A miners’ leader, trade unionist and politician, Vernon Hartshorn OBE MP was the first collier to become a Cabinet Member during the early 20th century. South Wales Miners’ Museum based in Afan Argoed, launched an exhibition depicting the fascinating story of the very first MP for Ogmore to celebrate his life and the significant contribution he made to people’s lives.
The highly praised exhibition told the story of Hartshorn’s remarkable life and career during a rapidly changing world via photos, letters, newspaper articles and personal artefacts including his ministerial box. It told how after being born in Risca, Caerphilly, in 1872, he began working in a colliery from the age of 14 where he worked for 12 years before becoming a Checkweighman and miners’ representative. In 1905 he was elected Miners’ Agent for Maesteg and later elected as an MP for the newly created Ogmore Constituency in 1918, a seat he held until his death in 1931.
After leaving Afan Argoed, the exhibition will tour other venues across South Wales including Rhondda Heritage Park, Risca Library, Cynon Valley Museum, and then onto the Senedd before finishing at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Former MP for Ogmore and now Assembly Member for Ogmore in the National Assembly for Wales, Huw Irranca-Davies AM was asked to launch the exhibition. After the event Mr Irranca-Davies said: “I was delighted to help launch the wonderful ‘Pit Bottom to Parliament’ exhibition about the fascinating story of Ogmore’s very first MP. A remarkable and inspirational man, who became one of the most influential figures in Welsh and British politics, yet remains largely forgotten.
South Wales Miners’ Museum provided a first-class venue for a fitting tribute to a man who inspired many of the policies that safe-guard us today, a true hero of not just the Labour Party but politics in general. I would urge anyone to go see this excellent portrayal of a man who from humble beginnings showed the world that anything is possible.”