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April 2013
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Annual Dinner Friday 8th March

Peggy Bearcroft arranged a very successful dinner at the Llanhilleth Hotel. The meal was excellent and our after dinner speaker, Jane Henderson, gave us something of a backroom view on the fascinating world of conservation. Many thanks to Peggy for all her hard work.

Lecture Programme

Our March lecture was given by Richard Dean, a structural engineer. His talk was intriguingly entitled “What Lies Beneath?” and he told us of some of his experiences of dealing with sites with archaeological deposits dating from the Stone Age to more recent industrial times. We learnt something about the way such sites are investigated, the constraints archaeology can impose on engineering solutions, and the hazards that can exist, particularly the risk of contamination from old industrial sites. A serious topic was enlivened with some light-hearted anecdotes.

Our April lecture will be on Wednesday 10 th when the speaker will be Gail Ashworth whose talk is entitled “Intellectual Property is All Around You”. If you would like to learn more about the mysterious world of patents, please come along.

In May, Tony Jukes is coming along on Wednesday 1 st to tell us about the Dam Disaster at Cwmcarn.

Please be sure to come along – all are welcome. £2 entry; the lectures are held in the Museum and start at 2pm.

Diary Dates

Wednesday 10th April Intellectual Property is All Around You by Gail Ashworth

Saturday 13th April Coffee morningMystery Treasures

Wednesday 1st May Cwmcarn Dam Disaster by Tony Jukes

Wednesday 5th June Inn Signs by Bob Trett

Wednesday 3rd July The Story of the Hero of Newport Docks Disaster by Monty Dart

Wednesday 7th August Newport Transporter Bridge by Anne Gatehouse

Wednesday 4th September Garden Birdwatch by Mick Bailey

Wednesday 2nd October ( TBA) Robin Williams

Wednesday 6th November Stanley Spencer War Artist by Pete Strong

Coffee morning Saturday 13th April

The theme is ‘Mystery Treasures’. Bring along your mystery item and see if anyone can identify or explain it. If you don’t have a mystery treasure, please come along anyway for what promises to be an enjoyable morning.

Big Pit

This year is the 30 th anniversary of Big Pit Museum; there are various special events throughout the year.


Bert Dean passed away on 26th March. Our thoughts are with his wife, Enid, and her family at this sad time.  

Poetry Corner

‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

We all know this nursery rhyme but did you know it was written with these five verses in 1806 by two sisters – Jane and Ann Taylor.

Recent Acquisitions

The documentation of items donated to the Museum is an ongoing job, and a very interesting and enjoyable one. The following are just a few of the items documented in recent weeks:

- The Tylerian School Magazine (various years)
- Pocket sized New Testament issued for the Coronation
- Invoice for baby food purchased during the Miners’ Strike
- Naval ribbons and badges
- Cigarette boxes
- Ledgers listing concessionary coal issued to surface workers at Cwmtillery Colliery.

Cock and Chick School Log Books

Another recent item to be documented and they make interesting reading. Here are a few extracts.

March 10th 1936 – Donald Williams, a pupil in Class 2, had the misfortune to break his leg today while at play. This occurred during the dinner hour, the victim being one of a group of Bourneville boys who have their dinner in the school premises.  

March 1st 1937 – Yesterday’s blizzard caused such bad snow drifts that this morning’s attendance dropped to 65%. The school was closed during the afternoon session, the occasion being St. David’s Day.  

May 12th 1937 – The children assembled at eleven o’clock to hear a portion of the Coronation Broadcast. In the afternoon sports were held on the top of the mountain, and this was followed by a tea given to all the children.  

March 14th 1938 – I attended a conference of Head Teachers, called by the Education Committee, at the Council Chamber to discuss the problems of air raid precautions as it affects school children.  

14th March 1940 – A heavy snowstorm this morning caused the attendance to drop to 76%.  

9th March 1942 – Two workmen have been here all this day swilling and cleaning out the WCs. The closets were indescribably filthy as a result of the flushing system having been frozen up for the last month.  

March 29th 1944 - As a result of the various efforts of the pupils and members of the staff a piano costing £25 has been purchased for school use. This is the first piano introduced into the school since its opening in 1877.

John Hughes 1815 – 1889

This industrialist, born in Merthyr, founded an ironworks and mining town in imperial Russia and the town was named Hughesovka in his honour. His father was an engineer at the Cyfarthfa Works and Hughes learnt his trade there before moving to Ebbw Vale and then Newport, where he married Elizabeth Lewis and raised eight children. Hughes patented a number of inventions in armaments and armour plating and this led his company to receive an order from Imperial Russia for the plating of a naval fortress being built at Kronstadt on the Baltic Sea. Hughes set sail in 1870 with eight shiploads of equipment and about one hundred specialist ironworkers and miners, mostly from South Wales, to build a metallurgical plant and rail producing factory. The town of Hughesovka grew rapidly and Hughes provided a hospital, schools, bath houses, tea rooms, a fire brigade and church. When Hughes died the company was taken over by his sons who continued to expand the works. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 led to the departure of most of the foreign employees but the works survived and prospered under Communist Rule. The town was renamed Donetsk in 1961 and remains one of the largest metallurgical centres in the former Soviet Union.

Thanks to Mr Arthur Lewis O.B.E for this item.

Llanhilleth Colliery July 26th, 1901 APOLOGY

I, the undersigned JAMES WOODWARD, of 3, Railway Street, Llanhilleth, hereby express my regret that on July 24 th, 1901, I committed a breach of Special Rule Number 67, established under the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887, by sleeping with a lighted lamp in my possession in the Mine belonging to Messrs. Partridge, Jones & Co., Ltd.

And I hereby tender my sincere Apology to the Owners, the Officials, and my Fellow Workmen for so doing.

I further agree to pay the sum of Ten Shillings towards the Library Fund as proof of my penitence, and to pay the cost of printing this Apology.

I also undertake, in the future, to faithfully observe and support to the best of my ability, the Rules and Regulations of the Coal Mines Regulations Act, and the Special Rules established thereunder.

I also agree that a copy of this Apology shall be posted up at the Mine as a Warning to others.

Witness my signature this 26 th day of JULY, 1901 JAMES WOODWARD

100 Club March

No. 62 Jill McCarthy £25
No. 87 Gwyneth Hillier £10
No. 56 Rose Smith £5

Fund raising March - £254

Annual Subscription 2013 - £5

As a community Museum run by volunteers and charging no entry fee, every penny counts so if you haven’t renewed your subscription, please do as soon as possible. Many thanks.

Gwent County History Volume 5

Volume 5 which will cover the period to the year 2000, will be published in June of this year. This will mark the completion of an ambitious project to compile an authoritative history of the County. The idea was first mooted at one of the Gwent Local History Council meetings and led to the first meeting in Usk in 1996 to move the project forward to reality. The four volumes published to date have received commendable peer reviews and reflect a remarkable story of dedication by a small group of volunteers. The series has been published by the University of Wales Press and a celebration of the publication of the final volume is planned for September at the Gwent Archives in Ebbw Vale.

Museum Trip

There is a temporary exhibition on Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum and if there is enough interest we could run a coach trip, possibly one Monday in June? The tickets to the exhibition are about £15 the coach would cost about £17 per seat assuming we could fill it (49 seats) although we could offer places to those who just want a trip to London. Please put your name and contact number on the list at the Museum, or give me a ring – 01633 482851. We need to finalise this in early May so don’t dilly-dally. Let’s hope we can drum up enough interest! Jen Price

Archaeology Lecture Series

Frank Olding will be holding another of his popular series of lectures on Tuesday mornings 10.30 – 12.30 or evenings 6.30 – 8.30 from 9 th April to 14 th May. The venue is Bedwellty House, Morgan Street, Tredegar NP22 3XN and the series will include both seminars and field trips. Ring 07971 081647 for more details.


Some ways in which people celebrate Easter in Wales.

Easter celebrations start on Suly Blodau, (Sunday of Flowers) or as it is more commonly known, Palm Sunday. On this day it is customary to decorate the graves in churchyards with beautiful floral arrangements in readiness for Easter and the festival of the Resurrection. Before the graves are decorated they are often cleaned, weeded and even whitewashed then garlands of daffodils, rosemary, rue, primroses and crocuses are placed on them.

Y Groglith is Welsh for Good Friday and has a number of customs associated with it.

An old custom in Tenby, was that on this day all business within the town was suspended with even horse and carts stopped and not a person to been seen on the streets anywhere. People would then walk barefoot to the church in order not to disturb the earth, Jesus' burial place. There was also a custom of "making Christ's bed". Long reeds gathered from the river were woven together by the children of the town. The children would use the reeds to create the figure of a man and then laid them upon wooden crosses and leave them in quiet fields to rest in peace.  

Llun y Pasg is Welsh for Easter Monday

In Wales the hills and mountains play an integral part and Easter Monday celebrations are no exceptions. The festivities start earlier on Easter Monday with a procession to the top of nearby mountains before the sun has even risen. Crowds then watch the sunrise in honour of the resurrection, Peggy and I attended a Sunrise Service with the Salvation Army at St Iltyds (when I was fit!) In some areas of Wales people are known to carry bowls of water to the summit in order to reflect the rising sun.  

Palm Sunday - Sul y Blodau

(literally Sunday of the Flowers) Taking place, this was seen as the time to welcome spring after a dreary winter by wearing new clothes. Some ladies wore black patent leather shoes called “Mary Jane’s”, white gloves and wore Easter Bonnets! Everyone went to church in the morning

Palm Sunday is also called Flowering Sunday, and families traditionally visit the graves of their relatives to lay flowers.

Also Welsh singing contests were held known as Gymansa Ganu. Choirs from various chapels in the area come together to take part in these festivals.


Eggs is a symbol of spring as well as Easter. They are a sign of new life; Easter Eggsthe Chicks are born from eggs and are a reminder of spring and Easter, originally Easter eggs were painted with bright colours to represent the sunlight of spring and were used in Easter-egg -rolling contests or given as gifts. After they were coloured and etched with various designs. The eggs were exchanged by lovers and romantic admirers, much the same as valentines. In medieval time eggs were traditionally given at Easter to the servants.

Easter Bunny

Easter BunnyRabbits are a reminder of spring and new life they are the favourite animal of the spring goddess Eastre. The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention, the symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre its origin in pre-Christian fertility law . Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit..

The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the spring season.

The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. The first bunnies were not made of chocolate; they were made of pastry and sugar.

Chocolate Bunny

Hot Cross Buns

Hotcross BunIn Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted during Lent; beginning with the evening of Shrove Tuesday to Good Friday, the cross i s a symbol of the Crucifixion. A superstition says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mould during the subsequent year I hope you all had a good EASTER .

Don Bearcroft Curator

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