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16 October 2014

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The Miners' Struggle

By Les Rees
30 November 2007, South East Wales
A digital story from Rhondda Lives!

"In 1926, I was five years of age. The General Strike lasted only about nine days and then the other unions withdrew, they left the miners and we were out for about nine months.

Whit Monday was always a big day and it was the one day when the bands would parade and the other contestants and things would parade, and there were two silver bands and a brass band and drum and fife band in Ferndale at that time. It was the one day in the year when they brought the horses to the surface. We used to run around the park with them and everything and every pit would compete you see, the Maerdy pits and the Ferndale pits and the Tylorstown pits would all come to Ferndale Park to compete. They played a gazoot, we all had gazoots as kids. We used to pay a penny or tuppence and they'd dress up these gazoots and then dress themselves up as Zulus or Red Indians or whatever they were, street competing against street, you know, and they would march through with the jazz band, and we all had gazoots but these had big amplifying things built around them, you know. They'd parade all round Ferndale, all down round Ferndale. There'd be ten, fifteen of these bands competing then on the Darren Park for the prize.

Now it was a very difficult time for my parents and the whole family actually."

Your comments

"I remember the parades, as a young lad who went to Maerdy Infant School before we moved up to the Midlands. Great unbent, unbowed community spirit - and it still lives on ..." Terry Williams.

"I loved your story. It was nice that even though it was a difficult time, you still have fond memories of it from your childhood. Children are so resilient. I haven't thought about gazoots for a long time ! Thank you." Cheryl from Canada.

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