Sir Eugene Cross, MBE, MM, JP
Birth:  1896 famous Image
Death:  1981
Age at Death:  85
Occupation:  Justice of the Peace
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Born 13th September 1896 at 15 Gantra Row, Ebbw Vale After leaving school at eleven years of age Eugene Cross worked at the brickworks for ten shillings a week, less 4d. insurance money. When he was twelve he left the Brickworks and went to work at Marine Colliery, where he remained until the 1914/18 war.

He served in the war at Gallipoli and in France, and was awarded the Military Medal. After the war he returned to No.2 Pit Marine Colliery. Unfortunately his father was killed in the Bessemer and his mother begged the Works Manager to give Eugene promotion to the staff, so that he could help support the family. He was given a job in the Steelworks and worked there until he was made redundant in 1929. His family suffered like many others in Ebbw Vale during the years of depression. During the lean years of the late twenties he saw the need for a public swimming pool. At that time adults and young people swam in the works feeders, which were on the mountains. The swimming was not supervised and the ponds were deep and dangerous with polluted water. Several people drowned each year

In 1930, Eugene, as a member of the Executive of the Welfare Committee, sought outside help and came forward with an anonymous gift of 100, and the offer of volunteer labour from the large number of unemployed men in the area. (The donor was the former headmaster of Briery Hill School, Mr. F. G. H. Cooper.)

Permission was granted for the construction of a pool at the north end of the Sports Ground, near the present T.A. Centre. With the assistance of Charlie Heal, who was then unemployed, but who had been an engineer in the works, digging on the site began with about a dozen labourers. Through the support of Charles Mason, a substantial grant was obtained from the Miners' Welfare Fund.

The pool was completed in 1931 and was to have been opened by Rt. Honourable \ Thomas Richards P.C. who had been the Member of Parliament for Ebbw Vale earlier in the century. Unfortunately he became ill and Councillor Cyrus Davies J.P., who was the Chairman of the Swimming Section of the Welfare Committee, took his place. The pool was opened on May 15th 1931. The scheme was reported in the newspaper, which said that Eugene "was a young man of indomitable pluck and considerable ability". The Chairman of the Committee was D. T. Davies and the Vice Chairman, Councillor Tudor Henry.

The Lido, which was 90 feet x 38 feet, remained in use until the Municipal Pool was opened in 1961.

In 1936 the works was bought by Messrs Richard Thomas Ltd. and Eugene helped ' to employ men to build the manufacturing plant, and he was given the post of Personnel Manager. He had a confident manner and mixed well with the men for he knew many of their families.

He was a founder member of the Ebbw Vale Labour Party and was nominated as Labour candidate for Central Ward in the Council Elections in 1931, but unfortunately his campaign was unsuccessful Eugene was also nominated by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation's Political Council.

While still a young man he becamea member of the Ebbw Vale Workman's Medical Society and during the years of the depression he helped to organise events which reduced the Hospital debt.

He held the following positions:- 1948-54 Chairman of the Hospital Finance Committee. 1954-69 Chairman of the Hospital Management Committee. 1949-68 Member of the Welsh Hospital Board. 1965-67 Vice Chairman of Finance Committee of the W.H. Board. 1967-68 Vice Chairman of the Welsh Hospital Board.

His greatest interest lay in the Ebbw Vale Welfare Association, which was handed over to the Trustees by the Ebbw Vale Steel Iron & Coal Co. Ltd. on March 31st 1923. He was a member of the Rugby Football Club and took a great interest in its success. Many improvement schemes were carried out due to his eloquence and infectious \ enthusiasm.

On 26th October 1973, he was presented with a scroll in recognition of his work over a period of fifty years for the Welfare Association. It was then resolved to rename the Welfare Ground "The Eugene Cross Park". A plaque, placed on the new entrance gates, was unveiled by Mr. Michael Foot, on September 21st 1974.

Eugene Cross became a Justice of the Peace in 1941, and served for thirty-two years. He was the Chairman of the Bench for eighteen years. He was awarded the M.B.E. in 1954, and in 1979 was knighted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the New Years Honours List. He lived at Ty-Coed, near the Hospital. After a period of ill-health he died in September 1981. He will always be remembered for his public service and willingness to help others.