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

A FEW WORDS OF WELCOME BEFORE YOU BEGIN READING MY BLOG

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  david.hughes43@ntlworld.com.

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

PAST POSTINGS WHICH HAVE BEEN AMENDED

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BECAUSE THERE IS NOW SO MUCH INFORMATION ON THIS BLOG
I HAVE ADDED A SEARCH FACILITY WHICH YOU WILL FIND
JUST UNDER THE COLOURED BANNER HEADING – TOP RIGHT
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

The G.Is. in Pontypool during the war

August 20, 2014

I recently received the following email from Craig Smith:

“I was doing some research on a story about German POWs (written for Wikipedia) and was trawling local newspapers for information about the first German bomber to be brought down in the UK (in Newport no less) during WW2. Anyway, whilst searching I came across this request in the South Wales Argus from last year.

I’ve heard about the black GIs stationed in the Pontypool area but haven’t seen anything more definitive written about it. Wonder if it’s something you could blog about and see if it generates any interest.”

I followed the live link to the Argus article and read the following:”

 

“AN American journalist, is seeking help from people in Pontypool to build up a picture of the forgotten black American soldiers based in Torfaen in the 1940s.

Linda Hervieux, a journalist based in Paris, is writing a book about a forgotten unit of black American soldiers.
This unit spent a several months in Pontypool and the surrounding area in late 1943 and early 1944.
She began her search after one member of the unit received the Legion d’Honneur medal in France in 2009.
After this, the journalist began trying to find survivors and tracking their journey from the United States to Britain and then on to France.

She explained that these men were heavily involved in the D-Day landings, raising the barrage balloons in a protective curtain over Omaha and Utah beaches, while their medics saved scores of dying men.
But before they boarded ships and headed off to war, they spent a few happy months in and around the Pontypool area.

She said: ‘Local people welcomed them with open arms, often inviting the men to their homes.
‘Girls danced with them at the Palais de Danse on Main Street, [this should read "Crane Street"] and the GIs raised pints in the pubs alongside local men.

‘Many of the Welshmen sympathised with the black soldiers, who were treated as second-class citizens by the white American soldiers, who often abused them.

To the black soldiers, the warm welcome they received from the people of Pontypool, Abersychan, New Camp Inn, Griffithstown and other towns and villages was a revelation. . .

. . . They arrived in Wales not knowing what to expect, and to their surprise and delight they got a memorably warm reception.”

They did indeed receive a very warm reception and their colour made no difference to the people of Pontypool and they were welcomed into people’s homes.

I remember these soldiers very well indeed. As I walked along Wainfelin Road to West Mon twice a day I saw them visiting some small houses almost opposite St Alban’s church and hall, especially in the evening when I believe dances were held in the hall. There was a large yard area just in front of the houses. On one occasion when I was coming home from Boys’ Brigade with Captain Hamer, who lived in Wainfelin Avenue, quite near to School Lane, there were a dozen or so black American soldiers sitting on the wall in front of the houses chatting to some young women who were joining in the chat with some enthusiasm and giggling. Captain Hamer remarked in a very confidential tone: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some black babies around here in the near future; and he was absolutely right. However, this is not to detract from the genuine warm reception given to all ranks and colours in the American Army by both the men and women of Pontypool.

If any visitor remembers these American soldiers in Pontypool, please feel free to make a comment.

Photographs of Tirpentwys Colliery

August 16, 2014

A number of visitors have expressed an interest in Tirpentwys Colliery. I’ve received from Dot Jones some photographs of it which are published below.

The first coal extracted from Tirpentwys Colliery was in 1894. A tragic accident occurred there in 1902 when eight men and boys were killed when a winding rope broke and the cage plunged to the bottom of the shaft.

When I lived in School Lane our next door neighbour worked at the colliery. His name was George Bright and he had a wife named Clarice. Some visitors might remember him.

TirpentwysColliery

TirpentwysColliery3

TirpentwysColliery2

 

 

Photograph of original pre-war Folly Tower and visit by King Edward VII to Penygarn

August 12, 2014

Some younger visitors might not have seen a photograph of the original Folly Tower. Dot Jones sent in this shot of the tower with Dot and her friend Doreen standing just outside the doorway.

Dot&Doreen The Folly118

You can clearly see some serious cracks in the stonework above the door.

When the flower Show was held in Pontypool Market there were other competitions apart from the flowers. One was a drawing competition depicting the Folly. My brother, Garth, who was very good at art, entered a very good pencil drawing and won first prize in that section of the show.

*     *     *     *     *

Dot has also sent in a photograph of King Edward taken when he visited Pontypool in 1937. The lady waving her arms is Lyn’s mother and the man in the trilby is his father.

King Edward065

Elsewhere on this blog I have described the day when I was in Town School Infants and we all marched to the bottom of Penygarn Hill to wave our flags at the King.

Famous Pontypool people/ Robin Hood pub

August 7, 2014

I recently received an interesting email from Dot Jones who has a lot of memories of Pontypool, its places and its people. She has no objection to my using parts of her letter for a posting on this blog so here goes:

“I’ve only just stumbled across your web site and oh, what a find. My husband and I have only sampled a few of the items but look forward to reading them all in due course.  I don’t want to bore you with the following but just want to give you some background information regarding us and maybe you can use some of the comments.

I am 82 and my husband (Lyn Jones) is 85.  I (Dorothy Dobbs)  was born in Goytre and he was born in King Street, Pontypool.  At the age of 17 he joined the RAFfor 10 years,  after attending Abersychan Tech and working at Winsor’s Garage.  His father died in 1989 at the age of 92 and his mother the same year aged 89.  My mother (Sarah Webb) was born in Cwmffrwdoer and was a Maid to Jeremiah’s who kept the “Horseshoe” Pub in Pontnewynydd.  When they retired to Goytre they took my Mother with them and that is when she met my father.

Famous Persons from Pontypool – We can remember  Lyn’s parents talking about the film star, Ray Milland.  They used to go dancing at a place called “The Duck” and Reg Jones (as he was known then) would also be there. His nickname was “The Rajah”.  This place was situated at the top of Trosnant somewhere behind the Clarence Hotel. Although he was born in Neath he came to live in Pontypool and   worked in the Steel Works.  His house is no longer there but it was on the left hand side at Pontymoile.  He  joined the Household Cavalry and in later years when he was a film star he regularly visited his Aunt who lived in Prince Street. Apparently he took the surname Milland,  which referred to him working in the Mill.

Dame Gwyneth Jones (Opera Singer) who I believe now lives in Switzerland.

Robin Hood Pub – I have a photograph taken I think in the 60’s, outside the “Robin Hood” Pub which I will attach to this email. From left to right – my husband (Lyn Jones) myself (Dot Jones), ?  ?  (don’t know who these were) , Landlord (I believe), Jean Collins, Landlady (I believe), Val Cross and Betty Thomas.

RobinHoodPub060

 
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs – My husband remembers his cousin was one of the Seven Dwarfs (Peter Davies from Newport) but can’t pick his cousin out from the photograph but remembers him saying at the time – “I’m going to be a drawf”.  He lost touch with his cousin some years ago.

The “Palais” – We used to go there occasionally in the 40’s when the big bands like Ted Heath, Ray Ellington, Cyril Stapleton etc. visited but we “Goytre girls” used to go to St. Alban’s every Saturday night and that is where 4 of us met our husbands, all from Pontypool.  Myself married Lyn Jones, my sister Joan Dobbs married Ben Wilding (ex West Mon), Thea Merrick married Bill Richards (ex West Mon.) and Brenda Merrick married Mac Harris (ex West Mon.).  At the time Joan worked in Chalmer’s Chemist on the Clarence and Brenda worked in the Millinery Department in Fowler’s.

Cafes – Two of the Cafe’s we used to frequent were Gus Pelopida’s on the Clarence and Fulgoni’s in the main street.”

I expect a number of regular visitors will remember some of the people and places mentioned by Dot. Please make any relevant comments you have or email me with extra details.

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:

“WOMAN’S DEATH

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.”


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