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December 2016
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Annual General Meeting

A full report will be carried in the January Newsletter including a reminder that your membership fee, which will be confirmed at the AGM, is now due (and is vitally important to us in these difficult economic times).

Closure dates

The museum will be closed from Monday 19th December and will reopen on Wednesday 4th January.

November 100 Club

No.97              Jen Price                      £20
No.46              Mary George                £10
No.16              Don Bearcroft              £5

Fundraising November £174

Diary Dates

Tuesday 6th Decemberall day Christmas Fayre

Wednesday 7th DecemberLantern Parade.  The museum will have a stall upstairs at Ty Ebbw Fach from 5.30pm

Ongoing – WW1 Exhibition in the Museum

Saturday 28th JanuaryCoffee Morning

All day Xmas Fayre Tuesday 6th Dec 

We are once again having our Christmas Fayre at the same time as Winterfest. We plan to run the Christmas Fayre as an all day event and to provide refreshments available to those attending whatever attractions will be available in the car park alongside the museum. We will need volunteers to man the museum and the café and stalls throughout the day.  We don’t expect you to stay all day, but if you can spare a little time to go on a rota then that would be a big help.  Please call at the museum to put your name down.  We will also need items for the stalls – toys, good bric a brac, bathroom items, chocs and sweets, books, tins, raffle prizes and, on the day, cakes.

We Did It!

We have now collected £1000 in donations for the Ash’s mural in the museum shop.  A big thank you to everyone who helped.

Brynmawr Furniture

Bynmawr Furniture Company, established by Quakers in the 1930s, made high quality products which are now selling for high prices.  This piece is on sale for £740 – a low price compared with a sideboard, officially classed an antique and on sale for £1895. Do you have a hidden treasure?

Sideboard for sale!

Museum Archives

Abertillery County School Photo
Were you a member of staff or a pupil at Abertillery County School in 1954?  The Museum has in its archive store a framed photograph of everyone.  Come and see!

Local Education Authority
The Museum has a book, in quite a fragile state, which contains a list of phone numbers at the front and behind which are bound carbon copies of letters sent by the Mr A Llewellyn, Secretary of the Local Education Authority,  during 1926 together with a few letters to him. They cover a variety of topics from milk orders, to teachers’ salaries, to the prosecution of boys for damage caused to school property.

This letter, dated 30th April 1926 was sent by Jas. Davies of the Boys Department of Abertillery Central School.

Dear Sir
    Very regretfully I have to report the following facts.
    This morning I personally proceeded to the Bank to Cash the Cheque for the payment of Teachers' Salaries.  I asked for:-
1£ Notes   £305.0.0
1/2£ Notes    4.19.0  
       Silver     3.3.6  
       Copper        11

Total     £312.14.5
 I counted these at the Bank and thought they were correct.  I placed them carefully into one of my big pockets, and returned straight to my room where I counted out each individual salary.
    Here it was discovered there was £1 short.  I asked every teacher to check carefully and then immediately went back to the Bank to report.  They have a trial balance and found everything correct.  I have no idea where the £1 Note could have gone to, and according to your former instructions am reporting the loss at once.
    I can assure you I deeply deplore the necessity of having to do so.
    I remain,
Yours faithfully

There was also a letter to J Rowland Esq, Headmaster at Brynhyfryd Mixed School, on the subject of Scholars' Attendance Records., and announcing their intention of granting “the usual awards in cases where five, six or seven years' unbroken attendances are made”. The letter goes on to say "In the case of William Bright, who has completed eight years' attendance, the Committee have decided to present him with a writing case".

Letter to H J Lewis, Headmaster of Ty'r Graig Mixed School.

      With reference to your letter of yesterday's date, reporting that there is a considerable quantity of small coal in your coal-houses, I beg to state that I have been given to understand that the coal with which we are being supplied is of such a quality as to make it quite unnecessary that there should be any accumulation of small. I am informed that when the coal is delivered the proportion of lump to small is such as to render it quite easy to burn the small with the lump, and I shall be glad if you will inform the Cleaner that she is expected to see that the small coal is used up; otherwise there will be a tendency for the accumulation of small to increase.

Letter to the Blaina Industrial and Provident Society Ltd from A Llewellyn in his capacity as Hon Secretary of the Boot Fund Committee enclosing a cheque for £21.3.4d “in settlement of the enclosed accounts for boots supplied”.

Commissioner’s Report (Mining) 1850 
The report covers a wide range of topics on conditions in the mining towns in Monmouthshire, Brecon and Glamorgan.  The report includes reference to the continued illegal working of women underground, (mostly aged 14-18 in the Blaina pits), and the employment underground of young children. This what the report said about the 'Employment of Boys Under 10 Years of Age'.

The employment underground of boys under 10 years of age has also been resumed in several works, by the admission of the managers and their mineral agents. At Blaenavon, the mineral agent very frankly stated that there were at least 30 out of 120 boys underground under the legal age. So large a proportion as one-fourth of the whole is a plain proof that the practice has been resumed without check, and that another generation of colliers and miners is growing up, whose minds are becoming (?)ndurated by the same process of early removal from school, and employment in the pits, at the age of seven or eight. The managers of most of the principal works have a strong feeling in favour of this proportion of the law, and have caused boys under the legal age to be strictly excluded from their pits, in the hope of their parents keeping them at school until the age of ten. A considerable laxity however.....which the above instance is a proof, occurring too at works where, for many years past, the most liberal provisions has been made for education. 

Missing Enid

It is now more than three months since our dear friend Enid Dean passed away.

I say friend, but in fact she was more like family to myself, my daughter and my two grandsons who called her ‘Nana Enid’. She took the care, interest and pleasure in them like any grand or great grandmother would.

Most of you will know that Enid worked for many years at Collier’s Garage, which was owned by Cyril Collier and then my late husband Martyn Herbert. They both valued her highly, not just for her secretarial skills but also for her energy, humour, kindness, interaction with customers and her social awareness. My husband considered her amongst his closest and dearest of friends. Later, Enid was a huge help to me, on a business and personal level, when it came to running and then selling the business after the sudden death of Martyn in 1998.

The Museum must also miss Enid because she brought all her qualities to any role she played within the organisation.

In earlier days, Enid helped the Museum to grow into the fine community service it is today. She mixed so well with people that she drew them in to wanting to support fundraising events, raffles, functions etc and she was always on the lookout for additional curios or displays which could be added to the varied collection of memorabilia the Museum has.

Enid also continued with her secretarial skills and used her vast memories of local times and events to write regularly for the Museum Newsletter. Her recall of her life in Abertillery made us all sit up and remember times past.

So, whilst my family and I miss her deeply on a personal level, the loss to the Museum Society is equally significant. Enid was committed, devoted, wise and strong, she was both interested and interesting. Yes, there will be other ambassadors who will do sterling work for the Museum but there will only ever be one Enid – she is irreplaceable and will live for a long time yet in our hearts.
Margaret Herbert


Twas the Night Before Christmas (a few verses)

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! , on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
Clement Clarke Moore

There was an interesting programme on Radio 4 in November which linked the sight of flying reindeers to a centuries old practice in northern Scandinavia – reindeer country – of the fly agaric fungus being consumed for its hallucinogenic properties. Maybe that’s what I need to do. I look out every Christmas Eve for Santa and his sleigh. He calls at the house but I’ve never yet seen him flying with his reindeers.              
Jen Price

Museum Matters

New Acquisitions

On Saturday 26th the Celebration of the restoration of the Royal Oak Railings was held. Our Chairman Peggy opened the proceedings by welcoming members and guests, among who were Lyn Davis wrought iron specialist, who restored the railings, Susan Waters and her mother.

Sue walters & her mother

Lyn Davies

After seeing the state of railings when they had been delivered Susan donated £100 to start the fund for their restoration. Susan’s grandparents’ kept the Royal Oak public House and her mother served as a barmaid. Susan gave an account of life in the pub.

Don and Peggy outside railings

The Community Council of Abertillery & Llanhilleth also contributed to the project.

Deputy Curator Richard Gilson then gave an account of the recent history and how I came to acquire them for our museum. The Reverend Roy Watson gave a prayer for the museum and its volunteers after which everyone Cakeadjourned for refreshments.

The centre piece of the table was a magnificent cake with an icing image of the railings on the top.

On the previous Friday evening Peggy and I attended an awards evening at Llanhilleth Institute. The awards were the Chairman’s for people who did work in the community. It was good to see that quite a lot of awards went to young people in our area. 

 I received an award for Outstanding Service to the Community.  

Don receiving his award

My award consists of two plaques, one made of glass which I can keep, and the other is a wooden shield with 12 small silver shields on it. Every year the winner will have his or her name inscribed on a shield and as this is the first year for it to be used my name is the only name on it. Pictures of the trophies’ are on the Header.

This year we have had over 70 items donated, this is normal but this year has been exceptional for the size of the items donated. It is due to the number of buildings demolished over the year and the conservation work it entailed. Thanks to the cooperation of BGCBC in helping us to rescue these items, especially Nick Landers of Abertillery regeneration.

I have reported on some of the larger items such as the circular window from the Welsh Calvinistic Chapel, the date stone from Gelli-Crug School. This month we received some paintings done by the local artist, the late Roger Cecil. Roger lived near us and our children with others would watch him carving the marble sculptures in his garden, this was before he had a studio built onto his house.

In his early years Roger’s work was landscapes after which he concentrated on Modern Art of which he became famous for. An art gallery in London would buy any work that he produced! The paintings donated are from his modern period, one of them no one likes. As they are 4ft x 8 ft a van was used to collect the paintings, neither man would not allow me to take his photo with this particular painting. Myself I found it disturbing*, very similar to Pablo Picasso’s painting, “Weeping Woman” the subject of this painting is the Bombing of Basque town of Guernica by the German air force during the Spanish Civil War. Afterwards I was told by the gentleman who donated the paintings that the painting that I found disturbing was done at the time of the Aberfan Disaster and was a template for the finished painting. You are not supposed to like the painting, it is not a nice subject matter but Roger certainly got his message over.

Bear logoDon Bearcroft Curator



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