In September 1886, an explosion deep underground at the Dean Lane Colliery led to the deaths of 10 miners and life changing injuries to many others. Tony Dyer will explain the mistakes that led up to the disaster, how and why the explosion happened, the repercussions both for the miners and the local mining industry, and how it impacted safety regulations in the Bedminster mines immediately following the explosion. A descendent of Bedminster coalminers himself, Tony will look at how the […]
In this article, the short life of Charles Fletcher is used as a lens to explore aspects of the labour movement in Chepstow and the Forest of Dean in the early twentieth century. It starts with Fletcher’s experiences as an orphan in Bristol and ends with his early death following his role as a witness in one of the most sensational murder trials of the 1920s.
Many of those who crowd the streets of Bedminster during Upfest or for the Winter Lantern Parade are probably oblivious that they are actually deep in mining country. For many residents, the idea that this was once an area where several coalmines existed and men emerging from pits covered in coaldust was a feature of the working day, has long been forgotten. Above ground, there are no surviving reminders of that history except a single noticeboard in Dame Emily Park. But below the nearby […]
Based on his co-authored book, Anthracite Labor Wars, Prof. Bob Wolensky will speak about a 40-year "labour war" that resulted from the mining arrangements between the Pennsylvania Coal Company and a gang of organized criminals. Beginning in 1916, the company decided to subcontract and, later, to lease mineral rights to the mobsters in an effort to discipline the labour force, enhance productivity, and boost profits. Statistics indicated that the scheme worked quite well when it came to […]
‘Degrees of Conscience’ (Catharina Clement) The story of three tribunals, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham in North Kent, and how they treated their conscientious objectors. Rochester, despite its Conservative and ex-military mayor, was very tolerant of the conscientious objectors and granted most of them exemption. Chatham and Gillingham on the other hand had Liberal mayors, but were much harsher towards their conscientious objectors. This talk will discuss why there was this huge difference […]
'England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity' Joe Mooney of East Wall History Group, Dublin explains how Irish Nationalists responded to the Great War. His talk will outline the difficulties of the 'Irish question', the movement towards Home Rule and the rise of armed bodies in 1913/1914. How did these conflicting groups react to the outbreak of war and the possibility of conscription - and why did some Nationalist support the war effort while others opposed it? Some saw the Irish rebellion of […]
In August 1917 a meeting of Forest of Dean Miners passed motions against the conscription of miners and in favour of an immediate negotiated peace to end the war. This talk will discuss the role agitators and conscientious objectors played in this process and what happened next. Ian Wright recently authored Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old: The Forest of Dean World War One Conscientious Objectors.
When Thomas Davis and his wife Annis and their family from Pillowell in the Forest of Dean decided to emigrate to Canada in 1890 they could not have known that their choice would have tragic consequences or that their personal tragedy would be remembered in Canada to this day. One of their boys, Thomas, would be killed in one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian mining history and another, William, would be shot dead by the police in one of the most violent strikes in Canadian labour […]