Books and personal papers belonging to former Gower MP David Rhys Grenfell have been returned to Gower by its current MP, Tonia Antoniazzi, after being found in a charity shop in Carmarthen.
Tonia’s office was contacted after staff at the Tŷ Hafan shop in Greyfriers, Carmarthen spotted that the contents of a suitcase donated to the charity related to the man who represented Gower for 37 years and was ‘Father’ of the House of Commons when he retired in 1959.
Labour Councillor Robert Smith, who has been researching the life of D. R. Grenfell, accompanied Tonia to collect the materials said ‘D. R. Grenfell is one of the forgotten figures of the Welsh Labour movement and deserves far greater recognition for his contribution to Welsh life and for his work internationally’.
The papers include the report of the Royal Commission on Safety in the Mines on which DR served during the mid-1930s. Robert says ‘The disaster at Gresford colliery near Wrexham in 1934 in which 266 men were killed led to the appointment of a Royal Commission to examine what changes were needed to the way mines were regulated.
The legislation that existed at the time had been passed in 1911 and needed to be updated to take account of changes in the way the mines were worked because of mechanisation and other developments in the intervening years.
DR was a member of the Commission and was one of the ones who drafted the report. Although the recommendations were not adopted immediately they formed the basis of the regulations that governed the mining industry in the second half of the twentieth century’.
Robert went on ‘Also of interest is the material which illustrates D.R.’s internationalism. He helped refugees from Austria and Spain in the 1930s and spent several weeks in Prague in the autumn of 1938 -80 years this month in fact- helping thousands refugees who were wanted by the Nazis to escape to Britain’.
Tonia said “This is a fascinating find a real piece of history which tells us more about a forgotten giant of the Labour movement”
“D.R. Grenfell helped shape modern Britain and these papers will give us a renewed insight into his political work.”