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December 2011
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Christmas Fete

Saturday 10th, 10am at Ebenezer!

We need your help in donating items and manning the stalls. Please make a big effort and see if we can raise a record amount this year. We are looking for items for the usual range of stalls - bric a brac, toys, tins, bathroom, crafts etc, as well as needing items for the cake stall, Christmas Hamper raffle, lucky dip and the chocolate crackers. Please bring things along to the Museum.

Please also note the Aberfest Friday is 16th December.


Jam jars. Please bring to the Museum.

Annual Dinner – 20th January

Once again this will be at the Top Hotel in Llanhilleth and will take place on Friday 20 th January. Roy Pickford is collecting names and money so please contact him to book your place – 01494 213377.

100 Club – November 2011

No. 118 Maureen Williams £25
No. 110 Margaret Evans £10
No. 53 Marge Rogers £5

Programme Secretary needed

We need someone to take this on for the summer season onwards. You will have plenty of help with ideas for speakers and so if this is something you can do for the Society, please call at the Museum or contact Peggy.

Diary Dates

Saturday 10th December - Christmas Fair starting at 10am at Ebenezer

Friday 16th December - Winter Aberfest in the Arcade

Friday 20th January Annual Dinner at the Top Hotel, Llanhilleth

Fundraising November - £236

Obituary Glenys Lee

We were all very sorry to hear that Glenys Lee passed away recently. She was a much loved member of the Museum Society, and a very active member until recently. She will be much missed.

The 12 Days of Christmas song

In England, between 1558 and 1829, it was not legal to be a practising Catholic. However, there were many Catholics who continued to worship in secret. 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was written in England at the beginning of this time and some think it was written to help children learn about their Catholic religion. In the carol, the days are supposed to represent special symbols and have hidden meanings, because it was illegal to have anything in writing that would indicate that you were a Catholic. The 12 Days of Christmas refers to the twelve day period that starts with Christmas Day. The meanings are as follows:

The ‘partridge in a pear tree’ is Jesus who died on the cross. In ancient times a partridge was often used as the mythical symbol of a divine, sacred god.

The 'two turtle doves' are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

The 'three French hens' are faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The 'four calling birds' are the four Gospels.

The 'five golden rings' are the first five books of the Bible.

The 'six geese a-laying' are the six days of creation.

The 'seven swans a swimming' are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The 'eight maids a milking' are the eight beatitudes.

The 'nine ladies dancing' are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The ‘ten lords a-leaping’ are the Ten Commandments in the Bible.

The 'eleven pipers piping' are the eleven faithful disciples of Jesus.

The 'twelve drummers drumming' were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.

Silent Night song

The words of Silent Night were written by an Austrian Priest called Fr. Joseph Mohr in 1816 and the music was added by his friend, Franz Xaver Gruber, in 1818 for the Christmas service at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria. The original words of the song were 'Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht' but it proved popular and spread around Europe; it was sang in a truce in WW1 as it was a song both sides knew.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is only celebrated in a few countries. It was started in Britain about 800 years ago and was the day when the alms boxes were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. It was also traditional that servants were given the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families on Boxing Day. In Holland some collection boxes were made from rough pottery and shaped like pigs. Perhaps this is where we get the term 'Piggy Bank'?

What’s on this Christmas?

Abertillery Museum we have our Christmas Fete on Saturday 10th at 10am at Ebenezer but we also have a well stocked shop where you can be sure of finding something for someone.

National Museum Cardiff Thursday 8th December at 3pm carols, mince pies and mulled wine.

St Fagans Museum there is something Christmassy throughout December e.g. Wednesday 7th December 2-3pm, talk on Christmas Customs.

Abergavenny 8th - 11th December Christmas food and Drink fair

Abergavenny Museum until 25th February 2012 there is an exhibition entitled ‘The British resistance in Wales’ which tells the story of Britain’s secret resistance movement during World War II. It is inspired by the novel 'Resistance' by Owen Sheers of Abergavenny. (We featured this topic recently in the Newsletter).

Newport Museum Saturday 17th December family Christmas Crafts for you to make.

Newport Ship Centre Saturday 3rd December -carols, find out how a medieval household celebrated Christmas, and make your own pomander.

Tredegar House Celebrate a Victorian Christmas at Tredegar House! Musicians and dancing in the house, roasted chestnuts in the courtyard and mulled wine and mince pies!

Telephone 01633 815880 for more details.

Blaenavon Heritage Centre and town Blaenavon Winter Wonderland Saturday 3rd – Sunday 4th December including Christmas market.

Llacaiach Fawr For children: Christmas activities - Saturday 3rd, 10th & 17th December. Storytelling in the Manor - Sunday 4th, 11th & 18th December.

Bishop Street Allotments

As the long dark winter nights draw in and visits to the allotments get shorter, the allotment holders on Bishop Street Allotments, Abertillery can sit back, put their feet up and reflect on a very successful season. There had been the usual battles with nature: the weather being too hot or cold, too dry or wet but all this they took in their stride to achieve one of the best allotment sites in the country.

Once again they were awarded Blaenau Gwent in Bloom Allotment Category and there were individual awards for allotment holders in the individual allotment and organic garden sections. The awards were given at Bedwellty House, Tredegar and here a further cup was awarded for their achievements.

The Green Flag, a government award for outstanding green areas was gained and as this was the third time in succession, it was a bronze award this year presented by John Griffiths, Welsh Environment Minister, at the Royal Welsh Show.

July came and the Allotments opened their doors to the public with the ngs Open Gardens Scheme. It was a lovely sunny day and many visitors were welcomed with tea and cakes in the tea rooms. Questions were answered and produce sold at knock down prices. They were able to send a cheque for £615.00 to the society for their cancer charities. They open again next year on 14th July if you can make it.

Then at the end of July the allotments were contacted by the BBC TV programme "Gardeners World". They were looking for some allotments to film in and with its record thought Bishop Street would be ideal. At the start of August Carole Klein and the recording team spent a full day filming. It was one of the few hot summer days of 2011 and on 26th August when the program went out the allotments and surrounding area looked wonderful. A good day was had by all.

Our congratulations go to all those hard working allotment holders for all that hard earned success and fresh vegetables. We wish them further success in 2012. Does Hollywood beckon?
Judith Anne Williams


In January 1925 there were gales, floods and landslides in the area. One of the landslides led to about 80 tons of stone and debris falling from the mountain onto the road between Llanhilleth and Hafodrynys, described as ‘the new Pontypool Llanhilleth main road’. Passengers had to get buses to one side of the fall, walk around it and get into buses waiting on the other side.


The following is from Hansard for 18 th April 1921.

76.Mr. GEORGE BARKER asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that men of His Majesty's naval forces have been sent to Abertillery; that they are marching up and down the streets with fixed bayonets; that their presence there is unnecessary and is resented by the inhabitants; who applied for these forces and who sent them to Abertillery; and, in view of the fact that there was no disorder in Abertillery during the national strike of miners in 1912 and 1920 or during the present dispute, will he order their immediate withdrawal?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Sir Laming Worthington-Evans) I have been asked to answer this question The Admiralty have placed a certain number of naval ratings at the disposal of the military forces to assist the civil authorities if required. I am informed that, at the request of the Chief Constable for Monmouthshire, 250 of these naval ratings were moved to Abertillery from Newport on 12th April.

Mr. BARKER Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there has been no breach of the peace in Abertillery; that 250 of these men have been brought there; that they are marching about the streets with fixed bayonets: that they have two machine guns and a large quantity of ball cartridge; that these men were induced to go to Abertillery on being told that the place was on fire, and that the collieries were being destroyed; and, under the circumstances, will he order their withdrawal?—

Mr. SPEAKER The hon. Member is making a speech.

It would be very interesting to have a potted account of the unrest among miners at this time. Any volunteers?

Book Corner

Last month we gave advance notice of a book by a local author, Siân Price, called “If You’re Reading This - Last Letters From the Front Line”. The Museum will be selling copies at a discounted price and Siân will be coming along to a coffee morning in 2012 (date to be announced in due course). The book had an excellent review recently in The Times and is well worth reading.

“Heads Held High: Wales Rugby World Cup 2011” by Phil Bennet and Max Boyce price £16.99 Seren Books.

Judith Jones

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Museum Matters

Glenys Lee

The expected news of the death of Glenys Lee came Glenys Leeand although expected it was none the less a blow to us all.

I have known Glenys all of my life as she lived at Panty Pwdyn Road a few doors from where I was brought up. When I was young there was no television so the neighbours during the summer would go for walks, the women carrying the young babies in a shawl Welsh fashion. In the winter during dark nights we would visit our relations going from one pool of light around a gas lamp to the next.

Sometimes we would visit Mrs Lee or Mrs Cooper next door to her; she had cases of stuffed birds very much like we have in our museum. As a small child I was terrified of these birds with their staring beady eyes.

Glenys went to the Primitive Methodist church Somerset Street, they often put on Pantomimes and Glenys always took part. It was a treat for us boys to see Glenys in Pantomime costume with legs like Angela Rippon.

I knew that Mr Lees family and Glenys were distant relations but it wasn’t until I started work at Six Bells Colliery that I found out how. Like all new apprentices I was subjected by the others to initiation rituals and teasing. On one of these occasions it had gone on for a long time getting rougher as it progressed until suddenly they were being pulled off me and thrown across the room. The Charge hand on shift was Roy Lee, Glenys brother he was a large man who looked and walked like John Wayne. The other boys were shocked asking Roy “What’s it to do with you?” He’s family, hands off! Roy replied. When I asked him why he had not acknowledged me before this he said. “I wanted to see what sort of a man you were before I accepted you as family, your uncle Will married my aunty Claris we are second cousins.” After Roy died a few years ago I told Glenys about this. That’s typical of Roy she said.

Somerset Street Methodist Church

Glenys was a fervent Christian whose first love was her church. Glenys started going to Powell Street Methodist when the Primms closed. Her life was a full one working on the Aberbeeg Hospital League of Friends, the ladies Choir and of courses our museum.

Powell Street MethodistI always said, although she did not like me saying it, that Glenys was the best museum guide that we had. Glenys would take time to learn about the artefacts on display and wo-betide me if I had put something new out without telling her about it. Not only interested in the museum but also with the visitors who she would first ask if they required help before showing them around. After putting them at their ease talking to them, if she did not know the answer to a question she would come and find me and very often ask me to tell the story behind the item.

She also worked hard with our fund raising events willing to do anything to help. That was Glenys, giving her all to anything she was involved in.

StarThe old ones used to say, if a new bright star appeared in the night sky it was someone who had led a very good life on their way to heaven. The brighter the star the better life the person had led. There will be the bright star in the heavens today that’s for sure.

Glenys has already been missed by everyone who knew and loved her.

Bear LogoHave a good Christmas and may the New Year bring you health and happiness.

Don Bearcroft

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