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February 2020
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Dates for your Diary

Saturday 22nd FebruaryCoffee Morning – Rotary, 80 years in Abertillery

January 100 Club

No.  78            Jen Tuck                                 £20
No.    2             Denis Osland                        £10

If you would like to join our 100 club and be in with a chance of winning, it costs just £1 a month. Ask at the museum for further details.

Annual Membership Reminder

If you have not yet renewed your annual membership please do so as we rely on your support to stay open.  The fee is just £6 for standard membership and £25 for Vice Presidents and if you are a taxpayer, please come in and sign a Gift Aid declaration so that we can claim another 25p for each pound given at no extra cost to you.

Gwent Local History Council

The museum is a member of the Gwent Local History council and receives a copy of their journal which comes out a few times a year.  It contains articles of local interest and is well worth reading.  Any of our members who would like to borrow the journal are very welcome.  Please ask in the office for the latest Journal or one of the earlier editions.

Change to Museum Newsletter

If you picked up a hard copy of the newsletter last month, you may have noticed the front cover is now in colour!  Due to printing costs we are unable to print the whole document in colour but if you have an email address, drop me a line at and you can receive the whole newsletter in colour by email.  Due to postage costs we regret we are unable to post out hard copies unless postage is supplied but they are always available to pick up in the museum.

Embroidery Donation


This beautiful piece of embroidery was hand sewn and framed by Sheila Ebeling who works for Merthyr Tydfil Institute for the Blind and she has very kindly donated it to the museum to be used as a raffle prize.  Tickets are on sale at the museum.

The Police Cape

police cape My husband, Gareth, joined Gwent Police in 1973 and one of the items of uniform he was issued with was his Police Cape.   Made of 100% wool it was extremely heavy.  It was fastened with a hook and eye at the collar and concealed buttons down the front with a decorative chain near the neck, the chain being adopted from the early Victorian style police cape.  Having done his probation in Newport, he was then stationed in Brynmawr for many years and his cape was greatly appreciated on winter nights there!


Many things could be secreted under that cape and sneaked back into the station!  On one occasion whilst working an afternoon shift at Abertillery, he and a colleague, were returning to the station for their refreshment break when they encountered the Chief Constable who had been visiting the station and on noticing steam coming from the collar of the cape, the Chief Constable commented, with a nod and a wink, on how useful capes were; the steam was coming from a bag of curry and rice!

The Cape was last worn around 1992 in Abertillery which was his last beat posting.   By the time he retired from the Force in 2004, the cape was a thing of the past and, while he was required to hand back in his uniform, the cape was not wanted and has been hanging in a wardrobe at our home ever since.

My husband had a sentimental attachment to his cape and was reluctant to part from it but finally agreed it could go but what to do with it?  It seemed a shame that such a piece of history should end up on a skip but Abertillery museum already had a police cape*.   As it had been worn mostly in Brynmawr it seemed fitting it should go back there and so I contacted Byrnmawr Museum who said they would be pleased to have it.  It is going on display there adorned with my husband’s collar number of 789.  Brynmawr Museum, for those unfamiliar with it, is behind the library in Market Square, pop in and have a look if you’re in the area.    
Sally Murphy

*Abertillery Museum’s Police Cape can be seen on display at the ‘Royal Oak Pub’

For more information on Brynmawr Museum or opening times telephone 01495 313900 or visit their website:-

Where are the Eiderdowns?

What happened to the eiderdown?  No-one that I knew could have afforded a ‘real’ eiderdown stuffed with expensive down from the eider duck. More likely their eiderdowns were stuffed with ordinary duck feathers, or kapok perhaps. In my childhood days pretty well every bed had an eiderdown on the top – a heavy square quilt which was usually covered in a silky or satiny embroidered material.

Underneath the eiderdown were blankets – so many of them in winter that the weight of them would squash your feet to the side – and a hot water bottle.  How different from today when most people use a light duvet rather than blankets.  I still have a selection of lovely Welsh blankets that I inherited and they come into use from time to time, usually taken when going away from home and facing the prospect of a potentially cold bed somewhere.

I still remember the first time I used a duvet. It was in Sweden in 1967 at Easter when there was still snow on the ground and it was very cold. The duvet was literally as light as a feather and I couldn’t believe anything so lightweight could possibly keep me warm but it did!  What an eye-opener.  Although duvets are on sale everywhere, I see from the internet that you can still buy an eiderdown in a traditional style or modern material cover if you hanker for one.  I also noticed a lot of hot water bottles in the shops in the run-up to Christmas.
Jen Price

In this day and age we all need to be on our guard against fraudsters and scammers.  This is the first of a series of articles giving advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.  The information comes courtesy of Gwent Police. 

Identity Theft & Identity Fraud

Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and/or belongings so they can use your identity. Sometimes they do this for their own financial gain, which is called identity fraud. You may not even realize the fraud has happened until after the event, when you receive a bill or have trouble getting credit. In fact, Experian, the credit agency, has found that it takes an average of 292 days to discover you’ve become a victim.

So why is this type of fraud on the rise? A recent study has shown that….

  • 44% of Britons still don't shred documents containing sensitive information before placing them in the bin
  • Only 54% of UK residents routinely check financial statements
  • 79% of household waste contains at least one or more items that could assist fraudsters in stealing an identity

How are people’s identities being stolen?

Theft: Personal information can be obtained through stealing someone’s purse or through burglary.

Cold Calling: People calling at home, pretending to be legitimate businesses and then tricking the resident into giving away personal information.

Hacking: Fraudsters are using technology to hack into computers and smart phones where they can access a wealth of information.

Phishing: Criminals are sending emails pretending to be from businesses, asking the receiver to click on a link. This then allows them to access their information

Data breach: Information is stolen from companies/service providers

How do you protect yourself against this type of fraud?

  • Always shred documents like bank statements, utility bills, application forms, card receipts and letters
  • Never give personal information out on the phone.  If in doubt, take the caller’s name, number and organisation and do a few checks before calling them back
  • Never click on a link within an e-mail, even when the email looks entirely legitimate.  Fraudsters often send emails pretending to be from various companies, including banks, asking the receiver to reset their on-line password.
  • Always set strong passwords on accounts.  Use a mixture of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols.  Never use ‘password’ or 123456 as your password
  • Keep an eye on your credit report, this way you will be able to spot any unusual activity, like accounts opened in your name
  • If you’re moving home, make sure you re-direct your mail for at least six month

What should you do if you’ve been a victim?

  • Contact all the various companies you have accounts with, like bank accounts, credit cards, store cards, phones and utility providers and let them know. They will monitor your accounts for unusual activity.
  • Credit agencies, such as Equifax and Experian can provide steps to resolve the situation and prevent it happening again
  • Contact the UK’s fraud Prevention service, CIFAS ( They will place a note on your credit file that your identity may be used illegally
  • Report it to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre. You can do this on-line by going to or by calling 0300 123 2040
  • We’re always here to help. Call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also contact Connect Gwent, our victims hub on 0300 123 21 33 or by visiting

Milk Bottles

milk bottle The humble milk bottle - when did it come into use? Before the days of milk bottles, people would supply their own jugs or tin cans for the milkman to fill from a churn on a horse-drawn cart. The first glass milk bottle was patented in the United States in 1874 and gradually gained popularity in the UK so that by the 1920s and 30s they were the norm, sealed with cardboard tops, the latter eventually being replaced by more hygienic foil tops. I can remember as a child in the fifties using a drawing pin to attach a foil milk bottle top to my top (whip and top) to make it look a bit flashier.


By 1975 some 94% of milk was put into glass bottles but nearly 40 years later that figure was just 4%, plastic containers having become the norm, and the sight of a milkman on his rounds having become equally rare. Before everyone had a fridge, milk could be difficult to keep fresh so you needed to buy it daily and if you didn't have a car then milk bottles were heavy to carry from shop to home.  Fridges and cars have transformed our lives and the way we get our milk although I read that the glass milk bottle and milkmen to deliver them, are gaining in popularity. Many people say that the bottled milk has a 'cleaner' taste than milk from a plastic container. The old milk bottles always had the name of the dairy embossed or painted on them. That still happens but less frequently. In these days of having more concern for the environment and the importance of recycling, some glass bottles are also now embossed with a reminder to "Please rinse and return".

I'm sure many of us remember the one third pint bottles of milk* distributed in schools, and the remarkable milk 'stalagmites' that protruded from the bottle necks in freezing weather.  At least the cold milk was palatable. I couldn't drink it if the teachers had decided to put the crate near a radiator or boiler for the milk to thaw out.  Lukewarm milk?  Horrible!

And do you also remember that birds used to peck at the foil tops to get at the cream?  That was when we all drank full cream milk, when milk was left on the doorstep, and presumably also more small birds than today!

*Editor’s comment - The museum has a couple of one third pint milk bottles on display which came from my late grandfather’s dairy at Penybont Road.

Letter to the Editor

This was received by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

Dear Editor,
The December 2019 edition of the Newsletter included a recipe for 'frosting' objects using a concentrated solution of Epsom Salts.  I tried it on some holly leaves that I wanted to use to decorate the Christmas cake and it worked a treat!  The leaves looked just as if ‘Jack Frost’ had paid the leaves a visit although I will add a word of warning - it took a couple of weeks for the salts to evaporate fully. Until then the leaves were glossy but a bit sticky, not unattractive but not as pretty as when the frosting process was completed.

Editor – thanks for getting in touch – nice to know it worked!

Volunteer staff needed! 

We are desperately in need of volunteers to help at the museum, indeed I think it a fair assessment to say that the museum is as likely to close over lack of helpers as lack of cash!  So if you can spare a few hours a week on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday morning we are eager to hear from you.  Contact details can be found on page 1 of this newsletter or just pop in for a chat.


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