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Why we must save the Coal Exchange.

THE Welsh Conservatives have called for an investigation into the comments by Cardiff council officer Pat Thompson in the BBC programme by Nick Broomfield on Disappearing Britain.

Mr Thompson said he felt the important historical Coal Exchange should be demolished because "it was for the money men" who were resented by those "who were coal trimmers in the docks or digging the coal up in the valleys".

I think these comments, apart from being a sweeping generalisation, betray a very narrow-minded point of view. My great-grandfather was a coal trimmer in Cardiff Docks.

While I never knew him, I have always felt great respect for a man who, in order better to provide for his wife and young family, crossed the Bristol channel from Bridgwater in search of work.

In the 19th century the coal industry and our docks were developed by entrepreneurs who, although some might at times be guilty of exploitation of their workers, did provide work for the masses.

They could not all be the boss but the industrial revolution provided jobs and enabled our ancestors to build better lives which led to the relative prosperity in which many of us now live.

My great-grandparents had thirteen children and my great grandfather died at the early age of fifty seven probably, I suspect from the effects of inhaling coal dust in the holds of the ships in which his job was to level out the coal in order to 'trim' the ship. Life was undoubtedly hard in those pre welfare state days but people understood that if you wanted to eat and support your family you had to work. There was no choice.

We live in easier times but I believe that rather than resent the men who built the South Wales coal industry, my greatgrandfather, John Sheppard was grateful to have regular employment. Without him, I would not be here today, a proud Cardiffian and I sincerely hope that it is not too late to save that very important part of Cardiff's history, the Coal Exchange.

Pauline Grainger, Llandaff

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 30, 2016
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