It is very hard to name the coal owners as it can refer to the selected individuals such as the D. A Thomas’s of the time or you could name all the stakeholders as coal owners as well, so it is hard to decide whether or not they were fair on their workers or if the were unfair as you can not truly name the coal owners. In the first half of the 19th century the copper and iron industries grew up, only in the second half did “coal become King”. The nineteenth century also showed a large increase and redistribution for Wales due to people moving to be closer to the industrial towns that were building up in the Welsh valleys.
The growth of the coal industry and its associated industries was significant for the urban and economic growth of Wales. The coal laden communities and growth of the coal industry in the Rhondda led to urban overcrowding and health issues. During the early stages of the coal industry there would only have been a hand full of workers in one given mine and the coal owners would have been more likely to give the men what they wanted, to keep them happy, so they would not lose workers, this therefore supports the positive quote from the question.
However as the industry grew there were more and more workers in the mines this may have led to the owners becoming less lenient with the workers and less friendly. If an owner lost a handful of workers there were always more people who wanted jobs and their spaces could be filled easily. This led to the coal industry becoming less personal and becoming more about profit than the welfare of the workers; this therefore supports the negative quote from the question above.The coal owners can be viewed in many different ways, e. g.
heir decisions and what effect they had on the workers, be it positive or negative. On the one hand the coal owners were viewed as men of vision, energy and enterprise. The economic system at the time dictated to the coal owners the prices of things and the wages for their workers, it was a fixed system and gave the “proper” prices for all the commodities (e. g. including labour and pay) it also gave them guidelines which they helped base their decisions on, this helps us understand the actions and policies of the coal owners, such as wages, prices and output at this time.So some of the coal owners were quite generous in what they gave their workers, also if the coal owner’s workers had poor wages it was not necessarily their fault it was due to the fixed economic system (they were doing the best they could). The coal owners did make financial contributions towards the social capital and institutions of the coalfield communities, chapels, churches, schools libraries, hospitals and workmen’s institutes were some of the places they gave financial contributions, the building of the Barry railway and docks would be a great example as it was largely funded by coal owners.Other coal owners gave funds and joined in community activities as they wished to maintain cultural values and links with their workforce and the community.
Also the workers controlled the way they worked and at what pace they worked, the coal owners did not try to interfere with this, apart from suggesting supervisors and the buddy system.The coal owners and the pits gave jobs to the unskilled men who had just left school they could learn all the skills of the trade on the job, so a lot more job opportunities opened up in Wales at this time, due to this people started moving to be closer to the mines and the social life of towns increased, there were clubs, pubs and community centres because of this a lot of young people started moving to the cities. Also the coal owners encouraged smaller businesses such as local shops, ice-cream parlours and clothes shops as they knew the mining families had to buy there supplies from somewhere.Another good point is that in amongst the main coal owners there were working colliers found holding five or ten pounds as stakeholders. Also D. A.
Thomas in 1881 at just 25 learning the trade at the family’s colliers in Clydach Vale was elected for the Ystradyfodwg Local Board of Health and also appointed as Justice of the Peace. On the other hand the coal owners could be viewed as men who disregarded the welfare of their workers for pure profit; they only ever thought about the money and did not concentrate on the pragmatic problems of running their own mine.In the mining industry the term coal owners can refer to only a small amount of people, the main owners which were usually only half a dozen people mostly belonging to the same family, not many working class or miners ever made the jump to become managers only lesser pit officials. So the owners basically ruled the pits without any input from their workers.
The coal owners did only pay their workers enough money to pay for their own living costs for a week, the workers found it very hard to live off such small wages.Also when the coal mines closed the owners left without a backwards glance, they did not compensate their workers in any way, the men were out of the job whole communities were left and as the coal owners didn’t develop any other areas of the community and these areas became poor. Hardly any men made the jump from collier to a man of power, the growing gulf between the aristocracy and the ordinary people of Wales furthered the dislike of coal owners as they were now seen as a scapegoat, on the political side 29 out of 33 seats fell into Liberal hands in 1880, most of these men were industrialists and manufacturers.The involvement of the coal owners in local administration declined from the 1880s because many coal owners moved away from the colliers to the ports and the owners then delegated there representative function to their professional managerial staff at the colliers. By 1914 most of the largest coal owners had moved away from the actual colliers, and they were much more likely to be found in the Vale than the valleys.Also the men working in the mines had to put up with bad working conditions, such as cramped spaces, lack of air and long hours, however not much could be done to change this because of the geographical position. In conclusion it is unclear whether or not the coal owners were “good” or “bad” as you can’t label a specific group of people as coal owners and also as the main coal owners did help out in financial situations in the community however they did not all care for their workers welfare and primarily only cared about profit, so giving the workers poor or little pay in order to maximise profits.