Cwmaman Institute, Fforchaman Road
The Cwmaman Institute grew from a reading room which opened in 1868, in a house which the Cwmaman Coal Company provided rent-free. Miners and other local residents paid a subscription of 4d (four old pence) per month, and the room was open from 9am to 10pm.
Later, employees of the same colliery each paid a small amount from their wages to fund a larger facility. Eventually Cwmaman’s Public Hall was opened by Lord Aberdare in 1892. He had donated towards the fund for the £1,500 building, as had the local MP and colliery companies. The main hall could seat 700 people, and there was a reading room and billiards room. The library initially had 500 books in English and 100 in Welsh.
Fire destroyed the building in 1896. A replacement building was formally opened in September 1897. The Cwmaman Institute was extended at various times in the early 20th century. It was home to many cultural and sporting groups and events including eisteddfodau, an air-rifle club and Cwmaman Brass Band. An amateur photographic society was meeting here by 1910.
Inquests were also held at the Cwmaman Institute, as it became known. The subject of one inquest in 1904 was Annie Mary Lewis, aged two. She and other children had got onto the Great Western Railway line near Fforchaman Colliery, where a passing coal train severed her head and right hand. Another inquest, in 1907, heard how Lewis Jones of 121 Fforchaman Road died when he was hit by a runaway tram (a type of railway wagon), deep underground in Cwmneol Colliery. He had pushed his mate out of the way, saving his mate’s life, but couldn’t avoid being crushed himself.
The Miners’ Welfare Commission helped keep the Institute running through the great depression between the world wars. In 1954, a cinema opened on the premises.
The building was renovated in the early 1990s and continues to be a focalpoint for the community. It now includes a gym and health suite. The Institute Theatre Group, founded in 1972, continues to perform here. It’s now known as Cwmaman Theatre Company.
In 2014, a war memorial was erected outside the Institute.
Postcode: CF44 6NY View Location Map
Website of Cwmaman Theatre Company