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B. L. Coombes

Miner's Day: B. L. Coombes, with Rhondda Images by Isabel Alexander (Hardback)

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Edited with an introduction by Peter Wakelin

Part of the Modern Wales series.


Originally published in 1945, Miner’s Day tells of the coalmining life of the thirties in south Wales.

‘Coombes and Alexander each had a passion to show the real life of coalmining communities to a wide public, Coombes through words and Alexander through pictures. Coalmining was veiled more opaquely than almost any other sector from the view of educated people and metropolitan elites. Many of its particularities, literally hidden below ground, were unimaginable to outsiders who had never contemplated what it might be like to spend the day in darkness, to labour in a space no higher than a dining chair, to bear the daily crush of fear that a husband or father might not come home from work, or to suffer injustices of wage cuts, industrial disease and injury.’
From the introduction by Peter Wakelin


Bertie Louis Coombes, or B. L. Coombes (1893–1974), was a Welsh coalminer, notable for his autobiography These Poor Hands: The Autobiography of a Miner in South Wales (1939) which became an instant bestseller. He also produced short stories, dramas and other autobiographical works about the lives of coalminers and the communities in which they lived.

Isabel Alexander (1910-1996) was a British artist and illustrator whose work encompassed drawing, water colour, oils, lithography, lino-printing and three-dimensional work, and whose output ranged from socially-engaged documentation of the lives and work of Welsh coalminers, Irish fishermen and English farmworkers through book illustration to landscapes, seascapes and abstracts.

Peter Wakelin is a writer and curator. He was formerly Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales and Director of Collections & Research at National Museum Wales. He has recently curated work for the National Eisteddfod.