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The 1930's

Taff Merthyr and Bedlinog Riots

Merthyr Tydfil


In the 1930s there was social and political unrest in South Wales. The coal owners set up the South Wales Miners’ Industrial Union (SWMIU  - the ‘scab’ or  ‘Company’ union) in an attempt to break the South Wales Federation ( SWMF –  the ‘Fed‘ ). The conflict between the two unions reached its height in the Taff Merthyr Colliery when stay-down  miners ( SWMF ) took over Taff Merthyr, the citadel of the SWMIU. In October 1935 an incident occurred in which SWMF miners were attacked by the SWMIU supporters and there was such strong feeling that women and unemployed miners marched on Taff Merthyr in support of the FED. In the disturbances police with batons charged the angry crowds and in turn the police were assaulted.


Hundreds of police were imported into the coalfield from all over England. Afterwards it was clear that the authorities wanted to make an example of the community of Bedlinog, which had supported the Fed, especially the local ironmonger and communist councillor, Edgar Evans. In the biggest mass trial of industrial workers ever held in Britain 53 men and 3 women were sentenced on the 25th March 1936. Sentences ranged from 3 to 15 months hard labour. Edgar Evans received 9 months.


The local community was united together in protest. A demonstration of 10,000 people at Treharris was addressed by S.O. Davies M.P. and the SWMF. The meeting called the trial a deliberate effort to ‘encourage police brutality against the workers’.


When the Taff Merthyr protestors were released from prison they were welcomed home with banners which said ‘ You have suffered for a cause and we are proud of you’ and much singing of the ‘ Red Flag ‘.


Unsympathetic shopkeepers were boycotted by the community and ‘ blacklegs’ were expelled from football teams, brass bands and choral parties. Feelings on this matter ran very deep. 

Sargeant Gooding of Mountain Ash, Hit by a Stone


Demonstration against imprisonment of workers outside Taff Merthyr Colliery - 1936.




Treharris - Welcome home for 'Taff Merthyr' Prisoners - 1936

Taff Merthyr Rioters being welcomed home from Prison - 1936.


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