Index of this blog

December 5, 2011

As the number of posts on my blog is now considerable, I am publishing a page index below so that visitors may go to a post that interests them by selecting the page it is on. The order is as they appear from the beginning of the blog. Alternatively the search facility, top right, may be used.

Hello Pontypool!

The Folly Tower

Arriving in Pontypool

Town School junior section

Tragedy at West Mon (Revised account)

Pontypool Boys’ Brigade – 9th Eastern Valley Company

Comics, magazines and other literature

The “Scholarship Class” at Town School

Pontypool in wartime: the start of rationing

When the sirens sounded in Pontypool

West Mon’s “Spitfire”

Osborne Cottage at Pontnewynydd

The good people of Pontypool help the war effort

Pontypool’s big freeze of 1941

Murder most foul in Pontypool

West Mon forms six and seven

The war ends, and Pontypool celebrates

Going to the pictures in Pontypool

Pontypool’s “Dad’s Army”

Fire at Wainfelin, and the slaughter of animals.

The Gregories of Cwmffrwdoer

Pontypool park for fun frolicks and fairs

The Grotto in Pontypool Park

Park Terrace Methodist Sunday School Pontypool

Climbing the mountain with the help of Watkins the tinsmith

Franketti’s Fish and Chip Shop

Christmas time in old Pontypool

World War II shipbuilders in Pontypool

The games we used to play in Pontypool

Pontypool’s great snow of 1947

Pontypool’s Secret Society

Drama in Pontypool

Tragedy at West Mon 2. Words from a key witness.

High Days and Holidays at Pontypool Town School

Pontypool Personalities

Two Broadways: Pontypool and New York

Decline in West Mon boarders

A great revelation on Haden Street

Accidents, Fatalities and Diseases

The book of the blog

Town School Centenary booklet 1938

Parts of old Pontypool that have vanished

News of Gibson Square

More nws about Gibson Square

Old photographs of Pontypool

Surprises in disguises

Old photographs of Pontypool carnival in the park

Information and a request

Old photographs of the Clarence area

More about the Robin Hood pub

Old photographs of Pontypool’s shopping centre

The Fowler family of Pontypool

Two interesting comments

The Queen’s Ballroom Pontypool

Fairfields of Pontypool crops up again

Is this how you remember the Donkey Steps and Gibson Square?

Donkey Steps & Gibson’s Square – a revised sketch and more information

A request from Pontypool Museum

The Parrot Public House Pontypool

Emerging information about about The Parrot and Gibson Square

Murder at The Parrot Inn and some old photographs of Pontypool

Photographs and more information about the Parrot Pub

A word map of Pontypool 1881

Further information on the Robin Hood, the Gregories and playing marbles

Further information on the Robin Hood and its proprietors

Ragtime comes to Pontypool

Tragic Peakes’ Coach Accident – two men killed

Photographs of Peake’s coach crash scene

Introduction to my Pontypool blog

Pontypool Home Guard on Parade in the Park

Do you remember Aubrey Hames?

Ponypool’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Three photographs of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Pontypool people really seem to be world travellers

See the video: “Who killed Dripping Lewis?”

Ponypool Town School’s great raffle

West Mon School Song

Severe Pontypool weather in 1940s

Pontypool Rugby Reminiscences

Some Pontypool Baptists in hot water

Free new e-book for visitors to this blog

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 1

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 2

Panteg Hospital, Pontypool and “Retlas” revealed

Interesting comments on Panteg Hospital

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 3

Another blog about some Pontypool cgaracters

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 4

Sports Day at West Mon School

Photographs taken inside West Mon School 2010

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 5

Catching taddies in Pontypool

Tragic drowning of nine people

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 6

The Swan Inn Freehold Land

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 7

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 8

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 9

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 10

Some close shaves in Pontypool

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 11

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 13

Heartless hoaxer in Pontypool

This index is by no means complete as I only index this blog from time to time.
There are a number of posts after the last item indexed above.
The latest post will be at the beginning of the blog. You can scroll down from there to find the latest posts.

Introduction to my Pontypool Blog

November 26, 2011


Since starting this blog I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of visitors I’ve received which at the time of writing stood at well over 26,000; since then it has more than doubled.  I wasn’t expecting anywhere near this number. Another surprise has been the number of comments received, many of which have been helpful to visitors in tracing family members etc.

But the most pleasing result has been the number of emails I’ve received, some from friends I knew long ago when living in Pontypool. Many of those emails are private of course so don’t get put on the blog. A few days ago I even received a phone call from a lady living in Canada who’d bought my book when visiting relatives over here and wanted to say how much she enjoyed it. Just a reminder that my email address is:  @ icon large

If you would like to be emailed whenever a new post is added you can do this by clicking on the “+ Follow” sign at top right of the heading of the blog. This is relatively new but quite a number of visitors have already done this.

Finally, if the memory of any old friends need jogging (as mine does from time to time) I append below a 1947 photograph. I won’t scare you with the latest version !

Best wishes as you walk down memory lane.           David (Dewi) Hughes


Since starting this feature I have amended so many of
my postings that the list would be very large and, the
more amended posts in the list, the more pointless
the list would become. Visitors can now assume
that the majority of the posts have been amended
in one way or another.


Possible solution to the West Mon sports mystery

July 28, 2014

Thanks to those who have commented on my previous post about the mystery of how the sports teams were selected. I realise that there were first teams and colts. That was also the position when I attended West Mon and it offered a natural progression of talent. My query was about the selection procedure for ANY team; there didn’t seem to be one. In my five years at the school there was not a single announcement about any trials which were to be held and I certainly saw no printed notice to this effect either.

Because of your comments I now think it must have been due to wartime conditions. By the time I arrived at the school the war was well underway and all the younger staff had been called up into the forces. These were replaced by mistresses who would have had no interest in boys’ rugby or cricket teams. The demobilisation of the masters would have started some time towards the end of 1945 and continued through 1946. I remember the return of both Whitty and Mosely who were keen cricketers, both of whom played for the Trevethin Cricket Team.

According to your comments it would have been in the later forties and early fifties that trials for sports teams were held, probably reverting to the process in being in pre-war years.

A West Mon mystery: how were the sports teams chosen?

July 24, 2014

I was recently talking with my friend Eric Smith about the sports teams at West Mon and neither of us could remember how the sports teams were chosen. When we attended the school in the forties there were only two first sports teams, rugby and cricket. In most schools they organise trials for anyone who wishes to be considered for any of the teams but this did not seem to be the case at West Mon. From 1942 to 1947 I never once heard about any trial matches being organised.

I wonder therefore how these teams “emerged”. Regarding the cricket team, I do remember that, in the cricket team at least, there were a large number of boys who took Latin. Could there have been any connection between this and the fact that the master in charge of the cricket team was a Latin teacher?

I suppose this “arrangement” might have altered over time. Can any ex-Westmonians who visit this blog remember a more logical way of selecting the sports teams? If so please leave a comment.

When I transferred to Howard Gardens High School in Cardiff I was asked whether I played cricket. When I told them I did they put my name down for a trial and as a result I was chosen to play for the first XI.

Happenings in Pontypool in the 1920s and 1930s

June 22, 2014

From the many emails I’ve received from visitors to this blog, I know that some people have come across it quite accidentally when they’ve been researching their family history. For this reason I thought it might be helpful to publish this post about three somewhat unusual events which occurred in the 1920s and 1930s. Some visitors might recognise the names of some of their ancestors and might be able to comment with further details.

I was reminded of this brief account yesterday when my next-door neighbour told me that her cat had killed a snake in the garden and brought it up on to the lawn. Here is a comment published in the Western Mail on Monday 28th July 1927:

“Miss Littlehales, of Pontypool, killed a snake with her putter during the golf county championships at Tredegar Park, Newport.”

* * * * *

For some unknown reason, the following account was published in the Hull Daily Mail on Tuesday 29th December 1931:


Sequel to Christmas Eve Crash

Mrs Edwards, wife of Amos George Edwards, a Monmouth farmer, died in Pontypool Hospital on Monday night of injuries received on Christmas Eve when their motor car overturned on the way home from Pontypool Market.
Her three-month-old baby died immediately after the accident, and Mr Edwards and a 12-year-old daughter are still in hospital.”

*     *     *     *     *

This brief account tells of the great bravery of a Pontypool mother who lived in Cherry Tree Cottage, Pontypool. It was published in the Western Times on Friday 24th December 1937:

“Mrs Harold Harvey, of Cherry Tree Cottage, Pontypool, ran three times into her blazing home to rescue her six children.”

The address of the cottage is not given. If any visitor knows where this is – or was – please leave a comment.

“We will remember them”

June 6, 2014

I’m writing this on 6th June, the 70th anniversary of D-day. You will, doubtless, have seen on TV the great remembrance events organised on the French coast today. Visitors to this blog who are about my age will not have regarded the events as “history” because we lived through them and remember them so well.

In my memories of Pontypool from 1929 to 1947 I have dealt in some detail with things I remember about the war. I stated when I started this blog that I don’t want it to be my memories only but the memories also of visitors; if you have any memories about the war which you’d like to share please make a comment.

Once again today we heard the verse from Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

The words are quoted every year at the Armistice Sunday remembrance services all over the country. What you might not know is that they are also quoted at every Toc H branch meeting during the ceremony of “Light”. I have been a member of Toc H for the last 66 years so I must have quoted them many hundreds of times.

But have you read the complete poem? If not you might like to do so now. I’m sure they will remind you of the remembrance events you might have witnessed on TV today.

“For the Fallen

By Laurence Binyon
WITH proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”

Pontypool barbers. Who was YOUR barber in Pontypool?

June 1, 2014

Although I’ve mentioned a number of traders in Pontypool I’ve never published a post specifically about barbers, with the exception of Mr Biby whose shop was next to Town School. He was the one I usually visited, often with my friend Eric Smith.

I have a rather vague memory of what I believe was my first visit to a barber in Pontypool. My mother took me there at the time so I must have been quite young. Also I remember being very scared of the electric cutter which made a very loud noise. I think that barber’s name was Ray Long and his shop was right at the top of Crane Street tucked away in a corner almost under the railway bridge on the right hand side going up Crane Street. It was almost opposite the gents’ toilet. Does anyone else remember this barber’s shop and do I have the correct location? I understand that, later on, he moved further down Crane Street.

At the top of George Street was the barber’s shop of Mr Amos. I only visited it on one occasion. Mr Amos asked the man before me how he wanted his hair cut and he replied, “Cut it to the bone Amos. Cut it to the bone.” That fashion has recently returned with a number of young men having all their hair cut off; little wonder that so many of them now wear some sort of woollen hat.

There was a very small-fronted shop close to Woolworth’s. I believe it was called Pillips. The part immediately inside the door was a tobacconist’s and also sold a few unusual fancy goods. A door through a partition led into the small barber’s area; I only remember visiting on a couple of occasions.

Those are the only four barber’s shops I can recall but, I imagine, there must have been quite a few more. If you know of them please add a comment.

In those days all gents’ barber’s shops were staffed by men and, apart from being able to get a haircut, men could also have a shave. It always puzzled me why some men chose to pay for a shave rather than take the cheaper option of shaving themselves. Admittedly you can’t give yourself a haircut but you can give yourself a shave; and safety razor blades were available at that time. Some men also had their hair singed. To do this the barber held a lighted wax taper and burned the very end of the hair; I think the idea was to avoid split ends. There was a very definitive smell when this was done.

Today quite a number of gents’ barbers are women and the title of the shop has been elevated to a salon. There are no shaves or singeing. Also none of them now repair umbrellas which used to be a side-line of some barbers. I suppose this was done when there were no customers who wanted a hair cut.

Pontypool woman doctor killed in London bombing

May 17, 2014

I publish below the press report of one of the many bombings in London because one of the victims hailed from Pontypool. It’s possible that some visitors to this blog might have known her or might even be a relative of hers. If so please email me or make a comment with any further details you might have.

London Bomb Victim

“Dr Lesley Maude Campbell Probyn, the woman doctor who was killed in a London air raid shelter in which many other people died, was a native of Pontypool, and daughter of Mrs Probyn, of Camden House, Park Terrace, Pontypool, and of the late Mr Campbell Probyn.

She was also distantly related to Mr E.S.Probyn, the Pontypool magistrate.

A single woman, aged 40, Dr Probyn was educated at the Convent School, Pontypool and at a school in Belgium. She continued her studies at Pontypool College, at London University and at Charing Cross Hospital, London.

She qualified in 1926 and held the degrees M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P. For some time she held positions at Bermondsey.

She had been engaged on shelter work. It is reported that a heavy bomb hit the shelter and that her body was recovered from the wreckage.”

Is the Hanbury Arms haunted?

March 25, 2014

Hanbury Arms

There has been quite an interest in the ghostly goings-on mentioned in my last posting. You might have seen the comment by Kirsty Mcinally about the Hanbury Arms. She asks whether I know anything about it being haunted.

There was an interesting short piece by Natalie Crickett in September 2012 about the Hanbury Arms. I quote it below.

“VODKA, brandy and whisky aren’t the only spirits at one Pontypool pub where so called ghosts have sent everyone from barmaids to builders running scared.
The souls of a little girl named Emily and a small boy in Victorian dress are said to be regular visitors to The Hanbury Arms, according to staff who don’t like being in the building alone.
A man believed to a former executioner at the 1830s building where criminals were once hanged, is also said to be a frequent punter and staff believe they have captured evidence of their existence on videos, which show so called “orbs” of light darting about the bar.
Glasses have spontaneously smashed, lights have been switched on when no-one is in the room and even a barrel of cider was split open in the locked and empty cellar.
Even workmen refurbishing the building upstairs have downed tools claiming they have felt a bitterly cold presence whilst working, accompanied by an unexplained feeling of dread.
Manager Rhian Phillips claims to have heard whispers coming from the empty cellar and refuses to enter certain parts of the pub alone, while other staff have reported a strong smell of garlic in specific spots.
Since owner Sean O’Connor took over the pub last December three paranormal experts have visited and all have been convinced of the spirits presence.
But Mr O’Connor and his business partner Mark Baker, both 47, are not fazed and have instead taken a keen interest in finding out more.
Mr Baker has even ordered electrical magnetic field detectors, motion sensors and voice recorders from America in a bid to gather evidence.
He said: “It does not worry me, I just laugh at it, but it’s not funny when it costs us money like when we lost 88 pints of Strongbow when the barrel was split.”
Mr O’Connor added: “The experiences we have had have been so profound and tangible that you’ve got no option but to believe it.”


If you are interested in hearing more about this you can see two YouTube videos made by some ghost-hunting experts who took their gear to the Hanbury Arms and made some recordings. The URLs are printed below. If you click on them you should go straight to the videos. If this doesn’t work copy and paste the URL into your address bar.
▶ The Hanbury Arms in Pontypool – return paranormal investigation in cellar – YouTube
▶ The Hanbury Arms in Pontypool – return paranormal investigation in cellar – YouTube


Penygarn ghosts

March 23, 2014

Recently I was speaking to a lady who lives in Penygarn who told me that she lives in a house that is about 400 years old. She also told me that she has seen a ghost in the house, or at least part of a ghost, namely just one leg.

This led me to do some research and I came across the following anonymous statements:

” James Street, Penygarn.

In the mid 1980’s, the occupier of a council house in James Street reported unexplained noises, doors and windows rattling, icey-cold sensations, crockery smashing and a shadowy figure was allegedly seen.  The owners’ dogs would not settle in the house.

St Albans School

The school is said to be haunted by the ghost of a nun, who walks the main stairs and has been witnessed by a teacher.  The building was aquired by nuns in its early history, and it appears one of them wants to stay around!

 Cottage in Penygarn

The cottage Mum and Dad had bought in Penygarn had been owned by the Hanbury family. It was one of three cottages in old Penygarn and the address was 1, American Gardens (sometimes referred to as Quarry Cottages). The cottages had been built on the edge of an old stone quarry and a large part of the old quarry was our garden which made a very useful area for keeping livestock and was an interesting place to play. The approach to the cottages was from the back as they had been constructed to face towards the fields. Before they built the houses in Penygarn the fields went right down to the Hanbury’s residence in Pontypool.

 Over the years the cottage needed modifying to raise the roof to provide better bedroom accommodation and it was extended at ground floor level to install a bathroom and other improvements. When a new toilet was installed to replace the old one near our back door an archway was discovered which my father told me was part of a tunnel which went down to the Hanbury’s residence. This is difficult to verify as there has been so much building in the area but it is interesting that in James Street just down Penygarn Road there was a very high thick wall and on the opposite side there were three arches. My brother Eric used to play in them until they were bricked up for safety purposes. Maybe that is where the story of the tunnel came from.”

If any visitor can shed any more light on the above please either email me or make a comment.

I am wondering whether the address of 1 American Gardens refers to a house which, I understand, is very old and is known as “The Gingerbread House”, shown below.

Gingerbread House

Photographs of West Mon boys 1964

February 28, 2014

I’ve just discovered a very useful website. This is it:    Just copy the address into you address bar and you will be taken to the site. It has a search box so there are masses of items for you to look at.

I managed to find in my “Pontypool” search all sorts of photographs of Pontypool and a further search revealed photos of West Mon boys in 1964. I publish them below. I thought you might recognise either yourself or older members of your family who are over 60 years of age; the staff much older of course.

I was particularly interested in one of the photographs because it has Michael Gregory, my cousin, amongst the staff members. You might have seen mention of him in my earlier posts about the Gregory family.

Visitors who are researching their family histories might like to download and keep a copy of some of the photographs, and of course you might find all manner of useful items by searching the site.

Here are the photographs for you to enjoy. I’m sorry they are rather small but you might be able to enlarge them.

West Mon 1964

West Mon 3

West Mon 2

West Mon 4West Mon 1

Cae Breast, Pontypool

February 18, 2014

Harold Clark sent in an email in answer to C.J.Welsh’s questions. I publish a copy of it below. He provided a map to explain where Cae Breast is. Other names on the map might also be helpful in answering some of the questions asked. I’ve added an aerial view map as this also might be helpful. The name “Coed Cae Breast” can be seen at the bottom of the first map.

“Cae Breast is located from the Folly down to Pontymoile. I am attaching a map. Not very good at blowing it up and emailing it so perhaps you can do it. The ruins of the HOUSE NOT FARM I believe C J is talking about is still there but overgrown. If you blow the map up follow the wall between the park and Cae Breast up you will see two green lines coming together near where they join park side of the wall. You will see an area marked as an oblong. When I was a child I remember seeing a very old grey haired lady living there, if not that cottage come back into the park at ninety degrees from the above and the ruins of another much larger house can be seen again. I think I recollect an elderly lady living here also but whether this would be classed as Cae Breast or Pontypool Park, I would look at records for the first one. Hope this is of some help to C J



Pontypool map

Map of part of Pontypool

Cae Brest?

Aerial view of the Cae Breast area





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 116 other followers