1926 Miners strike in Bream
Far right Dennis Watkins, Second from right Bert Davies.
This photo was taken by the local photographer Morton from Parkend and looks to be taken shortly after the Hall opened in 1927.
The following article was originally published in the "Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review" in 1984 and is reproduced below with the kind permission of the author Mr Hylton Miles
MEMORIES OF THE 1926 COAL STRIKE IN BREAM by Hylton Miles
The strike took place in the early summer of that year, it is hard to
believe that that particular period of my young life was 68 years ago
or almost. We all looked on, as the children from London and Home Counties
were evacuated in 1939 - 40, but there was another evacuation of children
in 1926, they were miners children from large to medium families.
Every family at that particular time was given a meal ticket from The Board of Guardians at Monmouth there wasn't any cash or state Handouts as we know it today.
Every family with 4 or more children was asked to let a child go to Foster Parents in London and District. My sister Phyllis begged Mum & Dad to let her go, it was either that or your meal ticket for 4 children would be reduced to 3. Even at that young age she was blessed with "The Spirit of Adventure" and in later years became a Nursing sister and saw Service in The Queen Alexandra's, in the North African Campaign, Europe and Far East. Back to the departure of the children from the village of Bream where they were assembled and taken down to Whitecroft Railway station and sent by train to Paddington.On arrival in the Capital each child had a label tied to their coat with their name and address on (no Identity Cards then). Each child was viewed up and down, placed on a pedestal, then the shout from one of the organisers "who want's this child". My sister was very lucky being fostered by a Lewisham Police Sergeant and his wife, and they still thought of her as their daughter until the day they died.
Now back to the village of Bream and District, as children our meals were provided at school, each child took his knife, fork, and plate for lunch. The meals were cooked by the female members of the Bream Labour party and the waiting on was carried out by the Male Members of Bream Labour Party. In this village two private owners carried on mining one called "Friars Level" and the other by the late Mr Thomas Peglar at Clements End Green, although only a handful of men worked at these collieries and did not take part in the stoppage. To enable these men to go to work the Mounted Police were brought from Cheltenham to escort them daily to and from their place of work. A few words were shouted with the usual "Forest Humour" but never the intimidation that we witnessed on Television during the 1984 Miners strike. During these hard times it was down to the Flower Mill Colliery and pick the tip for coal and into the wood for any dry pieces of timber to keep the home fires burning as this was the only method of heating for cooking and washing. My father with a number of other miners were sat in a group on "Ranters Green" known today as Hillside Estate, when down Whitecroft Road came Mr Percy Moore, Managing Director of The Park Gutter Colliery, he asked his driver to stop the car and he asked a well known Bream gentlemen at that time, the late Mr Alan Beverstock "when are you returning to work Alan" "When you pay us a living wage" came the reply, Mr Moore replied "I'll see you all eat GRASS first".
The owners slogan in 1926 was:
NOT A PENNY ON THE PAY
NOT A MINUTE OFF THE DAY
At this particular period several miners gave their time and energy doing labouring jobs assisting with the building of The Bream Miners Welfare Hall, now the home of Bream R.F.C. Social Club. The Hall was built by Mr Joe Kear of Clements End Green. The strike was far from over for the wives and mothers of miners on the resumption of work. Families had food "On the Slate" this was being paid for years after the strike ended.
Hylton O. A. Miles
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