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Coal House at War - Lessons to be learned

28 October 2008

A Cardiff researcher, who acted as a consultant on the current BBC Wales TV programme Coal House at War, is leading a new course at Cardiff University on the history of South Wales’ miners.

Dr Ben Curtis, of the University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning will run a 10 week programme entitled ‘The South Wales Miners 1898-1947’.

The South Wales miners were one of the most distinctive and important groups of workers in Britain in the early twentieth century. The course will explore their history, including the formation of the miners’ union, major strikes, and events such as the Great Depression, and the Second World War.

Dr Curtis said: "Given my work on the history of the South Wales coalfield, the producers of Coal House at War were keen to utilise my knowledge of this period to ensure the historical accuracy of the series. I was specifically employed to advise on the precise historical details, anything from contemporary wage rates to 1940s school curricula.

"There is a definite degree of overlap between my course and the Coal House at War series, both in terms of the period covered and the subject matter. Indeed, one of the later sessions specifically examines the situation in the coalfield during the Second World War and the build-up to the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947."

Dr. Curtis obtained his PhD on the modern history of the south Wales miners at Glamorgan University. Some of his work has appeared in Llafur - the journal of the Welsh people’s history society - and Labour History Review, with further articles awaiting publication in the near future.

Dr David Wyatt, who co-ordinates the history programme at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, added "We are very lucky to have someone with Ben’s expertise teaching on this topic. His research has reinvigorated the analysis of labour history in our region, a fact which the BBC clearly recognised when they asked for his help. It is also very appropriate that the course is being run in

both Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff as the coalfield intimately connected the fortunes of these two towns during the first half of the twentieth century."

The South Wales Miners 1898-1947 consists of a series of two-hour evening classes and will be held over 10 weekly sessions. First in Cardiff at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Senghennydd Road, starting on Wednesday 28th January 2009, 7pm-9pm and then at St David's Hall, Church Street, Merthyr Tydfil starting on Tuesday 21st April 2009, 7-9pm.

The fee for the Cardiff leg of the course is £68.50 (reduced fee £55.00). Due to New Welsh Assembly Funding the course fee at Merthyr Tydfil has been reduced by 50% to £34.25. The course is FREE at both locations to anyone claiming DWP benefits, working tax credit or job seekers allowance.

For further information please visit or ring 029 2087 0000.


Notes to Editors:

1. For further details visit: or contact Dr. David Wyatt at , Tel: (029)20870000.

2.Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning

Cardiff University is the largest provider of adult education in Wales, providing 700 courses in

more than 100 venues across South East Wales. The Cardiff University Centre for Lifelong Learning

provides part time education for adults in 12 of the 22 unitary authorities in Wales, covering an

area of population of more than one and a half million. It also offers Professional development

courses for local employers, many of which are custom made to suit an individual company’s needs.

2.Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s

leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today

combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teachin

g and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the

humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology;

preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at:

Further Information:

For further information, please contact:

Jayne McGill

Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920 876342