Ystradgynlais & District

History and Heritage



A flu epidemic that is sweeping from door to door this week has had a crippling effect on the Swansea Valley factories. That was the headline but THE DATE was 13th SEPTEMBER 1957.

Anglo Celtic and Enfield factories Ystradgynlais, where about 300 workers are reported ill, are worst hit.

Due to the nature of the light engineering work at these watch and clock factories - it takes a great deal of time to get men and women trained and skilled in their work - the factories was at their lowest productive level on Wednesday.

Said personal manager Mr T H Griffiths; "We are worse off than any other industry because of the nature of our work. And we can't deny that we are in terrible trouble at the moment."

At the Anglo Celtic, 181 employees were away ill on Monday, increasing to 217 on Tuesday and then dropping slightly to 207 on Wednesday. The number of people employed: 1216.

At the Enfield Clock Works, figures were Monday, Tuesday 75, and Wednesday 81. 480 people work there.

"It's certainly the flu that done the damage," said the personal manager. "But I don't know whether it's the Asian one. It is clearly the worst instance of absence that we have had since the Anglo Celtic was opened 1946, at the Enfield in 1949."

Mr Griffiths added that it was, "far too early" to say what gloss the outbreak was caused the two factories.

From the Perry Chain Factory Abercrave, comes an even more alarming figure of absence due to the sudden epidemic.

25% of the employees were downhill on Wednesday - the highest number since the factory was opened in 1949.

Said the manager, Mr Walton Williams: "It's really fantastic with us: the figure simply grows each day of the week."

"There were hundred and 14 workers away ill on Monday at this figure has increased on Tuesday, and today Wednesday, it's up to 130".

"I have never known anything like it that the factory was opened, I certainly hope that it is all going to end quickly".

Mr Williams declared that his employees had done their best.

"Many of them have been forced to leave work by high temperatures" he said.

This new trouble follows a strike at the Perry Chain in July. It will undoubtedly hinder an all-out drive to increase the export trade for the factories' bicycle hubs.

"But we will not be the only people to suffer," says Mr Williams. "What local factory won't it affect?"

The four-year-old Imber Research Factory at Pontardawe and the Mond Nickel Works Clydach, have both been very lucky so far.

"Only about 10% of our workers are on the sick list thank goodness," said the manager of Imber, Mr Castleton.

"So far we've only had half a dozen or so taken ill, but we may be caught later," was the comment of the labour officer of the Mond Company.

About 350 people are employed at Imber compared to 1200 at the Mond Nickel Works.

Yesterday, Mr G A Watson, the Coal Board's area general manager, revealed that there were more men away from work in the Valley pits than any other week of the year.

"But I cannot say whether it's the flu caused it," he said. "In fact I have not received a report from any local colliery of a flu epidemic".

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