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July 2016
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Annual Dinner (lunch) 13th June

This was once again held at Ty Ebbw Fach and once again the meal was first class as was the company and our guest speaker. Our numbers were down a little because of other events and holiday commitments but there were enough of us to make-if a very pleasant occasion. We were all very sorry that our Curator, Don Bearcroft, was unable to be with us because he was in hospital and that Peggy had to leave early to visit him. Don would certainly have enjoyed the meal and the after dinner talk which this year was given by Reverend Roy Watson. He had us all in stitches with his anecdotes of life in the church. Our annual lunch was rounded off with a quiz by Enid Dean with boxes of Maltesers for the winning contestants. Many thanks to Peggy for arranging another splendid Annual Lunch and our best wishes to Don for a speedy recovery.

Six Bells Pit Party

This was cancelled due to bad weather but will hopefully take place in July (when volunteers will be needed, please).

Thank you, Margaret

A big thank you to Margaret Cook for her readings at the coffee morning. Once again our numbers were a little lower than we would have liked due to holiday commitments but all those who came along thoroughly enjoyed the morning.

Get Well Soon

Best wishes to Don Bearcroft, our Curator.

Diary Dates

Ongoing - WW1 Exhibition in the Museum

Saturday 2nd July - Aberfest including a 'Father Christmas Summer Party' in the space outside the museum. The museum will be putting on a children's treasure hunt, serving refreshments and running a museum stall outside the museum.

Wednesday 7th September at 6.00pm - Ralph Robinson Memorial Lecture. More details later

June 100 Club

No. 6 - Kay Webb - £20
No. 3 - Colin Price - £10
No.13 - Alison Staples - £5

Fundraising June - £252

Aberfest Saturday 2nd July

The events this year include a Father Christmas Summer Party in the car park alongside the museum. The museum hopes to be able to put on a children's treasure hunt inside the museum and, weather permitting, to serve refreshments and have a museum stall outside the museum. We can only do all that with your help, especially given that Don is unwell. Please help. We tneed a team of people available on duty inside and outside the museum throughout the day. Please call at the museum if you can spare a couple of hours of your time.

Monmouthshire Merlin 1884

28th March 1884 Cremation at Llantrissant

A Welsh "Druid," who was recently acquitted on the charge of having cremated the body of his child, has at last succeeded in accomplishing his object. On Friday morning he fixed three (???) on the hill, then had half-a -ton of coals piled within the triangle thus formed, and upon a pair of large iron grates he placed a box containing the body of the child. Petroleum was thrown"over the coals and ignited. The " Druid," with a large shawl threw a (???) during the process. The Western Mail thus described what took place. During Thursday night Dr. Price was observed to be sending coal and wood up to the summit of the high hill to the east of the town, where he some time ago attempted to cremate his dead child. Early on Friday morning he drove all his horned cattle, including eight bulls, to the same locality. Shortly afterwards immense flames were seen ascending in the air, and in the midst of the fire was a box containing the body of the child. All in a ring, with their faces, towards the fire, stood about twenty cattle. "Mochyn Ddu," Dr. Price's confidential servant, stood there in charge of a Jerusalem pony, which, when it saw the amazing fire, began to roar terribly, frightening the cattle, which proceeded to dance a kind of hornpipe around the funeral pile. The doctor shouted to "Morgan Apis," his senior bull, to behave himself. But whether the smell of the burnt flesh excited the cattle- including "Morgan Apis", it is certain none of the animals heeded the doctor's command, but continued their extravagant antics. Sgt. Hoyle and Police- constable Rowe stood afar off, in the ruins of the historic castle, powerless to interfere in the matter. The general public too, would not venture nearer than half-a-mile to the fire, but stood gazing almost breathless, the women especially, who were breathing tender sympathy with the fate which had befallen the remains of the little one. But Mr. "Rode- Tif' ascended the hill and approached the fire. He found a large triangle formed of hurdles. In the midst were two grates facing each other, and across from one to the other was a box containing the body of the child. On this box was another larger one, containing gallons of paraffin. Around the triangle half-a-ton of coal had been piled, and the moment the doctor applied a match the flame shot up to a great height, and everything was gradually consumed. Dr. Price, since the cremation of the dead infant, has announced his intention of erecting a crematorium at Llantrissant. Persons who desire to be cremated, or whose executors wish the remains to be so disposed of, will be accorded the requisite facilities. The doctor states that all his family will be cremated there. He points out the financial advantage of cremation over other modes of disposing of the dead, and states that all the materials used in the cremation of his wn wprp Vmlf-a-tnn nf coal, a eallon of paraffin only 8s.2d. Every vestige of the infant's body was burnt, and that breeze carried away the ashes. The fire was so fierce that it melted the iron of the grate on which the body was deposited. Dr. Price argues that the ritual of the Church of England points to a period when cremation was the conventional method. What other significance he asks, can the phrase "ashes to ashes" convey. From India, Spain, Italy, France, London, and all parts of England letters of approval and sympathy have been received by Dr. Price. One sympathising correspondent asked him if he knew anyone who would undertake the risk of burning an adnlt corpse or the body of an infant. Dr. Price has resolved to cremate the corpses if so desired. Miss Julia Peek of Brighton, has also written to Dr. Price, stating that she intends her body shall be cremated, and that (???) on being thus dealt with after her demise by the London Cremation Society.

23rd May 1884 Tredegar Police Court

On Tuesday before the Rev. W. Hughes (Chairman) and Messrs. E. Thomas and C.B. Hallaild-Walter-Hawkins, collier, for infringing colliery rules by taking a pipe and some matches into the mine at the New Tredegar Collier}', belonging to the Powell Dufftyn Company, on the 8* inst., was fined 5s and costs, or 14 days (????). Alfred Jones a doorboy employed by the Tredegar Iron Company, was summoned for unlocking his lamp, on the 24th of April, contrary to regulations. Mr Stratton prosecuted on behalf of the company. The defendant pleaded guilty and stated that he saw a man named John Carey do so. Fined 5s. or 14 days (????). Mary Colville, a married woman, for stealing a piece of bacon, the property of John Lewis, a grocer at Ebbw Vale, on the 6th inst. Was fined 1 Oj<*and costs or 10 days. John Walters, for whom Mr. Simons appeared, for assaulting a married woman named Wiltshire at Waun Iwyd, Ebbw Vale, on the 3rd inst., was fined 20s including costs, or 14 days. Three boys named Daniels, Miller and Evans, for breaking into a school belonging to the Bedwellty School Board at Ebbw Vale, on the 18,h inst., were each committed to prison for one day, and to receive six strokes with the birch.

Welsh Sayings

Dab hand

Nip out

Pop up town                        


Council pop
The Roving Reporter

Local Voices

Civil Defence Rescue Service including former First Aid Party Services

Civil Defence First Aid Service including First Aid Posts and Points

Welsh Mining Communities Llanhilleth, Brynithel, World War II

Prior to the outbreak of war Llanhilleth St John Ambulance. Brigade practised for the above. Behind .Llanhilleth Miners' Institute are large fields down to the Colliery Tennis, Rugby and Lawn Bowls areas with a pavilion at the lower end. Whilst the Territorials practised with Bren Guns in the field and enclosed shooting range, 1 as a member of St John practised tunnelling under building debris and erecting tripod crane lifting gear, using 9ft and 13ft timbers from the colliery stack. When war was declared the Brigade slept the first night on canvas stretchers in the pavilion, ready for air raids.

Apart from the village it was of concern that the pit headgear could be damaged with men working underground. Tunnels were eventually made connecting the underground workings of all the collieries, so that even if men travelled miles they would not be entombed.

During the war, Service was at the ground floor of the three storey Central Hotel at the centre of the village where the then main road bottomed at the hill of steep inclines. Three to four nights were spent in the basement of this hotel, on bunks, until it was time to go to the colliery to work. Last bond (cage) 6 a.m.

Amongst the Brigade members was a newly qualified young doctor, Jack Bowen, son of a local sweetshop family. VE night brought the Service to a close. VJ night also saw great celebrations. As a newly trained deputy 1 spent VJ night as the sole official inspecting underground workings and visiting pumpsmen.
W.A. Lewis O.B.E.

Book Corner

"Do You Hear the People Sing? The Male Voice Choirs of Wales" by Gareth Williams, published by Gomer Books in paperback, £14.99. The review says "There is nothing more evocative of the sound of Wales than its male voice choirs. This is a biography of a famous tradition, a story about Wales, its people and its culture. Gareth Williams traces the origins and growth of male voice choral singing in Wales from the 19th century to the present day, using the Eisteddfod as a lens through which to view its development. "

Fifty Years Ago - 1966

The 'Action Man' toy is launched.

Chancellor of the Exchequer James Callaghan announces the decision to decimalise the pound (in 1971).

A regular Hovercraft service begins on the English Channel.

The BBC series 'Till Death Do Us Part' begins its first series.

Barclays Bank introduces the Barclaycard - the first British credit card.

Aberfan disaster - 144 killed by a collapsing coal spoil tip.

Pit Head Baths

Before pithead baths became widely available, most coal miners, already exhausted from a day's work had little choice but to travel home from work still filthy with coal dust. Their clothing was often soaking with sweat and mine water and they were at risk from contracting pneumonia, bronchitis or rheumatism. Once home they had the task of removing as much of the dirt as possible in a tin bath in front of the fire.
The women of the house were usually responsible for the heating of water for the miner's bath and the cleaning and drying of his clothes. In addition it was a constant battle to clean the house from the all-prevailing coal dust. This was never ending and back breaking work and exhaustion and physical strain often led to serious health problems, leading in some cases to premature births and miscarriages.

It took Considerable lobbying by social reformers, working under the banner of the 'Pithead Baths Movement', to convince the Government, mine owners and even some of the miners and their wives, that pithead baths were needed. From the initial campaigns of the 1890s it was a long, hard struggle to the establishment in 1926 of a special fund for the building of baths under the auspices of the Miners' Welfare Committee. The first Welsh baths were built at Deep Navigation Colliery, Treharris but this was unusual and it was not until 1926 that an additional levy of one penny was added to the existing levy on every ton of coal mined, specifically to provide baths. Baths stood out among other colliery buildings with their flat roofs, clean lines and the plentiful use of glass to give a light and aiiy feel, although many Welsh collieries were not provided with baths until the 1950s.

Museum Matters

Don Bearcroft usually writes page 4 but unfortunately he is unwell at present.
We hope he will soon be out of hospital and up and about but in the meantime, I am sure Peggy would appreciate some extra help with running the museum. If you can spare a little time, please help. Thank you.
Jen Price






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