About the Society
Historical Notes






Truck System
Miners were paid monthly but the company allowed credit in form of tokens (tocyns) known as the draw.


Lyttletons Truck Act had declared the System Illegal but it persisted in Aberdare for many years up to the Seventies in fact, because the Act had not provided for inspectors to enforce it. Fothergill’s Truck Shop was in the name of James Lewis of Plasdraw whose sister he had married.

The system was not without its advantages:

1  Company Shops could buy in bulk and thus reduce prices and supplies were more certain especially in inclement weather.

2  Food stores were few and remote, and in rapidly expanding districts like Aberdare owners of new works had to provide food for their employees as well as houses.

3  Company Shops were frequently a boon to housewives because their husbands were prevented from spending all their money on drink.

They were, however, open to great abuses, e.g. during strikes workers could be starved out by owners closing shops and even in normal times these shops would provide poor quality goods at exorbitant prices.




Company Shop

Private Trader



1/3 per lb
1/4 per lb
1/5 per lb

1/- per lb
1/1 per lb
1/2 per lb



5 d.
8 d.
10 d.

4 d.
6 d.
8 d.



5 d.
6 d.
7 d.

4 d.
5 d.
6 d.



4/- per lb
5/- per lb
6/- per lb

3/4 per lb
4/- per lb
5/- per lb



The first Company Shop was opened at Hirwaun by George Overton.


After the system had been declared illegal, only the Gadlys Company kept one open at Dover House.


After the trade depression some local owners returned to the system, notably Richard Fothergill of Abernant House at a site of the present (now demolished) Trap Surgery which had previously been a public house.

1851 March

An Anti-Truck Association formed in Aberdare to fight the menace of the Company Shop. Prominent on the Committee were Philip John a local Grocer, (first Treasurer of Calfaria Chapel), and William Hodges a travelling Draper who had recently set up an establishment, and the Rev Thomas Price, MA, Minister of Calfaria. They represented the main section of the opposition, viz. the small middle class trader and the non-conformists. The former complained of loss of trade, (Fothergill’s Shop meant a loss of £40,000 a year turnover), the latter objected because the workmen were paid in kind and therefore could not support their chapels, which contrary to the Established Church were maintained by Voluntary Subscriptions.


Later this year Richard Fothergill was charged with conducting a Truck Shop at the Trap contrary to the Act of 1833. The charge was laid by Philip John on information supplied by David Williams of Llwydcoed an employee at Lefel yr Afon. Fothergill was fined £5 and costs,


but the shop survived for many years. It survived a strike against it in 1861 but it finally


closed in 1868 when Fothergill was seeking election as parliamentary candidate.


The Legal Action of 1851 had two important results:
1  It started the movement among the working classes of Aberdare to establish their own


Co-operative Stores. The first one of its kind in Wales was opened in 1859 at Cwmbach.

2  The result of the agitation of 1851 was to strengthen the Trade Union movement. Effective organized unions did not come until the late 60s but there were indications in the 50s that it would not be long delayed.