Ongoing – WW1 Exhibition in the Museum
Wednesday 6th May –Ralph Robinson Memorial Lecture - William Abraham M.P.- Working Class Hero? by David Maddox. 6pm at the Museum £2
Saturday 27th June – Coffee morning featuring a Salvation Army exhibition and the pleasure of the Salvation Army band playing for us.
Saturday 4th July – Aberfest. The Museum will be joining in the activities, more news nearer the time.
We decided at the start of the year not to continue with our monthly lecture programme as the numbers attending were too low on occasion but we thought we would resume the tradition of holding a Memorial Lecture in May. Please be sure to put the date of 6th May at 6pm in your diaries. All welcome, entry £2.
A big thank you to Judith Williams and Peggy Bearcroft for organising the Museum Society’s annual meal at Ty Ebbw Fach (former Coach and Horses) in Six Bells. The Monday lunchtime event was a great success and was quickly sold out. Everyone was very pleased with the venue and with the excellent food on offer. Our after-dinner speaker was Brian Davies, former curator of Pontypridd Museum, who treated us to a very entertaining series of anecdotes about life in the museum world. The opportunity was also taken to present a bouquet to Mrs Enid Dean as a small thank you for all her years of service to the Museum Society.
Wish you were here?
Our most recent coffee morning featured a holiday postcard quiz which everyone enjoyed – great fun and something different as one person commented.
The next coffee morning is Saturday 27th June so be sure to put it in your diaries. The Salvation Army band will be coming along to play for us and there will be a Salvation Army exhibition in the Museum.
Raffle prizes needed!
If you have any items we can use for raffle prizes, please drop them off at the Museum.
April 100 Club
See the June Newsletter
We were sorry to learn that Mrs Morfydd Jones, a familiar face in the Museum, passed away recently. Our condolences to her family and friends.
Don’s piece last month on Saturday morning pictures in the Palace Cinema reminded me of the very few occasions I tried it. I don’t know why I went more than once as I certainly didn’t enjoy it. Those Saturday mornings weren’t aimed at girls as the films invariably included one about cowboys or a comedy gangster film and was shown to the noisy accompaniment of yells and shouts, not to mention the boys being unable to sit down or to sit still for more than a couple of seconds. I suppose I can look back on it as an experience. The boys who went certainly had their sixpence worth!
I saw a programme on TV the other day about an organisation formed to promote teaching children to be more interested in tennis and encouraging them to play. This prompted a memory of when I was a teenager and mad about tennis.
My friend and I both worked in the same office and, weather permitting, during the summer months would go to Abertillery Park at 7.30 a.m. to play an hour’s tennis and then hurry to work. Needless to say although we were avid players we were not very good at it and probably missed more shots than we ever managed to return to our opponent.
The Roving Reporter
The other day I went to Abertillery Park which I had not visited for several years. What a wonderful park it is, something which I don’t think I appreciated before. The lovely wooded backdrop of the Arrael Mountain, the large cricket pitch, then the immaculate bowling green which led to the fantastic rugby ground. Further along was the well stocked children’s area before walking on to the extension where I had spent many afternoons ‘footballing and picnicking’ with my grandsons. The tennis courts were no longer there but everything else was perfect. The walkways and the Ebbw river were a delight as were the songs of the birds. I really looked on Abertillery Park with fresh eyes and, although due to cuts in finance it is not as immaculately kept as one would have liked, it was still a wonderful place to spend an hour.
The Roving Reporter
Monmouthshire, Welsh or English?
Ask young people which country they think Monmouthshire is in and they will probably answer Wales. However ask their grandparents and there’s a fair chance that they’ll tell you it is, or at least was, in England. Yes the national status of Monmouthshire was in fact, officially part of England until the early seventies.
All this changed during a sparsely attended late night debate at Westminster in 1972. A Bill was passed to cede Monmouthshire to Wales. Only a handful of MPs were present and it was they who voted the measure through. Interestingly, none of the MPs present that night represented any of Monmouthshire’s constituents who were totally unaware of what was about to happen.
The Bill was enacted upon two years later in 1974 – but unlike the small alterations occurring throughout the rest of England, an entire county was moved lock, stock and barrel in to a neighbouring country and ever since that time, Monmouthshire (renamed Gwent) was placed within Wales. Monmouthshire has since been re-instated although its boundaries are different to the original and it is still part of Wales.
Mr Arthur Lewis O.B.E.
You may recall that Mr Lewis, a former local resident, wrote a piece about miners’ lamps for last month’s Newsletter. He was recently given an Honorary Life Membership to Llanhilleth Heritage Society for his contribution to that Society’s Community Archive and in his letter of thanks he noted the following :
“When I entered Cardiff University the back of my Chemistry text book quoted: Speak to me in words that I can understand. How true of my butties and family when I started in the Old Coal Seam, Llanhilleth Colliery aged 14 years in 1936.”
Mr Lewis also thought the following quote by George Bernard Shaw would be appropriate for the Newsletter:
Life is not a “brief candle”, it is a splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
A paperboy at age eleven
Every weekday up at seven
Wright The Firs was first in line
Big house with a metal sign
Walking up the lonely drive
With my bag I would arrive
The dogs would bark to say Good Day
As I turned to walk away
Up the dram road I would stride
The woodman’s cottage on the side
To a place owned by the Chivers
The dingle mist would give me shivers
Down the Cwm road then I’d go
And find myself in River Row
An aged couple’s home was first
A cup of tea to quench my thirst
Talk of the north in days of old
Working in that mine so cold
As children pulling skids along
The coal dust didn’t make them strong
With wheezing chests and twisted hands
The finest people in the lands
Off again along the road
Each house would lighten up my load
Some would smile and some would shout
“You left my racing paper out!”
So to the rich and to the poor
When it’s delivered to your door
News good or bad of either kind
Is not what’s in that young lad’s mind.
Dagworth Orville Charter
‘New Welsh Short Stories’ by Francesca Rhydderch and Penny Thomas. Published by Seren, price £9.99.
The edition for 2015 contains the best of contemporary Welsh short story writing and offers a wide-ranging view of a country from both well-established and new writers, including stories from, for example, Owen Sheers (author of well known book ‘Resistance’ among others) and Stevie Davies. The stories range from the personal to the universal, from the streets of urban South Wales to the wilder reaches of small town and countryside, and from film sets to the limits of time and space. Dip in and indulge yourself.
Gwent County History Association
Have done a valuable job in producing the five volume Gwent County History and, as with the Museum Society, is ever anxious to recruit new members. Membership is £10 for individuals and includes copies of the Society’s journal through the year, with articles of local interest. Contact the Secretary, Kath Norton for more information, at
The 2015 General Election will take place in May and I trust the GCHA won’t mind if a reproduce an article from their Spring Newsletter.
General Election 1847
(from the Monmouthshire Merlin 14th August 1847)
POLLING AT CHEPSTOW
The scene of a contested election being a novelty in the town, it excited considerable emotion. Hustings having been erected in Beaufort Square, for the accommodation of voters, clerks &c., the poll commenced at nine o’clock in the morning. The business at first proceeded slowly; at about ten o’clock, however, some excitement was caused by the arrival of a considerable number of partisans of Captain Somerset and Mr Morgan, preceded by a band of music, together with several men with bludgeons half concealed. This was injudicious, as appeared by the result. The party made a good show on entering the town, and proceeded at once to the hustings, where they were received with a mixture of hissing and applause. Some boys having joined in remarks of disappropriation, an active gentleman seized upon one of them and chastised him. This was resented by the crowd, and the gentleman was felled to the ground. Another boy having been laid hold of, he was soon rescued; and now the mob became riotous. Many persons were assaulted on their return from giving their votes…particularly a gentleman named Norris, of Shirenewton, who was so bedaubed by mud, that he was taken to be a scavenger, ere he reached his quarters.
We regret to state that from ten o’clock to one in the morning, the town was kept in alarm by the riotous proceedings of some persons, who demolished every pane of glass at the Beaufort Arms, broke the door and window frames into pieces, and also wreaked their vengeance on several obnoxious individuals, by breaking their window. Many of the ringleaders have been apprehended.
Saving the Carmel Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel Window
In 1996 we were looking for a new home for our museum, two sites we investigated at the time were; Blaenau Gwent Rugby Club (originally the Royal Oak Public House) and the Carmel Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel.
Both these venues were beyond our means at that time but while we were investigating the chapel Peggy and I were impressed by the round window on the south wall. I was concerned about the possible fate of the window as the chapel was empty and derelict at the time and has been ever since; I was determined to save it if at all possible! With this in mind I approached members of the council telling them about the window and asking if the building was reused to please incorporate it in the new design.
The stained glass windows in the front of the church were intact at the time but all of them have now been smashed. The only reason the round window was saved from this fate was because due to the condition of the frame it was bricked up in order to support the surrounding wall. No one could see it from the outside and most people did not know it was there!
A number of plans were made for the chapel such as offices and other projects. All these projects came to naught and the two buildings were to be demolished. The council approached me and asked me if I still wanted the window for our museum. I confirmed this and also asked if we could have the wrought iron railings on the top of the Royal Oak /Rugby Club.
These buildings were the oldest in Abertillery they were built on what was then known as the “Twmp”! This settlement grew around the tinworks which dates from 1846 and was the beginnings of Abertillery. The population was predominately Welsh speaking at that time and the tin workers could slake their thirst in the Royal Oak and worship their God in their native tongue. In the museum is the original chapel sign in Welsh, this was rescued twenty years ago when I first saw the window. The window is circular with a leaf design surrounding an inner circle which is set around a heart. Its beauty is what struck both Peggy and me when we first saw it. I would like to know the meaning behind the window which needs further research unless of course someone knows?
John Calvin, Calvinistic Methodist teachings, complete sovereignty of God's will, Predestination. God knows in advance who will be saved and who will be condemned to hell! Individuals were “elected” for salvation by God; this “elect” would form the population of the Calvinist church. Joining the movement would mean you were likely “elected”.
The Salvation Army to which I belong has eleven Doctrines this is two of them:
6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
7. We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to salvation
I am thankful to the councillors and Nick Landers remembering about window and also the Foreman and workmen of Bond Demolition who took so much trouble to take it out and delivering without damaging it. It must have been an immense task.
It was worth all the effort to rescue this window. Hugh Haley the conservator has been to look at it we await his report.
Don Bearcroft Curator