Industry: water, steel & energy

Pugh, Granville (1 of 4) National Life Story Collection: Lives in Steel

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    Interviewee's home, Port Talbot

  • Interviewees

    Pugh, Granville, 1915- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dein, Alan (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Born 1915, Port Talbot. Brought up in Taibach, strict non-conformist family - chapel and Sunday school regularly. Only boy - lived with grandparents - grandfather old tin worker - he started work when he was 9yrs old, born in 1863. Used to take his food down to him - inspected finished sheets - no micrometers - tell by weights. Worked until he was 79yrs old! Self-taught musician - conductor of Taibach Working Mens Club Male Voice Choir. Toured America for 3 months. Very fond of him. Worked in dirty conditions - at the end of our street. Very noisy, no canteens. Men ate food where they worked. Heavy end - terrible place - men were worked out - handmills - tongs. Flannel shirt and town around necks - sweat pouring off them. Old mill mans hands were calloused - tremendous characters - hand mills closed in S.W. Wales in early 1950's. Took grandfather sandwiches - grandmother had sides of bacon hanging in outhouse and cooked them in Dutch oven. Took him a flagon of beer and 'small beer' - made by an old dear in the street - 'terrible stuff'! - and faggots and peas. Lived in West End. Ramsey MacDonald came down when he was M.P. for Aberavon. Made a speech at school. Taibach known as little Moscow - socialist in those days - not a Conservative in sight. Grandfather was a Liberal - went to meetings. Four sisters lived with mother. 1927 family moved to posh house, Government subsidy house at Morgan. Father worked in solicitors office, managing clerk. Very small money - did all litigation and briefs. Later ended up working for local authority housing dept. Pianist, played in cinema - silent films, at the Picture 'cach' (Welsh for 'shit') - now an old folks home! Glee party - father, pianist and singers - paid in kind, at Margam Castle singing for Captain Fletcher - beer, pheasants, rabbits. Grandparents only spoke Welsh, parents spoke English to children. Welsh chapel - Wednesday night prayer meetings - Friday, bible class - Sunday, chapel in morning, Sunday school in afternoon and chapel in evening. Dressed up. Had a treble voice, taught to sing by grandfather. Confirmed in Margam Abbey, in Margam choir until 1940. Chapel choir-oratorio every year - Messiah, Brahms, Mendelsson. 120-140 in choir, well trained. Cultured life in those days. Dedicated to singing. Rough, hard men in different world when they were singing. Uncle Joe - worked on railway line - beautiful copper-plate handwriting. Grandfather educated himself, even though he left school at 9yrs old. Father - taught - different generation. Played in St. Marys church, used to blow organ for him. Went to Eastern School. Left at 14yrs old. Good in composition - love to write, but poor at arithmetic. Late developer. Went into night school at 18yrs old. Wore 'ganzies' to school - jerseys with collar and knitted tie - played rugby in yard - collar ripped off! Short baggy trousers and black stockings pulled up. Always wore a cap, like a cricket cap. Worked for a paper shop, delivering papers. Up at 6am, bike to station to get papers. 4.30pm get evening papers all for 6s a week. Daily Herald most popular paper. People bought Western Mail, Tory paper, but had Welsh sport! Later worked at petrol station - driving at 12yrs old! At 17yrs old - father found me a job - working for B. Edward Howe, Geoffrey Howe's father (Conservative M.P.). Took Geoffrey and brother Colin to Bridgend prep. school. Very happy years.

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