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Gwybodaeth Lyfryddol
Entrepreneurial Society of the Rhondda Valleys 1840-1920, The - Power and Influence in the Porth-Pontypridd Region
Richard Griffiths
ISBN: 9780708322901 (0708322905)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Gorffennaf 2010
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, Caerdydd
Fformat: Clawr Caled, 222x145 mm, 360 tudalen Iaith: Saesneg Archebir yn ôl y galw Pris Llawn: £48.00 
Ein Pris: £19.99 
Rydych yn Arbed: £28.01 (58.4%)   
Does dim Adolygiad Cwsmer i'r teitl hwn.
 
Ysgrifennwch Adolygiad Cwsmer
Dyma'r llyfr cyntaf i archwilio'r gymdeithas entrepreneuraidd yng nghymoedd de Cymru. Mae'r llyfr yn edrych ar ffynonellau cyfoeth amrywiol yr ardal - y pyllau glo, adeiladu rheilffyrdd, meddiannu tir mewn ardaloedd o bwys, contractio, adeiladu, datblygu eiddo, cadw siop.

This is the first book to examine in a systematic way the entrepreneurial society of the Welsh Valleys. The book looks at the various sources of wealth in the area - coal owning, railway building, possession of land in crucial areas, contracting, building, property development, shopkeeping - and at the various origins from which the first-generation entrepreneurs came.
In academic works, classic fiction and documentaries, much has been written about the hardships of the miners hewing coal in the south Wales valleys during the boom years of the coal industry, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Families flocked there from England, Ireland and from the agricultural areas of west Wales in the hope of improving the lives of their children. The iron industry, which had thrived in the upper valleys, such as Merthyr, had more or less fizzled out, after making fortunes for the owners, who had become gentry and moved on to grander pastures.

This book is an account of those who saw the potential for coal mining in the early and mid-nineteenth century and grasped their opportunities. Although one or two, like the Marquises of Bute, were already wealthy, the new breed of coal owner was often a local man who ‘made good’. To illustrate this, Richard Griffiths has researched the family of James (Siamps) Thomas who at the age of six years served as a ‘door-boy’ in the Waterloo colliery near Pen-maen (now Oakdale). Door-boys worked shifts of 12 hours, alone, in total darkness, opening doors for trams to pass through. He worked his way up in the pit and by the age of 33 years had acquired many skills and was sought by financiers as a partner in developing pits and sinking new ones. They started by buying Troedyrhiw colliery and went on to sink new pits around Porth which became Siamps’ home ground for the rest of his life, and he became a well-known, influential figure in the Rhondda. As Siamps Thomas’s businesses flourished, members of his family became involved and the book also follows the career of his grandson, Sir William James Thomas, and Siamps’ son-in-law William Henry Mathias (grandfather of the author).

This was also the era of transport development, with the growth of Cardiff and Swansea docks, the canals during the first part of the 19th century and the railways from 1840. As well as improving the transport of coal and so adding to the wealth of the coal owners, these developments created their own entrepreneurs who became very rich, often being part of both or more businesses. Other people who became wealthy on the back of the coal industry were grocers, artisans, bankers and others who serviced the industry. One interesting group of entrepreneurs was the Italians who came to the south Wales valleys and set up cafés which, in many cases, are still run by their descendants.

These self-made men became stalwarts of their local communities, serving as magistrates, councillors and members of hospital and other boards. There were setbacks too and the author does not shrink from describing the mining disasters at Siamps’ Tynewydd pit in 1877, when he was accused of negligence, and the Albion pit disaster of 1894. Strikes are also described in detail.

Richard Griffiths is an academic who has painstakingly researched this subject and there is a wealth of information here for historians and students of this unique era in the history of the south Wales valleys. But it is also a story of a family who were among the poorest of their time but by hard work, good judgment and perseverance transformed their lives and provided work for many of their countrymen.

There are copious notes, a comprehensive bibliography and an excellent index.

Beryl Thomas

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Bywgraffiad Awdur:
Professor Richard Griffiths, now retired, was Emeritus Professor at the University of Wales and King’s College, London and has enjoyed a distinguished academic career at Selwyn College, Cambridge, Brasenose College, Oxford, University College, Cardiff and KCL. Now retired, he is the author of a number of books on the political history of the Right in Britain and in Europe, on French and English literature, and on religious subjects.
Gwybodaeth Bellach:
Until now, almost everything written about the society created by the Welsh coal industry has been about the workers and the unions, and there has been a significant gap, which needed to be filled if a rounded picture of life in the south Wales valleys during the coal boom was to be achieved.
The book looks at the various sources of wealth in the area – coal owning, railway building, possession of land in crucial areas, contracting, building, property development, shopkeeping – and at the various origins from which the first-generation entrepreneurs came. It then examines closely the networks of power and influence that built up among the second-generation entrepreneurs in the close and claustrophobic middle-class society of the Porth-Pontypridd area. Its method is to take one extended family central to that society, together with its vast network of friends and collaborators, and to examine in great detail, from original sources, the often hair-raising business methods of these people, as well as their conflicts of interest at times of industrial unrest. At the same time, the changes in Valleys life are mirrored in the history of this group: the original ‘rags-to-riches’ stories of so many of the first generation; the self-sufficient confidence of so many of the second generation, for whom the coal boom seemed bound to last for ever; and the gradual move, thereafter, out of the coal industry and down to the towns on the coast, just in time to avoid the decline of the industry.
Does dim Adolygiad Cwsmer, hyd yma, i'r llyfr hwn.
 
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