The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

The Transactions

home > Transactions > Volume 22 - 2016 > From Miners’ Pennies to National Distinction: The Newbridge Institute and Memorial Hall, 1898–2015

From Miners’ Pennies to National Distinction: The Newbridge Institute and Memorial Hall, 1898–2015

This is a radical story, for the history of the Newbridge Institute and Memorial Hall, near Newport in south Wales, does not neatly replicate the expected history of such institutions in a coalmining village. Although the Institute and Hall are strongly woven into the history of the south Wales coal eld and the leisure and educational activities of the twentieth century, they have a persistent and courageous idiosyncrasy.

Markedly, on three occasions directly connected with three critical decisions, their story diverged from what might have been a reasonable expectation regarding their survival – firstly, in 1898, with the founding and specifically the financing of the Institute; then in 1925 with decisions as to the building, architecture, and décor of the Memorial Hall; and finally the renaissance of both buildings at the turn of the twenty- first century. The end result of these divergences has been a national prominence and distinction which would have astonished and delighted the founders and far outlasted their origins in the sinking of the local colliery. The story, then, is unusual and played out against the backcloth of the rise and fall of the south Wales coal industry. It is also remarkable in terms of both the scale of the achievement and, more speculatively, the motivations and causes behind it, which may be perceived more clearly when viewed within the localized context of their history.

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