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Women’s role in industry celebrated

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Welsh Women on the Factory Floor: The inside of the Compact Factory, with women at work, 1950s

Welsh Women on the Factory Floor: The inside of the Compact Factory,
with women at work, 1950s

A NEW project has set out to tell the tale of the vital role that women played in manufacturing industries across Wales.

Voices from the Factory Floor will see the stories of women like Gwen Eira Evans, who worked in a factory in Felinfoel, take centre stage, and guarantee that their voices are not forgotten.

The Voices from the Factory Floor project includes oral interviews, full transcripts of the recordings, and photographs documenting the history of women who worked in factories across Wales during a thirty year period between 1945 and 1975. The project is led by Women’s Archives Wales, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund

From Gwen Eira Evans’ tales of producing radiators for cars and aeroplanes in Felinfoel to Moira Morris’s stories of making men’s watches at Tick Tock in Ystradgynlais and Yvonne Stevens’ toy-making memories at Bacon Toy Factory, Llanrwst, where she later met her husband – over 200 such stories have now been documented in the project, reflecting an important period in Welsh manufacturing which underlines the vital role women played.

Catrin Stevens, the project’s co-ordinator, explains why she feels projects such as Voices from the Factory Floor play a fundamental role in capturing bygone women’s history: “Women’s history has, on the whole, been ignored and neglected through the centuries and the Women’s Archive of Wales’s aim is to raise awareness of women’s history and to rescue and safeguard the sources of this history. This specific project is extremely important as it recognises the important role Welsh women played in the resurgence of manufacturing, following the war. Their stories reflect a challenging work environment, while at the same time, show there was a strong sense of camaraderie and plenty of fun to be had at the work seaside trips to places like Tywyn and Blackpool. While the archive is fascinating for us now, in years to come it will be an invaluable source for those wishing to learn about Welsh life in this period.”

The stories have been captured because of a grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Head of HLF Wales Richard Bellamy believes that using Lottery money for projects like this is vitally important in keeping the country’s unwritten history alive: “Our heritage takes many different forms, and it is important we recognise this when considering how Heritage Lottery Fund money is distributed. Voices from the Factory Floor tells an important story and reflects on a key period in Welsh life, a period of change in our culture and in our ways of working. I would encourage everyone to log on and get lost in these factory tales – I guarantee you will discover an enchanting – and perhaps unexpected – women’s working world, helping us to discover who they and indeed we are, and where we’ve all come from, given the majority of these factories have now closed.”

One of the project’s contributors, Gwen Eira Evans, talks about her job she began in the 1940s when the Morris Motors factory opened in Felinfoel after the war broke out. She was 18 and knew nothing of Morris Motors but stayed there for 37 years doing the same job.

“My first job was on a farm when I was 14. You had to work for nothing. I got up at 6am and finished work at 7pm and sometimes later in the summer. I applied in person at the factory when I was old enough and my pay was double. I earned £9 per week, depending on how much work I did. I made radiators for cars and aeroplanes; the work was hard as I had a weak arm. When I started I thought the factory was enormous as there were more than 2000 workers, including many girls from Ponthenri. I caught the private bus at 6am as work began at 7.30am with a 10 minute tea break at 9.30am. There was a half- hour lunch break and work finished at 4.30-5pm. Workers weren’t permitted to be more than 2 minutes late for work. Any worker clocking in 3 minutes late was docked a quarter of an hour’s pay. Many girls stayed for years. Many had stuck it out during the war years because had they left, they knew, they would be compelled to work somewhere else possibly far away from home.”

A new film to promote the project has been launched this week at the Senedd and all materials will soon be transferred to the National Screen and Sound Archive at the National Library in Aberystwyth.

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New Quay RNLI lifeboat crew trains with lifeguards

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NEW QUAY lifeboat station hosted a special training evening with the lifeboat crew and Ceredigion’s RNLI lifeguards last week.

Pete Yates, one of New Quay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat helms, worked closely with Ceredigion lifeguard supervisor, Tirion Dowsett, to plan scenarios for the teams to practice working together in casualty care situations.

A large scale scenario included four casualties to be dealt with by the inshore lifeboat crew and two lifeguard teams on a nearby beach, whilst a third lifeguard team and lifeboat crew members dealt with a separate scenario at the lifeboat station.

Pete said: “It was a great evening of training. We had 9 lifeguards and 13 lifeboat crew in attendance.

“The main scenario included casualties suffering from hypothermia and propeller injuries. A second scenario involved a mechanic suffering head injuries in the forepeak of the all-weather lifeboat and requiring extraction on a stretcher.

“On completion of these scenarios we all gathered back at the station where one of our senior crew members sprung a great act at being a diabetic having a hypo, and being suitably angry and aggressive.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, added: “It was great for our lifeboat crew members to work with the lifeguards as it builds a deeper understanding of each other’s roles and encourages teamwork between us. This is of great benefit when dealing with real life casualty care situations.”

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Coastguard rescues dog stuck on cliffs

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LAST TUESDAY (Aug 27), New Quay RNLI’s inshore D-class lifeboat, Audrey LJ, was tasked by Milford Haven Coastguard to assist the Coastguard with a dog stuck on the cliffs near New Quay.

The volunteer crew launched the inshore lifeboat at 1.50pm with four crew members on board and made their way south down the coast.

Brett Stones, New Quay RNLI’s helm said: “We located the dog on the cliffs by Castell Bach, near Cwmtydu. We stood by while the Coastguard team caught the animal. The dog was unharmed and safe with the Coastguard so we were stood down.

“However, while returning to station we were then tasked to a small vessel with engine failure. We towed the stricken boat with three people on board back to New Quay. We rehoused the inshore lifeboat and it was ready for service by 2.40pm.”

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New maintenance Lorries cut carbon emissions

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The Ground Maintenance Team has purchased three new lorries to support ground maintenance services in Ceredigion.

The new lorries will move Ceredigion County Council’s Ground Maintenance Service’s equipment to and from the grounds that they look after. The lorries will also take cut grass away for composting. This provides the most efficient way of maintaining the areas that the team is responsible for.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “The new vehicles replace ones which had provided excellent service for almost 20 years. They are fitted with Euro 6 engines which are considerably more efficient and better for the environment.”

The Grounds Maintenance Team is also incrementally introducing electric-powered mowers, blowers, hedge cutters and strimmers into its fleet. This equipment is better for the environment, is easier to use and causes less noise and vibration.

The new lorries support Ceredigion County Council’s commitment to be a net-zero carbon council by 2030.

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