Dates for your Diary
Wednesday 12th June 6pm – Ralph Richardson Memorial Lecture - Workers, Warriors and Waywards: Women in Gwent in the Second World War. Cost £3.
Saturday 15th June - Aberfest
Saturday 29th June at 10.30 – Coffee Morning – talk by Aberystruth History & Archaeology Society
May 100 Club
No. 46 Mary George £20
No. 16 Don Bearcroft £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.
This year our annual lunch is a buffet and will be held at the Metropole Theatre on Monday 10th June (please arrive 12.30 for 1pm), so not long to get your name down! (Apologies for short notice). The cost is just £10 and to book your place please contact the museum as soon as possible.
D-Day Landings Exhibition
This year is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and in memory of this event, which marked the start of the end of World War II, the museum will be holding a special exhibition which will run throughout June. For more information on D Day see the article on page 4 of this newsletter.
Aberfest is on 15th June this year. Donations gratefully received for our bric-a-brac stall, also cakes on the day and if you can spare a few hours to help man the stalls / café etc, it would be much appreciated. The event will run from 11am to 4.30pm and there will be games outside the museum for children plus a Karate display. Inside the museum will be a children’s quiz plus of course our café will be serving tea and cakes.
More June events
On Wednesday 12th June at 6pm we have a Ralph Richardson Memorial Lecture. The title of the talk is Workers, Warriors and Waywards: Women in Gwent in the Second World War and the price is £3. Then on Saturday 29th June at 10.30 am (or thereabouts) there will be a coffee morning with a talk and exhibition given by Aberystruth History & Archaeology Society on the historical development of the Cwmcelyn Valley including farming and mining. As usual this will be £1 to include tea / coffee and cake.
Brownies and Guides
There was a lovely warm welcome for me at Abertillery Museum, when I gave a talk about Brownies and Guides at the Museum’s exhibition on this subject. It was a pleasure to meet those who were in the audience and also the Guides and Brownies who attended plus the leaders past and present. It was suggested an article could be written for the magazine - so here it is!
Robert Baden-Powell was a British Army officer who was involved in the Boer war in South Africa. He was the British commander at the relief of the battle Mafeking and this turned Baden-Powell, often referred to as B-P, into a national hero.
In 1907 when Baden-Powell returned to Britain, he had the vision of setting up an organisation for boys - the Scout Movement - with a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills that aimed to support young people in their physical, mental, and spiritual development so that they were able to play constructive roles in society.
With this in mind, Baden-Powell set up the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island off Poole Harbour in Dorset, inviting twenty boys from differing backgrounds to take part. The camp was deemed to be a success. Baden-Powell came back to the mainland and subsequently Scout troops were set up all over Britain.
Three years later in 1910, girls requested a similar organisation be set up for them and The Girl Guide Association came into existence with the Brownies (originally named Rainbows)being formed four years later in 1914. They were first run by Agnes Baden-Powell, Robert’s younger sister then latterly by Olave Baden-Powell, Robert’s wife. Incidentally, Robert and Olave Baden-Powell shared the same birthday, February 22nd, known in the Scout and Guide world as Thinking Day, a day to pause and think about members of the Association in other countries.
There are now over ten million Guides and Brownies in 145 countries and Scouting and Guiding is the world’s biggest youth Organization.
Brownies (7-10 years old) and Guides (10-14 years old) is a uniformed organisation, though the uniform has been adapted and changed over time to reflect changes in society. Brownies used to wear a brown dress and yellow tie and the Guides a dark blue dress and light blue tie. Also there was a hat and then a beret. Today, comfortable sports type clothing is worn with more formal attire for special occasions. It’s still brown and yellow for Brownies and navy and blue for the Guides though, for the Guides, a touch of red has been added. Rainbows (aged 5-7 years old) is the youngest Guiding section and started in 1987.
The Royal Family has been and still is involved in Brownies and Guiding. The Queen and Princess Margaret were Guides and Princess Anne was a Brownie. Sophie, Countess of Wessex is the President of the Guide Association.
Brownie and Guide meetings consist of activities which among other things include; games; learning new skills; working towards interest badges; exploring other cultures; camping and trips away, all under the guidance and instruction of volunteer leaders.
My most memorable Guiding experience has to be my fifty-three year friendship with Dutch Guide, Dieneke, who I met at an International Guide Camp. That and cooking a mackerel I had gutted myself and then cooked in foil on an open fire - the best fish I have ever tasted! Two very diverse experiences all brought about through Guiding!
Above left, a guide uniform circa 1970s and, above right, a tablecloth belonging to Guiding Commissioner, Mrs Chris Budd, signed by many local guiders as well as visiting dignatories.
The museum was invited to talk to the residents of Davy Evans Court. This time Jen was on holiday so Lucy and l went. We are always made very welcome here and meet in the residents lounge.
We talked about the dance that everyone remembered. How busy the venues had been. The music had been provided by a drummer and pianist or band. One lady had a photo of her father who had played the violin in a band. She said how he could get a tune out of anything even playing a saw. This was his band though eight men looking very smart in shirts, jackets, ties and Oxford bags. He arranged dances usually in The Drill Hall.
Everyone remembered where you could go for dances. The Drill Hall, The Market Hall, The Stute, The Memo in Newbridge, Penybont Scout Hut, the St. John’s Hall and the Skating Rink (this had been a roller skating rink but during the war replacement skates couldn’t be found so it became a dance venue) in Six Bells. Like someone said you could find a dance every night of the week and if you were fed up with those you could go to the pictures.
We talked of what we wore. One lady said you may have a few outfits but your best dress you kept for Saturday night you never wore it in the week. Handy work was needed to change an outfit, adding a collar or a ribbon, buying a piece of material to make a simple skirt to wear that night. How times have changed but not always for the better.
Wildings of Newport
In the recent March edition of this newsletter was an article by Jen Price, on the demise of Newport as a great shopping centre. The most recent loss to Newport has been of the store Wildings, which closed its doors in January after 145 years of trading. I still have a much cherished pair of lambskin gloves, hand stitched by Dents, and purchased from Wildings of Newport. My fondest memories of that great store was its grand Christmas displays laid outside on the huge flat roof area over the main doors. It was always the highlight of my Christmas shopping experience to discover what new delight Wildings had planned for its Christmas display. Sadly, that stopped a good number of years ago and that made me wonder then if the store was in trouble. The store is now closed, as previously stated, and in the window is a lovely message from the managing director to his staff and customers, which is not only moving but gives an insight to the store’s history…
Thanks To Everyone Past And Present Connected To Wildings
In 1874, Alfred Wilding at 21 years old, came to Newport from Shropshire to set up as a hatter and gloves catering for the new merchants who also arrived to ply their trade via the docks. Over the next 145 years the business survived and expanded well beyond the boundaries of Newport, but the City was always the head office and heart of the firm.
So it is extremely sad that on Saturday 19th January 2019 we will be closing our doors for the last time and will no longer trade in Newport. Although an excruciatingly hard decision to make, it is the right time to bow out. Times have changed, and the proud city of Newport is no longer the grand trading centre it used to be.
During the last 145 years we have had many good times, and times when the economy faltered, and the environment was tough. In the early to mid 1970s, we had 14 shops under the Wildings brand. We nearly went under in the bitter recession of the early 1980’s but survived and eventually started to thrive again. Then in 1997 we acquired Worthingtons department store in Thornbury which we rebadged to the Wildings logo. And in 1999 we bought the upmarket department store Rossiters of Bath.
But as previously stated Wildings was a Newport business staffed, managed and run by different generations of Newport people. It has remained a family concern with the ethos and camaraderie you would expect from such an organisation.
So first and foremost, I would like to thank all those employees past and present, who made the business what it was. And, of course I would like to extend my warm appreciation to our many customers who have supported us so loyally. To the present group of staff, I extend my heartfelt gratitude that you maintained our high standards of professionalism and service right to the end. We are departing the stage with heads held high.
Peter R James Managing Director
The D-Day Landings
This year is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy which started on 6th June 1944 with the military operation we usually refer to today as the D-Day Landings. The operation was a major step in liberating France from its German occupiers and marked the start of the end of the war in Europe. Planning for the Normandy landings began in 1943 and in the months up to D Day, the Allies took steps to deceive the Germans as to the date and location of the intended landings.
The landings, involving 156,000 Allied troops, 6939 ships and landing vessels, 2395 aircraft and 867 gliders, were to take place on a 50 mile stretch of coast split into five sections. Just before the landings, 24,000 British and Canadian troops were dropped by air to provide support from behind the beach-heads. The landings were fraught with danger – some landing craft were blown off course, the men landed under heavy fire from German gun emplacements above the beaches, the shore was mined and there were obstacles such as barbed wire to overcome.
Allied success was relatively slow and it was not until 12th June that all five beach-heads were linked, following which the Allies gradually expanded their area of control, pushing the Germans back. The D Day Landings took a heavy toll on both sides – 10,000 Allied casualties with over 4000 confirmed dead and an estimated 4000 - 9000 German casualties. The many cemeteries and memorials bear testament to the heavy fighting and equally heavy loss of life in this part of Normandy, including 20,000 French civilians.
Many Welshmen from many different units took part in D-Day but only one specific Welsh regiment was involved – the South Wales Borderers. Their task was to wait until the first wave had gone ashore on Gold, Juno and Sword (the British and Commonwealth invasion areas) and the Borderers would then land near Arromanches, pushing inland to link up with the American troops on the right and capturing a radar station and fortifications en-route. The Borderers succeeded in their task but eleven months of fighting still lay ahead before the end of the war.
As far as the museum is aware, Jack Coles was the only local man involved in the D-Day landings and the late Glyn Bevan was involved in the follow up but if you know of anyone else, please get in touch.
Many of the troops involved in the landings embarked from Portland near Weymouth and at the former embarkation area there is now a museum dedicated to D-Day.
To end this article (drawn from information on the internet so apologies for any errors), I thought you might want to know what D-Day actually means. Apparently, it stands for ‘day’ and is a description traditionally used for the date of an important military operation.
Don’t miss our D-Day exhibition all this month at the museum.
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