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International Unity

Red Line

Delegations | Miners' Galas | Spanish Civil War

The South Wales Coalfield was a place of great political activity and of comradeship and support for the International working classes. The Colliers voiced their opinions and both physically and financially supported numerous International causes such as the anti-aparthite movement, wars and miners in other countries that worked in even harsher conditions than those faced in Britain. Evidence of this concern for their fellow man and shared solidarity can be found in delegation visits to a variety of countries, Miners` Galas and a hatred of fascism that saw 134 Welshmen join the International Brigade and fight in the Spanish Civil War.

 

Delegations.

The miners of South Wales were keen to establish and maintain links of friendship and cooperation with mining communities abroad. This spirit of socialist unity can be seen in the miners’ delegations which visited among other countries, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, China, France, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. 

The delegates would visit the coalfield areas, experience the working and social lives of the hosts and foster working class understanding and comradeship extending across national boundaries. 

In return, delegations of miners from abroad would visit the coal producing areas of South Wales , resulting in a working class political and cultural exchange. The following photographs are of a NUM (South Wales Area) Delegation to Russia.

If you wish to find out more about such delegations then other material can be found in the 
Archives, such as a personal diary of a miner`s delegation visit to Russia, and the South 
Wales Miners` Library holds numerous pamphlets relating to other delegation visits. 

 

 

miners abroad

miners abroad

miners abroad

 

miners abroad miners abroad miners abroad miners abroad

 

Miners` Galas.

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

The establishment of the miners’ gala saw the advent of miners banners in South Wales. With a few exceptions, most of the miners banners in South Wales date from the mid 1950s. The banners display a remarkable degree of uniformity of political outlook with such slogans as ‘Workers of the World Unite for Socialism’ (Abercrave); ‘International Friendship: Policy: leadership: Unity’ (Seven Sisters); ‘The World is our Country Mankind are our Brethren’ (Markham); ‘For Solidarity of All Miners’ (Blaengwrach); ‘Onward to Socialism and theLiberation of Mankind’ (Cambrian). 

 

The slogans and images which appear on the banners of the South Wales miners reveal a strong commitment to world peace, racial equality, thebrotherhood of man, and international working class solidarity everything that the miners’ gala stood for.

 

The photographs show some of the sights that would be seen at a Miners`Gala day.

Programmes for many Miners` Galas are held at the South Wales Miners` Library.
 

 

 

miners galas

miners galas

miners galas

miners galas

miners galas

miners galas miners galas   

 

Spanish Civil War.

On 18 July 1936, the commander of the Spanish Army based in Morocco, General Francisco Franco, issued a proclamation setting up an alternative government to the official Republican government in Madrid. This action led directly to the outbreak of a civil war in Spain that would last until the beginning of 1939.

Many in Europe felt strongly enough to go to Spain and fight, as they saw it, for freedom and democracy against fascism and in defence of the Republic. This combination of intellectuals, industrial workers and political activists 40,000 in all left their jobs and families, and made their way to Spain from all over Europe to be recruited into battalions of what became known as the International Brigade. 

In Wales, 174 men volunteered for the International Brigade, most of them (118) from the mining valleys of South Wales. Thirty-three of those who volunteered lost their lives.

A memorial to them can be found in the South Wales Miners` Library.

Listen to one of the soldiers in the photograph, Jack 'Russia' Roberts (he's on the front row, first one, left to right of the slightly yellow photo) as he talks about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

Click to listen to high quality version Click to listen to low quality versionAUD/006 clip 001

Back in Wales support for the cause came from the communities in the form of food collections, collections of money at Lodge meetings, fundraising film shows and flag days. South Wales also welcomed some of the 4000 Basque children, refugees whose 
parents, through aid organisations, sent them to Britain to escape the war. Four homes wereestablished at Brechfa, Carmarthenshire, Sketty Park, Swansea, Old Colwyn, North Wales and Caerleon, Newport.


Hear about their arrival and experiences by listening to the video clip where Mrs Steel talks about the Basque Childrens Home in Sketty Park, Swansea: how she became involved with the home, her duties there, what happened when the children arrived and 
the condition they were in, how the children felt about being so far from home.

Interested in finding out more about the Miners and their experiences in the War? Then visit the Archives to read, for example, letters sent home to families, diaries of their experiences and see more photographs relating to the War.

If you would like to listen to individuals talking about their experiences in Spain and the impact on the families left in Wales then visit the South Wales Miners` Library and listen to the audio collection held there. There are also a number of books, pamphlets and copies of 'Volunteer for Liberty' held there.



 

miners in spain

miners in spain

miners in spain

miners in spain

miners in spain

miners in spain

Listen to some audio/video material relating to Spanish refugees, Spanish civil war and the Basque children who came to Wales

Click to listen to high quality version Click to listen to low quality version aud/200 clip 002

Click to listen to high quality version Click to listen to low quality version aud/006 clip 001

Click to listen to high quality version Click to listen to low quality version vid/032 clip 001

Click to listen to high quality version Click to listen to low quality versionvid/032 clip 002

Click to listen to high quality version Click to listen to low quality versionvid/032 clip 004

 


Sources:

Francis, Hywel, Miners Against Fascism. Wales and the Spanish Civil War. (London, 1984)

 

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