Museum Logo
Home Page
About Us
Educational Activities
News And Events
Become A Member
Contact Us
Monthly Newsletter
Previous Month Button
February 2009
Next Month Button

Lunch Party

The large number of members who came along to congratulate Don on his wonderful achievement of winning both the all-Wales and the national award of Heritage Hero, speaks for the esteem in which he is held. We were pleased also to see our President, Sir Richard Hanbury Tenison and local MP Mr Dai Davies, both of whom gave a short address, and local Councillor Nigel Daniels. Then of course there was the buffet and what an impressive affair that was. Congratulations to Don, and thanks to all who came along and who contributed to the food and drink.

Don has continued to keep a high public profile and recently gave a talk at Big Pit to members of the teaching and education professions.

Annual Dinner

More congratulations – this time to Roy Pickford for organising a splendid meal at the Top Hotel in Llanhilleth. Once again, everyone had an enjoyable evening with good food and company. Our guest speaker gave a talk with a difference, telling us a little of what goes on behind the scenes at Heathrow. That was followed by one of Enid Dean’s quizzes - guaranteed to tantalise as your brain scrabbles for answers. Thank you to everyone, and well done Roy.

PS Peggy sends her thanks for the lovely flowers.

Fund raising January - £209

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

Fridays February 2009 - Second half of the course of lectures on European Archaeology at 10.00am at the Museum. £3 per lecture

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

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

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

Wednesday 6th May 2009 Ralph 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.

Annual Subscriptions - £5

Your membership subscriptions are now due - £5. Please call at the Museum to pay, or send a cheque made payable to Abertillery & District Museum Society. As you know, the Museum is run entirely by volunteers and so we are reliant on a range of fund raising iniatives to meet the high costs of keeping the Museum running, (and warm!). Your membership subscriptions are important so please pay promptly.

Jam still on the move

Children from Azerbaijan enjoying Enid's jam.Enid Dean’s jam is now going around the world! A pot recently went to Germany but, even further afield, this photo shows a set of grandchildren, currently living in Azerbaijan, tucking into a pot of what they call ‘mother’s jam’ (Enid’s jam), one of the grocery items which their grandmother was asked to take out on a recent visit. It has to be mother’s jam, not the shop stuff!



Newsletter items

Please help. We need your memories, letters and poems.

War Memorials

Although the following piece relates to London, it is of wider interest given the topic for our February lecture.

The London Assembly is investigating whether war memorials need further protection under the mayor's planning powers. London is home to more than 5,000 war memorials but there is concern about who is responsible for them and the nature of the risks they may face. Under the War Memorials Act 1923, local authorities have the power to use public money to care for them but they are not obliged to do so. The responsibility for maintenance of individual memorials lies with private owners, but with ownership sometimes unclear or disputed this can lead to sites falling into disrepair. There have been reports of war memorials being ripped from buildings undergoing renovation and dumped in skips. Memorials that have suffered this fate include those at County Hall, the home of the former Greater London Council, where public access was not maintained following redevelopment. Boroughs will be contacted to establish the practicalities of maintaining memorials in public or private ownership. The review will then assess whether more protection is appropriate.

Louis Braille – born 1809

Louis Braille was born on 4th January, 1809, at Coupvray, near Paris. At three years of age an accident deprived him of his sight, and in 1819 he was sent to the Paris Blind School. Young Louis Braille desperately wanted to read. He realized the vast world of thought and ideas that was locked out to him because of his disability. And he was determined to find the key to this door for himself, and for all other blind persons. During the Napoleonic Wars Charles Barbier had attempted to devise a system to allow soldiers to read orders in the dark but it was too complex. The system devised by Louis Braille 1821 was the first to be widely used.

Each Braille character or cell is made up of 6 dot positions arranged in a rectangle containing two columns of three dots. A dot may be raised at any of the six positions to form 64 permutations. Each cell can be read by one finger, thus allowing the reader to move rapidly from one symbol to the next. The Braille system revolutionised communication for the blind and is still in use today.

Get well soon!

Elaine Roles, Gwyneth Hutchings and Bert Dean are in hospital at the moment. We send our best wishes to all three for a speedy recovery.

Poet’s Corner


I spoke to God last night,
Told him of my grief and fears,
Asked him if I had done right,
words mingling with my tears.

Was I living as I should,
could mistakes be forgiven,
could this long uphill path
finally end at heaven.

As I spoke memories came,
good mixing with the bad,
Balancing one against another,
I reviewed the life I’d had.

But it could be better now,
if I work to make it so,
Live my remaining life,
in the way I have to go.

My mind slowly calmed,
as troubles left my head,
allowing me to sleep well,
in a comfortably warm bed.

Gordon Rowlands February 2007

Books for you

 Coal House Diary £9.99 by Gomer Press

Not many people get the opportunity to travel back in time. But that's exactly what happened to Gwen Cartwright and her family when they took part in 'Coal House', the BBC Wales living history TV series. Gwen's diary shows, close-up and in sometimes graphic detail, how she and her family learned to cope without flick-of-the switch technology and all the comforts and distractions of the digital age.


There are several indoor bowls clubs in the area. The Dragon Club is a well known club and they hold twice weekly sessions in Abertillery Leisure Centre. This club only plays in the winter because most of its members play outdoor bowls in the summer. In the winter, the venue is excellent. The play area is warm and well lit. Matches are held at league level and to add more interest matches are played among the players themselves. Some players are very good, mainly I suppose because they have been practising for many years. I joined this club some time ago and had never played on a long mat. I was given every encouragement and was never made to feel inadequate. At Christmas a very nice evening was held at Pontllanfraith Bowls Centre. After an excellent meal and bowls awards, we had a cabaret and dancing. Hopefully it will be repeated. Another long mat venue is at the old leisure centre in Vivian Street. The set up there is slightly different in as much that one plays with different players each session. Both these venues have proved very popular.

The club that I can give more information about is St. John's Bowls Club. Many years ago the original club was formed and operated from St. John's Church in Arrail street, Six Bells. When it moved to its present venue - Abertillery Youth Centre - the old name was retained .

It is really almost a social club. Everyone is so friendly and while there are some excellent players, even novices are made welcome and given some tips. Short mat bowls have a block in the middle and the skill is to bowl as near to the jack as possible avoiding the block in the centre. After eleven ends are played we have a break for a cuppa and pay our modest dues. We then have a little chat, sometimes about bowling matters, sometimes about what ever take one's fancy. At Christmas we have a lunch, usually at The Commercial Hotel in Abertillery

A few years ago we regularly played matches with clubs in Swyffryd, Brynithel, Brynmawr, Llangynidr and Pontypool but sadly over the years numbers have dwindled and it is quite a while since we have played matches with other clubs.

Are you looking for an afternoon out, costing very little in a very pleasant warm room and congenial company? If so BOWLS is the pastime for you.

The Roving Reporter

Museum Matters

When I was 16 years old I went with my friends to the Bon Marché Staff dance where I was introduced to two sisters. The one sister had the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.

Not long after we started going out and as it was near St Valentines Day I sent he an extra special Valentines Day Card. It is only recently that I learned the story of Valentine and thought it interesting enough for our newsletter.

Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire . In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.

The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. One of the customs of the young people was name drawing, on the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar he would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, very often; they would fall in love and later marrying.

Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed that the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, for this Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off.

While he was in jail many young people came to the jail to visit him. They threw flowers and notes up to his window and wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love. One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit him in the cell. They would sit and talk for hours. She agreed that he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day he was to die, he left a friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, "Love from your Valentine." He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270.

Valentine traditions in the Middle Ages

Young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling. In England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine ---
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.

Love chairIn Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favorite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"

Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.

A love seat or courting seat is a wide chair with two sections, often in an S-shape. In this way, a couple could sit together -- but not too closely!

Bear logoThe dance I attended was over 50 years ago and the girl was Peggy. I have not carved a love spoon for Peggy but I did carve her a love chair to display her porcelain doll that I gave her as a Christmas present.

This year we have been married 46 years so the Valentine Card was well worth it.


Don Bearcroft Curator.


Top Of Page



Registered Musuem Logo

© Abertillery & District Museum 2008