Culture Desolation in Merthyr Tydfil

This story depicts the cultural importance stemming from the Miner's Hall in Merthyr Tydfil and the change in landscape of eroded culture now that the building is derelict.

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Merthyr Tydfil Miners Hall 1986

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Boxing At Merthyr Tydfil Miners Hall

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Miners Hall Choir Show

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Miner's Hall Fashion Parade 1960's

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Culture Desolation in Merthyr Tydfil

Looking at the void within the landscape of decay on the timbers of Merthyr’s once thriving community is often paired with the essence of nostalgia filling our tinted glasses, looking to the past as a harbinger of glory. Turn to the present where the contracting society feels empty, with a clear problem of cultural dislocation. The youth, seen as troubled with unemployment rates at the highest they have been in history of a town once thriving on ironworks and the closeness of the valleys mining community. A big part of community used to stem from the miners hall, a source of bonding and education. People would meet, and through this building it seemed the future of Merthyr would be shaped by the desire of the workers. Now faced with the derelict remains of buildings once tying together the community is it any wonder culture has faded from the hands of youth. In this article I will be looking at the workman’s institute in Merthyr Tydfil, focusing on its cultural importance in the history of wales. Contrasting it with the present it is my aim to show a clear image of the workman’s institute without the nostalgic burden of the past. It was in 1921 that the plaque was placed upon the wall of what would be come to known as the Miners Hall, this building being birthed at a time when an on-going dispute with the coal industry meant that a focus for politics could be found under one roof, creating the opportunity for members of the concerned parties a place to meet and discuss. One meeting that was held annually was ‘the Kier Hardie Memorial’ this meeting would be an opportunity to appeal to the congregation of Merthyr’s society to fight against the injustice of the coal owners. Giving a voice to those in the community on a platform of such reach was vital in shaping the minds of those that attended, making sure the needs of the people were met. When looking at such a meeting where the opportunity to find your voice, it is impossible to not contrast to the present, where the building that was once the light of the community now stands decrepit. There is a clear correlation in this, for a society now so misrepresented, refused a real voice to speak for the generation and to find progress. One must ask themselves, is an institute what led Merthyr to be such a vocal fighter for equality for the workers. It wasn’t just for political use however there were a wide array of events all forming important society come together, providing an outlets for weekday workers and their youth. Some examples of these events are school displays, weddings, speeches, religious gatherings, concerts, boxing matches and shows. These shows may just seem like entertainment now and with the increase of secular activity’s providing the need of excitement it may all seem quite obvious that this building would now be decrepit. At the time these events would unite a town, crafting a sense of sync within the public. 94 years later on and the emptiness hallow the hall of Merthyr’s empty union, culture scattered across the valley, inaccessible to the new generations that were breed through this closeness. The neglect evident in the foundations of buildings once meaning something, now just haunting reminders of the voice we have lost. Paintwork stripped from the people’s harnesses without a stand to voice their grievances. Perhaps this is progress, communities of people without a place to go often have to find their own solace, perhaps the public’s abandonment of such relics had to happen. Recently the local council announced plans to restore such buildings, a surely positive venture for the people but the atmosphere it created may always be lost. Under the foundations of past nostalgia a new culture will be born into the valleys. Replacing brick by brick the resemblance of a once thriving community can only offer prosperity in a time of voiceless youth, clambering to be heard in the distant echoes of political adversity.   

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