You will know from last month ’s Newsletter, and you may also have seen articles in the local press, that Don Bearcroft, our Curator, had been nominated for a Wales-wide award organised by HLF and Nationwide Building Society. The awards ceremony was held in Cardiff in mid-July and Don is now the proud owner of two specially commissioned glass sculptures for his services to ‘Heritage’. We are also very pleased indeed to be able to announce that Don was chosen as the Welsh contender for the all-Britain awards; the award ceremony for that will be held in November in the Tower of London. Don’s awards are a tremendous achievement and a well deserved recognition of his efforts for our local community through his unstinting commitment to Abertillery and District Museum.
We were all very sorry to hear that Bernard Dyer passed away on Saturday 2nd August. Bernard was an active and much loved member of the Society until ill health overtook him. He will be sadly missed and our sincere condolences go out to Margaret and her family. Don Bearcroft will be setting out his recollections of Bernard in the September edition of the Newsletter.
Fund-raising July - £507
No lecture in August but there is always a welcome at the Museum if you call in.
Wednesday 3rd September 2008 – Merthyr Artist 1900 by Scott Reid
Wednesday 1st October 2008 – Coal Shipping at South Wales Ports by Tony Jukes
Lectures start at 7.00pm in the Metropole Theatre, with teas and a chat downstairs in the Museum afterwards. Entry is £2 and the public are most welcome.
You may also be interested in the following events organised by the Gwent County History Association:
Saturday 6th September - Day School: Coal Mining in Monmouthshire, at Big Pit. Call 01633 660830 for more details.
Saturday 11th October - Day School: The Towns of Medieval Monmouthshire, at the Memorial Hall, Usk. Call 01633 660830 for more details.
Saturday 1st November - Chartist Day School. Call 01633 660830 for more details.
Friday 7th November - Gwent County History Association Lecture and Supper Evening at Cefntilla. Call 01633 660830 for more details.
Duffryn Road (continued)
Little did I realise the multitude of tasks awaiting us once we could start work inside. In my ignorance, I thought the hard graft was over but it was only just beginning.
The first priority was electricity, followed by ceilings. Ray’s father was an electrician; he had taught Ray well and, between them, completed the wiring in just two or three weekends. The Electricity Board erected a pole at the back and we were connected to the mains supply. Eric came home for a long weekend and helped with some of the ceilings.
We were now well into November; the evenings were dark and cold, often with snow, and we were restricted to weekends. Christmas came and went but then the inside walls were cemented and the floors were screeded and we were able to look forward to spring. However, we did not waste our evenings and after a lesson from my mother, we made two rugs.
One Saturday we visited a fireplace builder in Cardiff. We wanted something a bit different for the lounge and this company had an interesting catalogue and sample stones. We chose Canadian Stone – a rustic pink with faint blue markings running through it. It took six weeks for construction and delivery and when it arrived it took seven men over an hour to manoeuvre it from the road into position in the lounge. I think that was the moment I realised how lucky we were with our neighbours from Duffryn Row, all of whom proffered help.
Along with our own building, Ron Dean’s bungalow was also coming along nicely. Jack Fear, a local coal merchant was inquiring of Ray how he could buy a piece of ground at the bottom of the road on which to build a garage for his lorry. Ray knew Mr Fear quite well and suggested he bought all the land left on Duffryn Road.
New Books for you
Castles in Wales – a Handbook by Gerald Morgan, published by Y Lolfa, Price £6.95
Aimed at the tourist interested in history, the guide focuses on historical events rather than architecture. With over 100 black and white photos it comprises a comprehensive introduction to the castles of Wales, with a detailed guide to seventy of them, including photographs and OS grid-references. The introduction covers the contemporary historical significance of castles; the military and political background; building stone castles, and mottes and ringworks; the castle builders; castles of the Welsh princes; siege warfare; castle afterlife, including their part in 18th century landscape painting; identification, and a brief bibliography.
No Ordinary Joe by Joe Calzaghe, published by Arrow Books, Price £6.95
This is the story of Calzaghe's extraordinary life, from his humble beginnings in his home town of Newbridge, to his ascent to personal greatness, becoming the first super middleweight boxer to win the prized belt awarded by The Ring, the bible of boxing.
Coalfaces by T Carr and A Schone, published by Parthian Books, price £19.99 including free DVD.
A collection of essays accompanied by colour and black and white photographs, with free DVD. The Coalfaces project presented the Welsh Valley community life in the 1980s.
‘A Wrinkley’s Lament’
The old bridge cannot hold our weight and so “the powers to be” said
“We must build a new one for everyone to see
That Aber can be great again and all the shops can thrive
And be the best of shopping valleys as in 1935”.
We know it’s only for a while but the chaos it has brought
Could have been eased a little if only they had thought
To put a notice “road closed” at the bottom of the hill
We need to give our motorists a daily calming pill.
Meanwhile we have big lorries and vans backing down the road
The ‘sat.nav’ didn’t warn them that Alma Street was closed
And pedestrians going down to town they have to walk a bit
And going to the Doctors is no good unless you’re fit.
They’ve given permission for new firms to come into the town
But the business that they’re bringing in will close the old ones down.
They’ve boarded up the old shops with modern art that says
We’re derelict and closed and that is how we’ll stay.
The Met and the Museum have revived the centre of town.
We’re encouraged to support them and not to let them down
But! If we go in the evening where are we to park?
And our late bus has been stopped so we have to walk in the dark.
So come on all you ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ we’ve recently elected
Work together for the town just as we expected.
To make these valleys great again let it be your mission
Never mind the politics just form a coalition.
You can help!
The Museum is going from strength to strength but it requires a great deal of work behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly. If you would like to join our band of volunteers, please call at or ring the Museum to find out what we do and how you could help.
Used stamps and specs
I am still collecting these for charity so bring your donations to the Museum or lecture – Jen Price.
Abertillery & District Wheelers Cycling Club
On Whitsun 1945, six cycling enthusiasts met at the home of George Wynn's parents, located in the area known as the Warm Turn, near Six Bells, Abertillery, for the inaugural meeting of the Abertillery & District Wheelers Cycling Club, and a year later they were fully organised with a membership total of twenty-eight. It is to their credit that the basics that they agreed on that date, endured throughout the years. They formulated a programme of Sunday Runs and club events that is still the basis of cycling club life today. The club provides the means for anyone to enter the sport, whether they wish to compete or just enjoy company on runs, and all are made welcome. The oldest member still competing in Road Time Trials this year is 70 years of age, proving there is room for all. C
Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir
The Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir was founded in 1908 and was mainly made up of members from local church choirs, the majority of whom were employed in the local coal mines. None of them now spend their lives in the dark danger of coal mining, but their fathers were miners and they sang. The Choir is proud of its heritage, and their childhoods in a dirty, noisy, politically conscious South Wales Valley have provided inspiration and encouragement.
The Coffee Morning as always proved successful, the exhibition theme launched on this occasion was, "Around the World in Postcards". This subject was chosen to launch the sale of the new postcard views of Abertillery & District and also of scenes in the museum, they are on sale in the museum for 50p.
We have obtained a grant from Communities First for new wrought iron tables and chairs in the café area. They were produced by Alan Morgan our museum Designer and have been made by him to compliment the marble counter which was originally in the Italian Express Café Abertillery. Alan has made simulated marble tops for the tables and once again his talents are such that they are hard to distinguish from the real thing.
They have proved a popular item with our customers some of whom recall memories of sitting in the old Express Café. A further grant has been obtained from BIFFA which will enable us to transform the Café area into a setting of the old Express Café.
Not only did Mrs Elaine White donate the marble counter but she donated the Espresso Machine that was originally in the caf é. Apparently these original machines are rare and I have been informed that an Italian family who are setting up a Café in the Pontypridd area failed to get an original machine and had to have one made.
Our Espresso Machine looks very complicated with all its knobs and levers. It not only has facilities for coffee making but also to steam heat pies, (I can remember how juicy they were). There are other things that the machine does but none of us know how it was operated if any one does please could you let us know.
The clothing the children and others use for dressing up is for small people and we find that it does not fit everyone. If anyone has good quality clothing or hats of an old design (1920s-40s) please could you donate them to the museum if we think that they are suitable and we could use them.
During the summer months our volunteers in the museum take well earned holiday breaks. This sometimes leave gaps in the museum duty rota if there are any members who could spare an hour or two to fill in for those on holiday it would be very helpful. I am sure that they would find it a rewarding and interesting experience.
I would like to thank all those people who have expressed their best wishes to me on the awards I have received. Special thanks to Jennifer who nominated me it has made me feel quite humble to think that people regard me in this way. The nomination was kept secret from me until the last moment. Receiving the awards is a great honour for me but everything that I have done and achieved has been due to the love and support of those around me.
Don Bearcroft Curator