Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bert Coombes (1893-1974)

10, New Inn Place, Resolfen.

In November 1999, Llafur, the Society of Welsh Labour History dedicated a day’s conference in Neath Old Town Hall to the work of miner-writer Bert Coombes. This coincided with the publication of a biography of Bert Coombes by Bill Jones and Chris Williams in the Writers of Wales series (University of Wales Press, 1999). Bert Coombes is best known for his book “These Poor Hands: An autobiography of a Miner Working in South Wales” (1939) which sold 80,000 copies in its first year. He also wrote “Those Clouded Hills” and “Miners Day”.

Despite being born in Wolverhampton in 1893, Coombes’ formative years were spent in the Madley district of Herefordshire. Eventually, by a series of fortuitous circumstances he arrived in Resolven (see book for details) ‘Treclwyd’ in “These Poor Hands”, and naturally became a miner. He married in St. David’s Church in 1913 and in 1919 moved to 10, New Inn Place with his family. Later he moved to Oak Lodge and later to Ynysgron , Cwmgwrach in 1941. In 1945, using the proceeds gained from his writing he moved again to Nantyfedwen Farm near Onllwyn.

He contributed a regular column in the Neath Guardian in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. However, Coombes also had features in the New Statesman, The Listener, Fortnightly, New Writing, Daylight and even Geographical Magazine. His activities also included radio broadcasting and writing scripts for documentary films. Several of his plays, including ‘Eight pointed Star’ (1957), the story of the St.John Ambulance underground and ‘All Roads Blocked’ (1960) the story of miners trapped underground (1960) were also broadcast on radio.

He died at the Adelina Patti Hospital, Craig-y-Nos in 1974 aged 81 years of age and is buried alongside his wife Mary in St.David’s graveyard Resolven.

Trefor Jones.


Blogger Tony said...

I am his grandson and am very proud of my grandfather

12:44 am  

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