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January 2009
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Lunch Party Saturday 10th

Members are invited to come along to the Lunch Party on Saturday 10th January at the Museum.  This is our opportunity to congratulate Don on his tremendous achievement of not only winning the all-Wales award of Heritage Hero, but also then going on to win the national award.  Don was a worthy winner; we all know the time, love and commitment he has given to our Museum; please come along and join in the celebrations. (Contributions towards the buffet and drinks would be much appreciated – contact Peggy).


7pm for 7.30pm

COST £17
Please contact Roy Pickford  on 01495 213377 if you have any queries.

100 Club November

1.         No.44   Sian Price         £25
2.         No.87   Gwyneth Hillier £10
3.         No.55   Judith Jones      £5

100 Club December

1.         No.33   Rita Withers      £25
2.         No.67   Janet Preece     £10
3.         No.80   Margaret Cook  £5

Please encourage a friend to join – it’s fun, and it helps our fund-raising.
European Archaeology – Frank Olding will be running another series of 6 adult lectures at the Museum starting on Friday 16th January 2009 at 10.00am.  You can pick and mix at £3 a lecture or sign up for all six at a reduced fee of £15.  Frank’s previous lectures proved popular and so you can be sure of an entertaining as well as educational couple of hours.

Diary Dates

Saturday 10th January 2009Lunch party for members and invited guests to celebrate Don’s Heritage Awards

Friday 16th January 2009Annual Dinner at the Top Hotel, Llanhilleth

Friday 16th January 2009 - First of 6 lectures on European Archaeology at 10.00am at the Museum. £3 per lecture or all 6 for £15

Wednesday 4th February 2009Unusual Memorials for the Fallen by David Woodliffe

Wednesday 4th March 2009Harry Vagg (subject to be announced)

Wednesday 1st April 2009Early Underground Flash Photography by Chris Howes

Wednesday 6th May 2009Ralph Robinson Memorial Lecture (subject to be announced)

Lectures start at 7.00pm in the Metropole Theatre, with teas and a chat downstairs in the Museum afterwards. Entry is £2 and the public are most welcome. Please come along and bring a friend.
Fund raising December  £395

A letter from Newport

The Museum Society recently received a letter from Anthony Cinderey who remembers the early days of the Museum Society with a first meeting in the Welsh Chapel and the setting up of a museum display under the Library.  Mr Cinderey remembers well the Express Café where he bought his wife ‘Kunzel’ cakes, and included some personal memories of his family in his letter which he opened by saying that it was ‘pleasing to know that the Abertillery Museum Society is still not only functioning, but is growing in stature’.  Mr Cinderey moved from Abertillery many years ago but his interest was sparked by the article in the South Wales Argus featuring Peggy’s involvement in the Museum.

We would be pleased to hear from other former residents of Abertillery!

A cure for bronchitis?

Mr Arthur Lewis O.B.E sent this tip:
Having this Festive Season suffered a debilitating bout of Bronchitis, I remembered an old practice.  In special cases with the permission of Mine Management, access was given to Bronchitis sufferers to enter the FAN DRIFT at surface level of coal mines. This was to enable the sufferers to breathe the warm air from the mine workings (with its gases) before it passed through the main mine ventilating fan and was exhausted to the atmosphere.

Local Organisations

Bishop Street Allotment Association

Although this is not a group open to everybody, because Bishop Street allotments are obviously limited in number, it is in a lovely location and visitors are most welcome, provided prior arrangements are made.  Once verified a very pleasant hour or so will be had by all the visitors.
These allotments have been operating for almost 100 years, probably cultivation started in the 1920s during the depression and was a source of food for many local families.  There were many allotments in the area but Bishop Street allotment has withstood  the  many other attractions  now available in the town.

Naturally the allotments are immaculate and have won the top award for “Best Allotment in Wales’’ for the past eight years.  A few years ago Derek , the T.V. Weatherman visited the allotments  and talked to various allotment holders. There is a club house ( perhaps just a glorified shed?), where members meet and can have a cup of tea, a chat about allotment affairs, and order seeds etc. when the weather does not permit outdoor activity.
I understand there are women ‘’allotmenteers’-  they must work very hard physically, digging, hoeing and planting to such a high standard.
I daresay there is a waiting list for an allotment and it would be no good being an amateur, sticking a couple of seeds in and hoping for the best. I’m sure they must be dedicated green fingered lovers of the soil.
This is a friendly, worthwhile organisation of which Abertillery can be very proud.
The Roving Reporter
Jam on the move

Enid Dean is known for her high quality home-made jam, on sale in the Museum.  Her reputation has spread beyond Abertillery and District.  A pot  recently went to Germany as a little bit of ‘home’.


(Taken from the BBC website)
In the thin Garw seam in Cwmtillery Colliery Dai Williams would always pick the thinnest wooden props he could find.  He soon became known as ‘Dai Pea Prop’.  Also, Charlie Thomas whose wife worked in the local bakery and would give him cake to bring to work was known as ‘Charlie Doughnut’.

In Ogilvie Colliery we had a ventilation officer called Billy Fresh Air.

Does anyone know any more such stories?

Poet’s Corner

‘Wales – Wales’
Wales Wales the land of song
That’s the place I’m coming from.
With valleys green and mountains high
And pithead wheels that touch the sky.
Old men sit in the setting sun
And know that their life’s work is done.
Now that’s all gone it’s sad to say
But perhaps we’ll see a better day.
They dream of drams and Doughty props
And screws of twist from Polly’s shop.
What future lies for this fair land?
Could it be the new Millennium Stand?
It now can reach and touch the sky
And with it our spirits will never die.

Wales Wales this land of song
That’s where our future’s coming from.
The spirit’s there, it’s right inside.
It’s all about a nation’s pride.
Ron Selway

Bevin Boys

Mr Arthur Lewis O.B.E has produced a limited number of copies of an article entitled ‘Coal “The Bevin Boys” and the Second World War’. The article describes the dramatic impact on coal supplies of allowing coal miners to be called up to the armed services in the first years of the war and the subsequent need to replace them to ensure Britain had an adequate supply of coal.  The Government’s answer was the recruitment of Bevin Boys – selected at random from all walks of life.   

Mr Lewis’s article includes beautifully drawn illustrations of Nine Mile Point and Oakdale Collieries by Chris Griffin M.A. (R.C.A), and a memorial essay on Thomas W Mortimer who is described as a ‘Coal Mining War Veteran’.
The small number of articles printed have been lodged with bodies such as the Imperial War Museum and the National Museum of Wales.  Mr Lewis has kindly donated a copy to Abertillery and District Museum where it is available to read.

Mr Lewis also enclosed a copy of a letter from the Vice President and Chairman of the Bevin Boys association in which he says that his next project is to work on the commissioning of a permanent memorial, and his intention that if it comes to fruition, the memorial should recognise not only the Bevin Boys but also the miners.


I am sure I’m not the only one with fond memories of the ‘old’ Woolworths in Somerset Street.  Those wooden floors, the large flat counter displays selling just about everything including every girl’s essentials such as Amami styling lotion and Midnight in Paris scent (perfume is rather too grand a term).  Do you also remember the hot roasted salted nuts? – they were bought by the quarter in little greaseproof bags which were something of a misnomer as they quickly became very greasy indeed.
Jen Price

Corrugated iron

In 1828 Henry Robinson Palmer invented the ‘corrugation and galvanisation’ of sheet iron.  Before long the versatility of this robust material meant that it was widely used for buildings with huge quantities produced during the gold rushes in California and Australia.  In Britain, between the 1860s and the First World War the industrial scale production of raw materials such as coal and iron led to the mass movement of people into previously lightly populated areas, such as South Wales.  Corrugated iron buildings filled a need for the speedy provision of churches, chapels and schools – buildings which became known as ‘tin tabernacles’.  They were never intended to last and the few that survive do so mainly because a religious function has persisted.  Most have succumbed to rust, dry rot and redevelopment but a handful have been rescued by heritage museums.

Book Review

The Bluestone Enigma - Stonehenge, Preseli and the Ice Age by Brian John

Published 2008 by Greencroft Books, Trefdaeth
Paperback, 160 pages Price £9.95
A book focusing on the mysterious bluestones of Stonehenge, which originated in Wales and which have been the cause of much debate. Where did they come from, and how did they get there? The author argues that many fondly-held beliefs are sentimental, unscientific and unnecessary, and he supports his case with spectacular and previously unpublished research.

Happy New Year

We wish all our members and supporters a happy year ahead and look forward to seeing you in the Museum and at the lectures and other events.  The running of the Museum needs a lot of volunteers and so if you would like to become more involved, please speak to Peggy or Don.

Museum Matters

The Christmas festivities in the museum involved visitors and children. It started with a Christmas cracker hunt, making paper chains Christmas cards and then letters to Father Christmas were written by adults and children alike.

Christmas Cracker Hunt

Christmas Cracker Hunt

The letters after they had been written in the museum were then posted in the Victorian post box that came from Cromwell Street and is now incorporated in the Express Café display.

It was as if by magic but no sooner had the letters been posted than Father Christmas appeared to collect them and hand out sweets and presents.
He told us we had all been very good this year and deserved a treat.
On one occasion after he had gone I was studying the door on the front of the post box when I was challenged. "What are you up too?" I was trying to figure out how to open the door so that I can replace the letters in there with my own I answered. I was lucky to escape with my life!

Writing letters to Santa

We had a very good year in 2008 and 2009 is getting off to a good start. Why is our museum such a success? I believe it is because everyone involved in the museum, volunteers, schools, groups and visitors all enjoy themselves in a friendly environment which is also conducive to learning.

Posting the letters

Bear logo

Happy New Year
To you all.
Don Bearcroft (curator)


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