The Museum’s October lecture was given by Mr Robin Williams who has studied the history of the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal in some depth. His topic for the lecture focussed on transport and industry in the Gilwern to Llanfoist section of the canal. The audience appreciated his wealth of knowledge and the way the talk was well illustrated with photographs and maps of features such as tramroads and viaducts. The talk was followed by an opportunity for questions and all came away with a new insight on a section of canal just a short drive away.
The next talk will be at 2pm on Wednesday 6th November at Abertillery & District Museum in Abertillery town centre. The November speaker will be Pete Strong whose talk is entitled “Stanley Spencer War Artist”. Non-members are welcome; entry is £2 and tickets are available in advance at the Museum, or at the door (subject to availability).
Fund raising October – £313
100 Club October
No. 83 Ann Howells £25
No. 27 Sylvia Matthews £10
No. 30 Dorothy Nemes £5
Get Well Soon
We send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Rose Smith who is unfortunately in hospital at present. Rose is an invaluable helper at the Museum and we look forward to seeing her back soon.
Friday 4th October weekly until 16th November Roman Britain by Frank Olding £3 per lecture or £15 for all six lectures
Wednesday 6th November – Stanley Spencer War Artist by Pete Strong
End November – Teddy Bear Exhibition
AGM Mon 25th November 6pm at the Museum
Thursday 6th December – 10am at the Museum,Christmas Fayre
Wednesday 5th February 2014 – Rolls and Royce by Roger James
Wednesday 5th March 2014 – The Tonypandy Riots by David Maddox
Wednesday 2nd April 2014 – Manufacturing Fine Bone China by David Woodliffe
Wednesday 7th May 2014 – Military Band Archive and Music by Anne Gatehouse
Thurs 6th December
This year we have decided to hold our Christmas Fayre on a Thursday, to coincide with market day. Please be sure to come along and bring friends and family – this is an important fund-raising event for the Museum. We need contributions of tins and chocolate bars, and items for the usual stalls (good bric a brac, toys, books, bathroom, crafts, Christmas items, etc) would also be appreciated, along with cakes. If you can help on a stall, and with setting up and clearing away, please contact Peggy.
Teddy Bear Exhibition
Our Curator Don Bearcroft is putting on a special exhibition at the Museum so be sure to come along. Don is aiming for the end of November so call at the Museum for more details.
As you will see from the Diary Dates our AGM is coming up shortly. Please try to attend. This is your chance to find out what has been happening at the Museum over the last year, including the ‘behind the scenes’ work that often goes unnoticed. It is also when we elect our Management Committee and review the membership of the Company management. The Museum operates as a Registered Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee and there are necessarily some formalities to go through but the AGM is generally quite a lively event as an overview of the last year. If you are not able to attend in person, please send in your voting form or use the proxy voting form. We look forward to seeing you.
How Did They Do That?
On a recent holiday to Vietnam I visited My Son (pronounced me sun) which has a fascinating collection of Hindu temples and other religious buildings. Imagine the setting – a lush tropical valley above which tower thickly forested mountains, the tops of which lie shrouded in cloud. Once there were about 70 buildings, built roughly a thousand years ago, but the ravages of a tropical climate and the American War mean that just 20 remain, and many are in ruins. They stand amidst bomb craters and some look as if they are about to tumble into the holes. The buildings are built primarily of brick and are or were elaborately carved. These are no ordinary bricks. They are hard as rock, dense, and they fit together so tightly that you cannot get so much as a fingernail between one brick and the next. Their hardness allowed them to be carved as if they were stone. Work to repair and restore the buildings has been going on for some time and at present a team from Milan is working there. However, despite scientific studies and the best efforts of today’s experts, no-one has been able to replicate the original bricks. The modern bricks used for restoration work weather easily in the tropical climate and the jointing and mortar are quite crude by comparison with the original brickwork. No-one yet knows how the Cham people made their rock-like bricks, how they achieved the sharp and extremely flat surfaces or the material used to ‘glue’ one brick to another. Archaeologists have also not yet found any trace of where the bricks were made or the tools used.
Let’s hope the secret is unlocked soon, while the ruins are still capable of restoration.
You may be interested to know that I have a conical bell stone which came from Pochin Colliery in the 1920s and which has proved to be a very useful doorstop. My grandfather obviously dodged this though he was paralysed in a later roof fall.
Tales of Horror!
The Wellcome Library has digitised more than 5000 reports from medical officers looking at sanitary issues in London. The records have been placed online, with free access, and in due course the Library hope to make more of their additional 70,000 reports available. The Guardian newspaper recently covered the Wellcome Library’s decision and, by way of an example of the gruesome reports which can now be read online, included the following extract which dates back to 1914.
“The itinerant ice-cream vendors are probably the filthiest tradesmen in London. Their ice-cream is, or may be, made in the gutter, and the stain of its place of origin adheres to it throughout its existence.
The use of the small conical glasses which are mouthed and sucked by children is most undesirable. For cleaning they are dipped into dirty water which contains the mouth secretions of previous buyers, swabbed with a small wet offensive duster and upended on a soiled barrow top.
One itinerant attempted to improve upon this method by immersing his right thumb into this same nauseous water and rubbing it vigorously on the inside of the glass; he used no duster. Another was giving the final polish to his glasses by rubbing them inside and outside with his handkerchief into which he blew his nose”.
Those with a strong stomach may care to go online and read more of these reports. I think I’ll give them a miss.
Coffee Morning – Street Names
Our recent Coffee Morning was a great success and raised £100. Don Bearcroft gave a presentation on Abertillery street names and their origins. If you missed the coffee morning, here are some of the street names:
Castle Street – formerly called Railway Parade
Station Hill – formerly Accommodation Road
Tillery Road – formerly Wesleyan Way
King Street – formerly Water Street
Division Street – boundary between Cwmtillery and Abertillery
Heol Gerrig – hill over the rock
Pant y Pwdyn Road – dwelling in the hollow
Harcourt Terrace – Liberal M.P. 1827 – 1904
Ty Pwdr – rotten or corrupt house
Bryngwyn – white hill
Coed-cae – wood or stubble field
Crumlin – crooked valley
Cwmcelyn – valley of the holly
Ty Isaf – the lower house
Pentwyn – top of the hill
Golynos – small holly trees
Club Row – houses built by benefit club
Alma Street – Battle of Alma, Crimean War
These are just a few examples from Don’s list.
“South Wales from the Romans to the Normans” by Jeremy Knight.
This new publication by Jeremy Knight traces the development of the people of South Wales, particularly the areas covered by the former Counties of Gwent and Glamorgan, dealing with their way of life, their literature and their religion.
The story begins with the Roman Legions based in Caerleon and continues through the next century as the fortress fell into disuse and new secular and ecclesiastical establishments were founded.
Recent archaeological and historic research is used to examine these trends, the development and expansion of new settlements and the changes in religious life leading to the medieval parochial settlement pattern.
The book is well illustrated with coloured and black and white photographs, plans and drawings of buildings and artefacts and demographical tables. There is also an extensive bibliography, a good index and detailed notes of source material.
Navigation comes in sight
With Old Bud’s house coal on the right
Lampshade factory very near
Waites the name you’d often hear
A brewery in days of old
When Chivers beer once was sold
Viaduct stood overhead
Highest in the world ‘twas said
Carried trains cross mountain top
High Level Crumlin was the stop
Low Level station near The Square
Where buses came from everywhere
Steam engines with their heavy loads
Kept the traffic off the roads
Colliery Rescue Centre too
And rugby team a merry crew
Ex Servicemen’s and Woodbine Club
The Viaduct and Railway pubs
Canal that once to Newport ran
Crumlin many years will span
Remembered in this little rhyme
Some of which are lost in time.
Dagworth Orville Charters
HISTORY OF THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
The First World War had inflicted death on a grand scale on those who participated in it, the unparalleled level of mobilisation led to matching numbers of casualties, and the government of the day was overwhelmed by the task of trying to provide for those who had been afflicted. There was a clear need for an organisation to represent the voices of those left widowed or disabled by the war to end all wars.
Even before the end of the First World War, efforts were underway to provide a voice for those who had served in the British armed forces. In fact, three completely separate organisations had formed by the end of 1917: the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, founded in Blackburn in 1916 and loosely affiliated with the Trades Union movement and the Labour Party; the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, based in London and with links to the Liberal Party; and the Comrades of the Great War, a non-political organisation that nonetheless had extensive links with the establishment of the day. These three organisations were joined by the left wing National Union of Ex Servicemen at the end of the First World War in November 1918 a number of efforts were made to unite these groups but not until the foundation of the United Services Fund containing £7 million in canteen profits from the war that they amalgamated to ensure the fair distribution of the fund throughout the country.
There was also an Officers Association in 1920 a conference brought about amalgamation these bodies and on 14 th May 1921 a new organisation was founded under the name of the British Legion with the Prince of Wales as its patron. The first Poppy Appeal was launched the same year to coincide with Armistice Day 11 th November. This proved very successful and provided the funds to support those affected by the by the First World War in terms of financial aid, employment or by housing, also by raising political awareness of their plight.
During the depression of the 1920s – 30s there were ½ million survivors of the 1 st WW the Legion did it’s best to find work by setting up a employment services finding jobs for 50,000 men in 1935 alone.
The Legion began to build relationships with their former enemies this was helped by a speech by the Prince of Wales and in 1935 a delegation was invited to Germany where they met Adolf Hitler and other high ranking members of the Nazi Party. They also had a tour of Dachau Concentration Camp to that the conditions were not inhuman! This caused an uproar back home and as war became inevitable in 1940 the Legion made up 50percent of the Home Guard, the Women’s Section ran mobile canteens for refugees. The Poppy Factory in Richmond turned to essential war work having suffered when a German bomb hit the air raid shelter killing 8 women and children.
At the end of the war a large increase in membership and by 1950 there were over 5,500 branches and to alleviate the hardships of its members the Legion distributed food parcels sent from the Empire & Dominions. In 1939 the Legion were increasingly involved in fighting for its members pension rights. In 1948-49 the birth of the Welfare State alleviated some of the problems.
The Legion was involved in Remembrance Day and in 1945 it was decided to hold it on the nearest Sunday to the 11 th, this became known as Remembrance Sunday, It was broadcast on the BBC and televised in 1950.
In the 1960s the trend was towards CND and the Legion was accused of militarism the Legion counteracted these accusations by highlighting the work it did in regard to the welfare of ex-servicemen and their families. In 1964 the British Legion Housing Association was founded developing sites and houses while the rents for them were provided by local authority benefits.
In 1971 the Legion had the “Royal” title conferred on it and during the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977 2,700 standard bearers were on parade for the Queen to inspect. With the end of the cold war and reduction in the armed forces the Legion together with others set up training centres to retraining service men and women. The R B L continued its work sending Christmas parcels to every service man and woman deployed to the Gulf War also supporting the armed forces in conflicts such as Bosnia, Belize, Cambodia and the Falkland’s.
The introduction of the two minutes silence at 11am on 11 th November throughout the country was largely due to the Legions campaign. They are also campaigning for “The Honour of Covenant” calling on the Government to honour its commitment between them and the military. Contributing to the Personnel Recovery Centres of current campaigns and running services such as the Legionline its direct telephone line to Legion Services. They are campaigning for a Monmouthshire memorial at Flanders in Belgium.