sake. Even if the experience in south Wales was different from this, there is a need somewhere for individual motives and experience among the students and foot-soldiers of the two movements to be addressed. Yet these caveats should not detract from a well- wrought study of a fascinating subject which adds greatly to our understanding of the culture of the labour movement. LAWRENCE GOLDMAN St. Peter's College, Oxford SENGHENYDD: THE UNIVERSAL PIT VILLAGE, 1890-1930. By Michael Lieven. Gomer Press, Llandysul, 1994. Pp. viii, 387, illus. £ 17.50. The word Senghenydd still has the power to chill the heart. There may not be many people left who can remember the appalling pit disaster of 1913, in which an explosion killed 440 miners, but for historians Senghenydd still remains a symbol of the tragedy and destructive power of industrialization in south Wales. Michael Lieven has given his study a clever subtitle- the universal pit village'. Senghenydd symbolizes the common tragedy of all pit communities where 'coalmining was uncontrolled by communally agreed social purposes'. There is a further neat twist in that Senghenydd was the site of Sir William Lewis's Universal Colliery which, by the year of the disaster, was one of the largest pits in the south Wales coalfield. The strength of Lieven's study lies in his broad coverage of village life from the early frontier settlement days of the 1890s to the complex community, characterized by a mesh of interwoven social relationships and institutions, of the 1920s. Senghenydd is not merely a study of labour relations between male employer(s) and male employees. Too often in the past have detailed chronicles of sliding scales, wage cuts, lock-outs and strikes been substituted for the broader history of whole communities and the lives of the people in them. Lieven has avoided the prescriptive orthodoxy of labour history with its limited definitions of labour as almost entirely male and certainly exclusively waged. His book is the richer for this. We are presented with a lively and very readable account of the tragedy and comedy of everyday life. We see the infants in the local school doing drill and marching until ten o'clock on a freezing morning because there was no fire. The headmistress records in her log the death of 'two little scholars' from diphtheria and her day-to-day struggles to run the school with unqualified, and sometimes insubordinate, teachers. Lieven has re- created the street life of Senghenydd with its raucous hawkers and its shops (some prosperous and glass-fronted and others merely single back-street rooms run by poor widows and chronic invalids), its chapels, its public houses and boxing booths. We see the community enjoying its leisure in sacred concerts, ambulance (first aid) classes, lectures organized by societies and clubs and in drunken brawls which ended before the magistrate. But our view of life in this bustling pit village is not limited to the public sphere. Although there are chapters dealing with wider issues such as politics and the impact of the First World War on the town, Lieven pays particular attention to the
This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.
The National Library of Wales has created and published this digital version of the journal under a licence granted by the publisher. The material it contains may be used for all purposes while respecting the moral rights of the creators.