About the Society
Historical Notes






Labour Relations during 1st Decade of 20th Century & The 1910 Strike


Throughout latter part of 1898, steps were taken to join the National Union.

1898 Oct

South Wales Miners Federation was formed (S.W. Daily News 12/10/98), President Mabon and Vice-President William Brace. An Executive Council was formed of various Miners Leaders in South Wales including, David Morgan (Dai o’r Nant).
For further information vide Dictionary of National Biography, Obituary of Mabon in The Times 15/5/1922 and the History of the South Wales Miners Federation by Ness Edwards.
The death of his wife and his prison experiences had left Dai o’r Nant an embittered man.

1899 May

He was forced to resign from the Executive Council and he died in June 1900. C.B. Stanton was elected to his place on the Executive. After Dai’s death the Federation started to put its house in order, each man was to contribute 1/- per month of which 6d went to the Central Fund, 4d to the district and 2d to the Lodge. See ‘Miners of Wales’, E.W. Evans, U.W.P. 1961.


By the end of this year, the National Federation included 104,212 workmen, some of whom had been coerced. There was much bitterness over question of non-unionism. Between 1898 and 1904, it caused 68 stoppages throughout Great Britain. Some concerned local pits including Gadlys. See Report of Royal Commission on Trade Disputes and Combinations 1906. Minutes of Evidence 1040-1042.

Account of intimidation: “S.W. Daily News” 5/10/06 ‘Whiteshirt Parade’. Meanwhile, ‘Stop Days’ were organized by the Federation in an attempt to influence the price of coal. Owners retaliated by prosecuting Federation for maliciously and wrongfully persuading certain persons to break their contracts of service. The owners won in spite of the Federation’s appeal to the Lords. Damages amounting to £57,000 were awarded. This award was a direct result of the infamous ‘Taff Vale Decision’ of 1901.

The Taff Vale Railway Co. were awarded £20,000 damages (assessed losses sustained during strike) against Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants which established civil liability of the Unions in cases of strikes. This was a serious blow to unionism as it practically destroyed the right to strike. This led the unions into Political Action.


Liberal Government under pressure reversed the decision nevertheless its influence continued to be held for many years. (There was a repercussion in Germany in 1958 when on October 31st of that year The Federal Supreme Labour Court ruled that the Engineers union was responsible for loss of profits during a strike in Schleswig-Holstein. In its comment on the case a leading West German newspaper referred to the TVR case decision.


The next task accomplished by the Federation was the abolition of the Sliding Scale in this year. There was the substitution of an agreement providing for a minimum wage 30% above the rate in 1879 and a maximum 60% above same rate. As a consequence, there was a great increase in strength of the Federation in South Wales.


Total Labour Force in Aberdare was 14,000 10100 Trade Unionists


Total Labour Force in Aberdare was 18,000 15,000 Trade Unionists. Gain of 12%.


The outstanding Labour dispute of the first decade of the 20th C. was the 10-week strike at PD Collieries in 1910 that reduced output from 2 million tons to 1.2 million tons. There had been a steady deterioration of labour relations between 1908 and 1910 for two reasons:

1 Average wage had fallen from 60% to 49.68% above 1879 level
2 Deterioration of wages due to the passing of the 8 Hours Act in 1909

The two districts most affected were Mid-Rhondda and Aberdare. The dispute started with a failure to set a price list for the 5-foot seam at Ely Pit (Naval Collieries).

1910 Sept 1

977 went out at Ely.

1910 Sept 15th

1400 at Pandy and Nantgwyn in sympathy.

Oct 1st

Mid-Rhondda Collieries out.

Oct 20th

First incident at Aberdare Valley. Colliers of Lower Dyffryn pit of PD out in sympathy with Rhondda Colliers because PD had prohibited the removal of pit timber for firewood. The strike spread to all PD pits involving some 5,500 men. In spite of the efforts of Mabon and D. Watts Morgan, the situation deteriorated. The position was worse in Aberdare mainly because of personal misunderstanding between the chief negotiators, C.B. Stanton and Hann.

November 1st. 12,000 out in Rhondda; 6,000 in Aberdare; 4,000 in Maesteg; and there were 5,000–6,000 out in other parts of the coalfield.

Immediate cause of riots was the strikers’ decision to prevent pumping and ventilation being carried on at mines. It was hoped that this would force the owners hand. (Course advocated by Dai o’r Nant in 1898). Therefore they tried to get engine men, winders etc to join the strike.

Nov 2nd

Workers train at Tonllwyd crossing had all its windows broken.

Nov 4th

Nearly every colliery and officials residences besieged by pickets.

Nov 5th

1500 men at Cwmaman Collieries joined strike.

Nov 5th

Coal Owners appealed to Col Lindsay, Chief Constable of Glamorgan, for increased Police protection for their property and houses. At that time, total number of police on duty in the valley and Rhondda was 100. They were reinforced by 30 from Swansea, 63 from Bristol, 50 from Cardiff.

Nov 7th

Every pit in the Aberdare Valley was out except Abernant owned by Bute, a total of 11,000 in Aberdare Valley.

Nov 7th

Llwynypia Colliery attacked. Demonstrators in Pandy Square.

Nov 8th

9,000 people armed with pick-axes and ropes attacked the Glamorgan Colliery and there were further outbreaks of rioting and looting at Tonypandy. Suggested at the time that half a dozen police would have prevented this outbreak but they were all concentrated around the collieries.

Nov 8th

1 a.m. Col Lindsay telegraphed Salisbury Plain for Military Assistance. 3.30 a.m. Lindsay informed that infantry and cavalry would arrive at Pontypridd at 9 p.m. 10 a.m. Lindsay informed the Home Secretary Winston Churchill of his actions. 2 p.m. Churchill informed Lindsay,

a) that he had ordered infantry to stop at Swindon
b) that he had sent 200 foot and 100 mounted Police to Pontypridd, ETA 8.30 p.m.
c) 200 cavalry would de-train at Cardiff and remain there in the hope that they would not be needed.

Nov 8th

Disturbances at Aberdare aimed at stopping machinery at PD Power Station at Cwmbach.
Guarding this was Superintendent Gill and 29 Police - 19 Glamorganshire and 10 Cardiff. At about 3 p.m., about 150 people gathered on the Canal Bank opposite Power Station and demonstrated.
5 p.m. A large crowd gathered outside the Aberaman Institute and marched past the Gas Works to the Old Dyffryn Pit where they were met by people from Cwmbach. Crowd now about 2,800. The situation was becoming critical. Hosepipes were ineffective. Inspector E. Rees ordered police to charge the crowd. There were many casualties including the police, (6 police including Inspector Rees and Sgt Griffiths).
Meanwhile another crowd outside Aberaman Colliery defended by Inspector Knot, Sgt and 6 police. In response to an appeal from the Power Station, Knot and 5 Police left. Sgt and 1 constable kept the crowd at bay with 1 hosepipe
1.45 p.m. Lleufer Thomas, Stipendiary Magistrate for Pontypridd, sent an urgent wire to the Home Secretary asking him to order troops from Cardiff.
9.15 p.m. Orders were given. First arrivals were the Metropolitan Police: 150 foot to Pontypridd and 59 foot and 100 mounted to Aberaman at 10.30 when the day’s rioting was over. At the same time 1st Squadron 18th Hussars reached Rhondda.

Nov 9th

8.15 a.m. 2nd Squadron reached Pontypridd. Some went to Rhondda and remainder to Aberdare. There were no riots that day. Nov 10th Churchill was able to report to Cabinet that situation was under control of the police, the pits had been saved from serious flooding, no great damage done to the Power Station and that 300 horses underground were safe and well.

Nov 12th

onwards there was very strict picketing to stop importation of foreign labour.

Nov 14th

Negotiations between miners’ representatives and owners broke down. Soup kitchens were established and the strike degenerated into a sort of guerrilla war in which workmen were intimidated and officials attacked.

Nov 17th

8.43 p.m. Passenger train between Pontypridd and Abercwmboi was attacked.

Nov 19th

Sunday Evening service in Saron was broken into and disturbed. Blackleg in the congregation had to be rescued by the police.

Nov 21st

Serious rioting at Penygraig, 50 police casualties.

Nov 22nd

Large crowd chased blackleg, stormed Aberaman Railway Station. He was caught and severely handled. In the fighting, which lasted from 6 to 11, 14 police and a large number of civilians were hurt.

Nov 23rd

A van which was in process of removing an official’s furniture was overturned at Godreaman. These are typical of many incidents that occurred during the strike. The military units stationed at Aberdare were 1st Troop 18th Hussars, 1 Company Lancashire Fusiliers, V2 Company West Riding Reg.

The distress and hardship was much worse in Aberdare than the Rhondda because nearly all the Rhondda colliers belonged to the Federation and hence received 10/- per week strike pay. Local relief organized soup kitchens. The first step towards resumption of work was taken by miners at Blaennantygroes Colliery who descended the pit on December 19th. Their strike had lasted 5 weeks. Also on December 19th, 4,128 colliers at Dyllas, Windber, Bwllfa and Cwmaman Pits started work having been on strike for 6 weeks and 2 days. However, 5,500 men working for the PD pits were still out and negotiations between Stanton and Hann went on over Christmas. December 29th, at the Market Hall, the miners decided to resume work on the same terms that they had rejected on November 14th.


Work began at PD pits in Aberdare. Only 3,500 were immediately re-employed. The strike at the PD pits had lasted 10 weeks and 4 days resulting in a loss of wages of £220,000. In the Rhondda, the strike persisted until September 1911. There were numerous incidents e.g. Blaenclydach in March, Pandy in May and Penygraig in July As a result of the rioting, 537 persons were prosecuted and convicted of whom only 22 came from the Aberdare Valley.

1912 June 5

William Abraham, “Mabon”, occupied the chair of the S.W.M.F. for the last time. He had been an outstanding miners leader.