Museum Logo
Home Page
About Us
Educational Activities
News And Events
Become A Member
Contact Us
Monthly Newsletter
Previous Month Button
December 2012
Next Month Button

AGM 29th October

We had quite a good turnout at the AGM so thank you all. There have been a few changes with Marge Selway and Sandra Tranter stepping down from Committee. Their help and support as Officers and Members of the Club was recognised and we hope they will continue to be regular faces on the Museum scene. Meantime, we were pleased to elect Dale onto the Committee – a welcome youngster!  

November Christmas Fayre

The Christmas Fayre raised £330 so a big thank you to everyone who helped with this event.

Winterfest 26th Nov – 9th Dec

The Museum has been involved in this festival and, once again, thank you to all those who lent a helping hand.

Annual Dinner Friday 18th Jan

As usual this will be at the Top Hotel. Please call at the Museum to book your place and menu choices. It will start at 7pm and tickets are £17.


A trip has been arranged to see Cinderella in Swansea on Friday 11 th January (matinee performance) and tickets are available for Museum Society members. The ticket to the panto and your coach fare is just £21 – please contact Peggy Bearcroft or Enid Dean. Just the thing to brighten up January!

100 Club – November

To be announced in the January Newsletter.

Fund raising November - £330 was raised at the Christmas Fayre. The full total for the month will be announced in the January Newsletter.

Lecture Programme

Please be sure to put the lecture dates in your diary! 

Diary Dates

Until 9th December Abertillery Winterfest

Friday 11th January - Cinderella Pantomime, Swansea £21 ticket and coach (see Peggy or Enid)

Friday 18th January 2013 Annual Dinner , Top Hotel, Llanhilleth at 7pm £17

Saturday 26th January Mystery Treasures Coffee morning

Wednesday 6th February My Life in the Media by Steve Taylor

Wednesday 6th March What Lies Beneath? By Richard Dean

Wednesday 10th April Intellectual Property is All Around You by Gail Ashworth

Wednesday 1st May Cwmcarn Dam Disaster by Tony Jukes

Wednesday 5th June Inn Signs by Bob Trett

Wednesday 3rd July The Story of the Hero of Newport Docks Disaster by Monty Dart

Wednesday 7th August Newport Transporter Bridge by Anne Gatehouse

Wednesday 4th September Garden Birdwatch by Mick Bailey

Wednesday 2nd October ( TBA) Robin Williams

Wednesday 6th November Stanley Spencer War Artist by Pete Strong


In the October Newsletter I included a piece based on a letter sent in by Mr Arthur Lewis O.B.E. Mr Lewis had referred to his uncle Bob Roberts and I mistakenly typed it in as Bob Evans – apologies Mr Lewis. Here are a few details about Bob Roberts in case anyone remembers him or his family. Bob Roberts married Mr Lewis’s mother’s youngest sister Hannah Rogers and they lived in Railway Street, Llanhilleth. Their only daughter was Thelma, who managed the Institute Library. Bob built a garage at the back of his house and ran a “Red Indian” motorbike and sidecar. Mr Lewis’s only other female cousin was Phyllis Hurl, much photographed in Llanhilleth history as Phyllis Neads, wife of Merlyn. Phyllis had a brother Harry, a Llan rugby player. Harry was at Dunkirk and arrived back completely shattered. Mr Lewis would walk up the mountain with him to help him recover. Harry returned to the forces and joined RAF Bomber Command from which he never returned home.

Mr Lewis also enclosed a copy of a notice issued as a reminder of the 1995 AGM. It was held on Tuesday 12 th September at Abertillery Library and was followed by an illustrated talk given by Mr Ralph Robinson on “The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal”. The notice also set out the indoor programme for October to April which included the following lectures:

Old Roads and Tramways of South Wales Moving House – the Hard Way An Exploration of the Caves Under Llangynidr and Llangattock Mountains The Archaeology of the Second World War in South Wales

I remember these, do you?  

Book Corner

“200 Years of the Monmouthshire and the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canals – an illustrated history by Michael Blackmore and Alasdair Kirkpatrick” price £20.

This book is something to buy for yourself as a treat or to give as a gift. It’s a coffee table type of book and on every turn of the page you will see an illustration or map with a modest amount of explanatory text on the facing page. The book leads you through easily through the history of these canals and the illustrations, many of which are very detailed, are a delight. If you want to know more about how the canals were built and used, then this is a book for you.  

Poetry Corner

“It Still Hurts”

I sense your approach, but
devoid of impetuosity of youth,
I am able to resist your advance,
Knowing how you will hammer
on my flimsy outer door.

Surges of ferocious blows,
that increase until you gain entry,
To engulf me in a conflagration,
leaving me seared and wounded.

I will never recover from
the intense heat of your last visit,
that laid bare my soul,
Infecting me with spring fever,
then destroying my judgement,
Until, its shield removed, my heart
became exposed to your lance.

I welcome your companion,
the angel of friendship,
tapping softly, bringing a gentle
flame with pleasant warmth
that could last my lifetime.

Gordon Rowlands, December 2002

Obituary – Keith Dykes

Keith Dykes is a well known figure in Abertillery and has long been a stalwart supporter of our Museum. We were all shocked and saddened to hear of his recent death and our thoughts are with his wife Eryl, family and friends. Keith will be much missed.

Mrs Beeton’s Christmas

The name Mrs Beeton is still instantly recognisable although she died at the young age of less than thirty, in 1865. The following recipe for “Taffy” (or Everton Toffee) was apparently a big Christmas favourite at the turn of the last century.


1 lb of powdered loaf sugar
1 teacupful of water
¼ lb of butter
6 drops of essence of lemon

Put the water and sugar into a brass pan, and beat the butter to a cream. When the sugar is dissolved, add the butter and keep stirring the mixture over the fire until it sets, when a little is poured on to a buttered dish; and just before the toffee is done, add the essence of lemon.

Butter a dish or tin, pour on it the mixture, and when cool, it will easily separate from the dish.

Sufficient to make 1lb of toffee.

Mrs Beeton recommended Butter-Scotch as being excellent for coughs. Follow the above recipe but use brown rather than white sugar, omitting the water, and flavour with ½ ounce of powdered ginger.

Time: 18 to 35 minutes.

Welsh Greetings

Would you like to use some Welsh words in your cards this year? Here are a few phrases:

Nadolig Llawen - Merry Christmas

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Cyfarchion - Greetings

Cyfarchion cynnes - Warm greetings

Dymuniadau da - Good wishes

Dymuniadau gorau - Best wishes

Christmas Games

Tired of the television? Try these games:

Christmas Words

Each player is given a piece of paper with a Christmas phrase written across the top. Then everyone has ten minutes to list as many words as they can think of that are associated with Christmas, using only the letters in the Christmas phrase. The person with the longest list wins.

Here are a few phrases to get you started: Christmas Tree, Deck the Halls, I Saw Three Ships.

How is your Memory

Players sit in a circle. One person begins by making one small movement - clapping once, touching their nose, or blinking their eyes, etc.

The player to the right must now do exactly the same motion, just once. Continue around the circle with each player exactly repeating the same motion.

When it's the first player's turn again, he/she repeats the original movement. Then the next player must do the same but also add a new gesture. These two are then repeated around the circle, with a third and fourth etc gesture added in as the game progresses.

The last player to remain in the game is the winner and he/she really deserves a prize for he/she may have had to remember 10 or 15 different gestures in the proper sequence. If you only have a small number of people, simply increase the number of new gestures on each round.

Christmas Cracker Jokes

What do Santa's elves do after school?
A: Their gnomework !

What do Snowmen like to eat for breakfast? A: Frosties

What's white and goes up?
A: A confused snowflake

What did the big candle say to the little candle
A: I'm going out tonight

What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?
A: Dam


Ghosts of Christmas Past

When I see the preparations’ for Christmas this year it started me thinking of this time of year when I was young. Today children want X Boxes, Kindles and computer programs paid for using credit cards or even bank loans. There is a wide choice of food, the traditional turkey, roast pork and also dual roasts. There is an even larger choice of deserts; most families also go out for a meal at some time.

Both of my mother’s father and mother came from farming families, my grandfather’ sister and her husband bred turkeys on their farm near Orcop. When we were young turkeys were too expensive, chickens were kept by some people bred for their eggs and for Christmas dinner my grandfather and grandmother kept chickens. They took orders for Christmas from friends and neighbours who wanted fresh chickens for their table.

Near Christmas was a hectic time for our family preparing the chickens that people had ordered. Firstly my father and grandfather killed them by catching them and hanging them upside-down and then cutting their throats, they were left for a while to allow the blood to drain from their bodies.

The next stage was to draw them; my cousin Joan and I were allowed to help doing this.

On occasions a hen would have a lot of eggs forming in her and my grandfather would say. She was a good layer, “If I had known I would have chosen another for the table”. After this the chickens would be feathered, boiling water was poured over them before they were plucked to make it easier. I was not allowed to take part in this for fear of bruising the flesh; it was a knack which I never wanted to learn.

My father encouraged me to keep chickens, we bought some eggs from my grandfather and he loaned me a broody hen.

The hen sat on the eggs and one day when I went to the cot her chicks had started to hatch.

It was amazing to see the eggs cracking with holes appearing and then the little fluffy chicks emerging from the broken shells.

Chicken On Bears HeadMost of the chicks were hens but there was one cockerel amongst them, he grew up to be an aggressive cock, attacking anyone who went into the garden or near his hens.

He attacked me one day flying onto my head and pecking me all over, I only escaped by jumping through a privet hedge. When my father who had been watching saw the blood running down my face he said, “that’s it we’ll have him for dinner on Sunday!” I really enjoyed that dinner.

There were a few people who kept pigs; the main Piggery was on the farm near us. My mother joined the Pork & Pudding Club ordering a joint, usually a leg of pork from the farmer’s wife who would call once a week with the payment card which my mother paid on. She also ran a Christmas Catalogue which was where my toys were ordered.

Slaughtered Pigs

We only had what we ordered after it was paid for. There was no credit given or asked for.

My friends and I went Carol singing to our family and friends but we had to give a good repertoire of traditional carols if we wanted to get paid.

Bear Logo

Top Of Page



Registered Musuem Logo

© Abertillery & District Museum 2012