Note: my grandparents lived in the small village of Clydach, between Abergavenny and Brynmawr – while they were there, the Heads of the Valleys Road was built.
My grandfather worked as a security guard at Ebbw Vale steelworks. My brother and I, and our younger cousins, used to spend holidays there in the 1960s.
Rain On The Heads Of The Valleys.
The shiny rain falls on the roofs of black slate
That shelter this village of coal
The Welsh rain that falls as certain as fate
To soak a man through to his soul
The rain that fell and cut to the seams
Of the anthracite’s bright power
The rain that fed pumps, engines and beams
And delivered the miners’ hour
The rain that fell on the choirs and bands
That played hymns of the miners’ strikes
The rain that saw the NUM take the fight in its hands
To face down the Coal Board’s might.
The rain that fell when they won better pay
In seventy-two and seventy-four
The rain that fell when they won the day
And thought –wrongly –they’d won the war.
The rain that fell when MacGregor’s axe cut
And the pithead winding gear stopped
The rain that fell when the baths were shut
And the colliery gates stood locked
The rain falls on this Valleys’ watershed
Of the Welsh and the English tongues
But the rain falls the same on the quick and the dead
And the NUM fought back as one
The rain that fell on towns wet and drab
On the coppers and miners’ wives
The rain that soaked the strikers and scabs
As communities fought for their lives
The shiny rain still falls on the roofs of black slate
Thirty years on, in this village of coal
Since the Tories and Coal Board settled the fate
Of the men who now mine the dole .