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Newbold Heritage Group New Lount Colliery Heritage Trail Board 7

Frank Hodges

Frank Hodges is without doubt the individual who has had the biggest influence on both New Lount Colliery and Newbold village.  Born on 30th April 1887 in the village of Woolaston in Gloucestershire. When Frank was just three years old his family were living at The Common, Wollaston where Thomas Hodges was recorded as a "highway labourer"; a working class family. When Frank was 7 years old, the family moved to Abertillery, Monmouthshire, presumably so his father Thomas could find work in the Collieries. In 1901 the Hodges family were living at 19 Mitre Street, Abertillery and Frank's father had found work in the pits as a labourer underground. Frank, who was only 13, together with his three older brothers, had also found work in the Powell Tillery Pits and all four worked as "coal hewers". It was whilst young Frank was working at the pit that a mining official recognised Frank's keen interest in reading and sponsored him to attend night school.

Frank became involved with the Methodist movement, apparently inspired by the Methodist preacher Evan Roberts, and by the age of sixteen he was preaching in the evenings. He found his religious beliefs were in sympathy with the plight of the coal-miners, and became a member of the Trade Union movement. At the same time his political views led him to become a member of the Independent Labour Party. Frank's increasing involvement in the Trade Union movement led to him securing a scholarship to Ruskin College Oxford, where he spent two years from 1909.

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After his two years at Oxford Frank returned to the mines, and soon moved away from manual work to more intellectual work as a District Representative of The South Wales Miners' Federation. After ten years Frank's work with the Miners' Federation was rewarded, when he was appointed the Permanent Secretary of The Miners' Federation of Great Britain. This position required Frank to negotiate on behalf of the mining industry with the Government including the then Prime Minister Lloyd George.

In 1923 Frank Hodges was elected as a Labour Member of Parliament for Lichfield. He was appointed to the position of Civil Lord of The Admiralty as part of Ramsey MacDonald's first Labour Government. During his period as a Member of Parliament Frank Hodges was invited to the Rhondda to play at Ton Pentre Golf Club in a game with the then Duke of York before he became George VI. Frank was defeated by the Conservative candidate in 1924 and this ended his political career.

It is not totally clear exactly when Frank Hodges first became involved in Newbold, but once he did his influence was extremely significant. He was appointed managing director of the Leicestershire Colliery & Pipe Company Limited around 1933 and was soon appointed as Chairman of the company.  In this capacity he was able to influence the development of New Lount Colliery and this led to many of the other ventures that directly changed Newbold and its locality. Around 1934 Frank Hodges started building new houses in Newbold village, initially for his colliery managers and then for the colliery workers. Sometime after these houses were built, Frank Hodges supplied the village with street lighting, making Newbold one of the first villages to have electric street lighting.

In 1937 as a result of colliery improvements both the village and Newbold Pipe Works were supplied with mains water.

Other companies that were established by Frank Hodges included Newbold Haulage Company, Newbold Pipe Co. Ltd, L&N Distillation Company an the Newbold Brick Co. Ltd, the chimney of which still stands as a landmark in the village. These and other changes influenced by Frank Hodges contributed to the growth and prosperity of the region.