Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Onllwyn miners who died fighting for Spain’s freedom

Onllwyn miners who died fighting for Spain’s freedom 

Many thanks to Arthur Williams for this photograph 

The Dulais Valley Heritage Trail has on it a sculpture that commemorates two local Onllwyn miners - Jim Strangward and Francisco - who were killed in the Spanish Civil War. The notice board near to the sculpture states: ‘The Mines attracted workers to this valley from throughout Wales and beyond. Spanish miners who worked here inspired much local support for the Republican cause in Spain.’

Writing in the first edition (1984) of his tremendous book MINERS AGAINST FASCISM: Wales and the Spanish Civil War, Hywel Francis states: “I make no apology for being too close to such people, their experiences and their memories. I would never have embarked on the research nor completed this book had I not been grounded in, and inspired by, the day-to-day struggles of working men and women and their ability to record with vigour and vividness such experiences. Ever since I can remember I have been aware of ‘Spain’, of the Welshman who served in the British battalion of the International Brigades, their background and their class struggles at home. I discovered in my father’s desk when I was seven years old a letter from Spain, from Jim Strangeward, a young miner from my own village of Onllwyn, and his memorial programme. He was killed in the Ebro offensive. Both Jim Strangeward and another local volunteer who was also killed, Francesco Zamora, were men still being revered in the community decades after their deaths. My discovery later of the minutes of the Onllwyn Spanish Aid Committee, of which my father was secretary, revealed to me the very intensive collecting activities locally for Spanish Aid. It raised questions in my mind, at an early age about the nature of political commitments. It was also my introduction to history, via working-class politics. 

See also:- http://www.dulaisvalley.org/docs/Onllwyn%20leaflet.pdf

Dulais Valley Heritage Trail 


Leaflet on Onllwyn 

Many thanks to Arthur Williams for sending the information on the sculpture. Arthur has said of the Tom Jones booklet education booklet it is “a good bio of an unsung hero of socialism.” Download the booklet for free from:- https://markwritecouk.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/tom-jones-booklet11-19899.pdf

Monday, 8 April 2019

Decent day in Boro

20 people took the time and trouble to attend a lunch time meeting in Middlesbrough on Thursday 4 April. Mohammad Taj and myself were the guest speakers at the Unite Teesside Community branch. The event went very well and the organiser John said afterwards:- 

Hi Mark, 
it was inspiring stuff, and it certainly went down well with the members with really positive comments. I have posted up comments & pics on social media, my Twitter account & our Tees Unite Community Facebook page and can I return the thanks to both of you for coming up, really positive morning in solidarity bro...

Mohammad Taj, a great man. 

Sitting watching people examine Martin Jenkinson's photographs at the Weston Park Museum

It was fascinating just sitting watching visitors to the Martin Jenkinson photo exhibition — for more see http://unitelive.org/photographs-martin-jenkinson/ at the Weston Park Museum in Sheffield on Sunday 7 April. According to the museum staff it was a “quiet day” and yet I saw dozens of people, of all ages and backgrounds, enter and spend time taking a look at the images. Amongst the visitors were family groups, some of which included three generations. Some visitors knew Martin before his premature death back in 2012. 

I witnessed as older generations explained the images to the younger ones. There was a high degree of interaction within all groups as they pointed at photographs, smiled and, occasionally, laughed out with real glee and pleasure. 

Sitting at the exit I enquired if they’d enjoyed the visit. The reaction was unanimously positive and when I introduced people to Martin’s daughter, Justine, they poured praise on her dad and thanked her for keeping his legacy alive. It was heartwarming. Some told tales about the photographs and what they meant to them. “It brings back lots of memories” was a common refrain. 

According to staff the numbers who have taken the time to visit the exhibition has exceeded their wildest expectations and it is believed that the last time an exhibition brought so many through the doors was for one many years ago featuring Leonardo Da Vinci. 

The event finishes this coming week and for those who have been unable to attend then they have missed a real treat. 

I am now looking forward to completing the book I am compiling with Justine on Images of Sheffield in the 80s that is based around many of the photographs from the exhibition. It is out in November and it is clear that many people are keen to get copies. 

Forest to become oldest League club if local rivals County relegated - Sunday Mirror