Aberaman Riots

Aberdare Leader 12th November 1910
Serious Riots at Aberaman 60 people injured windows smashed

On Thursday night stones were freely thrown and several windows were smashed. A huge stone was thrown the window into the shop of Mr Gwilym Evans, a grocer at Cardiff Rd. Four valuable prize fowls were stolen from an outhouse in Belmont Terrace.

Serious riots occurred on Tuesday evening; the strikers concentrated their attentions on the coal washeries, which were owned by the Powell Duffryn Colliery Co. It had not been anticipated that anything untoward in the district would happen given that fact that the dispute will shortly occupy the attention of Coal Conciliation Board, and consequently, the dispute came as a surprise and very quickly the news spread throughout the district that an attack was being made on the washery.

Some 200 or 300 people assembled outside the Aberaman Institute and marched in a body to the storm centre, which is situated between Cwmbach and Aberaman some mile and a half from Aberdare. Many hundreds of women accompanied the strikers. When within a few hundred yards of the washery some 200 lads were dispatched as a sort of advance guard to the washery, but they were turned to rout by the police. About 30 policemen were guarding the washery, but they did not anticipate any serious trouble, and at the time when the 200 youths came on the scene a portion of the police was at tea. They were, however, immediately summoned, and were soon confronted by 2000 strikers, many of whom were armed with sticks and other weapons.

The policemen ranged themselves in front of the powerhouse and the other premises but very quickly they were made the object of a most hostile demonstration, and stones and other missiles were hurled at them in a reckless manner and with a total disregard to life and limb or property.

The strikers climbed over a fence, and, with what object they had in view can only be conjectured, set fire to some straw which was stored in a railway wagon. This very quickly became a huge conflagration, but it was soon put out although it smoldered for hours.

The police played a water hose on the strikers, but they had to abandon this method of dealing with the crowd, as it had very-little effect on them. Fusillades of stones were again hurled against the police and many were injured Inspector Rees of Llandaff and Sergeant Griffiths of Barry Dock and two other Constables being seriously hurt, more particularly the former who suffered a severe gash in the face.
Seeing that the demonstrators were in an ugly mood, the police had to resort to more severe measures, and they were compelled to charge the crowd with drawn truncheons. These methods proved successful, and the crowd dispersed in all directions, hundreds running along the railway line and others down the canal bank.

Scenes of a remarkable nature were witnessed on the canal bank, in consequence of the stampede many were jostled into the canal, but they struggled back on to the bank. It is stated that about 60 strikers were more-or-less injured. One person had his hand seriously burnt by contact with a live electrical wire, while another fractured his leg. The injuries of most of the others consisted of serious wounds to the head.

A reporter mistaken for a ‘blackleg’ was struck on the head and elbow with bones and sticks.

Aberaman Strike 3.12.1910

Serious Allegations against the Police

Mr W. W. Price, secretary of the Aberaman Hall and Institute, writes as follows:

Mr J. Keir Hardie, M.P., wired me on Wednesday evening asking for information concerning the rioting which took place on Tuesday evening November 22nd, 1910. As reported in the newspapers. I there-upon made immediate inquiries of those who were witnesses, and I also called upon seven tradesmen to ascertain the truth of the reports which I had heard about them being attacked by the police.

I take no part whatever in the merits of the dispute between the miners and their employers, nor do I deny that there was window-smashing, etc., on the part of the younger strikers. What I wish to emphasize is that the police have made unprovoked attacks upon individuals and have used most insulting language to the residents when there was no occasion for such and no threatening or booing of the police. The following are the statements made by persons who have been interviewed:

1.    Mr W. Thomas Wile 6, Gamblyn Place:
I arrived by the 10.40 train from Mountain Ash and walked along the road to go home. The police asked me, “Where are you going?” I replied, “Home.” Thirteen or 14 struck me with their fists, and I was knocked down. They refused to allow me to go up the road. Then I informed an officer of what had taken place, and I was told, “Get home before you have another one.”  I had a badge on my arm at the time, selling bulletins.

2.    Mr W. John Davies: I arrived at the same time, walked behind Mr T.W. Wile, and was driven against and stumbled under the horses’ feet, and am lame today (Wednesday).

3.    Mr W. Eplett: I saw from the shop window about a dozen men going down the road peacefully. The police got behind them on the pavement pushing them on quicker. Then the men commenced to run, and the police ran after them with their batons, the blows being heard distinctly. Women on their doorsteps in Cardiff Road (with gardens in the front) shouted out “Murder. There are, brutes.) Then another batch of police came down, some of whom rushed after the people in the gardens. One of them said, “Let’s charge these.” The people ran to their houses and flung out what they could, pieces of saucepans etc., among them.

4.    Mr R. Tebbitt, manager of Poole’s Picture Palace: People were flung out through the door as they were coming down the steps, after the performance. Several of the employees of the theatre, money takers and checkers, etc., were seized and flung out from inside the entrance of the building. One of the lady money checkers was addressed as follows: “Now then you, get out.” Tonight, the hall had a small attendance as people were afraid to attend, being in fear of rough handling.

5.    Mr Shepherd, fruitier, (next door to the hall): I saw a girl knocked on her mouth by a foot constable with his hand as she was coming from the hall. People were pushed and hustled as they were leaving. Three or four customers were in the shop. Two-foot police walked in and ordered my customers out, and one young man was hustled outside and struck on the jaw by a constable. The man had just bought apples. The others were all hustled and my own family were forced back to the back kitchen in fear. They pushed me as I ordered them off the premises.

6.    Mr C.F. Williams, an employee at the theatre: I was standing as the door as the people were leaving about 10.20 to 10.30 p.m. I then; saw a large number, of police coming down the road, I heard one say, “Get ready boys.” They immediately had a baton in hand. There was no disturbance whatever, and there were only a few, present on the pavement, and these were driven down the road. A policeman caught hold of me and hit me under the chin. I fell backwards and knocked against a woman coming out behind me. I had informed the policeman I was an employee.

7.    Mr W. Davies (proprietor of a fish bar in Lewis Street): A mounted policeman in the shop entrance ordered all the customers out and demanded that the shop be locked up by 10 o’clock. That was before the big row begun. One young man, who was eating fish and chips, was ordered out and replied that he would if he could go. As soon as he was out on the pavement the mounted policeman rode after him, and the horse knocked him down. I saw a man being beaten against a wall in Cardiff Road.

8.    Mr Dan Knight, baker: I was going home when a policeman came on and asked me for a stick. I refused, and they knocked me down the gulley, and I had to take refuge into a butcher’s shop nearby and stayed there three-quarters of an hour, afraid to leave. I saw a man being beaten by five policemen on the ground (this man being now in bed); he has four stitches inserted in his wound.

9.    Mr D. J. Phillips, Secretary Shop Assistants: While I was going home, I saw a man being beaten by two policemen with truncheons, the poor fellow keeping his head down to protect himself.

10.    Mr T. M. Lloyd, shop assistant: I was on my way to the Post Office, and I saw the police. They,     then asked me where I was going to. I replied, “To the Post Office.” I was then stopped and     kicked badly by the police and am very lame tonight (Wednesday).

The above are the facts (says Mr Price in conclusion) as I took them down from the lips of the persons mentioned, many more were prepared to give evidence.

Supt. Gill’s Denial
Declares that the Police acted moderately

Superintendent Gill, of the Glamorgan Constabulary, who was, in charge of the Aberdare District says, “There was no brutality on the part of the police. Although they charged the crowd with drawn staves. I think they acted very moderately; in fact, I do not think they used the violence they might have, as from the inquiries I have made, and from what was reported to me, there was ample justification on the part of the police. The charge was not made until several of the Metropolitan police were stoned. One is now on the sick list and had to be escorted to the headquarters. The police acted most patiently. In charging a crowd you cannot select, and there is no doubt that people who did get a crack. I do not think the complaints against the police are justifiable. Windows have been broken and the police stoned before a charge was made, and had the police not acted promptly things would have been very much worse.”

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