Leeswood - A Treat to Workmen, 1867
type: Beyond Scotland - Wales
The London, Leeswood, and Erith Oil and Mineral Company treated their workmen at the Pontblyddyn Oil and Coal Works to a substantial dinner on Saturday last, when between 60 and 70 workmen assembled in the brick-shed, near the Miners' Arms, which was well warmed and neatly decorated for the occasion. The providing of the repast was entrusted to Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, landlady of the Miners' Arms, and all spoke well of her catering capabilities.
Mr W. Mattieu Williams, the general manager, presided, and was supported his right by Mr Young, and on his left Mr W. Davies, foremen of the company's two branches of works. The Rev. D. Evans, Pontblyddyn, was vice-president. The cloth having been removed, the Chairman, in proposing "The Queen and Royal Family," observed that workmen would soon take part in the political affairs the country. As a body the working classes were those who respected the laws of the country, and they were loyal as any of Her Majesty's subjects, and her Majesty was certainly the Queen of the people.
He had once witnessed a number of working men being presented to her Majesty, when she thanked them for preparing a park which was opened on that day. Her sons were taught useful arts. The Prince of Wales had once acted as bricklayer, and his brother carried bricks and mortar for him whilst Swiss cottage was being erected by them, the furniture of which the princes made with their own hands. This was a good plan of engaging the sympathy of the future king of England with the working classes. (Cheers.) Song by Mr North - "Men be steady." The President then gave the health of "The Chairman and Directors of the Company" When the workmen enjoyed their treat twelve months ago, there were two companies, one of which gave a treat to the men; but now they were under one board of directors, and he (the chairman) felt anxious that the men under him should be met by him according to the old custom, to exchange a little friendly feeling; and so he wrote to the board of directors, who lived at a distance, but who still had the welfare of the workmen at heart, and the secretary replied that they were to have their treat at the expense of the company.
The oil trade being bad just now (though bad as it was he expected that the company would get a dividend), they might have excused themselves and said they could not give the men the treat this year, but such was not the case, and he was happy to tell them they were gentlemen in every sense of the word. (Cheers.) Song by the Chairman "A Norrible Tale." The Vice-Chairman then proposed "Success to the London, Leeswood, and Erith Oil and Mineral Company," coupled with the name of Mr W. Mattieu Wilams, the manager. He had no doubt all present would wish them large dividend. Let them hope there were better times in store for the oil trade. He knew Williams lived in "'Hope." (Laughter.)— The toast was drunk with musical honours.
The Chairman thanked them very cordially for the manner the toast had been received, and said believed that the men would not only drink the health of the masters, but that they would work it. They were mutually dependent. The capitalists found the plant and advanced the wages ; the men worked and made the capital productive. If the men attempted to sink pits and raise minerals, they would fail; and on the other band if the capitalists tried to without the men, they would also fail. He would be very happy to see the day when these matters were better understood by all parties. It was time that they should be taught in the schools. The better understanding of them would prevent strikes and disputes between masters and men. He knew of a better plan than strikes; he would never strike if he were a miner. Let them save their own capital, and open works of their own. There was no reason whatever why young man should not save his money, and buy share in the Pontblyddyn or any other work. He (the chairman) was but steward, and the company looked to him for the success of the oil trade, and to Mr Young the working of the colliery, and they must render an account of their stewardship. Before this could be done it depended in a great measure on the workmen, that they should not waste the goods of their employers, or spend their time in idleness. There was as much danger from that course the workmen to the master. Suppose all men were wasteful and idle, they would have to be discharged and a stop put to the work. But if works are successful, they will enlarged, thus contribute in a large degree to the general good. That being so, better feeling between employers and employed should be cultivated. He had an earnest respect for the workman ; no one deserved more respect than the man who earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. was sure that if meetings such as they were at were more common, it would engender a better feeling between the masters and the men. He always liked a man better after had dined with him, and Englishmen were all alike in this respect.
The warm feeling the company had shown that night to him in drinking the toast, he most heartily reciprocated, in conclusion he hoped the men would always find good work, liberal wages, and regular employment. (Cheers.) Song by Mr Richard Bates— Teddy the Tiler." The Vice-Chairman then gave the " Health of the working classes," coupling with the toast the name of Mr Young, who briefly returned thanks. Other toasts were proposed, and duly honoured, in eluding the Hostess, Aaron Jones, the owner of brickshed, &c.,; and a very pleasant evening was spent.
The Wrexham Advertiser - 5th January 1867