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Dates for your Diary

Saturday 27th JulyCoffee Morning – Post cards – Summer Holidays

Saturday 24th AugustCoffee Morning - Toys

June 100 Club

No.  12            Mary Rogers                           £20
No.  90            Graham Webb                        £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.

Do you enjoy reading?

We have lots of second-hand books for sale at the museum just 10p each so if you like reading, do pop in and have a browse.

Farewell Frank

Frank Olding has been the curatorial advisor to the museum for many years and he has recently retired from Blaenau Gwent CBC where he worked as the Heritage Officer.  In recognition of the work he has done in helping the museum, he was invited to our annual luncheon where he was presented with a gift of thanks for his services.   

The luncheon went very well and on that note, I would like to thank long-standing Vice President, Reverend Roy Watson for being our guest speaker and for giving a very entertaining talk plus, of course, we wish Frank a long and happy retirement.

Frank at the luncheon

Above, Frank receiving his gift and to the right, cutting his cake.

Dear Readers

Bernard Jones served as treasurer of the Museum Society for very many years and an excellent job he made of it.  When he stood down a couple of years ago I offered to take on his role but I have reluctantly decided that being treasurer isn’t for me.  I have had various roles in the museum and intend to continue as a volunteer but I want to stand down as treasurer. The AGM is usually held in November and so the purpose of this letter is to give plenty of notice and to hope one of you ill take on the treasurer’s job.  It isn’t difficult or particularly time-consuming and if you would like to chat about what’s involved, please give me a ring on 01633 482851.
Jen Price

There’s Rosemary

Hands up if you still have your copy of ‘There’s Rosemary’! Mine is up, is yours?  And for those youngsters out there, wondering what I’m talking about let me explain…

There's Rosemary book Fifty years ago this month, was the Investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales.  There were big celebrations with most streets holding their own street parties.  At the time, Gwent was then Monmouthshire, and Monmouthshire Education Committee, to mark the occasion, asked every school child in the county to write a poem.  The best were then put together in a book, ‘There’s Rosemary’ and every child was given a copy of the book.  The title of the book takes its name from a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet ‘There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance’

My poem was not good enough to make the book but a very good friend of mine had hers chosen and she has kindly given me permission to reproduce it here.  The poem was inspired by the many times she and I, as children, climbed the mountain behind Adam Street and made a secret hideaway amongst the ferns…
Sally Murphy

Our Secret Hideout

Our hideout is beneath a tree
With birds’ nests up on top
We go there in the holidays
But now we have to stop.

It’s damp inside and all so wet
We had some heavy showers
But in the summer time it’s dry
And all around grow flowers.

In Autumn there grow wimberries,
We eat them for a meal
The door is covered up with ferns,
The bird’s eggs not to steal.

Don’t tell anyone about our place;
It’s secret now, you see,
No one knows about it yet
Except my friends and me.
Kathryn Huntley, Aged 10
Abertillery Junior Girls School (more commonly known as “The British School”)

Also in the UK in 1969…

  • The pre-decimal halfpenny ceases to be legal tender.
  • The ‘space hopper’ toy arrives in shops.
  • The London Underground Victoria line is opened by the Queen.
  • The maiden flight of Concorde takes place.
  • The first B&Q store opens in Southampton
  • The Hawker Siddeley ‘Jump Jet’ enters service with the RAF.
  • The children’s TV show The Clangers hits our screens.
  • The abolition of the death penalty for murder is made permanent by Parliament.
  • The new seven-sided 50p coin is introduced as a replacement for the 10-shilling note.
  • An Act of Parliament is passed lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 (with effect from February 1970).
  • Patrick Troughton bows out as the second ‘Dr Who’ which is also the final episode of the show recorded in black and white.
  • Ocean Liner the QEII departs from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York
  • Carry on Camping is the year’s most popular UK box office film and…
  • Yours truly goes on an eventful holiday to Great Yarmouth!  (See page 3).

Hats Wanted!

While wandering around the museum, you may have noticed that we have a large container full of hats.  We use these when we do ‘memory sessions’ at local residential hats cartoonhomes and for visiting children to play ‘dressing up’ and we could really do with some more so if you have any old caps or hats, be them ladies or gents, posh hats, uniform hats, modern or old fashioned that you no longer need, please don’t throw them out – drop them in to us instead! 

Great Yarmouth 1969

Yet another holiday, this time involving several museum members, that didn’t quite go to plan…!

Fifty years ago, in August 1969,  I went on a two week holiday to Great Yarmouth.  Altogether there were four families from Abertillery on that holiday -  Vera and Harry Smith and their son Ian, Martin and Chris Budd with their children, Lyndon and Katherine, Alf and Ruth Atkins and their son John, and my family comprising parents, Tom and Betty Wayne, a 10 year old me and my 6 year old sister Alison. 

We had all travelled down in our respective cars and met up at our hotel.  That first evening my father took our Mark I Ford Cortina to a garage and filled up the tank, which was all but empty after the long journey to Great Yarmouth, and then parked it in the nearby public car park.  I had asked him to bring in my doll from the car but he forgot and said it would have to wait until morning.  However mum told him I wouldn’t be able to sleep without it and so, reluctantly, he went back down and returned with my doll though he forgot to fetch in her little suitcase in which I had packed her clothes for the fortnight! 

Our first morning,  just after breakfast, my father went to check on the car while I waited in the hotel lobby.  My mother and sister had gone back up to our room to prepare for the day ahead.  Soon dad reappeared looking rather worried.  ‘Don’t say anything to your mother’, he said ‘but I need to phone the police – our car has been stolen!’   While he went to reception to ask to use the telephone  I, of course, raced back to our room yelling all the while,  ‘mum, mum our car’s been stolen’.   Before dad had come off the phone I think most of the hotel guests and staff knew of the theft, while mum had turned pale and my little sister had burst into tears.  And boy was I glad dad had brought in my beloved doll the night before!

In a way we were lucky; the police were already hunting for two lads who had escaped from a local Borstal and in hunting for them they found our car quite quickly.  The boys, finding our car with a full tank, had been able to drive all the way from Great Yarmouth to Bedford before running out of petrol.  The police finally caught up with them in Bedford in the act of trying to force open our car’s boot in which was dad’s very expensive Super8 cine camera (I learnt very early in life never to leave valuables in a car).  Unfortunately, everything that had been left inside the car, including my doll’s suitcase, had been thrown out of the windows as they drove!  What upset me most was that the suitcase had contained my doll’s cardigans that had been hand knitted by my maternal grandmother and who had died just two weeks earlier and hence could never be replaced.  Those lads knew that suitcase belonged to a child and yet, in an act of pure spite, they still chose to do what they did.

My father later collected our car from Bedford and it didn’t spoil our holiday, as all our Abertillery friends rallied around to make sure of it while Ruth Atkins, bless her, who was very clever with a needle, spent the best part of the holiday making a new dress for my doll, entirely by hand! 
I had (and still have) a silver charm bracelet and I liked to collect charms as souvenirs of places I visited.  On this occasion, I chose a pair of tiny silver boots which, as Vera’s son Ian pointed out, was an apt reminder of the holiday from which we nearly had to walk home!
Sally Murphy

Family picture Great Yarmouth 1969

Left, Lyndon Budd (sadly now deceased),  John Atkins, Katherine Budd, me and my sister Alison on the beach at Great Yarmouth 1969 and below, the infamous car with my late father and maternal grandmother.

Family picture great yarmouth 1969

Poetry Corner

The following poem was given to me by museum member Mrs Vera Smith.  The poem was the ‘party piece’ of her late mother, Mrs Bateman, and I can vividly remember her reciting this poem, entirely from memory, on many occasions…


There lived within a country town
a dear old dame named Betty Brown.
Her cottage was not very big.
But there she kept her cow and pig,
On Sunday she would haste away
To hear the pastor preach and pray,
In him her faith was firm and strong.
Her pastor could do nothing wrong.

When she was taken ill one day,
She sent for him to read and pray.
Next morn a neighbour came and said
"I’ve just popped round to make your bed.
But oh you look quite well again!
What did you take to ease your pain?"
"Nothing" said Betty, "I declare
It must have been the pastor’s prayer!"

The sickness then fell on Betty’s cow.
"It’s queer", said she "but anyhow,
I’ll fetch the pastor, that I will
and tell him my poor cow is ill" 
"Oh sir", she said, "do come just now
and say a prayer for my poor cow".
The pastor knew not what to do
Praying for cows was something new.

But as she had put him to the test,
He promised he would do his best.
He thought the cow was nearly dead,
But, leaning over it, he said. 
"You poor old beast, you look so bad,
Your poor old Missus looks so sad
If you live, you live, if you die, you do,
and that will be the end of you."

The cow got well, the good old dame,
Went off to church when Sunday came
To tell the pastor how his prayer
Had cured the cow and eased her care. 
That day the pastor caught a chill
Which made him feel extremely ill.
A violent cough which shook his frame
and in his throat an abscess came.

The doctor said unless it broke
He most decidedly would choke
His tender wife was in despair.
She nursed him with the greatest care. 
Now, when poor Betty heard the news.
She quickly donned her Sunday shoes,
Her bonnet and her Sunday shawl
And at the house she made a call.

The servants they began to grin
Of course, they would not let her in.
The pastor heard the noise below.
And when they said she wouldn’t go, 
"Then let her in", was his reply
"I’ll see poor Betty ‘ere I die".
When Betty reached the pastor’s bed.
She gently coughed and then she said.

"I can’t pray much, I  know not  how,
but when you prayed for my poor cow,
I learned that prayer and now I’ll pray
And this is what I mean to say. 
You poor old beast, you look so bad,
Your poor old Missus looks so sad.
If you live, you live, if you die you do,
and that will be the end of you."

The pastor laughed 'til he almost choked
And all at once his abscess broke.
He felt no pain, his throat was clear,
And he had nothing more to fear. 
And then he told his gentle wife
How Betty’s prayer had saved his life.
Good luck to Betty and her cow -
She beat the doctors anyhow!


cow cartoon

I am always in need of items for the newsletter, so if you have a story to tell or a favourite poem such as the one above, don’t keep it to yourself!  Email me at  or alternatively, post it to me, care of Abertillery Museum.  All contributions gratefully received!

Aberfest Raffle

1st prize won by Mr Ray Jones – yellow 492
2nd prize claimed on day, winner unknown
3rd prize won by Ian - yellow 475
4th prize won by Clare Goodway – yellow 482

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