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May 2008
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Lecture Programme

Our April lecture proved to be quite an insight to Caerleon – very different from the view we have of it today and a reminder that its history isn’t confined to the Roman period.  This month we have our annual Ralph Robinson Memorial Lecture when Frank Olding will be telling us about the Lost Pubs of Abergavenny, possibly with a tear in his eye.  Please remember that this lecture will be on the second rather than the first Wednesday of the month.


The exhibition on the Partition of India proved popular and I for one am keen to read more about that event. Our Museum was one of only two in Wales able to host the exhibition and so Don deserves a big round of thanks for organising it.  The coffee morning was well attended; we were sorry that the speaker fell ill at the last minute but we trust all those who came enjoyed the chance to chat, see the exhibition, and taste our efforts at making Indian sweets.

Fund-raising April - £352

Diary Dates

Wednesday 14th May 2008Ralph Robinson Memorial Lecture, The Lost Pubs of Abergavenny by Frank Olding

Saturday 24th May Spring Field trip to Castell Coch and Cosmeston Mediaeval Village. Contact Roy Pickford to book your place – 01495 213377

No lectures June, July or August but look out for details of coffee mornings and exhibitions.

Saturday 21st JuneAberbeeg Hospital Party- ADMS members invited but please give names to Peggy

Saturday 28th JuneStreet Party for the children’s Saturday Club – see Peg for details

Saturday 19th JulyCoffee Morning ‘Postcards’ please start looking for your special cards for this temporary exhibition (not too saucy, please!)

Wednesday 3rd September 2008Merthyr Artist 1900 by Scott Reid
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.

Poet’s Corner



Leaning forward, you
Softly kiss eager lips,
Reluctantly I slowly
Release delicate hands.

Mesmerised by
Your lovely eyes,
Immobilised, I lose
Precious moments.

Smile reassuring
As you turn away,
With empty hands,
carrying my hopes.

Disappearing into this
Warm summers night.
Rhythmical footsteps
Recede to a new horizon.

In quiet of this night,
I am left alone in a void
You have left behind.

Lover’s heat leaves a
Warm glow soon to be
Replaced by intense
Yearning as I dream
Of what might be.

Gordon Rowlands   February 2007

Book Corner

Landscapes of the Wye Tour by Susan Peterken,  Logaston Press price £14.95

A book including paintings of the Wye Valley.  It also describes the geology and industrial history of the river and its banks.  The Wye Valley was a significant attraction for 18th and 19th century artists seeking to paint in the Picturesque style.  This heritage is also explored in the book.

Little Book of the Six Nations by Graeme Kent Pub. By Green Umbrella  Price £6.99

All you need to know about this famous tournament.

100 Club April

No.        Don Bearcroft                    £25
No.        Mary Roden                        £10
No.        Gwyneth Cooper               £5


Murder? Can you help?

My Uncle Alan Brown wrote to you a couple of years ago in the hope of tracing long lost relatives.  As a result of that letter we have been in contact with cousins we never knew we had and have also traced the Dowding side of our family as far as 1564!! Obviously we would like to thank you and your readers very much for the help, especially one particular cousin in Bargoed.  My Great Aunt who is now 93 and lives in Bournemouth would dearly love to know if anyone has any information about her grandmother who used to live on a farm called ‘GWASDYD Farm’ in Cwmtillery and was farmed by the Williams family in the late 19th century.  Her name I believe was Mary (nee Jones) and her husband was Thomas Williams.  The story goes that one day on returning from the market with the money made from selling milk, she was murdered and the money stolen.  Does anyone else know of this story or are there any records in your museum archives that could shed some light on this?  If not do you know in which direction I could maybe get a lead?  Apparently the Police Station that held the records was burned down (another family story, not authenticated).  I would appreciate any help whatsoever.  Thank you in anticipation.  

Christine Djezzar

Another letter from Essex

On Easter Sunday 23rd March BBC1 introduced a new mystery drama – The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, set in Botswana, Africa.  Ex coalminers in Waunlwyd, Marine, Cwm and Six Bells collieries will remember Peter Aplin who became undermanager of Six Bells Colliery.  He left for a mining career in Zambia and later joined me in the Philippines.  When I last had contact with him and his family, he was Chief Mining Engineer for Botswana. 

W A Lewis O.B.E.

Local Voices

‘Poor Old Abertillery’

Not too long ago I attended an “Any Questions” evening.  One questioner asked the panel of four if they thought Abertillery had a future?  Sadly, they all felt it did not, with Abertillery inhabitants shopping out of town in hypermarkets and so forth.  Then I thought “come on Abertillery, you still have a lot to offer”.  There is still a Woolworths, Peacocks, Superdrug…stores one can wander around on a wet day, and other ‘little gems’ like Ron Taylor’s electric shop.  So come on, keep supporting Abertillery.  One other thing we can offer – a superb MUSEUM!

The Roving Reporter

‘Building at The Duffryn’(contd)

Looking over to Gellicrug Lane (also known as Stuart’s Lane) and Gellicrug House

Duffryn Foundations 2

Every spare minute was spent on site. Water was connected and as the mornings became lighter, in order to save time in the evenings, we would spend an hour before going to work, doing jobs such as carrying and stacking bricks (see above photo) or preparing shuttering.  In those days bricks were simply tipped when they were delivered, unlike today when they arrive ready stacked. We refreshed ourselves with tea made in the shed on a one-burner paraffin stove and cleaned ourselves up with a bowl of cold water. 

As the days grew longer the little stove was used to heat up home-made soup or to boil eggs, as we were on site all day long at weekends and holidays.  Our seat outside was a small wooden bench which Ray had made and our dining table was a stack of bricks with a piece of wood across the top.

Once we were up to floor level we rented a cement mixer for two days to lay the floors, but the rest of the time it was all mixed by hand.  We still had occasional help from Eric, for which we were always grateful, whenever he was home from teaching in Leeds or Harrow.  We were young and healthy and the feelings of satisfaction and anticipation which we experienced every day more than compensated for the hard physical work – a prime example of ‘Mind over Matter’.  On the odd occasion we needed some brickwork to be done extra quickly (for example, if the weather had been wet and delaying our time schedule), Ray always turned to Emrys Thomas, a very competent bricklayer and the only one Ray would ever use.
At the top of Duffryn Road, above the cottages and next to the Glebe Field, was a large tract of land on which a bungalow was also being built by Ron Dean. (To digress, Ron’s sister was Gladys Dean who taught piano and piano accordian and conducted the piano accordian band which played at the Saturday night dances held in the Drill Hall).  Ron had a horse-drawn cart which he used to transport his building materials.  His trips up and down the road were always watched with amusement and delight, and gave a very ‘countrified’ air to the general scene.  The horse and cart also attracted young boys who followed it hoping for a free ride.

To be continued.....               

Gwyneth Hutchings

Our trains are back in the Valley”

We travelled to Cardiff by train from Ebbw Vale Parkway station.  You could take the bus to the station or go by car as there are plenty of free parking spaces.

Then on to the train…….You meet plenty of people eager to talk about where they live, about their holidays and of course about the TRAIN.  The conductor arrives and gives you a ticket to get out at Cardiff station.  The cost of a return ticket is £5.10.  He advised that if you are going to use the train quite often it is more economical to go to the booking office in Cardiff and get a Senior Citizens rail card for £5.00 which allows you unlimited travel at half price for a year.

With hindsight it is best to steer clear of school holidays because the train does get rather crowded at these times.  On our second trip we stood all the way but it was worth it for a great day out in the city.                                                          

Alf Stone


The museum is involved in a variety of activities including:

Museum Saturday Club

Children serving behind the counter in the Saturday Club

The Saturday Club ran for the second time on 29 March with 8 children attending. Although most were from the Abertillery area, one child came from Cwm, after seeing the piece about it in the Gwent Gazette. All the children were very enthusiastic and surprised the adults with their wide knowledge of history, from the Celts to World War 2! Helped by Mary, Don and Peggy, the children had a tour of the Museum and then spent the next 2 hours being creative, weighing in the shop and making meat paste sandwiches, the theme of the day being 1939-1945.    All enjoyed the morning, and did not want to go home at the end! The Club is now nearly full, with 2 places left for children aged between 8 and 11. The next Club will be on 31st May, with the theme being Victorian Britain.

Rachel Elston, Communities First.

AIK SAATH Partition of India & Pakistan Exhibition.

Partition of India and Pakistan ExhibitionAik Saath means “Together as One” in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. Set up in 1998 by a group of young people 14 to 21 Hindi, Muslims and Sikh to teach young people how to resolve their conflicts peacefully and to tackle prejudice. The exhibition brought from Slough tells the story of the Partition of India & Pakistan through interviews of Asian people who lived through this era. The story is told by means of story boards and a computerised touch-screen, where visitors can choose an interviewee and also the preferred language. At the start of the exhibition is a quote by Mr. MH, Bhatti, “Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims, We are all brothers”. It is a tribute to these young people who are trying to achieve this in today’s world.

Culture Club

Members of Culture Club organising activities

Mary Coles, Bob Pitt and I visited the Culture Club at Davy Evans Court taking artefacts that people can reminisce about. Tea and coffee was served afterwards, Bob Pitt's and my coffee cups can be seen in the front of the photograph.


Members of the Social Services Resource groupThese people have become regular visitors and greet us as old friends. The smile's on everyones face says it all. Trinity Fields Special Needs School  has also booked for a visit. It is a joy to see them in our museum.




Salvation Army Over 60's Club

35 members of the S.A. over 60s club visited the museum and were enthralled by the displays especially the interactive and sound effects.




Bear LogoThere is one thing that all visiting groups have in common. They not only enjoy their visit but also comment on the "courtesy and friendliness" of the museum volunteers on duty.

Don Bearcroft  Curator.


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