Banwen, Then and Now

By Ted Harrison A class of students from Appalachian State University traveled to Wales for a summer study abroad program in June of 2013.  The Wales study abroad program has been coordinated by the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University since 2001.  This summer, students started a project to map historic sites in former mining communities in South Wales.   This is the second in a series of three blog posts written by the students about their experience. The Banwen Colliery, also known as Onllwyn No. 3 or the Maesmarchog Colliery, was once the heart of this small town and can be considered responsible for the development of the community via the coal mining industry boom that occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Mining in this area can be traced back as early as the mid-18th century, but the colliery that is known today opened in 1845. This area was very […]

How Is Labor History Remembered? Onllwyn Choir Captures Memory in Song

Geraint Lewis is a member of the Onllwyn Male Voice Choir in South Wales. During an After Coal production trip in June, 2013, Lewis reflected on one of many songs in the Onllwyn Choir’s repertoire. “I love my rugby, I love my cycling, I love my hill walking, but there isn’t anything that quite equals choral singing.” “A lot of the words (in “Miners’ Life”) resonate back to the early 1900s and even back to the early parts of the industrial revolution where the unions were absolutely vital, they saved people’s lives. It’s still a great song to sing, and gets the old guys smiling, so it’s what I do.”