Dates for your Diary
Ongoing – WW1 Exhibition in the Museum
We have no coffee mornings arranged at time of printing however we hope to have some soon so please call at the museum for details.
December 100 Club
No. 92 Margaret Phillips £20
No. 27 Sylvia Matthews £10
No. 67 Sharon Saunders £5
Please join our 100 club, it only costs £1 a month and you will be entered into our monthly draw for a cash prize. Please call in and sign up!
Annual Membership - £6
Annual membership fess are now due so please call at the museum to pay or send in a cheque made payable to Abertillery & District Museum Society and post to ADMS, Market Street, Abertillery, Gwent NP13 1AH.
Your £6 will help with the museum’s running costs and in return you will receive this monthly newsletter. We very much regret that we are unable to post newsletters out due to the cost of postage being more than the membership fee. However, if you have an email address, it can be emailed to you and that way you get it delivered to you, wherever you are in the world, and in full colour! To be added to the e-list, please send an email to me at email@example.com and, rest assured, your email address will not be shared with anyone else.
May I take this opportunity to thank all our members, Vice Presidents and volunteers for their support throughout 2017 and for their continued support in the year ahead.
Fundraising November - £297
Hope you all had a good Christmas. Our Christmas Fayre in December was very successful and we raised £510. Thanks to everyone who donated items for our stalls, and those who helped out on the day, we couldn’t have done it without you!
It was reported by our Curator in the September 2017 edition of this newsletter that our museum President, Sir Richard Hanbury-Tenison had sadly passed away in August last year. He and his wife, who is also deceased, had five children and I’m pleased to report that son Jack Hanbury has very kindly offered to step into his father’s shoes and be our new President and we thank him most sincerely.
More about Hong Kong
Last month I wrote about a recent visit to Hong Kong and I thought you might also like to know something of its history. How did Hong Kong come to be under British rule? Much of the history of Hong Kong can be traced (or so I have read) to it having been on the edge of the Chinese Empire, away from the main centres of imperial power, and to cultural misunderstandings between the British and Chinese which meant that posturing by both sides escalated into war.
There was a thriving trade between China and many European countries by the 18th century. Britain had an enormous appetite for Chinese tea but China largely shunned foreign goods, one exception being opium, of which Britain had an inexhaustible supply from India. When the Chinese authorities decided to clamp down on the opium trade, British forces occupied and blockaded a number of ports. Negotiations between the parties failed and, in exchange for British withdrawal from China, in 1842 Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain ‘in perpetuity’ and it formally became a British possession in 1843.
In 1898 China leased the New Territories and 235 islands to Britain for 99 years. This meant that in 1997 most of Hong Kong had to be returned to China. Hong Kong Island – which is what most people think of as Hong Kong – could have remained in British hands but it seems the view was taken that to do so would have been pointless. Strategically, Hong Kong Island cannot function without effective links to the mainland i.e. China and so the whole of Hong Kong including Hong Kong Island reverted to China in 1997.
Years before the handover, Britain and China signed a Joint Declaration establishing the ‘one country two systems’ formula for its governance post 1997 and this is enshrined in a striking monument on the waterfront. In practice, Hong Kong is coming ever more under the direct control of China.
Do you remember the ‘umbrella’ demonstration a couple of years back when people protested at the lack of democracy in the way Hong Kong was being governed. It was a largely peaceful protest and many of the protestors went about their normal business in the day, returning to the tented sit-ins in the evenings. Despite the protests, little has changed. From what one reads in the west, there is still simmering unrest but there is little sign of this to the casual observer in Hong Kong.
Who knows what the inhabitants of Hong Kong really feel about their future, especially the local Cantonese-speaking inhabitants. The incomers from all over the world who work in the financial and commercial heart of Hong Kong clearly enjoy the country and the lifestyle it offers. Hong Kong seems to be thriving still. However, as with any country, or part of a country, there are complex political and social issues at work with familiar problems of housing and jobs and it needs a cleverer head than mind to understand where Hong Kong is headed in the long term. Will it retain its somewhat separate system of operation as an SAR – a Special Region of Administration - or will China continue to exert ever more control to bring it fully into the Chinese system?
Many thanks to Jen for the above. Have you been on any interesting trips or maybe one that didn’t quite go as planned? Do tell us about it by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a line to the museum.
Do You Remember…..the year 1952?
In 1952 the average wage for a man was £9.00p per week, Elizabeth the Second became queen on 6th February 1952, tea rationing ended in October 1952 (though sweets and sugar were still rationed until 1953) and Teddy Boys were just starting to appear.
The hefty, black, bound book I have in front of me was printed in 1952.
Its title is ‘Good Housekeeping’s Home Encyclopaedia’ and it is a practical and serious reference book which the foreword states “will be of real value to housewives (and their husbands!)”.
Flicking through the 718 pages it is impossible not to think how times have changed. Today the place of women is no longer in the home but it is interesting to read how domestic tasks were tackled back then – 65 years ago.
One of the items which caught my eye refers to ‘Darning’ – very rarely do you hear that word today. The item talks about a ‘hedge tear’ darn and a ‘web darn’ – with detailed instructions and diagrams as to how those should be achieved. I can remember learning how to darn when in the Brownies and felt very proud when I managed to darn a hole in one of my father’s socks. Today, with modern materials, darned socks are mostly a thing of the past.
Another section talks about removable shirt collars with detailed instructions as to how soft collars and stiff collars should be ironed. A collar which is frayed along the neck edge can be given a new lease of life by reversing it. There are also instructions about re-making a collar from the tail of a shirt. How very thrifty compared to today’s throw away society.
Another item which seems to belong to a bygone era refers to ‘bed-making’. The advice given suggests the bed is stripped before breakfast, taking the bed-clothes off one by one and placing them over the back of a chair without allowing them to touch the floor. Windows and doors should be opened to air the room and the bedding thoroughly. Then there are detailed instructions on how the bed should be made (after breakfast) which includes the placing of under blankets, mitring the sheets, the replacing of the bolster and pillows and finally the bedspread and eiderdown! Today’s puffing up of a duvet seems a breeze by comparison! I should add that the item is accompanied by a smiling, bed-making housewife, her dress protected by a pretty, frilled pinafore.
There is a section on wash boilers and old style washing machines with electric mangles. Maybe our readers will remember these or even before this time when hand powered mangles were in use? What a boon automatic washing machines are.
Other headings include Coal, Hot-water Bottles, Oil Heaters, Ostrich Feathers (!), Oilcloth, Tarnish and Teapots …the list is endless…but fascinating and a dip back into past times.
Many thanks to Kath for the above – below are two more household ‘tips from the past’.
Recycle Christmas cards (Blue Peter circa 1970)
With a pinking shears or craft scissors, cut around the card’s main feature. Using a single hole punch, punch a hole near the edge and thread with some fine string or embroidery thread and you have next years gift tags!
Keep your teapot looking like new
Place a washing machine soap tablet in the teapot and fill to the brim with boiling water. Leave to stand overnight and in the morning rinse thoroughly. Works on stainless steel and ceramic tea pots!
Christmas has come and gone again another year is near its end. It is at these times that I think of past years and the events that happened during them, I think the most eventful years as far as the museum is concerned started in 1996 and our search for a new home. Once we attained this, things should have been plain sailing, or so we thought! I am not going to tell of the catalogue of events and near disasters that we overcame, this was done in our 40th Anniversary booklet. I am thinking of the members of the museum over this period, their dedication and love for our museum was the main factor in its survival.
One group of whom I have special memories are those who I referred to as “F Troop” it was they who I called on for moving artefacts and heavy items, this happened not only on our move from Abertillery Library but also when problems occurred once we had moved into our new home at the Metropole. These were always urgent moves for one reason or another with little notice being given to the Troop, they always responded blaming me (good naturedly) for whatever was asked of them. Due to our built in obsolescence called “Old Age” some of “F Troop” are no longer with us and the others like me have mechanical problems which obviate us from doing what we used to, “the spirit is willing but the body is weak” or 21 in the mind with a body of a 100 year old.
3 of F Troop removing a fire grate from an under house on Crook Hill Cwmtillery.
These words were written by me in the 2013 Christmas page 4. I am the only member of “F Troop” left still working in our museum.
The artefacts that gave us the most problems to recover were the Railway Track Diagram and desk donated by Rail Track arranged by the signalman Lyn Bearcroft. It would be damaged if taken apart so had to be manhandled through the door and down the steps which were angled. The desk was too large to go through the door and had to be taken through a window and dropped down into a waiting coal lorry.
When Alan Morgan the Museum designer saw the Railway Track Diagram he complained that it could not be mounted in place as it was too heavy! Together with another member of “F Troop” we proved that it could. The railway is a working exhibit, proving popular with both children and their fathers!
The move from Abertillery Library to the Metropole was the first challenge for “F Troop”. The council provided the transport but it was “F Troop” who set up the cases and other heavy objects in the new museum. Many other items using power tools had to be installed, done by “F Troop” including the first fund raising event with Grant Baker going through a wall of flames, on the bonnet of a car, “The Wall of Death”!
On one occasion when we had all been working hard getting the museum ready after we had moved from the Library to the Metropole Mrs Sylvia Matthews came up to me with Bob Pitt and Bernard Hill stood behind her. I have been asked to make this presentation to you she said, with that she gave me a book. The title of the book was, “Workers and their Tyrannical Masters”!
A Happy Healthy New Year to Everyone.
Don Bearcroft Curator