Museum Logo
Home Page
About Us
Educational Activities
News And Events
Become A Member
Contact Us
Monthly Newsletter
Previous Month Button
May 2014
Next Month Button

Lecture Programme

Have you ever wondered how those exquisite and intricate porcelain models of flowers and animals are produced? The audience at our April lecture had an opportunity to find out in the course of an illustrated talk entitled ‘Manufacturing Fine Bone China’ given by Mr David Woodliffe. Our speaker explained the length of time and skills involved from the carving of the original model in plasticene, through the various stages of casting moulds, assembly, firing, glazing and painting. Mr Woodliffe also brought some examples with him – they were so delicate we hardly dared touch them.

The next talk will be at 2pm on Wednesday 7 th May at Abertillery & District Museum in Abertillery town centre. The May speaker will be Anne Gatehouse who will give an illustrated talk on ‘Military Band Archives and Music’. Non-members are welcome; entry is £2.

100 Club April

No. 76 Cariad Evans £25
No. 4 Sue Smaile £10
No. 30 Dorothy Nemes £5

Do you know someone who would like to join our 100 Club? It costs just £1 each month and is a valuable fund raiser for the Museum.

Diary Dates

Wednesday 7th May 2014 Military Band Archive and Music by Anne Gatehouse

Wednesday 4th June 2014 The Murder of KyminBet by Pete Strong

Sunday 28th June 2014 The Guardian Festival

Wednesday 2nd July 2014 Swan Rescue by Ellen Kershaw

Saturday 5th July Aberfest Day (the Museum will man a stall in the town)

Thursday 24th July 2014 Grand Summer Tea Party at and outside the Museum

Wednesday 6th August 2014 A Brief Look at Vietnam by Jen Price

Wednesday 3rd September 2014 - The WW2 Blenheim Bomber Crash at Abersychan by Ken Clark

Wednesday 1st October 2014 – Introduction to Rag Rug by Jane Dorsett

Wednesday 5th November 2014 The Mysterious World of Bees by John Holden

Ash’s Shop – new display

The new display is nearing completion. The window fittings and fascia board are in place, Don is working on the window displays using items from Ash’s and from the Museum’s collection of toys, and the interior is being fitted out as our own Museum shop area. If you have called at the Museum you will have seen the work in progress and we are very grateful to Biffa Award who provided the majority of the money for this project. You may also have seen the mural at the back of the shop, featuring old Mr Ash himself. We have not been able to get funding for the mural and so the Museum will have to carry the cost of this essential part of the display - £1000. We hope we can raise some of the money with fund raising events including a Grand Summer Tea Party in late July – games, cream teas, musical entertainment and more. If you can help with this, and with manning a stall at the Guardian Festival and Aberfest, please speak to Peggy Bearcroft

Poetry Corner


I never knew my Granny
God called her to his side
But when my father talked of her
His love he couldn’t hide.

I never knew my Granny
Or saw her smiling face
Or watch her with a needle
Edge tablecloths with lace.

I never knew my Granny
Or tasted cakes she made
Or visited at teatime
To watch the table laid.

I never knew my Granny
Or walked her down the road
And carry home her shopping
To lighten up her load.

I never knew my Granny
Or gave her anything
Like paintings in my schooldays
Or gifts tied up with string.

I never knew my Granny
Or sang her happy songs
But in my heart’s a special place
Where Granny still belongs.

Dagworth Orville Charters

“Old Soldiers Never Die”

This is the title of a World War 1 commemorative event to be held at Salem Chapel in Blaina on Tuesday 5th August at 7.30pm. The event will feature readings to remember Frank Richards of Blaina and the author of “Old Soldiers Never Die”. The evening is being presented by Nantyglo and Blaina Town Council and Gwent Western Front Association. The presenter will be Steve Taylor (the broadcaster and journalist who spoke to our Museum Society last year) and the evening will also feature music by Ebbw Vale Male Choir. This promises to be a wonderful evening. Tickets are free of charge but must be obtained in advance. Please ring the Gwent Western Front Association 01291 425638.

Shut your trap

Do you know the origin of this phrase, now considered a very rude one? It goes back to the time when a passenger would tell his chauffeur to ‘shut your trap’, that is, the sliding panel between the front and rear seating areas of a car, if the chauffeur was prattling too much.

Local Voices

While sitting in the Museum cafe the other day, the place mat in front of me depicted a scene from Barrell Bros., Six Bells.

I don't know the date of that picture but when I was about 18 years of age I worked as accounts clerk for Barrell Bros.

I worked in a small office with another girl who was already employed there and we became great friends at work and in our leisure time. We made up, by hand, invoices which we then sent out to the local shops who traded with Barrell Bros. in fresh fruit and vegetables. The drivers of the many lorries motored to Ledbury and Herefordshire and loaded up with freshly harvested fruit and vegetables. On return deliveries were made to the local shops. How much fresher than that could you get? The shopkeepers, who were generally small corner shops, came personally and settled their accounts.

On a Saturday afternoon, my colleague and I would go in to Mr. Barrell’s adjacent office where after personally scrutinising each incoming invoice, would pass it to us to write a cheque and dispatch it.

Although Barrell Bros. were excellent employers things were quite formal. If I was just a few minutes late in the morning he would look at his watch and say ''You are late this morning Miss Thomas.'' My colleague and I were ALWAYS addressed as Miss Thomas and Miss Rees. Mr. & Mrs. W. Barrell lived in a three storey house next to the warehouse. Mrs. Barrell always phoned through to us to say '' Tea is ready'' and we went down to their living room and had tea. How homely!

If we had an occasion to go in to the warehouse we would always pick some fruit from any open crate such as apples or strawberries and raspberries. I do not recollect actually being offered any fruit by the boss, but he probably knew we just helped ourselves if we wanted a small taster.

My recollection of that time was a very happy one, working for a very nice considerate family business. Many years later, about 1960, I worked as secretary to Collier's Garage and as Barrell Bros. purchased all their vans and lorries from Collier's Garage, I was still much in contact with them. Sadly, I think the family has now faded out.
Enid Dean (nee Thomas)

Wool and Sheets Needed

Please remember Mrs Wendy Hill would be glad of wool for her charity knitting, and the Museum needs sheets or the like for dusters and cleaning cloths.

Wives’ Work

The Miners’ Strike started 30 years ago and many of the wives played a crucial role in events, including Beryl Fury who ran the food centre in Abertillery from which over 4000 food parcels were distributed to miners and their families every fortnight. She recounted an average day and this is a small extract, with more in next month’s newsletter.

Arrive at the food centre by 8.30am. Must try to remember Ynysddu want their food parcels by twelve o’clock. Let’s hope John isn’t late, he’s our main driver, although he’s not like the one we had who was known as ‘horizontal’. I promised Bedwas they’d be first on the list this morning. At least their numbers don’t alter - 120 each week. Not like some of the pits where there are more parcels needed every Wednesday.

The phone’s ringing, it’s always the same, the moment I put the key in the door it starts. I should have guessed, it’s the Marine pit, Alun wants his food parcels before 10 o’clock. Well, this week his luck’s out. Hope Brace’s bread is on time, he did promise 4000 loaves by nine o’clock.

Start loading Bedwas. I’ll let John do the counting. I always get lost halfway through. Heather and Lorna have arrived. Heather gets Bedwas baby food order up. John can take it with the food parcels. No, we haven’t any talc – very soon they’ll be asking us for 14 ½ inch collar shirts. It’s got to stop somewhere.

Diane arrives. “Make a cup of tea, Di, while I finish Bedwas off, then John can get away.” The Oakdale boys are driving in, I’ll get them to take Tredegar’s 310, and they can load up or they’ll just sit on the wall and watch us women do it. Christ, it’s hard work to get them to work. Nellie, or Neil as he’s not often called, is in his shorts again prancing about. Good job he’s in love with his body, nobody else seems to be. He’s the driver of Oakdale pit van and is marshalling his three comrades in arms to load Tredegar’s.

Heather is making up the baby food order for the pit. “How many tins of Heinz Junior Dinners have they ordered, Heather?” “Ninety! Good God, babies must be growing up there faster than grass! Good God, that phone’s on piece work, Someone in Risca wanting their jumble picked up for our shop. Fixed that for 3pm.

Tea’s made, light a cigarette and take five minutes. Heather is telling Lorna about something Dia Blacksocks said in the Six Bells pub last night. I’m curious to know why he’s called Dia Blacksocks. It seems several years ago he sang in a choir and suggested the whole choir wore black socks. This is a terrible area for nicknames.

Oakdale boys leave with Tredegar load, so we can go on sorting food until John gets back from Bedwas. Hope to God it doesn’t rain – all that bread stacked up in the yard outside. It would take an hour to get it in, even if we could find room for it. When this dispute is over, I’ll be afraid to enter a supermarket in case I start sorting and bagging the entire stock.

Book Corner

WORSLEY, Lucy ‘A Very Perfect Murder’

Lucy Worsley has written a very interesting book exploring the history of murder from fact to fiction and the British interest in the subject. When did it start? How our fascination with the subject has created a new kind of entertainment, including novels, plays and written descriptions of actual crimes.

An army of fictional detectives have been created, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, to be portrayed on radio and television, in film and on the stage.

Lucy Worsley is a noted Historian and in this book she has written a history of crime and its literature from the beginning of the 18 th Century to the beginning of the Second World War when crime stories began to be replaced by more adventurous thrillers.
Jean Colwell  

Fund raising April - £218

Happy Birthday

Long standing Museum Society Member Mary Cole has a special birthday – many happy returns. 

Get Well Wishes

We send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Margaret Phillips, Ron Selway and John Selway.


We were all saddened to hear that Alf Stone passed away in April. Always quiet and courteous, Alf was well regarded and will be much missed. Out thoughts are with Rita and their many friends and family.



Every year The Community Council of Abertillery & Llanhilleth holds an awards ceremony for voluntary people and organizations, last year Mrs Enid Dean was given an award for her work with our museum. This year the museum was given two awards; Ron Selway for his services to the Abertillery & District Museum, Ron has been a member for 22 years and has served in the position of Vice Chairman for 18 years until his retirement due to ill heath this year. He worked tirelessly raising funds when we lost or home in the Library, serving on many of the stalls at boot sales etc and helping in other fund raising events being dressed as Father Christmas at our Christmas Fayre. After we had achieved our new museum he took his turn on duty manning the museum. Ron was also nominated for an award by the Residents Committee of Llanhilleth. AwardUnfortunately Ron could not receive the award himself as he was taken into hospital the day before the ceremony and is waiting to have a Pacemaker fitted his award was collected by Lyn Mahoney.

The other award was a group award for Abertillery & District Museum foe its service to the community.

The compare for the evening was Clerk of The Community Council Graham Bartlett and the awards were handed out by Chairman of the Community Council of Abertillery & Llanhilleth Councillor Jim Roles. Cll Graham Bartlett told of the work the museum does within our community as well as a wider audience and he stressed the work done with schools, having visits from schools as far as France. This award is for everyone who works for our museum.

I replied to his address stressing the work of all the volunteers who work behind the scenes, an illustration of this was the work required for the new Ashes Shop exhibit now that the designer has finished his work. The shop windows (museum cases) have to be filled with artefacts the left hand window is filled with horse 15trappings and cobbling items made from leather representing the business when it started as a saddlers and leather fancy goods 114 years ago this year. Award 2

The right hand window is filled with toy and sport artefacts representing the diversity that was needed with the demise of horse transport. The Ash family donated lots of items from their shops, before these artefacts can be set out on display they must first be cleaned polished using Renaissance Wax polish after which they have to be documented numbered and labelled They were coated with years of dirt and grime and Peggy and the documentation teams hands were as if they had been sweeping chimneys. While they were doing this work with the help of Richard Gilson I set up the First World War exhibition in the two new cases we had made to hold it. When enough items were ready, with the help of Judith Williams I started on the Ashes Shop displays; a lot of thought has to be given setting up a display for it to have any meaning. Due to my disabilities there are certain things I cannot do, I am fortunate to have people around me willing to help me carry out my duties as curator.

Since I was elected as curator in 1991 I have learned a lot and have made many new friends in the museum world, those who know me realise I have never been a yes man and deserve the nickname, “The Museums Bulldog” due to my reputation for defending our museum. I am now passing on my knowledge to Richard Gilson who is also his own man and will take my place when the time is right.

Bear LogoThe award for our museum could not come at a better time the text on it reads, “Presented to Abertillery & District Museum for Services to the Community April 2014. Our museum was inaugurated in 1964; this year is our 50 th anniversary which we intend to celebrate in July.
Don Bearcroft Curator


Top Of Page



Registered Musuem Logo

© Abertillery & District Museum 2014