In Wales the post-Second World War period was one of gradual decline for the major, traditional, male-orientated industries of coal, steel and slate. While whole libraries have been devoted to chronicling the rise and fall of the heroic miner and quarryman in Welsh history, the story of working-class Welsh women, who laboured in our factories in Wales during this same period, has been largely neglected and ignored. Voices from the Factory Floor aims to put this right and to allow the women to tell their own stories. Over 200 `factory girls' were recorded in this oral-history project, which was run by Archif Menywod Cymru/Women's Archive of Wales, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (Wales) and other sponsors.
Their stories are fascinating. The women talk of long hours, low wages, and difficult working conditions with few health and safety regulations, but also of communal solidarity, camaraderie, controversial rites of passage and a vibrant social life. Many of them abandoned their personal ambitions and, through their sacrifice, they managed, in the sixties and seventies especially, to raise their families out of poverty. The voices of these extraordinary, ordinary, feisty working-class women deserve to be heard and appreciated.
Catrin Stevens has written numerous books on Welsh history for adults and children in both Welsh and English. She co-ordinated the Heritage Lottery funded project `Voices from the Factory Floor', under the auspices of Archif Menywod Cymru / Women's Archive of Wales. She is the former Head of History at Trinity College, Carmarthen.