr. D.C. Williams, Mr. Watkin Jones and Mr. R. Powell of the Welsh National Council of the Y.M.C.A’s.
The Chairman expressed on behalf of himself and the Committee that this was the proudest moment of their lives; a Hall worthy of all their efforts and aspirations had at last been built.
Concern but not alarm was shown over the large debt that was owed but every effort would be made to repay the outstanding loan, which now stood at £6,300.
All the previously named dignitaries made speeches and congratulations were extended in turn to all concerned. A luncheon was served in the Lesser Hall and, as a form of entertainment, a bioscope performance was given in the Main Hall.
The Committee members, who worked so hard over the years to bring from the planning stage to completion, were Messrs. John Howells (Chairman), Fred Jones, (Secretary), T.W. Job (Treasurer), D.J. Thomas (Corresponding Secretary), John Lewis, Ben Edwards, John Griffiths, William Howe, Ebenezar Hopkins, James Cottrell, Will Ashman, Charles Bennett, Tom Couch, Charles Bevan, David Williams, Edward Hares, John Emanuel, Dan Davies, James Harrison, Walter Webster, Thos Davies, Tom Lucas, Jas Pope, John Moss and Evan Rees.
No doubt many of today’s residents of the Valley will recognise from the names of the Committee, their own ancestors, responsible for the commissioning of what was probably the finest building in the valleys of South Wales.
The First Annual General Meeting to be held in the new Institute took place on Saturday afternoon on January 22nd 1911. It was held in the Lesser Hall, when all the previous officials of the Institute were re-elected, but there were some changes to the Committee.
This was actually the 16th Annual General Meeting of the Institute since the first meeting of 1885. Unfortunately no records of those meetings are available.
The Institute was used constantly through the forthcoming year with much normal activity, but notably on Friday 3rd February 1911, G. Davey spoke, giving a lecture on “Brotherhood” at a Labour League meeting.
On March 3rd a Mr. Elby, the proprietor of the Olympia Theatre Group, gave a complimentary turn for the benefit of the supplementary strike fund of the Aber Committee whose colliery workers were on strike.
Mr Elby`s company gave a performance of the play “Geoffrey Langdon`s Wife,” and as a result £25 was collected for the fund. An address given by Mr. Job on Monday March 6th drew a very large gathering of the electorate to the Lesser Hall.
Most of the people who attended were politically minded. Mr. Job was a candidate for the local council and although there was much heckling during his address, it was all of a good nature. He stood as Independent of all other parties, believing that party politics were not an issue. He was elected shortly afterwards as a councillor.
A group of bachelors hired the Institute`s Hall on Friday March 25th. It was aptly called a “Bachelor Dance”, but ladies were also made very welcome. It was quite successful, with a Mr. Edward Edwards officiating as Master of Ceremonies.
With strikes in both Penllwyngwent and Aber collieries and the hardship caused, Mr. G. Lansbury, Labour M.P. spoke at a well attended Labour meeting on Saturday April 29th 1911 in the Institute`s Hall.
On Friday May 12th, the Distress Committee of the Aber and Penllwyngwent Collieries met to discuss their situation. It was reported during the meeting that the Tynewydd School canteen had fed 100 children and the Aber School averaged 75 daily through this period.
In late July a meeting of the Young Liberal League took place with Alderman W. Llewellyn presiding. At this meeting he presented an engraved walking stick to W.H. Cousins.
During the latter part of this year a benefit concert was arranged by chapels of the Valley. The Royal Welsh Male Voice Choir was assisted by the well known soprano, Miss Cissie Thomas, whilst the accompianist was Professor Cyril Jenkins. The Chairman of the concert was Alderman Llewellyn. The concert was in aid of Mr. Edward Jenkins who had been an invalid for many years.
On March the 13th and 27th 1912, the Ogmore Higher Elementary School hired the Hall of the Institute. This was for a performance by the school children of the Japanese Operetta “Princess Ju Ju”. The proceeds were to the Distress Fund in aid of miners who were on strike in the Valley.
A meeting that took place in the Hall on April 3rd 1912, was a meeting of the Bioscope Committee, which appeared to be in charge of entertainment. The members resolved that three bioscope performances would be held over the Easter period, at 2pm., 6pm., and 8pm. A certain Tom Thomas was paid £5, providing he appeared at each performance. There was also dancing.
This Committee was served by Chairman, Mr. J. Rous. Members present were J. Lewis, W. Ashman, G. Davey, D.J. Thomas and Scott Chilton.
The 27th Annual Committee Meeting of the Institute, i.e., the Institute Committee, was held on April 4th 1912. Chairman, T.W.O. Emanuel, was authorised to sign cheques, whilst J. Howells was appointed Caretaker and responsible for all staff. The Institute opened to the public on Good Friday, H. Gregory being the Librarian and D. Rees the Billiards’ Marker.
The Ogmore Hall, as it was known, was becoming operational but it was still in its infancy. It was being used for elections, for example, by the Trades and Labour Council on May 6th 1912. It was used by Bethania Chapel on May 14th and 15th. Also, on the same dates, the Library was opened to visitors. A “Sacred Concert” was held on Whit Sunday evening, when a male-voice party sang in the Main Hall.
There were various committees in charge of the every day running of the Hall, including the Building Committee, General Committee, Bioscope Committee, Management Committee and the Institute’s Committee.
The bioscope in present use was not satisfactory so a new one costing £43-8-6 was purchased in July, after a two- week trial period. It was called a Power’s Number 6. Films for its use were rented.
From the time of opening, various tournaments had been arranged. A Billiards’ Tournament on October 10th 1912 attracted an entry of ninety players, at a fee of six pence per person.
By now the Management Committee realised it would be in everyone’s interest that all employees should be insured.
Then came the turn of the draughts’ players who had discussed the feasibility of competitions and these were arranged, together with chess tournaments and domino games.
Later on in the 1940’s, chess teams competed against the teams of Barry, Bridgend and Kenfig Hill. Harry Bothwell was a noted player and was always “first board”. His one-time protégé, Glyn Jenkins, who resides in Blackmill today, often beat him but Glyn, a true sport, would tell Harry to go first, Harry being so much older and respected by his protégé.
Glyn is eighty four years of age, a very well-known artist, whose paintings and cartoons are renowned throughout the coalfields of South Wales.
Another well-known character of the 1940’s, who played in the draughts’ tournaments, was “John Rees God”. He lived in St. John Street and was the champion draughts’ player of Wales. His son, Iestyn Rees was a well-known school- teacher in the Valley.
Let’s return to late 1912 when card playing and gambling were outlawed in the Institute and where gradually the everyday routine was becoming more settled.
A new billiards’ table was installed, having been purchased from the well-known manufacturers, Messrs. Riley, at a cost of £68-10-0, whilst as time moved on, a new billiard marker, Mr. W.D. Scott was appointed in July 1913 on a weekly wage of £1-15-0.
Lectures on all various topics were delivered throughout the years. One in particular, on October 16th 1913, was about the use of explosives. It was decided on November 13th 1913 that the Institute should be affiliated to the Federation of Workmen’s Institutes. This allowed members to visit and use other Institutions. During this year a further £400 was paid off the mortgage and accounts in future were to be audited by Public Auditors. In the year of 1914 over four thousand library books had been issued to its members and the library had a stock of nine hundred and thirty five books on its shelves. What an achievement within three years!
The Hall of the Institute was hired by the Higher Elementary School on March 25th 1914 when the school`s choir of 150 pupils gave an outstanding performance of “Caractacus”.
Many readers will wonder how members of the Committee were elected; the answer being by proportional representation, according to the monies received from the workers of the various collieries involved. In 1915 the Wyndham Colliery was allowed twelve members, Penllwyngwent eight, Aber five, Rhondda Main three, Ocean one and non collieries, one.
The First World War had started and as a consequence all Servicemen and women were given free access to the Institute. This practice was also given to Servicemen in the Second Great War.
Strangely enough, on Christmas Day, 1915, three shows were allowed in the Hall but this was discontinued as time went on, probably through the objections of local chapel congregations.
By late 1915, the Olympia Cinema was opened in High Street and competition between the Olympia and Institution was rife. A film called, “The Broken Chain” had been booked by both for January 6th 1916. The Institute, not to be outdone, distributed two thousand leaflets to men coming home from working in the mines. Mr. G. Berryman had by this time been appointed as Manager/Operator of the cinema in the Hall of the Institute.
Dr. Howard Baron`s Cinema Lecture on “War in Lecture and Story” was given on December 1st 1916, to a well- attended audience of teachers and children from the Higher Elementary School.
This lecture featured the activities of Welsh Regiments and showed T. Jacob Jones and several Ogmore lads who had joined the Army. On April 10th 1918 the pupils gave a concert in aid of the Welsh Prisoners of War Fund, and another on April 17th of that year, to raise funds for the Red Cross. Also, throughout these years, from the 1920’s, taxis would be waiting on what was known as the “Car Stand”. This strip of land lies on the main road, opposite the Institute, where the bus shelter stands today. The taxis’ journeys were from there to the “Stand” which was next to the bus shelter opposite the Berwyn Centre, Pricetown.
The fares were a few pence, as laid down and controlled by the Ogmore and Garw Urban District Council, which also restricted the number of passengers to be carried. Whilst the charges per passenger were strictly adhered to, the numbers carried were not, but were equated to room available, with passengers sitting on others` laps. On Friday and Saturday evenings, there would be long queues of people, wishing to return home after having seen films in the Institute or the Olympia.
The leaning towards education was of great importance and as early as 1924 Mr. Jacob Jones, Headmaster of Ogmore Secondary School, was approached about an Educational Film and Exhibition, a project that Mr. Jacob Jones would discuss with his school’s managers.
Towards the end of this year on Wednesday December 17th, the Ogmore Secondary School held its Speech Day event in the Main Hall. The school had attained its new status from the Higher Elementary to Secondary on January 1st 1921. This event was presided over by the Chairman of the school`s Governing Body, namely County Councillor D. J. Thomas.
Throughout the year the draughts’ players, under the leadership of John Rees (God) were provided with the necessary finances for fares for their away fixtures.
One of the very long-standing members of the Committee, Mr. George Davey, was presented with a gold watch, in recognition of his services to the Institute.
Then again, a new clock was provided for the Billiards’ Room but not to cost more than £3. The jeweller and clock repairer, Mr. James of High Street, was awarded the contract and agreed to maintain the new and old clock for the sum of ten shillings and six pence annually.
A room in the Institute during this era was used for the registration of the unemployed at a cost per day of two shillings and six pence.
During the year of 1926 the Institute`s Hall was hired by the Ogmore Secondary School on no less than three occasions, two of which, on Wednesday March 17th and Wednesday December 15th respectively, were for annual Speech Day events. The third, held on Thursday December 16th at 7pm was for the well acted play by pupils, “She Stoops To Conquer”. County Councillor D. J. Thomas was again the Chairman.
Coal for heating purposes, delivered, was £2-1-6 per ton, whilst tenders received for painting and general repairs varied between £98-15-0 and £253.
A very important meeting took place on Wednesday November 18th 1931 when the Hall of the Institute was hired by the Ogmore Secondary School for their 8th Anniversary of “Speech Day”. This Anniversary coincided with the 21st Anniversary of the opening of the school which on this day celebrated the occasion by opening new building extensions at the school.
There was a Gymnasium, Dining Hall, three Classrooms, a Staff Room, Library and Boys` Cloakroom. These new extensions were opened by Alderman E. H. Mole who also presided over the Speech Day proceedings at the Institute.
The every day running of the Institute continued in this way throughout the 1930’s until the Second World War, when sterling work was done to raise money for the War Effort and in aid of troops and P.O.W’s. Free entry to the Institute was given to Servicemen.
In April 1943, a letter from Mr. Jacob Jones, Headmaster of the Ogmore Secondary School, asked the Institute’s Committee for co-operation to curtail the visit of Secondary pupils to the Billiards’ Room, suggesting that they be admitted only with a pass, agreed upon between the parents and himself. The request was not conceded.
During this period the Building Committee was discussing options for the purchase of land to be used as a cinema. The area between the Police Station and bridge over the River Ogmore, adjacent to the Institute, was being considered.
Time moved on. The War was over and it was realised by the Institute`s Committee in 1946 that the insurance against fire of £12,500 was inadequate. The abnormal appreciation in building values had escalated. The insurance was increased to £25,000.
The Nantymoel Industrial Co-operative Society received permission in November 1947 to stage a furnishing exhibition in the Lesser Hall. With new styles of furniture just coming on to the market, this proved to be very successful.
At the close of 1948, The Institute’s Committee saw fit to enter into preliminary negotiations with one of the World- recognised leading Bell Founders and Clock Makers, Gillett and Johnston, Ltd., Croydon, established in 1844, for a clock to be installed in the Tower of the Institute, which was initially built for this purpose.
Also at this time on Wednesday December 15th, the Ogmore Grammar School Dramatic Society hired the Institute`s Main Hall to present their play “She Stoops to Conquer”.
This was performed previously in 1926, and proved once again to be highly popular with the public. During this era the projectionist employed by the Institute, Mr. Wynford Protheroe, suggested that it would be beneficial to raise the projector on the ground floor some two or more feet. This would enable the rays of light from the projector to pass over the heads of cinemagoers without interference.
It was normal procedure when passing under the rays to stoop so as not to blur the picture on the screen.
Messrs. J. & O. Hughes accomplished the task but in the process had to take away some of the underside of the upstairs balcony and re-strengthen the structure.
By February 16th 1949, Mr. L. Pitt, the Secretary of the Institute had received the necessary contract and the architect and contractor had met with the trustees of the Institute and agreement had been reached regarding alterations required to the bell tower so that the work of installation of the clock and bells could commence.
Some of this work that had been done prior to installation was painting inside the small pinnacle on the top of the Dome. This required a young person of small stature, and W.G. Lewis, employed by the Nantymoel Industrial Co- operative Society building section, accomplished the task. Bill, as he is known at the time of writing, is our local Community Council Mayor and resides in Blackmill.
The installation of the electric wiring for the clock was entrusted to the projectionist Mr. Wynford Protheroe. Wynford is 87 years of age at the time of writing and resides with his son in Shropshire.
The clock was erected as a tribute to the magnificent courage and undying devotion to the men and women who gave their lives in the two World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.
The clock had two dials. One faced South and the other, West. The dials were five feet in diameter and were made of cast bronze. The hands and numerals were finished in gold leaf. The timepiece was released at thirty-second intervals by a master clock. The driving weights were rewound electrically and automatically after falling a short distance.
Provision was made that should the public electricity supply be cut off, the mechanism would continue to operate for seven hours. The hour and quarter chimes were actuated electrically.
The hours were stuck off a bell twenty- three and a half inches in diameter. The bell, which weighed three hundred and one pounds, was tuned to note F#. The quarter chimes were also struck on this bell and on another bell of nineteen inches in diameter, which weighed one hundred and sixty-one pounds and was tuned to note A#. There were also two clocks in the Main Hall, actuated by the master clock.
There was also a white marble Memorial Tablet placed in the wall of the building beneath the west dial. It measured three feet by two feet. It was sculptured and erected by Messrs. Mossford and Co., Ely, Cardiff.
It was not realised at the time of installation but an error had been made in the inscription. The final line, “We shall remember them”, should have read, “We will remember them”.
The Dedication Service was held on November 26th 1949, the plaque being unveiled by Mr. D. J. Thomas. O.B.E., of Ogmore Vale and dedicated by the Reverend J. Emlyn Evans, of Ogmore Vale. The scripture was read by Geo Davey, Esquire, of Cardiff, and the prayer recited by Reverend Gilbert Roberts, of Ogmore Vale. The piano accompanist to the hymns was Jack Perkins, an ex-Japanese prisoner of war. The last post and reveille were bugled by Clifford Sendell.
The Committee at this time were W. J. Davey (Chairman County Councillor), Mr. Ivor Evans (Vice Chairman), Mr. W. Soles (Treasurer), Mr. L. Pitt (Secretary), and Messrs. F. Tilley, O. Rees, W. Nicholas, E.J.Thomas, Councillor A. Palfreman, Messrs. D.J. Thomas, O.B.E., Jn. Emanuel, R.T. Cornelius, D. Davies and E.G. Capel (Trustees).
Committeemen were Len Couch, F.A. Chatfield, Ernie Cooke, Ben Davies, W.I. Davies, Alcwyn Davies, Frederick Fry, Glyn Hopkins, D.M. Jones, A.G. King, H.Lockyer, Jn. Morse, Geo Palfreman, Jn. Roberts, I. Puncheon, I.Thomas, Jn. Thomas and V. Webster.
Very shortly after the Christmas period and in the New Year of 1950, the error on the plaque was corrected without any further cost being incurred, whilst the bill for the new clock was settled, the amount being £747-0-0.
A well-known snooker player in the Valley, namely Fred Cooke, scored in March this year, a snooker break of one hundred and forty seven and much to his delight was given ten shillings and six pence by the Institute.
In April, the Ogmore Valley Wheelers, a cycling club with an excellent reputation throughout South Wales, applied for a grant and was given £50 towards the purchase of Philadelphia Chapel, in Cemetery Road.
Two months later, in June, a new weather vane depicting a Welsh dragon was fixed on top of the Dome above the clocks. Also contract prices were sought for new ladies’ toilets to be installed to comply with the Cinematograph Act of 1949.
Tenders submitted in November 1950 were between £1,607-7-0 and £2,101 and the toilets were built on the second floor of the Hall, above the men’s, which were on the first floor. They were completed in February 1952.
Harry Bothwell, whose name was previously mentioned, was asked to represent the Institute at Port Talbot on August 11th 1951, to compete in the forthcoming chess games.
The Institute was continually being updated and repaired and, when feasible, local contractors were used. The entrance and foyer were renovated in November 1951 by J. and O. Hughes, Building Contractors and Undertakers. They lived opposite the Institute, in Commercial Street.
The Billiards’ Room, in 1951, was transferred downstairs to the Lesser Hall. Likewise, the Library was transferred in July of 1953.
Meanwhile, during all this activity, O.G. Hartland and Sons were given a contract of £205-6-0 to effect repairs and alterations to the Hall. This work began on June 4th 1953.
With full use being made of the Institute’s facilities it had been thought for quite a while that it would be beneficial to transfer the cinema from the Main Hall of the Institute to another purpose-built structure or another venue.
In October 1955, after a period of negotiation, the lease of the Olympia was purchased for £7,000 but the Institute’s Committee was recommended not to take possession on January 1st 1956, until a legal hitch had been addressed. The purchase was finally agreed when a Deed of Assurance from J. Dooner, the vendor, was given. The purchase was completed by April 1st 1956.
A sum of £5,000 was made available by Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, with the Institute deciding at this time to cease operating the cinema in the Main Hall on April 28th 1956.
Between April 1st and the 28th a great deal of work was accomplished in the Olympia by volunteers from the Institute’s Committee, together with local contractors Messrs. Jehu and Williams, who undertook the work of re-tiling the toilets at a cost of £337 whist the electrical work was carried out by Messrs. Rhondda, T.V. Erections, for £26-2-6.
By May of this year the Institute was granted an overdraft with the C.W.S. Bank for £1,000. The Institute’s Committee also changed its mind regarding the cinema at the Workmen’s Hall, so it was now running both cinemas, showing different films.
On May 26th 1956, the new Hall, at Pantyrawel, opened. The officials of this Hall gave thanks to the Committee of the Institute for their donation of £1,000 towards the cost. They also asked for a meeting with the Institute’s Committee to arrange transfer of payment of contributions from miners in the Pantyrawel area to the new Hall.
This was accomplished, together with an agreement that reciprocal amenities of both Halls would be made available to the miners.
For no apparent reason, the telephone line at the Institute was discontinued at the end of the month.
During June 1956 the large Institute Hall was being used for boxing, variety shows, dramas, and dancing, boxing being new to the Institute but a feature of the Ogmore Valley Boys’ Club. The billiards’ tables were at this time transferred upstairs.
Mr. Dooner, the previous owner of the Olympia, gave assistance to the Institute by arranging programmes for both cinemas, the cinemas of the Institute being used when there were no bookings for the Large Hall for dances and shows.
The Olympia, from the day it was purchased, gave trouble of one sort or another, with rain entering and dampness, with John Hughes and other local contractors being employed to combat the problems.
The number of miners contributing to the Halls of the Valley at the time was Ocean 679, Penllwyngwent 435, Wyndham 787, whilst 705 lived in Nantymoel 765 in Ogmore, 267 in Lewistown and Pantyrawel and 96 in Bettws.
The Hall at Bettws was opened on November 27th 1956. The figures quoted were needed so that adjustments could be made for payments from miners’ contributions to the four Halls or Institutes of the Valley.
Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation was an advisory body to which the Halls were affiliated and to which the various committees could turn for advice. The Institute was advised in November 1956 that they were liable to pay fire insurance, whatever the amount, to the Reliance Fire and Accident Co-operation Ltd., and not to a company of their own choice, as far as the Olympia was concerned.
The sound equipment in operation at the Olympia was not up to standard so it was modernised in January 1957, and films such as “I’ll Cry Tomorrow”, “The Cobwebs” and “Fastest Gun Alive” were features booked from Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Films were booked on a percentage basis between the Institute and the Olympia.
As early as April 1957 recommendations for the closure during the summer months of the cinema at the Hall of the Institute were considered but not carried out.
The expense of running both places was imposing a cash problem, which resulted in overdraft facilities of £2,500 being provided by the C.W.S. Bank.
Billiards’ tables were in need of re-covering whilst local contractors such as Mr. Jehu, Mr. E. Parsons and J.O. Hughes were used for small everyday repairs.
On June 27th 1957 Mr. W. Clack of Pricetown was contracted to administer renovations to the Olympia for the sum of £358.
To help with the ongoing running costs the joint N.U.M. Lodges met and agreed to increase their contributions to the Institutes of the Valley.
By the end of October further consideration was given to closing the Hall of the Institute as a cinema but again this was not done. “Housey Housey” was run to help the finances.
By November 28th 1957 the Institute decided to sell their holdings of 3% Savings’ Bonds, to clear their overdraft, and to increase the charge of three pence to six pence for admission for old age pensioners, together with a reorganisation of staff, in an endeavour to become more profitable.
In January 1958 consideration was given once again to closing the Hall of the Institute as a cinema whilst disputes were had with the Nantymoel Institute over the renting and allocation of films.
The Secretary of the Institute was at this time told to seek advice regarding releasing the Institute from the lease of the Olympia, as business there continued to decrease.
Some six months later, in June, cutbacks were made in both cinemas, also in the number of staff employed with the cancellation of certain newspapers and periodicals for the Reading Rooms of the Institute.
Once again the local Lodges of the N.U.M. agreed to increase from November their weekly contributions from six pence to nine pence, with a further review in December 1959.
Whilst the Institute and Olympia continued to operate with various means and ways sought to save on expenses, the Institute Secretary continued to seek a way to dispose of the lease of the Olympia.
On November 6th 1958, the showing of films in the Hall of the Institute was discontinued with other forms of entertainment sought and considered. At the same time, Mr. T. Jones, a representative of C.I.S.W.O. was asked on behalf of the Institute whether or not the Institute could dispose of the lease of the Olympia, the latter continually losing money through work on its upkeep.
By December, a further £2,550 of Savings’ Bonds were released to clear the overdraft at the C.W.S. Bank.
During February 1959 the Olympia was only opened for three evenings a week, namely Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The ongoing endeavours of the Institute’s battle to cut losses as far as the Olympia was concerned resulted in Jimmy Wilde and Sons, the landlords of these premises, refusing a reduction in the rent for the premises, with regards to the Institute’s application of April 2nd 1959.
Losses sustained by the Institute through the adverse effect of the Olympia, pressurised the Institute’s Committee to seek from C.I.S.W.O. a grant for renovation for upgrading the Institute’s Hall. This was turned down by C.I.S.W.O. as no allowance could be made in their budget of 1960, but would be considered in their budget of 1961.
All previous minutes regarding Sunday opening for entertainment in the Hall of the Institute were rescinded and steps to acquire a comprehensive licence for Sunday entertainment were applied for, to the Ogmore and Garw Urban District Council.
The Council allowed the second Sunday in November as one of two Sundays when all cinemas in the area might be allowed to be open for charitable purposes, the comprehensive licence being refused.
Not to be outdone, some two hundred inhabitants of the Valley were invited to sign a petition to accompany the Institute’s application for a plebiscite, which was done on September 30th 1959.
Further repairs were again required to the seats of the Olympia, whilst the floor of the Lesser Hall of the Institute needed attention for the promotion of juvenile dancing.
An ingenious way of accomplishing this with minimal cost was achieved by reaching an agreement with Mr. J. Jehu, a local builder. He was given Rattery’s old Billiards’ Hall for no charge, the still useful parts of the floor to be used in the Institute’s Lesser Hall, whilst Mr. Jehu was allowed to keep the remainder of Rattary’s Hall.
Meanwhile, on November 8th 1959 the film show booked for that Sunday at the Institute went ahead. The O. &
G.U.D.C. shortly afterwards decided not to proceed with a Sunday opening licence, even though the Institute had booked films ahead for future performances. The Secretary of the Institute wrote to the local branch of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, also to the local Labour Party, for support in the Institute’s application for a comprehensive licence for Sunday openings.
An enquiry by the O. & G. U.D.C. to the Institute regarding which charitable organisation was receiving the profits from the allowable Sunday openings was met with the reply that the organisation was the Institute Library Fund. (touché!)
In the early period of 1960, the Co-operative employees of the Valley were successfully canvassed to subscribe to the Institute and many employees did so.
The well-known director of children’s plays and operettas, namely Mrs. L. Thomas, of Rhiw-Glyn, applied for the use of both the Lesser and Main Halls of the Institute for the purpose of an operetta, the proceeds of which were in aid of the Refugee Children.
By the end of April 1960 prices for playing tombola had to be increased from two shillings to two shillings and six pence, in order to meet the continuous costs of running both the Institute and the Olympia.
The Institute’s Committee, on May 5th 1960 realised the Institute could no longer sustain the constant losses of maintaining the Olympia, resulting in some very serious decisions having to be made. It was decided to close the Olympia as soon as practicable, placing all the staff concerned on a day-to-day contract. The deeds and lease of the Olympia were forwarded to C.I.S.W.O. for their legal section to peruse. C.I.S.W.O. was presented with the difficult financial problems being experienced by the Institute, with the former promising immediate help. The deeds and lease were forwarded to Messrs. Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas, Solicitors of Pontypridd, for their perusal.
Following the disaster at the Six Bells’ Colliery, the Institute donated £5-0-0 to the Disaster Fund on July 7th 1960.
Time progressed, with no relenting by the Institute’s Committee, in pursuing this need for a comprehensive licence for Sunday showing of films. The O. & G..U.D.C. was once again informed of the desire to obtain the necessary licence.
After further detailed examination of the floor of the Lesser Hall and Mr. Jehu’s observations, a decision to renew the floor was reached. C.I.S.W.O. was prepared by November 17th 1960 to make grants of £400 towards the cost incurred in the Lesser Hall, or alternately £800 towards the cost of floors in the Main Hall. All the Committee and volunteers were prepared to assist to keep the costs at a minimum.
With the end of 1960 approaching, upon a request by C.I.S.W.O., the deeds of the Institute were forwarded to them for copies to be made, no doubt in their quest to be relieved of the Institute’s obligations regarding the Olympia.
The New Year started off with various applications for usage of the Institute, with Mrs. L. Thomas again showing an operetta by children, in aid of her church funds. In April, C.I.S.W.O. was approached for money to purchase four hundred chairs, whilst at the same time, keeping their own funds to meet their liabilities over the Olympia. The request was not forthcoming. C.I.S.W.O., in May, advised the Institute to take up adequate insurance. At the same time the Institute repeated its request regarding chairs but without success.
The turning point of the fortunes of the Institute occurred on July 27th 1961, when the Secretary and Chairman of the Institute attended the court case in connection with the Institute’s lease of the Olympia. The resulting judgement made on August 15th 1961 was that the Institute be relieved of the obligations to the Olympia lease.
It was time for celebration with a Gala Ball, to also celebrate the opening, after refurbishing, of the Lesser Hall. The Ball took place on October 20th, admission price four shillings, with a modern dance orchestra booked for the sum of forty guineas.
Openings for modern dancing on Friday evenings from six till eight for juveniles, tickets six pence a head, with Saturday evening dancing for adults, from eight till eleven, at one shilling and six pence, per head, were also introduced.
Boxing Day and New Year dances were arranged, together with applications for an alcohol licence. A large dance band was engaged for these functions, at a cost of £62 per session. People who used the Hall’s balcony as spectators were charged half- price entrance fee.
In keeping with the Institute’s commitment towards education, an application was submitted by Miss M. George, of the Council of Social Services for Wales, asking if the Hall would receive a Mr. Semevinga, a student from Tanganika. He was studying the role of Community Centres in Mining Townships. The request was met with emphatic approval by the Institute’s Committee. He was, on his visit, given every possible assistance.
During February 1962 the times of opening the Billiards’ Room were altered to Monday 4pm., to 8pm., and Fridays 4pm., to 6pm., while Saturdays’ times were 10am., to 8pm.
Very early on in February it was decided that the Ogmore Valley Easter Queen would be selected on Easter Monday evening, at a dance arranged for this purpose. The Master of Ceremonies was to be Mr. Em Hughes, husband of “Kath the Farm”, a well-known lady of the Valley. Em went on to become the Miners’ Agent of the Valley.
Meanwhile, the Hall clock kept ticking away, with Gillett and Johnson, its manufacturers, having to notify the Institute’s Committee that the contract price for the maintenance of the clock would be increased in January 1963 to £14-5-0.
The Institute, at last, after seven years of being burdened by the costs of the Olympia, was back on course to running the Institute at a profit, dances and other activities being the norm.
In April 1962, following an appeal for the Tower Colliery Disaster Fund, £5-5-0 was donated.
On June 26th, the Institute’s Trustees signed the documents transferring the lease of the Olympia to the landlords. At the same time the Committee was concerned about the condition of the wall at the rear of the Hall and made a point of referring this to the N.C.B., that body being responsible for the wall, which was the northern boundary between the N.C.B., and the Institute.
The Clock Tower of the Institute was causing small problems, so in December of 1962 Messrs. Zammit Ltd., of Llanelly, were invited to examine the Dome and give an estimate of costs of repair. This was accomplished with an estimate of £286 for the necessary repairs. It followed that the contract was given to the aforesaid and work was carried out during the month of May.
Donations were given to the Ogmore Vale Old Age Pensioners’ Association and the Lyn Davies, Malcolm Swain and Graham Hodgson presentations, the three latter being sportsmen of the Valley. Donations were also given to the Welsh Championship Show of Racing Pigeons. The proceeds of the show were given to the Welsh Sunshine Home for the Blind Babies, at Southerndown.
During this period, in January 1963, the Institute’s Committee was in correspondence with the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (C.I.S.W.O.), regarding the proposed Constitution of Trusteeship and Management Committee. The Institute’s Committee informed Mr. Tom Jones, the Divisional Officer of C.I.S.W.O., that it did not wish to change any of its present Constitution but agreed to meet at a later date. Nevertheless, a further letter from Mr. Tom Jones (C.I.S.W.O.) stated that the Trust Deeds of the Institute met with their requirements.
Meanwhile, activities of a leisure nature carried on with the purchase of a Bernard “tombola basket”, balls and Master Board, for the sum of £6-10-0.
The 78th Annual Meeting was held on February 23rd 1963. The Chairman was Mr. R.T. Cornelius. Scrutineers, Messrs. W.C. Clarke, Rees Cornelius, A.G. King, and Alcwyn Jenkins, were elected.
The ballot for Management Committee resulted in Messrs. Henry Whiting, Albert Evans, Jack Dunn, Trevor Watts, Cyril Perkins, Emrys Thomas, Harold Ridge, Jack Mills, Will. J. Matthews, Haydn Phillips, Gwyn Rees, Denzil Richards, Will. G. Bryant, Horace Mead, F.J. Pinkard, W.H. Evans, Albert Dean, Ben Jones, Tom Evans, and Wendall Thomas being elected.
In line with the Institute’s links with education, the Main Hall was used on March 29th 1963, for Ogmore County Grammar School’s Prize-giving and on April 4th for the School’s Concert.
The fee was £3-3-0 per meeting but on payment the Institute donated £3-3-0 to the Parents’ Association and £3-3-0 to the School’s Choral and Orchestra Society.
From September of that year, bingo was allowed to be played on Sunday evenings, although objected to by the Ogmore Valley Free Church Council, whose letter was simply noted. However, a meeting was held on October 19th, when a Notice of Motion to cease running bingo sessions on Sundays was carried by the necessary two thirds’ majority.
At the close of the year, the usual dances for the children took place, with the Institute being as busy as ever. The Committee corresponded with the owners of the land upon which the Institute stood, namely Swansea Borough, with a view to its purchase. The reply from the Swansea Borough’s estate agent on January 9th 1964 stated that under the terms of the Trust upon which the land was held, the freehold could not be sold. The Institute’s Committee therefore asked the Swansea Borough for a fifty or a hundred years’ lease in advance of their remaining forty years.
It would appear as time moved on that C.I.S.W.O. was still not entirely happy over the constitution of the Institute and in February 1964 correspondence was being exchanged between both parties, with the Institute’s Committee seeing no point in discussing their differences and stating so in the Minutes of March 1964.
The 79th Annual Meeting of February 1964 re-elected virtually all of the officers of the previous year, with very few changes.
Many donations to various organisations continued to be made during this period but it was significant that an appeal for a donation to the President Kennedy Memorial was refused.
An application by the N.U.M. for the use of the Hall on a Saturday for a Chrysanthemum Show was turned down but after a meeting with representatives of the N.U.M. namely Messrs. A. Tatchell, supported by J. Morse and V. Webster, it was ruled that the Lesser Hall and Main Hall could be available all day Friday and until four o’clock on Saturday, February 18th and 19th, for the Show.
In honour of the achievement of the Valley’s Tokyo Gold Medallist, Lyn Davies, the Main Hall was used on Sunday, January 3rd 1965, for a public presentation.
A new Librarian, Miss V. Vaughan, of Prospect Place, was appointed in May, to replace Mr. Richard Thomas, the previous Librarian, known locally as “Dicky Bach”. He had sadly passed away in March.
At the commencement of every New Year, after the elections of new committees to run the Institute, a flood of applications for grants would be received, with very few refusals made, together with applications for use of the Main Hall.
Two such applications worthy of being mentioned were appeals towards the expenses of the Welsh Team to the British and Commonwealth Empire Games, another towards the Aberfan Disaster Appeal Fund in October 1966. Whilst most donations, and there were literally dozens, were in the region of below £10, the donation to the Aberfan Fund was £30.
By April of 1967, through a further purchase of £250, the total holding of Government 5% Development Bonds reached £3,500.
Use of the Main Hall was a continuous occurrence, the Ogmore Valley Silver Band being one of many to perform. Also the team of children coached by Mrs. L. Thomas of Rhiw-Glyn performed another Opera this year. Their stage acting, under her directorship was often hilarious. Once again the proceeds were donated to charities including the “Freedom From Hunger” campaign, to which the Institute also donated £7.
As early as March 1968, the Institute, when plans were being made for the forthcoming celebrations of the Investiture of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, decided not to be represented at the local O. & G. U.D.C. meetings. Those of us who personally knew the Chairman, Mr. R.T. Cornelius, also knew the reason for this. Mr. Cornelius was a “dyed in the wool” communist, a man whose belief in this form of socialism never faltered.
Although an atheist, he nevertheless suggested at this time that the autobiography entitled, “Searching for Light”, by Hewlet Johnson, the Dean of Canterbury, be purchased for the Library. The Dean was frequently referred to as the “Red Dean”, for his strong leanings towards socialism. This autobiography can be obtained today from the local library.
By May 1968 it was realised that the Billiards’ Room of the Institute was no longer viable, so it was closed until September 21st 1968.
At this time, an on-going battle with the Estates’ Department of the N.C.B., regarding the rear wall of the Institute, which the Institute claimed was in a dangerous state, and parts of the premises caused by suspected subsidence, the result of underground mining, was brought to the attention of the N.C.B.
Also, Mr. C. Moseley, of Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas, Solicitors of Pontypridd, was asked to take up the matter of the Freehold of the Institute with the Swansea Borough Council. This enquiry, by the Institute, had been made previously, in January 1964 and had been refused by the Swansea B.C., under the terms of the Trust.
A reply from the solicitors stated once again that the Swansea B.C. was not prepared to sell the freehold of the land upon which the Institute was built. Not to be outdone, the Institute’s Committee decided to meet with Mr. W. Padley, MP., at his next constituency meeting.
Again the Estates’ Department of the N.C.B., in reply on December 4th 1968 to the Institute’s complaint regarding the rear wall, stated that, “there was no reason for worry as the wall presented no danger,” and with regards to subsidence, “the damage to the Institute was not caused by subsidence but possibly other causes”. Another twelve years were to pass before the significance of this statement could possibly be partly true.
In February of 1969, Mr. D. Webster, a surveyor, was engaged to examine the retaining wall at the rear of the Institute, the Institute’s Committee obviously not happy with the situation.
Meanwhile, an approach was made to the Joint Lodges of the N.U.M. to discuss the raising of contributions to the three Institutes of the Valley, they being the Lewistown, Nantymoel and Ogmore Institutes.
Besides the normal activities, the finances of the Institute were being constantly monitored. £4,250 of Government Development Bonds were held at 5%. It was decided in May 1969 that £1,750 be retained until their maturity dates between November 1969 and November 1970, whilst £2,500 was to be transferred to 7% British Savings’ Bonds. New charges were also being introduced for the various leisure activities, to combat costs of running the Institute, and the closure of the Billiards’ Hall from June to September 28th 1969, was another strategy employed to save costs.
Uncertainty over the liability to pay Bingo Duty under Section 3 of the Finances Act 1969 led the Institute’s Secretary to contact the Divisional Welfare Offices of C.I.S.W.O. for legal advice and, in a reply by the Welfare Offices in October 1969, it was stated that the Institute was definitely liable and should apply to the local Betting Licensing Justices for a Bingo Licence.
Application was made through the solicitors of the Institute. Meanwhile the Chief Inspector of Police had interviewed the Secretary of the Institute, informing him that the Inspector of Customs and Excise had stated what requirements were needed to conform to the relevant Act. Subsequently, a visit by this officer to inspect the Bingo Duty accounts was made and declared by him to be satisfactory.
Nevertheless, the application to the Justices for a Bingo Licence was refused and registration denied until all bingo players were given limited membership of the Institute. This was immediately done at a fee of one shilling per annum, per player, with cards issued to that effect. All membership cards to pensioners were free.
Mr. A. Baker became a member of the Institute’s Committee, being elected at the Annual Meeting of February 28th 1970. He resided quite close to the Institute and would, in years to come, be one of the most important persons to serve as a Committee member.
The Finance Committee at this time informed the Institute’s Committee that there were substantial funds in the Institute’s current account, sufficient to warrant a further purchase of £250 of 7% Savings’ Bonds, besides the £150 worth of Bonds purchased in September 1969, taking the holdings to £4,650. Again, a further investment in April 1970 of £250 took the Institute’s holdings to £4,900 and a further investment of £100 was made to bring the holdings to £5,000.
Again the Billiards’ Room was closed from May 3rd to September 27th 1970, the tables being covered over for this period, with Number Four table being repaired.
The Secretary at this time was Mr. Leonard Pitt. He was a member of the Institute for sixty years, a Committee member for forty-one years and during those years, Secretary for thirty-five years. As a result of old age and the long-time sickness of his wife, he reluctantly had to inform his fellow Committee members of his intended retirement on June 30th 1970.
The new Secretary was duly elected, namely Mr. A. Baker, who took up the appointment when Mr. L. Pitt vacated the Secretary’s duties, to take up the duties of a Trustee.
On Mr. L. Pitt’s last day, as the Secretary, the Chairman, Mr. R.T. Cornelius, a long-standing member of the Institute, paid great tribute to Mr. L. Pitt. A record was made of his services and the work he had done for the Institute. It was also resolved, as a mark of appreciation, that Mr. Pitt was given a gratuity of £50 and a bouquet of flowers was presented to Mrs. Dorothy Pitt.
Mr. V.H. Handley of the Ogmore Valley Entertainments’ Committee applied for the use of the Hall and its facilities for a Dance on Friday August 28th 1970. This was in support of Carnival Week in the Valley and at which the Ogmore Valley Carnival Queen would be selected. She was seventeen-year-old Lynne James, a pupil at Ogmore Grammar School.
At last, notification was received that the Licensing Justices had granted to the Institute a Bingo Licence under Part Two of the Gaming Act, having been satisfied that all the correct procedures were being followed. The total cost for professional services, Court fees and advertising amounted to £44.
Towards the end of this year Messrs. Gillett and Johnson, makers of the Hall’s clock, were contacted, regarding servicing and installing a switch for the clock, which had been such a special feature of the Institute since its installation some twenty years ago.
The Billiards’ Room, which had been closed since May 3rd, was due to be re-opened but owing to the financial loss incurred when open, a special Notice of Motion was read and carried to the effect that the Billiards’ Room was to be closed for an indefinite period.
A further purchase of £250 of 7% Bonds was made and the holding of £1,750 of 5% Bonds was converted to 7% British Savings’ Bonds.
The Institute’s Finance Committee was quite prudent in managing its affairs. An example of this was its renewal of the contract for the purchase of coal, 258 shillings per ton for Caerau, large bagged, compared to 276 shillings and six pence for Ogmore Large. The contract was given to Caerau.
The name Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (C.I.S.W.O) keeps appearing in the history of the Institute and at this time, in November 1970, it applied to the Institute to display, in the Lesser Hall, a poster of the Miners’ National Education Fund and the facilities for education. Great interest was shown by members, regarding the opportunities available.
By December 31st the Number One Committee Room had been refurbished, whilst the top floor rooms had been locked up temporarily. New fluorescent lighting had been installed in the Library.
With decimalisation forthcoming, Mr. Jack Morse, Secretary of the N.U.M. Lodge, requested a joint meeting of the Bettws, Lewistown, Nantymoel and Ogmore Institutes be convened, for the purpose of appointing a Secretary, in order for future contributions from miners to be sent to one source, this being a request from the N.C.B. Mr. Baker, the Institute’s Secretary, was appointed at this meeting to be this Secretary.
The Nos Galon Mile Race, run at this time, was won by Clive Thomas, a local Ogmore Vale competitor, in four minutes, eleven seconds. He was the son of Mr. And Mrs. Gren Thomas and was the first Welshman to win this race.
The B.B.C. announced this on the News. This was brought to the attention of the Institute’s Committee, which immediately sent a letter of congratulations to his parents.
The Institute’s holdings of 7% British Savings’ Bonds were increased by two further amounts of £150 and £250 by the end of January 1971 and by a further £200 in February. This was the time for the renewal of the Music and Dancing Licence and the Sunday Entertainment Licence, through the local Police Station. Another £150 was invested in March 1971.
Concern was expressed at this time by the Institute’s Secretary, regarding the unsatisfactory position in which he found himself. The workmen’s contributions to date were £82.25, with a further cheque in hand for £88.00, held on behalf of the United Welfare Halls. More information was required from the Lodge Secretary of the N.C.B., with information on method for distribution.
Money from the Co-operative Society’s employees, amounting to £19.35, was received by the Institute and ways of organising what were termed “outside subscribers” were discussed. As an aside, this should dispel any concern or disbelief by ex-miners today that Co-op employees never paid subscriptions.
Regarding miners’ subscriptions, a formula had been agreed upon with the N.C.B. by April 1971. In future, from the miners’ contributions, the Welfare Halls and Institutes of Nantymoel, Ogmore Vale, Lewistown and Bettws would receive 45%, 37%, 9% and 9% respectively.
The Institute was still paying its way, besides being very charitable to every worthy cause or group which made an application for the use of the Hall. It had a unique way of doing this. Everybody applying for use of the Hall was charged the same amount as per standing orders but upon payment, and if the applicant asked, donations of various amounts would be returned to the applicant but amounts donated back would vary.
At the end of April a further £200 was invested in National Savings’ Bonds at 7%. The Institute’s Committee was investing very wisely.
On May 21st the Lesser Hall was used for a meeting of the Co-operative Retail Services, and employees and members of the local Co-operative Society. This meeting was a turning point for the local Society, as, at the meeting it was decided to allow the C.R.S. to take over the Nantymoel Co-operative Society Ltd.
By now it was felt by the Institute’s Committee that there was need for installation of a telephone on the premises, which was done.
Again, Mr. V.H. Handley, Secretary of the Ogmore Valley Civic Week Committee, applied for the second year for the Main and Lesser Halls for the Annual Civic Ball. This took place on Friday June 18th. Miss Lynne Reed was selected as Carnival Queen.
An application was made by Mr. Reg Westlake, Secretary of the United Villages’ Club, Blackmill, for a donation to help towards the expenses of David Jones, one of its members, who was attempting his third effort in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, having achieved a bronze and silver medal but aiming now for gold. The Club was granted £5.
In line with the Institute’s policy for prudence, a further £300 was invested in 7% Bonds.
The Tower clock was in need of repair, having been in use for twenty years, so a representative from Messrs. Gillett and Johnson, of Croydon, visited the Institute and recommended cleaning and the replacement of a magnet and coil. The necessary repairs were effected.
The finances of the Institute were doing very well, with a further sum of £300 being invested in 7% Bonds. During the month of October 1971, C.I.S.C.O. produced a circular referring to college grants to mining and ex-mining families, which created great interest in opportunities.
Concern was expressed at this time over the health of Mr. R.T. Cornelius, and hope was expressed by the Institute’s Committee that he would make a speedy recovery from his illness.
At nearly every four weekly Financial Meeting during the past years, recommendations to invest in 7% Bonds were made and again, on November 11th 1971 a further £100 was invested.
By this time, Mr. R.T. Cornelius’ health had deteriorated and he passed away on November 30th 1971. He was cremated on December 3rd 1971. True to his beliefs as an atheist, there was no singing or religious preaching at his funeral. It needs to be said that all through his life he belonged to the working classes and was the only Communist party member to be elected as a County Councillor. He was also Chairman of the local branch of U.S.D.A.W. for many years. His funeral was of a secular nature, officiated by Mr. Cliff James, the Miners’ Agent of Nantymoel.
In keeping with employing local labour whenever possible, a contract for tiling the ladies’ toilets and cloakroom was entrusted to Mr. Eddie Parsons, of St. John Street.
Meanwhile an application for a visit, was granted to Mr. L. Egar, of the History Department of Swansea University, in order to examine the Institute’s Minute Books. Mr. L. Egar was greatly impressed and he asked the Committee of the Institute for a loan of the books dating from 1912. After deliberations it was decided to loan them to Swansea University for a period of not more than twelve months.
So many appeals were made to the Institution over the years, such as one at this time from the International Brigade for a donation to the Boys who lost their lives in the Spanish Civil War. £5 was donated to the representative of the Appeal, a Mr. John Brewer.
As it was now possible to obtain a permit for the playing of bingo for a period of ten years instead of one year, the Institute instructed its solicitors, Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas to apply. It was pointed out to the Institute’s Committee that the granting of such a licence was not automatic but at the discretion of the Magistrates.
With the Christmas period of 1971 over and the New Year of 1972 commencing, the Committee, which all the years seemed to be so fair in all its dealings and decisions, resolved to pay to the wife of their late Chairman, Mr. R.T. Cornelius, his honorarium in full.
The Department of Employment was now using the Hall on specified dates in March for paying out unemployment benefit, whilst the Annual General Meeting was carried forward to March 14th 1972 owing to the power cuts that were taking place through industrial unrest in the coalfields.
Mr. E.R. Tear, of English and Partners was re-elected at the A.G.M. of March 4th, as Auditor of the accounts. He had had quite a long association with the Valley, being an Auditor for the Nantymoel Industrial Co-operative Society from the early 1950’s and of the Institute for many years past.
Mr. B.C. Jones was elected as Chairman of the Institute Committee. He had taken the Chair in the absence of Mr. R.T. Cornelius. Mr. W.D. Jones was elected as Vice Chairman.
The Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, which advised the Institute from time to time, advised the Institute’s Committee of the possibility of a full grant available to Institutes, 85% from the Ministry and 15% borne by the Local Authority, for a face-lift to the exterior of the building. The Institute’s Committee made the necessary application, providing the work entailed would qualify for the grant.
The financial side of the Institute was still being well-managed, it being proposed that £142 be withdrawn from the C.W.S. and the amount made up to £200 to invest in a further 7% Government Bonds. Later it was decided to leave the £142 with the C.W.S. but to invest the £200.
Interest in snooker was becoming more active in the area with an application for the use of the Institute’s tables from April 4th to 6th, by Mr. T. Lake of the Conservative Club. A Snooker Exhibition by the then World Champion “Hurricane Higgins” was to take place. The application was granted.
By May of the year the application for the Institute’s “face-lift” had been passed on to Area Improvement Design and Management Ltd., of Porthcawl, which was acting for the local Council in what was termed, “Operation Eyesore”.
Meanwhile Mrs. A. Bishop, Secretary of the Ogmore Valley Civic Week activities asked for the use of the Hall on Tuesday June 6th for dancing for children and on July 7th for a local Talent Contest, which was granted. A further request by Mrs. Bishop for the Lesser and Main Hall for their Annual Civic Ball on Friday August 25th was also granted.
Some two weeks after the request, on June 24th, a further £250 was invested in 7% Government Bonds.
To take part in the Civic Week celebrations, bunting and flags were purchased by the Institute to help the streets’ residents in their efforts to decorate the immediate area.
The Berwyn Theatre Company used the Hall on July 21st, this Company having taken the name “Berwyn” as did the Nantymoel Institute, which adopted the same name and is now called the Berwyn Centre.
Practically every few weeks the Institute invested a sum of money in 7% Government Bonds and again in August of this year a further £250 was invested.
The Institute’s Committee very seldom refused a request for a donation to various organisations but one such request by the Cambrian Theatre Company was left on the table.
Advice was still forthcoming from C.I.S.W.O. to the Institute regarding any changes to the rules, especially concerning the 1970 Insurance Act and the forthcoming Value Added Tax. This organisation, in the not to distant future would be vital to the Institute.
For many years, the Boarding situated at Bethania Row, opposite the Police Station, was used for advertising by the Institute and others, for a very small fee.
The Elim Pentecostal Church, for the past few months, had been using the facilities of the Institute, trying to create interest in their Christian movement. Their leader, Pastor Bristow, applied to purchase the Boarding and his application, on behalf of the Church, was accepted for the purchase price of £5. He also applied for the use of the building area on the front of the Institute to further their campaign.
At the beginning of December 1972 an application was received from the Nantymoel Rugby Football Club for both Halls, on December 22nd for their Annual Dance. The request was granted with the strict proviso that the Club members’ behaviour be closely monitored, owing to the problems experienced at the previous year’s occasion, and carried the possibility of not being allowed to use the facilities again.
Many applications were received this month from organisations including the Glamorgan Police, John Edwards Fund, Ogmore Vale Civic Week, for use of the Halls on specific dates, for dances.
C.I.S.W.O. had advised the Institute of a scheme for Block Insurance for all Workmen’s and Welfare Halls in the County and a form asking for particulars concerning the Institution had been duly completed and returned to C.I.S.W.O. All employees were subsequently insured and a notice to this effect was displayed in the office, whilst the appropriate certificate had been received by the Institute.
The end of this year saw a further £200 invested in 7% Government Bonds. Meanwhile the Treasurer of the Elim Pentecostal Church settled for usage of the Hall and Boarding in their campaign with a cheque for £35.
As for the Nantymoel Rugby Football Club, even with their promise of strict control, they managed at their dance to break three windows but settled the bill and hire costs of the premises without any problems.
The balance sheet for 1972 was read on February 22nd 1973 and a further £200 was invested in Government Bonds, at 7%.
At the meeting held on March 1st 1973 it was expressed that a new blower was needed to improve ventilation. This was purchased immediately from George Leigh and Son, of Cardiff. By virtue of office and Rule 6, last year’s Vice Chairman, Mr. W.D. Jones, was appointed Chairman and in his absence the Vice Chairman, Mr. B.C. Jones.
Salaries were discussed: the Secretary and Treasurer were both awarded £125 and the Chairman was awarded £30. The clock in the Tower of the Hall had been serviced since its installation in 1949 by the manufacturers, Gillett and Johnston of Croydon, who were under contract to do so. For some unexplained reason, a Mr. T.R. Robinson was called in to report upon the clock, with a view to using his services if the present contract could be ended amicably. This was achieved and Mr. T.R. Robinson was awarded the new contract.
In line with the Institute’s policy of investments, further amounts of £300, and £200 respectively were invested in the new forthcoming Goverment Bonds of 8.5%.
Again an application by the Nantymoel Rugby Football Club for use of the Institute on May 25th 1973 was approved, with a stern warning regarding behaviour.
As early as the beginning of June 1973 a letter from the Glamorgan County Planning Officer concerning the Penllwyngwent Reclamation Scheme drew attention to the fact that the concrete block crossing the river below the Dressing Rooms of the Institute needed attention. A report by Mr. Parsons was added to this, to the effect that the block, for a distance of eleven feet by two feet and ten inches, needed replacing, as this section was crumbling. Mr. Parsons was instructed to implement the repairs. Authority for this was given by the Glamorgan River Authority, with all struts to be removed as quickly as possible after completion.
By the end of September 1973 another £200 in 8.5 % Government Bonds had been invested, with a further £200 by the end of November.
The Secretary, Mr. Jack Morse of the N.U.M., had written to the Institute’s Committee for balance sheets for the last three years. He had also written a similar request to the three other Institutes in the area, namely Nantymoel, Lewistown/Pantyrawel and Bettws, in order that the position of money from miners’ contributions could be discussed, especially the allocation to each Institute.
The position regarding the loan of Minute Books to Swansea University was now becoming clearer. Mr. Mervyn Jones of the Coalfield History Project of the University asked for a further year’s extension, which was granted, with the Institute allowing yearly extensions to be reviewed annually. Needless to say, the Minute Books are still part of the University Coalfield Collection, from where most of the information to this point was gleaned, by visits to the University.
Mr. B.C. Jones, the presiding Chairman, opened the first meeting of the New Year of 1974 on January 3rd. He wished all members of the Committee a happy and prosperous year and special thanks for all their efforts and work during the past year.
The usual application from Mr. Handley, on behalf of the Civic Week Committee, was granted, for use of the Lesser and Main Halls on March 1st and May 3rd.
A letter of great importance was received at this time, i.e., January 1974. It came from the Glamorgan County Planning Officer and was in relation to the Penllwyngwent Reclamation Scheme. After discussion, the Institute’s Committee resolved to accede to the proposed plan but the Institute’s Secretary was instructed to suggest that if necessary to carry out the protection work as far as the bridge, having been asked for the opinions of the Institute’s Committee.
C.I.S.W.O. was still corresponding with the Institute’s Committee. Together with the usual number of requests for bookings, there were also many applications for requests for donations to schools, Dr. Barnado’s Homes and many other worthy causes, all of which were discussed by the Committee.
C.I.S.W.O. had written to the Institute’s Committee concerning a Block Fire and Special Peril Insurance Scheme, Buildings and Contents. This matter was left for further discussion, in view of the fact that the Committee would not be able to complete arrangements by the required deadline.
The eighty-ninth Annual Meeting was held on Saturday February 23rd 1974. No ballot was required, as only twenty nominations had been received. Mr. B.C. Jones presided.
Insurance cover as suggested by C.I.S.W.O. was left in the hands of the Finance Committee for discussion, whilst it was recommended that a further £200 be invested in 8% Government Bonds.
The Vice Chairman for this year was R. Albert Evans and sitting on the Finance Committee were Messrs. G.P. Morgan, W.H. Evans, H.G. Chamberlain, L. Thomas, H. Whiting and Ron Evans.
A letter was received from Mrs. E. Mills. This contained thanks for the kind words of sympathy sent by the Committee regarding the bereavement of her husband, Mr. Jack Mills, who had served on the Institute’s Committee for many years. He had passed away on January 15th 1974.
During the same period, a further letter was received from C.I.S.W.O. regarding the meeting with the Institute’s Committee, to discuss the Block Insurance Scheme. The matter was left on the table.
The Institute’s Committee was notified that rent for the use of the Library by the present occupiers, would be taken over in the new financial year by the Mid-Glamorgan County Council.
In the early weeks of May 1974 quotations for terms for Fire Insurance with the Co-operative Insurance Society were sought, ranging between £70,000 and £100,000. A new premium, at a further cost of £23 for £70,000, was turned down by the Institute’s Committee, in favour of seeking terms for a comprehensive policy, which also included insurance against Flood and Tempest and any cover which the present policies provided.
A tender submitted by C. Hartland, for a new concrete floor, was accepted in June 1974. Payment for the work was to be accomplished by releasing 7% Government Bonds due out on October 1st 1974, and by transferring £1,500 to 9.5% Government Bonds. The difference of £1,000 would be used to pay the contractor.
C.I.S.W.O. had, on July 11th 1974, asked the Institute’s Committee of their deliberations regarding the policy they had on offer, namely Block Fire and Special Perils’ Scheme, when the Institute decided to wait for terms from the Co- operative Insurance Society, in order to compare what was on offer.
An application was made by the Reverend D.G. Richards for a Parish Harvest Supper, to be held on September 20th in the Lesser Hall but only in the event of bad weather. Otherwise, the plan was to hold the supper in the grounds of the Vicarage. The application was granted. Also received was an application from George Lloyd, Chairman of the first Ogmore Scout Group. This was for the use of both Halls on October 18th 1974.
The purchase of the freehold of the Institute was discussed on October 31st 1974 and the Secretary was instructed to pursue the matter with the N.C.B. The Institute’s Committee had over the years tried to purchase the lease from Swansea Borough Council, to no avail, but the Institute’s application to purchase the freehold was now met with success, at a cost of £625, plus £94 solicitors’ fees. The transfer of deeds by the Institute’s solicitors, Messrs. Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas was completed by April 24th 1975.
As an example, a list of some of the bookings taken by the Institute over a period of weeks during October and November is worth noting; The Young Wives’ Group, The Midland Carpet Group, Ogmore Valley Bowls’ Club, Paul Simmons’ Anoraks, Ogmore Valley Welfare Association, S. and G. Textiles, T.W. Jones and Co., National Blood Transfusion Service and Cardiff Hearing Centre.
After December 1974 the Institute’s charges for use of the buildings were revised. The Main Hall would be let for £15, £5 for the Lesser Hall, plus seventy-five pence per hour over normal allocated time.
During the time just prior to the end of the year, the deeds of the Institute were handed over from the Co-operative Bank to the Solicitors of the Institute.
Nothing definite had yet been decided regarding increasing the insurance of the Institute. Although a representative from the Co-operative Insurance Society had visited the building, nothing of an official nature had been reported back to the Secretary of the Institute.
The 90th Annual Meeting was held on February 22nd 1975, with Mr. Ben C. Jones presiding. He had been a member of the Committee for many years and is, at the time of writing, in 2004, still seen walking about the Valley, from his home in Bryn Road. Another person to be mentioned at this time was H.G. Chamberlain. He was one-time a member of the Finance Committee and Chairman of the Institute. He resides in Glyn Street and is also very able and quite well.
In keeping with the Institute’s policy of assisting organisations, especially those which represented the young, a donation of £5 was made to the Boys’ Club of Wales Leadership Exchange Scheme, for the purpose of sending a local boy, in this case, Graham Woods, to Canada. Mr. Cliff Joy was the Secretary at this time. He did sterling work in supporting the Boys’ Club of the Valley.
By April 1975, the Institute’s Committee had still not arrived at a decision regarding the insurance for the Institute.
C.I.S.W.O. informed the Institute of a meeting to be held at Pontypridd, where their Block Insurance would be discussed. This was noted, as was the increase in the cost of coal, to £30.76 per ton. Excise Duty was doubled, whilst payment to the Institute towards the cost of heating, lighting and cleaning, and Library helper, was increased to £10.75 per week.
Arrangements were made to meet with a deputation from the local N.U.M. Lodge to discuss a further increase of contributions towards the Valley’s Institutes.
By May 1975, a report to the Institute by the Secretary stated that the Block Insurance on offer by C.I.S.W.O. would not commit the Institute to C.I.S.W.O. in as much as the Institute was termed as a member of a special scheme.
Clarification of this had been sought and confirmed by the Institute’s Solicitors, Messrs., Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas, resulting in a policy for £100,000 with the Block Institute Consortium being taken out. During this period a further £200 was invested in 9.5 % Government Bonds.
A long-time, faithful member of the Institute’s Committee, past Secretary for many years and Trustee, Mr. L. Pitt, passed away on June 10th 1975 .A letter of condolence was sent to his family. The Institute then elected a new Trustee, Mr. H.G. Whiting.
In late May the meeting with the local branch of the N.U.M. resolved that future funds from them to the Valley’s Institutes be allocated on the following basis; Ogmore Vale 40%, Nantymoel 35%, Lewistown/Pantyrawel 16%, Bettws 9%. It was an inopportune time to decide on an increase in contributions.
A letter of protest to the N.U.M. regarding the percentage allocations, pointed out that the Institute bore the brunt of all miners’ meetings in the locality, such as N.U.M. Committees, N.A.C.O.D.’s, C.O.S.A., Medical Aid and all General Meetings. Nevertheless, the N.U.M. stood by its decision.
Business carried on as usual and in October a further £200 was invested in 9.5 % Government Bonds. The Mid- Glamorgan County Council Education Department booked a Committee Room two nights a week for an Adult Literacy Scheme. A proposal to build a permanent bar in the Lesser Hall for use by the dancers was accepted.
A further meeting to discuss the contributions and allocations of the miners’ collections by the N.U.M. was undertaken. Mr. Holden, a representative of C.I.S.W.O., was present and the meeting was held on December 4th at Lewistown/Pantyrawel Welfare Hall. The outcome of the meeting, as far as the Ogmore Institute was concerned, was far from satisfactory.
Damage to central heating systems in the Institute had been repaired, the claim for which had been made to the Co- operative Industrial Society, with instructions to the Secretary to pay the current premium, which was to be reviewed annually.
During the audit of the year’s accounts, of 1975/76, the National Savings’ Bank was notified that the amount of interest paid was incorrect, the error being pointed out by Mr. Tear (Auditor). A correction, with apologies, was duly made.
A box culvert, approximately sixty metres long, with an internal cross section of four metres by one point seven metres high, at the rear of the Institute, through which the river flowed, had by now been completed. The course of the river had been altered, through the former Penllwyngwent Colliery site, so that it was channelled in a straight line, North to South flow. In flood, the river would rise by more than two metres, which could be devastating
It was decided, at this time, to brick up the windows of the Dressing Rooms and erect barriers to the Reading Room windows, to prevent access from outside. The tunnel was part of Penllwyngwent Reclamation Scheme, which was started in early January 1974.
Mr. Ron Clarke, who had been Treasurer for some years but who had recently been hospitalised, was, through his illness, unable to continue his duties. He reluctantly resigned from his post on May 27th 1976. His post, as Treasurer, was taken over by Mr. Morgan Davies. The previous Chairman, Mr. Ron Evans, took over the Chairmanship and Mr. Hop Thomas became Vice Chairman.
Bookings of the Hall carried on as usual through the year, with the Institute in a sound financial state. A query to the Director of Savings regarding duplicate bonds and books had been received, showing the Institute had, on November 25th 1976, a total of £10,000 invested. The bonds were placed with the Co-operative Bank. The reason for the query and request for copies of the certificates and the fitting of alarms was as a result of a burglary in which the safe of the Institute had been stolen and never recovered. Terms quoted by General Security Alarms for their system were accepted.
Resignation, as a Trustee of the Institute, was given by Mr. H.G. Chamberlain, on February 24th 1977. Mr. Chamberlain had served on committees of the Institute and was a former Chairman. The resignation, through ill-health, of Mr. L. Thomas, another member, was accepted at this time.
Correspondence with the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation regarding the Convalescent Home Facilities, Women’s Scheme 1977, was noted. In the 92nd Annual General Meeting held on February 26 th 1977, tribute was paid to two Committee members who had passed away during the previous twelve months, namely Albert Card and R. Webster and a minute’s silence was observed.
As there were insufficient nominations available for a ballot for Committee, four new members, W.C. Clarke, G. Jenkins, M. Baker and Steve Delve were appointed. Mr. M. Baker was the son of Arthur Baker, the secretary of the Institute.
Mr. E.J. Thomas was elected Chairman for the ensuing year, with Mr. Ron Evans Vice Chairman, as per Rule 6. Instructions from the Committee, regarding examination of damage to the clock Tower, from which some masonry had fallen, were undertaken by Mr. Parsons. Unfortunately, repairs could not be made until the summer. Nevertheless, a claim was made to the Block Insurance Consortium but would not be met until the work was assessed and completed.
It was felt by Mr. Parsons, the Police and the Chairman of the local Council, that the stone that had become dislodged was only in part and made no difference, as a result, to the safety of the Tower.
An application to the local Fire Brigade to purchase one of the Institute’s billiards’ tables was discussed by the Institute’s Committee and it was resolved to sell a table for £150.
Circulars were sent regularly by C.I.S.W.O. to the Institute, to enable the Committee to abide by various rules or laws, including, National Insurance Surcharge Act 1976, Gaming Fees, Licence Fees, Bingo Duty, Lotteries Act 1975, Employment Protection Act 1975, Redundancy Payment Act, Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1975 and the Contract of Employment Act 1972.
Permission for the Institute to proceed with repairs to the Dome was given by the Royal Insurance Company, whilst insurance was needed for the protection of Mr. Parsons, the contractor employed to carry out the repairs.
During the past year, work was carried out to repair the boiler of the Institute’s heating system. The Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd., refused the application by the Institute for payment, as their policy did not cover maintenance but only explosion and breaks.
In the New Year, at a meeting held on January 26th 1978 the Committee resolved to sell a further three billiards’ tables at £150 each, to Mr. Norton of Kenfig Hill.
At the 93rd Annual Meeting, held on February 25th 1978 all the presiding Committee members were re-elected, as a result of insufficient members attending, with a change of Chairman, through rules, to Mr. R. Evans.
The Institute’s Committee was notified of a £50 grant from the Ogmore and Garw Town Council, towards assisting in the cost of decorating the Reading Room passageway, as a result of damage caused by burst pipes. Strangely enough, a claim for the damage had been submitted to Royal Insurance.
Meanwhile, in June a claim to the Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd., for damage to the main heating vent in the Main Hall was settled, with a £50 cheque being received.
Owing to fair wear and service of thirty-one years, recommendations were made to seek the cost of a new heating boiler. During this period, for the purpose of raising more funds, it was decided after Saturday August 12th 1978 to increase the price of bingo tickets to fifteen pence each.
A notification by C.I.S.W.O. concerning an increase in the Block Insurance on the building, in both premiums and benefits, was received and noted and left in the hands of the Secretary.
What should have been the 94th Annual General Meeting was held on 1st February 1979 but was not recorded as such. Nevertheless the Committee was re-elected. A minute’s silence was observed in respect of Mr. Henry Williams, a long-serving member, who had passed away.
During the forthcoming year all general activities such as bingo and the hiring of the Hall for various purposes proceeded as normal. Miss Vaughan, the Institute’s Librarian, retired after fourteen years’ service and received a cheque for £25, in recognition of her services, whilst it was possible to invest £500 in 9.5% Post Office Bonds. Further respects were paid by the Committee during the year to two of its loyal members who had passed away, namely Mr. Ben Williams and Mr. J.H. Emanuel.
A claim of £104 for damage to the front of the Hall was paid, although disputed by the Royal Insurance Company. The claim for past repairs to the Tower was still ongoing, through the need of a bill for the hire of the Tower wagon needed to repair the Tower. As explained by the Royal Insurance Company, it could not complete payment unless all bills for repairs were submitted.
In September, local contractors, Messrs. O. Hughes, Hartland and Mr J. Jehu had been approached regarding contracts for repairs to the gable end of the Hall, with no success. Therefore, a tender was received from outside contractors, Messrs. Bryant Maintenance Ltd., of Bridgend. An estimate of £3,000 was accepted, together with a further price of £325 for repairs to the clock Tower.
The Institute’s Committee, in line with its continued support for all education projects, allowed, in November, a party to tour the building. Mr. Richard Keen, a historian from Ogmore Vale wrote a letter on behalf of the National Museum of Wales, expressing its appreciation.
By the end of November, repairs to the gable end and clock Tower had been completed. Also, a settlement for the previous clock Tower repairs for £200 was paid by the Institute’s Committee and accepted.
In the first meeting of the New Year, which was held on January 3rd 1980, the Secretary reported to the Institute’s Committee that a burglary had been committed. A rear door had been jemmied, and nine armchairs, of considerable value on the antique market, were stolen. The Police Headquarters’ Crime Squad visited the premises after the Secretary reported the incident.
Meanwhile, Bryant Maintenance was asked for a quotation for boxing in of the stage and also for the removal of the Dome. The former was done immediately but the removal of the Dome was left until the Committee was on holiday but never carried out. Quotations were also sought to paint the Main Hall.
Notification was received at this time of the resignation of Mr. H. Whiting, as a result of ill-health. This was reluctantly accepted.
The 95th Annual General Meeting was held on February 23rd 1980. Once again, no new nominations were received for Committee, so the existing Committee was re-elected. Tenders received to paint the Main Hall were beyond the Institute’s present financial position, so it was left in abeyance. Further contracts and quotes for repairs to the Foyer river side and to remove both chimneys over the Lesser Hall and re-tile the roof were sought.
Compensation sought in respect of the burglary, was turned dowh by both the Block Insurance and C.I.S. Valuable chairs had been stolen but the Institute was not covered by either policy.
Business continued as usual, with bookings for use of the Hall for bingo and other forms of entertainment. The Institute’s Committee was able to invest a further £1,000 in the C.W.S. bank.
In a Management Committee Meeting held on October 30th 1980 a long discussion took place regarding insurance. It was reported by Mr. Holden of C.I.S.W.O. that a large increase in the premium for Block Insurance could be expected.
The Secretary was asked if a reduction in the Co-operative Insurance could be obtained, as many of the advantages in the Block Insurance were also included in the C.I.S. policy.
The final meeting of the year came about on December 11th 1980, when a report was given by the Secretary of the Institute, regarding the C.I.S., Ltd. He repeated that a temporary deposit had been made to cover the premises for fire. Meanwhile, an assessor would inspect the building in preparation for full cover.
Mr. Richard Keen, Assistant Keeper of the Welsh Indusrial and Maritime Museum, once again wrote a letter to the Institute’s Committee. In his letter he gave thanks for the permanent loan, on terms suggested by the Committee, of the book, “The History of the Vale of Neath”, by D. Rhys Phillips.
Unknown to the Institute’s Committee, a critical time was approaching for the Institute. During the meeting held on Thursday January 29th 1981 a report was received from the Secretary, regarding the matter of insurance with the Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd. It was stated that the Society’s assessor had paid the Institute a visit and the Institute could expect a promised quotation for insurance within fourteen days.
Messrs. B.M. Bryant Ltd., were asked for a quotation for erecting a porch on the river side of the Institute and for the cost of boarding up the four upstairs windows, the latter to be a priority.
The 96th Annual Meeting was held on February 21st 1981, with no members applying for election other than the present Committee members, who were re-elected en bloc.
Five days later, on Thursday 26th February, the Institute’s Management Committee met and reports were given to the Committee.
Tenders for the porch and windows on the river side from Messrs Bryant of £574 were accepted. Tenders and a statement from the C.I.S. Ltd., were read to the effect that the premium quoted for Fire was £234.40 and Special Perils, £147.75, making a total of £382.15. This premium was accepted.
Applications were received from Mr. Richard Keen, Assistant Keeper of the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum, for a room on Monday March 2nd, for a meeting of representatives of the National Trust, Ogwr Borough Council and the Maritime Museum, with permission sought for a quick look around the Institute’s fine buildings.
Nine days later, on Wednesday March 11th 1981, at 22.30pm., the North and East walls of the Main Hall collapsed after intensive flooding by the River Ogmore, which ran by the Eastern side of the Institute. The Hall had not long been vacated. By good fortune, nobody was injured.
On March 12th, whilst adverse weather conditions still prevailed, the greater portion of the roof and remainder of the Eastern wall of the Main Hall were demolished, by Messrs. Andrew Scott Ltd., following instructions of the Ogwr Borough Council, which exercised its powers under the Public Health Acts.
The Trustees of the Institute employed Messrs. James and Nicholas, Consultant Engineers, Port Talbot, to advise on the structural damage and condition of the property, especially the clock Tower. A structural survey and inspection were also ordered. This was done on 13th, 14th and 15th of March, with a more detailed survey to be carried out. The debris, which covered the floor of the Hall, was removed.
Whilst the reason for the collapse of the building was a result of exceptionally bad weather, the County Council Land Reclamation Unit Scheme, which eight years previously re-routed the River Ogmore at the North end of the Hall, into a box culvert, was a contributory factor. The river-bed, to the depth of one and a half metres, had been eroded away at the culvert’s outlet. No strengthening of the river-bed had been undertaken.
Further meetings of the Committee were held in the rooms in the three storey section of the building to the West of the Main Hall entrance, off Commercial Street.
The first such meeting was held on April 1st 1981, where reports of the damage to the Hall and rest of the building were given by L.S. Nicholas of Messrs. James and Nicholas, who had been appointed to act on the Committee’s behalf.
C.I.S.W.O. had been in correspondence with the Institute’s Committee and their representative, Mrs. Sylvia Allsop, had been asked to take over the handling of the case. The Committee decided the next meeting would take place on September 4th 1981. Needless to say, all normal activities of the Institute ceased.
At this next meeting of the Management Committee, concern was expressed over the condition of the concrete base at the rear of the Hall.
The Secretary was instructed to notify all concerned of the urgency of the situation and on November 10th 1981 Mr. L.S. Nicholas, consultant engineer, of James and Nicholas, informed the Committee that the required work was due to commence by Messrs., Andrew and Scott, contractors, at a fee of £15,000, in order to place the building in a safe condition. However, by February 1982, C.I.S.W.O. intimated that total bills amounting to £25,422.30 had been received from James and Nicholas and Andrew Scott Ltd., and solicitors had been asked to apply to the insurance company for interim payments.
The 97th Annual General Meeting on February 27th 1982 as did the 98th A.G.M., in February 1983, had nothing to report except re-election of Committee members and Audit Reports.
In due course, by October 12th 1983 nothing favourable had developed, regarding the rebuilding of the Institute and it was decided, on that date, that work would commence to demolish and clear the site. The clock was to be kept in a safe place, along with other valuables belonging to the Institute.
By December of this year, what was left of the Institute, after its partial collapse through the flood of March 11th 1981, had been demolished and the site cleared. It was rather ironic that the rubble and remains of the Institute were dumped down the disused shafts of the Wyndham Colliery, the place from which money donated from its miners was used to sustain the Institute for so many years.
The clock was packed and stored in Bethlehem Chapel, together with the bells and all archives. Three hundred and twenty metal and tip-up chairs were stored in the Berwyn Centre, at Nantymoel. The sale of all other furniture amounted to £1,326, of which £1,079 had been paid to the solicitors acting on behalf of the Institute. At the same time,
£15,000 had been paid on account to Collingbourne, contractors, whilst photographs and albums covering the progress of demolition from beginning to end had been purchased.
On January 28th 1984, the 99th A.G.M., was held. Present were Malcolm Baker (Chairman), Ivor Lewis and Richard Owen (Trustees), Will Evans, Alf Weaver, Ben Jones, Morgan Davies and Mr. A. Baker (Secretary). They were all re- elected.
The balance sheet showed a surplus of £24,341 for the year, due to settlement of the insurance of the Institute, after all claims had been met, plus £33,115 in cash and bonds but excluded the value of the land.
By November 1984, steps had been taken by the Institute’s Committee, following advice given by Mr. Price of C.I.S.W.O., that the only tender by Dr. Verghese, of £14,500, for the land on which the Institute once stood, should be accepted. A resolution to this effect was made and Messrs. Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas, solicitors of the Institute were instructed to deal with the sale.
During this time, the Institute gave a donation of £1,000 to the Wyndham Boys’ Club. The chairs, which were now stored in the Pricetown Memorial Hall, known locally as “the Mem”, were given to C.I.S.W.O. Mesh grills were paid for to cover the downstairs windows of Bethlehem Chapel, in order to further safeguard the clock and bells and the archives of the Institute, which were stored there.
The 100th A.G.M. was held on February 5th 1985, at the Ogmore Valley Old People’s Welfare Hall, in Bethania Row. Use of these premises had been made available since the demolition of the Institute.
There was no change in the Committee, all members being re-elected. Also present were Mr. E.C. Holden (C.I.S.W.O.), Mr. V. Price (C.I.S.W.O), Mr. E.R. Tear (Auditor), Mr. L.S. Nicholas (Consultant), Mr. John Owen and Mr. Ivor Davies (re-elected as Trustees).
There was little to report by the Auditor. The net assets for the year were £32,444, plus accruing interest and sale of the land. Mr. Tear was appointed as Auditor for the following year, whilst Mr. Nicholas would continue to provide secretarial assistance to Mr. A. Baker, who would continue as Secretary to the Institute.
The Committee agreed unanimously to the proposal to proceed with the dissolution of the Institute and funds. Mr. Tear was to act on its behalf and would liase with the Institute’s solicitors, Messrs. Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas.
The Committee agreed that assets should be distributed within the Ogmore Valley community and a basic list was drawn up. The beneficiaries included: The Ogmore Boys’ Club, The Wyndham Boys’ Club, The Nantymoel Boys’ Club, The Ogmore Vale Baden Powell Centre, The Ogmore Vale Branch of the Girl Guides’ Association, The Ogmore Vale Old Age Pensioners’ Club, The Lewistown and Pantyrawel Welfare Hall and the Ogmore Vale Branch of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade. All of these listed were to be reviewed.
In a letter of advice from C.I.S.W.O., which was read at the next meeting held on June 6th 1985, Rule 8 of the Institute’s Constitution which provided for ten Trustees, should be amended to, “There shall be not less than two Trustees and not more than four”. This amendment was immediately carried out. Alf Weaver and Ben Jones were elected as Trustees, along with John Owen and Ifor Davies.
At the Special General Meeting held on Friday 29th November 1985 Mr. L.S. Nicholas, the consultant acting on behalf of the Institute’s Committee, reported that the C.I.S. had made an offer of £100,000 as compensation for damage to the Hall, with the proviso that no further claim be made to its uninsured losses arising out of flood damage. This offer was made by the C.I.S. because their claim to the Municipal Mutual, the insurers of the Mid-Glamorgan County Council, for £100,000 had been agreed.
On advice from the solicitors and C.I.S.W.O., the offer was accepted and a balance of £22,650.61 was to be paid to the Institute’s solicitors, Messrs. Morgan, Bruce and Nicholas.
At the next Management Committee Meeting, on February 2nd 1986, in the Ogmore Valley Old People’s Welfare Hall, it was confirmed that a final balance of £23,212.06, after all costs had been paid, had been credited to the Institute’s Deposit Account. This sum was a little more than originally stated.
A donation of £1,000 to Dr. Verghese, granted in a previous meeting, was declared by C.I.S.W.O. not to be in line with the Institute’s rules, resulting in the Minute being rescinded.
A very important Minute was moved and seconded; that the Ogmore Valley Community Heritage Trust should be included in the beneficiaries listed previously. This was approved unanimously.
The 101st A.G.M. was held on February 21st 1986 and the same officers were re-elected, there being no other names brought forward.
The Auditor reported that there was a credit balance in the Institute’s accounts of £31,581.00 and since the end of the year this had been increased by some £20,000, as a result of insurance paid out by the C.I.S. The Auditor, Mr. Tear, was re-elected.
It was also reported, in answer to a question by Councillor Ms. Bishop, that it was hoped that the Institute’s affairs would be completed by the Autumn, when dissolution would be finalised. Nevertheless, it took another four years to bring every part of the dissolution to a satisfactory conclusion, in which time the beneficiaries of the Trust were again named and remained as stated previously.
A statement made by Mr. Tear, the Auditor, in February 1987 said, he did not foresee any problems with adding other organisations to the list, providing it was of, “a charitable organisation having objects in whole or in part similar to the objects of the society”. (Rule 22: Ogmore Vale Workmen’s Hall and Institute Rules).
On Thursday August 13th 1987, it was decided after much deliberating of those present that a proposal by Mr. John Morris that the Ogmore Valley Charitable Trust be formed. This proposition was based upon the draft Trust Deed prepared by C.I.S.W.O. It was also proposed that the first Trustee should be Mrs. Catherine Bishop, local Borough Councillor, Mr. Verdun Rees, C.I.S.W.O., and eight other Trustees to be nominated by local charitable organisations. The proposal was seconded by Mr. R. Calloway and carried unanimously.
In the next meeting, held on October 18th 1989, Mr. Tear, the Auditor of the Institute, stated that the Charities’ Commission had agreed on the draft Trust Deed for the Ogmore Valley Trust and the sum of money of £76,000 of the Hall and Institute was invested in the Charities’ Deposit Fund. This sum was yielding approximately £10,000 per annum in interest at the present rate. Mr. Tear also reported that the sum of £7,000 owing to C.I.S.W.O. had been repaid.
At the last final chapter of the dissolution, on 11th April 1990, it was sadly reported that Mr. A. Baker, the Secretary of the Institute, had passed away. He had been the Secretary from June 30th 1970, serving the Institute for twenty years, a truly magnificent achievement, deserving recognition. Mr. Baker was born in 1906 and died on March 20th 1990. As stated previously, he became a Committee member when elected on February 28th 1970, and Secretary after the retirement, on June 30th 1970, of another long-standing Committee member and Secretary, Mr. L. Pitt. Although from April 1st 1981, the Institute’s affairs were managed in consultation with Mr. L.S. Nicholas, (Consultant), the constant pressure of the Institute’s affairs were still part of Mr. Baker’s life and he deserves credit for his efforts during this period.
Likewise, his son, Malcolm, who took over the position of Chairman, at the 98th A.G.M., on February 23rd 1983, deserves credit for assisting his father.
As for the clock and bells of the Institute, the former was finally taken from Bethlehem Chapel and stored at the Museum of Welsh Life, St. Fagans, to be collected by me, and Mr. W.A.M. Jones, of the Local History and Heritage
Society, in 2003. The master clock was renovated by the Cardiff Clock Company. It was then installed in the new Primary School in Ogmore Vale, together with a suitable plaque, by our Secretary, Mr. Huw Daniel and myself.
The bells had been sold to a vicar who was traced eventually to St. Barnabas’ Church, Western Avenue, Southampton, Hampshire. An advertisement for the sale of the bells had been placed in the Church Times and came to the attention of Reverend Canon Barry J. Fry, the Vicar of St. Barnabas’ Church. The bells were delivered to him, at a cost of £750, by two men, who were from the male-voice choir in Ogmore Vale. The Reverend Canon Fry also gave them a £50 tip for their trouble and petrol. The delivery was made on a Saturday, 1986 but the Reverend Canon Fry was unable to recall, in our conversations, the exact date. Nevertheless, the two men who made the delivery were Mr. Clive Baker of Aber Houses and Mr. Alun Davies of Pantyrawel, who had a salvage business on the Penllwyngwent Industrial Estate.
The bells had been restored by their original manufacturer, Gillett and Johnston, of Croydon. They now hang, with four others, in the belfry of St. Barnabas’ Church, to give forth their peals after twenty years in retirement, sadly missed by the older inhabitants of our Valley, as is the Ogmore Valley Workmen`s Hall and Institute.