Thank you Roy! Once again Roy Pickford did a grand job with organising our Annual Dinner at the Top Hotel. We had an excellent attendance and everyone enjoyed their meal. Our speaker was Richard Dean, a structural engineer, who explained the latest investigations into the breaks and slips on Mynydd James – fascinating stuff! It was a very enjoyable evening so thank you Roy and thanks to everyone who came along to make it such a success.
100 Club – January 2012
No. 118 Maureen Williams £25
No. 110 Margaret Evans £10
No. 53 Marge Rogers £5
Memberships due - £5
Annual memberships are now due so please send your £5 to the Museum or drop in personally. As you all know, we rely completely on fund-raising and donations and so every penny counts. Membership works out at less than 10p a week – excellent value!
New Bus Service
On 20th February bus operator Phil Anslow will launch a bus service from Brynmawr to Cwmbran via Nantyglo, Blaina, Abertillery, Six Bells, Aberbeeg, Llanhilleth, Swyffryd, and Pontypool. There will be one bus an hour in each direction and is a service which should prove popular. For more details of the route and schedule ring 01495 775599.
Saturday 25th February – Grand opening of the new displays at the Museum
Wednesday 7th March – ‘The Newport Ship’ by Toby Jones, 2pm at the Museum
Saturday 24th March – Armed Forces Day, various events in Abertillery
Wednesday 4th April - ‘The Royal Mint’ by Joseph Payne, 2pm at the Museum
Saturday 7th April – Children’s Easter Egg Hunt, 50p, and coffee morning with an Easter theme
Gwent was, between about the 6th and 11th centuries, one of the kingdoms or principalities of medieval Wales, traditionally lying between the rivers Wye and Usk in what later became known as the Welsh Marches. It is clear from a quick search on Google, and a quick read of the introductory paragraphs of the first volume of the History of Gwent, that unravelling the history of the County is quite a task. Would anyone like to prepare a short account for the Newsletter?
An empty plastic plant pot,
on its side rolls in a curve,
back and fore in winter breeze.
She has no need of it now,
her small greenhouse has
empty shelves where usually
trays of seedlings thrived.
Her man who cut the lawn,
will never cut it again,
or plant, weed, prune,
or maintain stonework.
Ivy successfully invades,
wild bird nut containers,
and seed holders are empty,
a bird table carries no feast.
Dust accumulates on patio slabs,
for there is no one to sweep,
clean or tidy this secluded spot.
Not until the new owners
have redecorated and renovated,
before moving into the house,
to recreate a cherished home.
Gordon Rowlands, February 2005
The Forth Rail Bridge
Nearly 120 years after it opened, there is arguably still no greater symbol of Scottish achievement than the Forth Rail Bridge.
It was designed and constructed by Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Fowler. The great rail bridge is a mile and a half long and comprised of over 54,160 tons of steel held together with six and a half million rivets and yet for all that it has a certain airiness and delicacy like a giant Meccano set.
On a warm summer’s day, the bridge grows by about 8 feet, and a shower of rain adds a good one hundred tons to its weight. It is the largest listed construction in Scotland and is truly a masterpiece.
In 1964 Queen Elizabeth opened the Forth Road Bridge which replaced the old ferry which had operated from about 900 A.D. This ferry had been used by Alexander 1, a Scottish king, and Saxon Queen Mary hence the name Queensferry. Mary Queen of Scots also used this ferry, as did Charles 1. The two bridges make a magnificent sight.
The Roving Reporter
Do you know?
At the Annual Dinner we parked just along the road from the Top Hotel. When we got out of the car and looked across the road we could see the remains of two very old-fashioned petrol pumps. Neither of us could remember having seen them before although they have clearly been in place a very long time. They seem now to be in a very odd position, right on the roadside at the back of the pavement and with the ground falling steeply away behind. Does anyone know anything about them?
Abertillery February 1942
On Wednesday 18th February 1942 there was a Grand Dance at the Drill Hall from 7.30 to midnight. It was organised by the Air Training Corps No. 388 (Abertillery & District) Squadron. The music was provided by the Metro Syncopators Dance Band and the M.C.s were Lieut. Col. J J Lewis, Cllr Tom Gale, Dr F Mulvey and Mr Billy Williams. Tickets cost 3s.0d.
Did you go along to this or a similar dance? Tell us about it, please.
Abertillery March 1967
On Wednesday 1st March 1967 Abertillery Cambrian Society organised a St David’s Day Dinner at the Bush Hotel, 6.30 for 7.00 p.m. The guest speaker was Eynon Evans, described as a famous Welsh dramatist, and there was also a ‘Musical Programme’. Tickets cost 15s.
Did you go to this event? Again, please tell us about it.
There must be lots of ‘events’ which stick in your mind. Please write in with your memories.
Hansard 17th February 1942
Mr George Daggar MP for Abertillery asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is prepared, in view of the representation made to his Department and the dissatisfaction that exists amongst various voluntary organisations whose members knit woollen articles for members of His Majesty’s Forces, to revert to the practice of allowing these bodies to obtain wool coupon-free from the firms they choose; and distribute the articles as they deem appropriate?
Mr John Llewellin (Uxbridge) – No, Sir. I am afraid I cannot adopt the hon. Friend’s suggestion. Permission for voluntary organisations wishing to knit for members of His Majesty’s Forces to obtain wool coupon-free and distribute the comforts at their discretion would involve unfair distribution and waste of wool.
Mr George Daggar (Abertillery) – Does not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman see that there will be a considerable decrease in the number of these articles unless he agrees to revert to the old practice; and what is there to encourage an individual in area ‘A’ to knit these articles if they are distributed in area ‘B’ where no such articles are being produced at all?
Mr John Llewellin (Uxbridge) – I am afraid that if we dispersed the wool and did not distribute it through these organisations which arrange it carefully for us, we should have a lot of people accepting wool and perhaps using it for other purposes.
Mr George Daggar (Abertillery) – That does not meet the point I have in mind. Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman expect persons, say in Wales, to knit articles and allow them to be distributed in areas where no knitting at all has been done? I beg to give notice that I shall raise this question on the adjournment.
Commander William King-Hall (Omskirk) – Asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give favourable consideration to a scheme whereby for a period of 12 months persons with a gross income of £1,000 a year and upwards shall receive no clothing coupons, thereby both economising the consumption of clothing and applying more strictly the principle of equality of sacrifice.
Sir John Llewellin (Uxbridge) – No, Sir. The object of the Clothing Ration Scheme is to provide fair shares of available supplies for all consumers irrespective of income, and I see no reason to depart from this principle.
Commander William King-Hall (Omskirk) – Does not my right hon. and gallant Friend feel that people who have either existing wardrobes or can buy second-hand clothes should be obliged to wear out their existing stocks before they use clothing coupons?
Mr John Llewellin (Uxbridge) – I should like to see people who have existing wardrobes not using their coupons, but that is no reason why one should say that everybody who has an income of over £1,000 a year must necessarily have a sufficient wardrobe.
Major-General Sir Alfred Knox (Wycombe) – Would not the logical application of this principle be to compel all people with gross incomes of over £5,000 a year to go naked?
Do you have any stories about clothes rationing?
The following account is taken from the book ‘Voices of Abertillery, Aberbeeg and LLanhilleth’.
‘Married after the war’
When I got married we were still on rations and clothing coupons. All the family saved up so many coupons and gave them me for the food. I had a second-hand suit. We got married in Blaenau Gwent with Ivor Evans. He used to come and see us before we got married and laid down the law to us about going to chapel. I had a red suit and a red hat with a blue feather in it and he whispered to me when we were lined up for him to marry, ‘You know, Renee, “Marry in red and you’ll wish you were dead” – that’s the old saying’. I was quite shocked. Then he said, ‘I’m only teasing, take no notice’. (RM)
“The Chapels of Wales” by Huw Owen, published by Seren, price £14.99. The book covers 110 chapels, mostly in Wales but also Welsh chapels around the world. They played a central role in the religious and cultural life of 19 th and 20 th century Wales and continue to have an influence although they are closing at the rate of about two each week. The book looks at the architecture, history and significance of each of the chapels which are featured, along with photographs.
The Society is sorry to hear of the death of Alan Hunt, former Vice President and Committee member of the museum. Our thoughts are with the family.
Our valley has never been short of people with talent and the Museum Society has more than its share. One of these Sian Price is a multi-award winning television and radio documentary producer, specialising in history and military. Born in Cwmbran, to Jennifer and Colin Price, she has a history degree from Warwick University and an MA in Film Archives’. Sian was also a director in the popular T.V series, “Coal House” on which she gave a talk for us at our coffee morning.
Sian has now written a book, “If You Are Reading this.” It is an historical record of the last letters from the Front Line written by troops of different nations on the eve of conflict. These letters Range from the Napoleonic Wars between 1793 and 1815, the American Civil War, Anglo Zulu War, Boer War, the Great War, the Second World War, the Falkland’s Conflict, up until the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is not surprising that in the earlier wars these letters were mostly written by officers who were better educated than the rank and file. What is surprising is the number that did come from the lower ranks during this time. As troops became better educated the letters home increased, becoming a lifeline from those at the front and those at home. Although letters are still written today emails, face book and text messages are used.
The last letters when men faced death, some having had premonitions of what was to come gave an insight of their inner thoughts showing a depth and strength of character that came when faced with imminent death. Everything became clearer, focusing on the important things in life.
Peggy bought me one of these books for Christmas and I have only now finished it. I found it a moving document, of what war is like and how men can rise above the horrors of war and the inhumanity of men to the heights of compassion and love for their family and friends. Even those who were not religious believed there is a better life after death where they would all meet again.
This could not have been an easy book to write and required an incredible amount of research. Sian approached her subject with feeling that flows through the pages.
The book is on sale in our museum.
Richard Dean gave the talk after our museum Annual Dinner. Among his many attributes Richard is a Chartered Structural Engineer, a Technical Director of his own Partnership. M.I.S.E. Fellow of the British Geological Society and Chairman of the Wales Branch of the Institution of Structural Engineers.
He has given a talk at a museum coffee morning, combined with an exhibition of new modern buildings throughout the world.
His after dinner talk was on the fissures and breaks on Mynydd James. Although a great proportion of the audience were ex-miners knowing about geology Richards talk enlightened many who were not and are new to the subject. He gave it in such a way that everyone could understand what is a complicated subject.
During the Ice Age there was 3 miles of ice above our valley, when the ice melted the release of pressure and the resulting water caused the land to rise up causing the fissures much like a sponge cake when it rises. This area is the best site of this type in the world.
These talented people come from one family who have been involved with our museum. Enid Dean the mother of both Jennifer and Richard is our Fund Raising Secretary, Jennifer her daughter is our Company Secretary, Richard and his wife Melanie are members. Sian her Granddaughter is an historian and Josh her grandson came who came to the dinner to give his father his support. He is also interested in history.
Don Bearcroft Curator.
(Koala Bear) “Gooday Cobber!”
(Donbear) “ I knew it was deep but I did not think it went down that far!!!”