Welsh Miners in Marsden

The New Standedge Tunnel, the third railway tunnel from Marsden to Diggle, was begun in 1890 and completed in August 1894. Its successful construction relied upon skilled tunnel miners who were not to be found in the local area.

Much of the workforce was recruited in North Wales, particularly Anglesey, where the copper mining industry was in decline.

By the time of the 1891 Census, 99 inhabitants of Marsden gave Wales as their birthplace. Half of the men were married but few of them brought their families with them.

The miners were predominantly Welsh speakers and lived on the outskirts of the village, at Redbrook and Gilberts in specially constructed wooden huts. It seems likely that they kept themselves to themselves, organising their own religious services in Welsh. And there is some evidence of friction between them and locals.

By the 1901 census, after the tunnel was completed, only one Welsh family remained in Marsden, many of them having moved back to Wales.

Welsh Miners in Marsden - from the 1891 Census

NameAge     Marital statusOccupationPlace of birth
William Davies 27 M Tunnel Miner Anglesey
Letitia Davies 27 wife Anglesey
William H. Davies 7 son Anglesey
John Thomas 23 S Tunnel Miner Anglesey
Benjamin Ellis 30 M Engine Driver Amloch
James Francis 23 S Tunnel Miner Amloch
Richard Francis 19 S Tunnel Miner Amloch
Owen Hughes 30 S Tunnel Miner Amloch
William Hughes 30 M Tunnel Miner Amloch
Richard Jones 24 M Engine Driver Amloch
Edward Owen 19 S Tunnel Miner Amloch
Evan Roberts 18 S Tunnel Miner Amloch
Hugh Thomas 49 M Tunnel Overlooker Amloch
Hugh H. Thomas 26 S Tunnel Miner Amloch
John Williams 60 W Tunnel Miner Amloch
Richard Williams 40 M Tunnel Miner Amloch
Catherine Williams 52 wife Amloch
William Williams 54 M Tunnel Overlooker Amloch
Hestor McGregor 5 S Bangor
(Father - Alexander McGregor. Civil Engineer, born Liverpool)
David Williams 30 S Tunnel Miner Bangor
Griffith Griffiths 46 W Tunnel Miner Llanstephen
William Griffiths 29 M Schoolmaster Llanstephen
Robert Hughes 33 S Tunnel Miner Dulyddelan
David Jones 19 S Tunnel Miner Llanllechild
David Jones 46 M Tunnel Miner Llandegai
Hugh Jones 23 S Quarryman Penmorfa
Owen Jones 39 M Quarryman Muchbychan
Robert Jones 54 M Quarryman Penmorvan
William D. Jones 38 M Tunnel Miner Llandegai
Griffith Lloyd 54 M Engine Fitter Llanwodd
John E. Owen 46 M Tunnel Miner Penmorfe
Robert W. Parry 25 S Tunnel Miner Rhostryfan
John Roberts 57 M Tunnel Miner Dolyddlen
John Roberts 56 M Tunnel Miner Trewyde
Richard Roberts 57 M Tunnel Miner Penmachno
Owen Thomas 37 W Tunnel Miner Tremadog
Robert D. Thomas 25 S Tunnel Miner Rhostryfan
John Williams 64 M Tunnel Miner Portinorwig
Evan Edwards 53 M Tunnel Miner Cardigans
Jane Edwards 56 wife Carnarvonshire
David Edwards 29 M Tunnel Miner Glynceiriog
Jane Edwards 34 wife Orecknock
Jane thumphreys 21 S Servant Llanchaisdr
David Jones 48 M Blacksmith
Sarah Ellen Jones 31 wife
Thomas Jones 41 M Joiner Llangernic
Edward Shore 34 M Tunnel Miner
Thomas Smith 57 M Storekeeper
David Jones 22 S Timekeeper Dowlais
Elizabeth Wade 27 M Penarth
(Husband - Henry Wade, general labourer, born in Middlesex)
Matilda Wilkins 4 Llandrcant
William J. Wilkins 8 New Bridge
(Children of John Wilkins, general labourer born in Dorset)
John Roberts Roberts 33 M Tunnel Miner Tallyllyn
David Williams 20 S Tunnel Miner Tallyllyn
Elizabeth Poole 29 M Llanwydden
(wife of Phillip H. Poole, Joiner born in Wellington, Salop)
John Vaughan 26 S General Labourer Welshpool
Chas Thomas Bonner 18 S Clerk

Further reading

McKenna, Krista (2022) A fleeting 'little Wales' in Marsden? The motivations and impact of Welsh miners who migrated to Marsden, Yorkshire in the early 1890s.
Student dissertation for The Open University module A329, The making of Welsh history.