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A century of Palaces of Culture to be marked by special concert celebration

The centenary of the Miners' Welfare Movement that helped benefit countless lives of miners and their families in the UK is to be celebrated in a special concert led by Tredegar Band in south Wales later today.

  Miners' Welfare Halls throughout the country were paid for by a levy on every dram of coal...

Tredegar Band will help celebrate a very particular coal mining industry milestone later today with a concert appearance in the small village of Onllwyn in south Wales.

The special event at the village's Miners Welfare Hall will mark the centenary of the Miners' Welfare Movement — later to become the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO), which came into being in 1919 following the findings of a Royal Commission headed by Lord Sankey.

Penny levy

The end of the First World War had seen the price of coal plummet, leading to terrible working conditions, low wages and social deprivation in mining communities throughout the UK.

The report was to consider the nationalisation of the industry as a whole, but under political pressure instead recommended the setting up of local miner's welfare committees paid for by the implementation of a 1 penny levy on every dram of coal produced.

This in turn financed (with every miner also paying a weekly contribution) the setting up of Miners' Welfare Halls, playing fields, swimming baths, cinemas, libraries and reading rooms — a form of social cohesion and support that led to the people in mining communities enjoying rare opportunities for self-improvement and relaxation.

Palaces of Culture

At its core were the Miner's Welfare Halls — or 'Palaces of Culture' as they became known — run by local people for the benefit of their community.

The venue for the concert was also used for the award winning film 'Pride' — which celebrated the connection made between London based lesbian and gay activists that financially supported the community during the 1984 Miners' Strike.

And although few of these halls now survive to provide the same level of support and opportunity as they once did at the height of the coal mining industry, the CISWO organisation still provides invaluable support to mining families throughout the UK.

At its core were the Miner's Welfare Halls — or 'Palaces of Culture' as they became known — run by local people for the benefit of their community4BR

Bread and Roses

The concert will feature Tredegar alongside two local choirs, whilst the walls of the hall will showcase an exhibition of the history of the south Wales Miners' Welfare Movement.

In addition the band will join singer Bronwen Lewis, who was featured in the film, for a reprise performance of 'Bread & Roses', as well as the solo 'Legacy', commissioned by the band to celebrate the founding of the NHS — set-up by Aneurin Bevan — a miner whose desire for social justice was formulated through his own self -education in Tredegar's Miners' Welfare Institute.

Time and place:

Saturday 19th January
Onllwyn Miners' Welfare Hall (7.00pm)
Tickets available on the door

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