D. Gwenallt Jones
The chapel I attended was in an industrial village. I used to go every Sunday to the morning service; in the afternoon, to the Sunday School 1; to the five o'clock service at which the young people were taught how to pray in public; to the evening service; to singing practice; once a week to the prayer meeting and the Fellowship; the dawn-service on Christmas morning; a whole week of prayer meetings in the first week of January; I sat examinations in Scriptural knowledge; and in summer went on Sunday School trips to the seaside.
I would take my father his mid-day snap in the steelworks. I remember the greyish-yellow gleam that lit up the interior of the works, and the hot air that surged in waves up my nostrils to make me breathless and parch my throat. I was allowed to go up on to the platform by the furnace where the men in their vests, their cheeks reddened by the glow and their eyes protected with blue goggles, were throwing scrap into the furnace's maw with long shovels. One of them used to put the goggles over my eyes, and through them I could see the metal boiling in white heat on the floor of the furnace. I would watch the tapping process, the molten metal being poured into the ladle in the pit, and from there into moulds; and after it had solidified, the crane would lift it in the form of steel ingots which were then piled at the side of the tramway. I was frightened whenever I saw the crane swinging the ingots from a hook high over the heads of the workmen in the pit below.
There was a strike in 1910. We would go with our fathers to scour old disused levels for coal, and dig the tips for lumps that we used to carry home in sack and wheelbarrow. Every Saturday we went to the tinplate works to gather coke, and underneath it in the bottom of the sack, quite illegally, we would hide grease for lighting the fire. We saw policemen guarding the coal-pit and protecting the blacklegs as they went in and out, and patrolling the streets to prevent workers from assembling. For us youngsters the strike was great fun, but it left its mark on our minds and memory, and in the years that were to follow it made us search for an explanation of why we were rebelling.