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DISTRESS
from
UNEMPLOYMENT
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The Committee reported that it was greatly to the credit of the inhabitants of Fochriw that it has been found unnecessary to open a kitchen here. This proved that the people were economic and thrifty.

The provision of meals ceased on 26 April 1912 with 2,000 having being served at  Penybanc, Pentwyn and Pantywaun.

The next period of distress that was recorded was in 1921. A committee was formed but the Feeding of the School Children Act had not been invoked by the people of Fochriw. The Committee’s duties had initially been confined to relieving children under five years, and mothers, when necessity arises, but it was decided to also include children over the age of five years old. It was reported on 14 May 1921 that the fund was augmented weekly by the good people of the village, who were fortunate enough to be working. Very high compliments were given to local shopkeepers who kept their doors open for the supply of groceries all through the crisis.

However, as the strike lengthened the inevitable happened and, on 28 May 1921, a Communal Kitchen was opened in the Ambulance Hall under the supervision of the Local Distress Committee, at which two meals a day were provided to families in distress owing to the coal crisis. A kitchen had also been opened at Penybank under the same committee to cater for Pentwyn and Penybank.

The strike ended in October 1921 and the surplus monies held by the Distress Committee was donated to Merthyr General Hospital.

During the duration of the strike many functions such as carnivals, football matches, sports meetings and concerts were held to generate funds and to help keep up morale.

Funds were not only raised for local concerns since, during April 1922, a concert was held in the village which was in aid of Russian Famine Relief Fund.

The next strike was in 1926 and it was during late May that the feeding of the schoolchildren commenced at Fochriw and Penybank. Headmasters, and the various staff, and a willing band of workers, gave of their services. Three meals a day were provided, the food supplied being of first class quality. Willing helpers were on duty from early morning until late in the evening. The Vicar placed St. Mary's Hall at the disposal of the authorities for the feeding of the Fochriw children, and the Baptists did likewise at Penybank.

As a consequence of the General Strike, in June 1926 very drastic cuts were made in train services and, in keeping with other stations, cheap booking was suspended. The first down train to leave Fochriw was at 1:27p.m., consequently all school children had to cross the mountain to Pontlottyn to get to their schools at Pengam, Hengoed and Bargoed. Teachers at Deri had to walk or provide their own transport. It was felt that the G.W.R. should make an effort to restore the first down train in the morning for the sake of school children and season ticket holders.

It was also reported in June 1926 that, although the industrial trouble was still unsettled, the inhabitants of the village were making the best of it under the trying circumstances. The various Strike Committees were doing all in their power to cheer the people. Sports, football matches, concerts, whist drives, etc., were daily organised. Men were  busy scouring the tips in search of coal to keep the home fires burning. One tip in particular that had been lying dormant for over 50 years, was explored daily by large numbers, and large quantities of coal of excellent quality unearthed.

June also saw the opening of an adult’s canteen at Carmel vestry where about 200 adults a day took advantage of an excellent mid-day meal and this facility was still running in November. The children were