Gareth Jones

[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]



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Tell Them We Are Starving




Eyewitness to the Holodomor



More Than Grain of Truth



Manchukuo Incident





'Are you Listening NYT?'  U.N. Speech - Nov 2009


Gareth Recognised at Cambridge - Nov 2009


Reporter and the Genocide - Rome, March 2009


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Gareth Jones 'Famine' Diaries - Chicago 2008


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War on Unemployment (vi) 




More than one million men, women, and children now live in slums in Great Britain. 

Although we have, since the American bubble burst, become the country with the highest standard of living in the world, about two hundred thousand families still live in stuffy, overcrowded and dilapidated rooms in narrow, sunless streets.

For every family living in the slums there is one builder or more out of work who would with enthusiasm seize the chance of working.  Timber is cheap.  The prices of bricks and mortar and glue have dropped.  Wages are lower than they have been for years.

In the banks there are millions of pounds of idle money which can be borrowed at low rates.  Never has money been so cheap.  No general in a war has ever had so many favourable factors on his side as the nation now in its assault on the slums.

For fifteen years the subject has been talked about, but all that has been achieved has been a clearance at the rate of about 1,000 houses a year, a small achievement of which no nation can be proud.

The Big Drive

At last the big drive to destroy the slums has been launched.  In the beginning of April the Government declared that within five years England and Wales should be a country free of slums.

A circular which the Ministry of Health issued in the beginning of April, 1933 invited the local authorities to prepare a programme containing the areas and the houses to be cleared and a timetable for their demolition.  Under this new Five-year Plan loan sanctions were to be forthcoming to enable the authorities to begin re-housing schemes almost at the same time as the slums were being cleared.

The Prime Minister followed up this circular by making his first public appearance after his return from America in order to appeal for a vigorous campaign for slum clearance.

The country seems, therefore, to be preparing for action at last.  What is the strength of the slums in South Wales?

Conditions in Wales

“The amount of insanitary property,” states Mr. Edgar Chappell in his “Housing Problem in Wales,”   “Whether isolated or congested in slums in the industrial districts of Wales, is comparatively small.”

Housing conditions In South Wales are better than in the older coalfields of England and Scotland.  What Wales suffers from is not slums, but semi-slums.

There are two main districts where the most insanitary houses are to be found.  The first is in the oldest industrial centre on the northern edges of the coalfield, a fringe which stretches from Pontypool, through Blaenavon, Nantyglo, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Rhymney, Merthyr, Cwmbach and Ystalyfera.

In this northern part of the coalfield, where there are so many small dilapidated and insanitary cottages, about three-quarters of the poorer housing in South Wales is to be found.

The other district with many houses of a “slummy” character is that which stretches from Burry Port to Maestag and Tondu, and includes Llanelly, Swansea, Neath and Cwmavon.

The reason for the bad living quarters in this area is, as in the northern district, the early date when industry was introduced.  The areas which attracted industry at a later date have better houses, for they were populated after the by-laws regulating housing were passed.

Straggling Streets

Although Glamorgan and Monmouthshire may be better off than the Black Country, there is a great task awaiting the slum-clearers.  Some mining towns and villages, built in a haphazard way, present a chaotic picture of straggling, polluted street., with little space left for parks and playgrounds.

In the Rhondda Valley, as Mr. Edgar Chappell points out, the density of the population has been as much a. 23,650 persons per square mile.  Builders paid little heed to the importance of sunshine, and the back rooms where families usually live are generally in semi-gloom. Semi-gloom is, however, one of the minor drawbacks of many South Wales houses.  Dr. Rocyn Jones, medical officer of health for Monmouthshire, wrote:  “In some of the areas serious over-crowding is still prevalent, and this becomes more acute each year ... The general character of the defects found to exist in unfit houses dealt with were mainly defective roofs, damp walls and detective windows and floors, and in some of the older type of back-to-earth cottages, inadequate lighting and ventilation and insufficient height of bedrooms.”

Cardiff’s Good Bill

Cardiff has a good bill of health.  About twenty years ago the authorities cleared many courts which threatened to become slums, and while there are many people living in unsatisfactory conditions, it can be said that there are in Cardiff no areas of a definitely” slum” character.

In many Welsh towns and villages the need for new houses is great.  The cry of “Economy” might be raised against the Government’s policy of slum clearance.

But those who raise this cry too vociferously should remember that every job given to a builder will save the country about £75 per year in unemployment benefit, that slums lead to high expenses on crime treatment and prisons, and that the clearance of the slums will lessen tuberculosis and lower the amounts spent on fighting disease.








Gareth Jones: A Manchukuo Incident



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