The mystery of the “TUTE” has finally been solved.
Mr David Twist of St Annes in Lancashire had in his possession a presentation key in a formal satin lined case inscribed:” Hook Miners Institute October 20th 1923”. It also carries the inscription: “Presented to John Thomas BA Esq. Miners Agent Anthracite District.
Mr Twist is the great nephew of John Thomas BA……………later to become Doctor Thomas MA; F.R.E.S. F.S.A.; R.S.A………..and had often pondered the story behind the key.
A search found the Hook History Society web site and contact was made with a member of the Society and it was immediately confirmed that it was Hook in Pembrokeshire referred to on the presentation case.
In the early 1900’s Hook was a thriving anthracite coal mining village with at one time upwards of 200 men producing some of the finest quality anthracite in the world. Hence the title: The Black Diamond Village. The miners decided they would like an Institute….. a village hall style building….. where they could relax; have lectures; establish a library; play snooker and generally entertain their families.
Although pay was meagre to say the least funds were raised on a few pence per week basis, but expert help was needed to guide through the labyrinth of paper work and possible snags that such an enterprise involved.
Cometh the hour cometh the man and that man was miners’ agent for Gwendraeth and Pembrokeshire, John Thomas.
So grateful were the miners of Hook for his practical help they presented Mr Thomas with an elaborate ceremonial key to the Institute or the Tute as it was to become affectionately called.
Dr Thomas was a passionate champion of social justice and reform of the social order. Education, Dr Thomas, believed was not the privilege of the well off but the right of everyone. He became secretary of the workers educational association and lectured throughout South Wales. In 1925 he left South Wales to become Resident Tutor for North Staffordshire Extra Mural Study. He gained his doctorate for a thesis entitled,” The Industrial Revolution in the Potteries”. Dr Thomas continued a varied career as wartime director of talks with the B.B.C.(Northern Region); civil servant and industrial adviser to a major contractor.
Hook Miners Institute was the centre of village life for many years until sadly marred by the ravages of time it had to be demolished.
A spokesperson for Hook History Society said,” We are most grateful to Mr Twist as without his consideration this fascinating link with the villages’ industrial past may have slipped into oblivion. We will now make every effort to see that the link with Dr Thomas is not forgotten.”