Miners Memorial Garden

Article Number Fifteen in Hook History Society’s Lockdown Series.


Mining communities throughout Wales....and I have no doubt throughout the world.........have always striven to enhance the often-bleak circumstances in which they have to live. Men work in cramped, dark dangerous conditions and mining villages nearly invariably had a somewhat melancholy air about them.

To combat this Miners Institutes cropped up in practically every community ..............these village hall style buildings became the centre of community life. They were the venue for concerts; family occasions; choir practice and hugely attended lectures.

I remember as an eight or nine-year-old being taken by my grandfather to a talk in the Miners Hall in his Afan Valley village. The topic was, would you believe, Bird watching as a hobby...............my grandfather would have been unable to identify birds except for racing pigeons and chickens but it was a lecture and the family turned out.

I would often hear him say “The only way out of this b***** valley is with an education”

Hook was no exception to this rule and shortly after the end of World War One the mining community got together and decided that like other mining communities, they too needed a hall.

In true Welsh style a committee was formed and in 1921 the Hook Workman’s Hall as it was originally known was built. Miners contributed a few pence a week out of meagre wages towards the building fund and small-scale fund-raising events were held. The land on which the Hall was built was purchased from John Harcourt Powell for “a consideration of £10”.

They had considerable assistance with all the legal and technical work from Mining Federation Agent, John Thomas, and in recognition of his contribution he was presented with a ceremonial key to the Hall. The key was discovered by a distant relative when long forgotten belongings of Mr Thomas were found. A search online resulted in the key being returned to Hook and is now in the possession of the village History Society.


The Hall was really well used; a small library was set up and a daily paper was delivered to the Hall each day so that miners could be kept up to date with the news! Undoubtedly, a paper with a strong lean to the left!

Such was the success of the Hall that in May 1936 the main topic at the monthly committee meeting was a plan to extend the Hall to add a reading room and a snooker table.

The committee of the day included: W.B. Havard; William James; William Warlow; William Bevan; Jim Brock; Ken Jenkins; Tom Badham; and Jim John. The secretary was Jim Banner and the Trustees: Cyril Jenkins, Alfred George; Tom Hitchings R.J.Rees; Fred Thomas; Basil Allen; Cecil Hitchings and W.J.Davies.

When the green light was given for the extension to the “Tute” £800 was allocated for the actual building and £100 for furniture which included a cupboard for the library books; whist tables; a table tennis table and a new cloth for a snooker table.

For years the Hall or “Tute” as it was affectionately known was the hub of village life. Weddings; wakes; concerts, operettas; political meetings were among the activities.

Then gradually around the 1950’s attitudes began to change. Home entertainment no longer centred around the Tute; tastes became, allegedly, more sophisticated and the ubiquitous television dominated after work hours entertainment.

As a result, the Hall gradually fell into disrepair until the only solution was demolition.

A rather forlorn looking Institute shortly before demolition
Above: A rather forlorn looking Institute shortly before demolition

With a heavy heart the hall was demolished, and a promise was made that something would be done to mark the villager’s debt owed to the mining community of yesteryear.

That promise came to fruition on Sunday July 11th 2011 when the Miners Memorial Garden was formally opened by the Chair of the village Community Council, the late Huw Jones.

The ceremony was attended by over 300 people and the plaque was unveiled by Millie Thomas, the granddaughter of the late Gerald Thomas, who passed away shortly before the opening but had been a driving force for a Memorial Garden.

Slate plaque
Above: The slate plaque which relates the story of mining in Hook and the magnificent legacy the miners of yesteryear have left to the village of Hook.

The plaque is inscribed as follows:

Anthracite was mined in Hook for over 600 years. In far off days women and children as young as six laboured in appalling conditions to earn enough to survive.

The Black Diamonds they dug were exported all over the world and, it is said, Queen Victoria would have no other coal than Hook anthracite. 
On this spot stood the Miners Village Institute for generations the hub of village life.

Miners paid for that Hall and the playing field by contributing a penny a week from their meagre wages.

At its peak the colliery produced 40,000 tons of anthracite a year and employed over 250 men.

A year after Nationalisation in 1947 the mine finally closed as the battle with flood waters was finally lost.

The playing field, the Social Club and this garden are all part of the valuable legacy of those brave workers who toiled deep underground at Hook Colliery.

Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.    


Making the introductions on the day Trustee Richard Howells said,” Hook owes its very existence to the mining industry and the men and indeed women and even children, who toiled underground in conditions that were indescribable by today’s standards. Work was hard and wages poor, yet they left a legacy in the shape of this playing field and surrounds which form the hub of village life. This memorial will go a long way in ensuring that their contribution of a few pence a week from meagre wages will not be forgotten.”

An interesting flashback ....a newspaper cutting from the Milford Haven Mercury when a memory capsule was buried in the memorial wall. In the picture Community Council Chair Huw Jones is receiving the capsule from children of Hook School.

Mercury Article

And the ball was set in motion with a staged article in the local press.........the youngest and fittest carried the blocks.!!

Western Telegraph Article

(Richard Howells 2020)