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January 2014
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Lecture Programme

The next talk will be at 2pm on Wednesday 5th February 2014 at the Museum. The February speaker will be Roger James whose talk is entitled “Rolls and Royce”. Non-members are welcome; entry is £2 and tickets are available in advance at the Museum, or at the door. 

Annual Dinner – Friday 24th Jan

As usual, the Annual Dinner will be at the Top Hotel in Llanhilleth. Menus will be available at the Museum so please call at the Museum to book your place and make your menu choices, or contact Peggy Bearcroft or Margaret Dyer. Please note that you will need to be at the Top Hotel at 6.30 for 7pm. Our guest speaker will be Alun Davies AM. Cost - £17.50  

Christmas Fayre Success

This event raised an impressive £360. A big thank you to all those who helped make the day such a success.

Management Committee

Apologies - in the December Newsletter I reported little change to the Management Committee but in fact there were a few changes. Here are the names of those on the Committee:

Peggy Bearcroft – Chairman
Trevor Cook – Vice-Chairman
Don Bearcroft – Curator
Margaret Dyer – Secretary
Bernard Jones – Treasurer
Other members are – Enid Dean, Jen Price, Roy Pickford, Trevor Cook, Margaret Cook, Dale Challenger, Mike Purchase and Judith Williams.

Bernard Hill continues in his role as Assistant Curator.

Richard Gilson has taken on the role of Photographic Archivist following the untimely recent death of Rose Smith.

Fund raising November - £214

Fund raising December - £564

Subscriptions due

£6 annual subscriptions are due so please pay promptly. In these difficult economic times we need to be on the ball with our fund-raising and the membership fees make a valuable contribution.

Diary Dates

January 2014 Teddy Bear Exhibition

Friday 24th January 2014 Annual Dinner, Top Hotel, Llanhilleth at 7pm

Wednesday 5th February 2014 Rolls and Royce by Roger James

Wednesday 5th March 2014 The Tonypandy Riots by David Maddox

Wednesday 2nd April 2014Manufacturing Fine Bone China by David Woodliffe

Wednesday 7th May 2014 Military Band Archive and Music by Anne Gatehouse

Wednesday 4th June 2014 The Murder of KyminBet by Pete Strong

Wednesday 2nd July 2014 Swan Rescue by Ellen Kershaw

Wednesday 6th August 2014 A Brief Look at Vietnam by Jen Price

Wednesday 3rd September 2014 The WW2 Blenheim Bomber Crash at Abersychan by Ken Clark

Wednesday 1st October 2014 – Introduction to Rag Rug by Jane Dorsett

Wednesday 5th November 2014 The Mysterious World of Bees by John Holden


We were all saddened to hear that Mrs Rose Smith passed away recently. She worked tirelessly for the Museum and will be much missed.

Did You Know?

The face of Adam Smith is depicted on the reverse of the £20 note. He was a Scottish economist born in 1723 and his theories were far in advance of the widely held beliefs of that time. He was the father of modern economics and capitalism. He expounded how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic prosperity. He was the author of ‘TheWealth of Nations’ and is famous for his profound quotations, such as:

  • Self interested competition in the free market tends to benefit society as a whole by keeping it stable
  • Invisible hands regulate the market prices
  • Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production and the profit of the producer
  • What can be added to the happiness of man who is in good health and out of debt
  • The chief part of human happiness arises from the consciousness of being loved.
    The Roving Reporter

100 Club November

No. Sylvia Pickford £25
No. Jean Loddington £10
No. Margaret Phillips £5

100 Club December

No. 104 Eileen Warfield £25
No. 15 Gwyneth Cooper £10
No. 66 Pat Carter £5

Copy of Letter

Lancasters ’ Steam Coal Collieries Ltd, Blaina.

Cardiff , Sept 25th 1914

It is agreed by the Joint Sub-Committee of the Conciliation Board appointed to deal with the rate of wages and conditions of employment of Banksmen at Associated Collieries that the Banksmen at Henwain, Lower Deep Collieries shall be paid a clean Standard Rate of four shillings per shift upon the 1879 Standard, or its equivalent or other Standards, covering the whole of the duties sopecified below for seven days in each week. All bonuses and extra payments now being made to be removed. The hours of the Banksmen shall be nine hours per shift except on the Saturday afternoon and night and the Sunday morning and afternoon shift when the hours shall be eight per shift and the Management shall have the right in case of emergency to call upon any Banksmen to work an extra half hour without additional payment. Reasonable facilities for taking food shall be allowed.

The duties of Banksmen shall be: In addition to the ordinary duties in connection with the lowering and raising of all persons, mineral, material and water through the pit, the general charge of the pit top and any other work that may at the present time be performed by any individual workmen, the Manager shall be entitled to call upon a Banksman to perform any or all of the following duties during his shift without paying any extra wages or allowances therefore:

1.Counting the numbers of all persons lowered into and raised from the Pit and entering such record in the Register.

2.Cleaning the Cages and the roads and pit top adjacent to the cages.

3.Oiling guides and winding ropes so far as he can do so without leaving the surface.

4.Examining the guides, keps, levers, signalling apparatus and other mechanism operated by him, oiling and seeing the same in order and reporting any defects to the Manager.

5.Assisting in changing of ropes, guides, cages, gates, keps and other mechanism at the pit top and on the roads adjacent to the cages.

6.Examining lamps and searching of workmen where the shift is a small one and of workmen who descend during the shift.

7.Taking charge of Surface on afternoon and night shifts and weekends, and idle days, it being understood that this does not involve the suspension of any work away from the pit top.

This arrangement to come into operation forthwith.

South Wales Gazette

January 28th, 1955

Among the items in this edition were adverts for carpet squares and rugs at Joseph and Falkman, and Webbs ‘Special Ale’, as well as the following article about Jones Omnibus Services.

“Only the best is good enough for Abertillery people”, Mr Ron Jones, popular managing director of Jones Omnibus Services Ltd., told a “Gazette” reporter by way of introducing the enterprising firm’s newest acquisition – the latest type ‘Leyland’ coach which arrived at Abertillery this week.

All that makes for travelling comfort is embodied in the design and furnishings of the coach, and there is seating accommodation for 41 passengers.

Jones’ Omnibus services Ltd. was established 34 years ago and the firm now operates 31 vehicles.

“We have big plans for attractive summer tours”, said Mr Ron Jones, “and our new coach symbolises our policy of giving the public the best possible service”.

Jones Omnibus Services Ltd. Have travelled a long way since 1921 – but they have always kept on the road to progress.  

Poetry Corner

‘My Dad’

Once, careful and precise,
In old age made mistakes.
Could not remember names,
Lost interest in his hobbies,
Surrendered all his teeth,
Yet kept most of his hair.

An octogenarian shadow of a
lion-like man who had earned
our family’s comfort and needs,
by many years of hard labour.

We he had fathered tried
to hide our impatience with
his speech and slow reactions,
knowing how much love
he had bestowed upon us.

But when he died, grief
hit us like a tidal wave.
Now every faltering old man
I see, bring memories of him,
and my love for a gentle soul.

Gordon Rowlands, January 1998  

Book Corner

‘Buildings and Places in Welsh History’ edited by H.V. Bowen. Price £14.99

We all know our Welsh history, don't we? And we know where that history was played out: we don't need to look any further than the castles and mansions, the churches and battlefields, and, of course, the famous mountains and valleys of Wales. Or, do we? This collection of essays asks us to think again about the celebrity locations, like Cardiff, Strata Florida and Snowdon, and to consider the importance of more obscure places, like Lodge Hill, Penallta and Aberlleiniog. And what of the M4 and the unsung soccer grounds of Wales, not to mention corners of foreign fields that are, like Mametz Wood, forever Wales? Like the previous books in the series, this too is the result of a collaboration between the Western Mail and a group of twenty-three historians who form part of History Research Wales. 

“Proposed Cuts to the National Health Service” (on a light note)

The Allergists voted to scratch it but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

The Gastroenterologists had a sort of gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

The Obstetricians felt they were labouring under a misconception.

The Opthalmologists considered the idea short sighted.

The Pathologists yelled “Over my dead body” while the Paediatricians said “grow up”.

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness while the Radiologists could see right through it.

The Surgeons were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

The E.N.T. specialists didn’t swallow it and just wouldn’t hear of it.

The Pharmacologists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow and the Plastic Surgeons said “This puts a whole new face on things”.

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward but the Urologists were peed off with the whole idea.

The Anaesthetists thought the whole idea was a lot of empty gas but the Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say so.

In the end the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision to the bums in London.

From anon“Too ashamed to put my name to it”


Loss of our Photographic Archivist

As I reported in last month’s newsletter Christmas has come again and another year is near its end. It is at these times that I think of past years and the events that happened during them. We looked forward to commemorating the birth of the Christ Child, the presents and the parties we would attend.

As I became older other memories came to me that tinged this time year with sadness, always remembering my Father who died unexpectedly 3 days before Christmas Day.

A few weeks before Christmas Rose Smith our Photographic Archivist died, it was a great loss to our museum.

Rose first came to the museum with her husband Arthur; both of them became involved working in the museum. Arthur helped with carpentry and other such work that needed to be done, even when he became seriously ill you would have had to tie him to a chair to stop him working. My memory of the two of them together, when one them would start a story the other would interrupt and finish it off. They never seemed to mind but rather complemented one another and the story.

Rose And Arthur SmithAfter the death of Arthur Rose resumed her work in the museum; starting firstly on entering the Blaenau Gwent Chapel Burial Records onto a computer database. After Rose had completed this task she took on the immense work of the photographic archive. This entails scanning the photograph and entering it and all of its details into the data base. At first Rose had trouble with the scanner overheating or entering the data when she would cry out, “Don Help!” this was until she mastered the programme after which she would come in, go to her computer and continue on with the work.

A certain belligerent gentleman? Came into the museum demanding copies of photographs, we do not copy photographs unless sure of owning copyright due to the copyright which is a minefield for liturgists.

So I told the man to make an appointment with our Photographic Archivist who would show him the relevant pictures on the Archive Computer. Who’s that asked Rose? You I replied. This caught her imagination going around afterwards telling everyone, “I’m the Photographic Archivist!”

Rose SmithRose had a wonderful sense of humour, in later years attending the Salvation Army and went on holidays arranged by them. On one of these holidays when we were in the swimming pool I lost my balance, Rose who was nearby caught me holding me until I was stable again. I saved your life she quipped. Afterwards whenever I said something jokingly about her, with a twinkle in her eye and with here beautiful smile she would say; I’ll let you drown next time!


Rose always worked hard raising funds for other charities; one way was knitting and selling items such as Easter Egg Chicks. Rose knitted a museum mascot for us, it is a little man with a green jumper and a museum badge, “That’s you” she told me. He will now be displayed in the photographic archive area when our new Ashes Shop Display is completed.

Sometimes I think that we should have a Roll of Honour for all those who have worked hard for the museum and have now passed on. But they all live on in our memories and as no one dies in the Salvation Army, they are “Promoted to Glory”;

Rose is now with her beloved Arthur.

Richard Gilson has expressed an interest in the Photographic Archive so we can continue with the valuable and interesting work.

Don Bearcroft Curator Bear logo

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