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.


Do you remember Barbara Davies of Pontypool?

October 27, 2015

I’ve received yet another enquiry about a person who lived in Pontypool in the sixties; this time from Beryl Kennedy. I’ve highlighted some of the descriptions she gives hoping they might ring a bell with someone who might recollect the place.

I’m trying to locate my aunt who lived in pontypool in the 60 when I last visited her home I remember she lived down a steep path with a wall around where there was a tap in the wall where I used to drink loads of water from as it tasted lovely her name was Barbara not sure of her married name but maiden name was Davies I remember her front garden (or even back) was very steep. There was a hill by her house that had sheep roaming. She had a daughter Stephanie and 2 more children. I would love to know if she is still alive and where this is she lives as I’m longing to come there one day to see her hopefully and where she used to live. Grateful for any help you can give.

Please make a comment if you have something relevant. I’ve already received 117 comments. Another one from you will be welcome.

Was “Gibson Square” and “Gibson Steps” the same place?

October 20, 2015

Last week I received an email from Eric Deigon who has ancestors who lived at Gibson Steps. I append below his email enquiring about this matter. If any visitors know anything about the people mentioned please make a comment.

“I have recently come across your blog about Reminiscences of Old Pontypool, in my search for information about my great-grandmother and two half-great-uncles who lived in Pontypool, and I have a question for you about where they lived.  Do you know anything about an address of 2 Gibson’s Steps in Pontypool?  I know that this relates to information before your time, but perhaps you can still help.  Sorry for the long email about this.

I have been searching for years for information about this part of my family, and only recently got a breakthrough when a relative who was also researching the family history got a new clue.  I knew from my father that my great-grandmother (born Abigail Wakeman in London, and later named Abigail Schwartz and Abigail Gibbs by marriage) had married again after her second husband Joseph Gibbs had died, and that she had gone on to have two sons, one of whom had died in World War 1.  My father had thought that their surname had been King, but that has turned out to be wrong, and is where the story becomes complicated.

It turns out that Abigail was married to an Edward Evans, and their older son (also named Edward) was killed in WW1 in 1914 at age 17.  Edward Evans Sr., however, also went by another name, John Williams (or John William) under which name he enlisted into the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1914 at age 39, giving an address of 2 Gibson Steps, Pontypool.

In a Google search, the only other reference I can find to Gibson Steps or Gibson’s Steps in Pontypool is this:

EVANS, EDWARD, Private, No. 1682,2nd Battn. Monmouthshire Regt. (T.F.),
elder s. of the late Edward Evans, by his wife, Abigail (2, Gibson’s Steps, High
Street, Pontypool); b. Cardiff, 2 7 Oct. 1897; educ. National School there;
enlisted early in 1912, and was killed in action in France, 30 Dec. 1914. Capt.
L. P. A. Rolls wrote : ” Your son had been my servant ever since the beginning
of Oct., when we were in Northampton, and had been with me till he met his
death. I cannot tell you what a good willing lad he was in all that he did for me.
He was killed like so many other—nobly doing his duty in the trenches.”

So this fits the connection with my family.  And then I came across notes on your blog about Gibson’s Square and Donkey Steps, so I wondered if there was some connection of Gibson’s Steps to this area. 

Thank you for any insights you can provide!”

Pontypool choirs in the 1930s

September 16, 2015

Back in the 1930s the entertainment on offer was limited; there were cinemas of course but we had to pay to visit those; the wireless was free, once you’d bought it and were prepared to pay the annual licence fee of £1. The BBC was set up in 1922 so it was a fairly new experience.

As a result there was quite a lot of local amateur entertainment put on by churches, Sunday Schools, Brotherhoods, and youth organisations etc. I remember that at Park Terrace Methodist Church there was the annual Sunday School Anniversary with three services on the day during which the scholars sang and recited. There were generally a few “socials” during the year, such as the Harvest Social which took place on the Monday after the harvest services. There was a small charge to attend in order to raise church funds.

Some of the major events were put on by the two Pontypool Choirs: the Pontypool Choral Society and the Pontypool Male Voice Choir each having well over 50 members. Recently, while sorting out my collection of thousands of photographs I came across two photos of these organisations which I include in this post. If you can identify anyone please either make a comment or email me.

Pontypool Choral Society

Pontypool Choral society

Both my parents belonged to this choir. My father is in the seated row third from left and my mother is immediately in front of him. The only member I recall them talking about was George Ashman. One of his relatives might identify him if he is in the photo.

Pontypool Male Voice Choir

Pontypool Male Voice Choir

My father was also in this choir and is seated in the front row third from right. If any visitor knows anything about either photo I’d be pleased to hear about it.

Do you remember Alfred William Hart or his Pontypool friends?

July 24, 2015

I’ve just received an email from Kate Tressider who also provided me with a photograph of six young men, one of whom is her Great Uncle Alf. Below I reproduce her email and also a copy of the photograph. If you recognise anyone on it please either make a comment or email me and I will pass on the information.


Dear David,

I came across your wonderful website and thought I would send you an email. I have a very long line of ancestors from Pontypool and the surrounding areas, dating way back to the 1800s. I have recently been researching my family history, and have found, among many other things, the attached photograph. 

The photograph is of my Great Uncle (Alfred William Hart – pictured on the top right hand corner, turned slightly inwards, with the striped hat on) He was born in 1922, so I would estimate that this photograph was taken between 1934-1940…  I would love to know if there is anybody who recognises the other people in the photograph, or if they have surviving ancestors. My Great Uncle was known as Alf to his friends; sadly he died in the Second World War on 8th June 1944; he volunteered to join the Royal Navy in 1943. He had an older sister, Irene, who was born in 1920. They lived at 19 Crumlin Street (Pontypool) with their grandparents.

I would be very grateful if this could be added to your website perhaps? Let me know if there is any other information that you think would be helpful – and apologies that I can’t provide much more at the moment.

Thanking you very much in advance,

Best wishes,

Alfie and friends

Newspaper article about Pontypool synagogue

July 18, 2015

I’ve recently been sent a link to a newspaper article about the Pontypool synagogue. If you have the facilities you can view the article using this link:

However, if you do not have such facilities, here is a photograph of the newspaper article:

Newspaper article

Do you remember a synagogue in Pontypool?

July 3, 2015

Do you remember a synagogue in Pontypool?

I recently received an email from C.J.Welsh who is researching his family history. He’s found some interesting sites about Jewish families in Wales. Here is a quote from one of the sites (JCR-UK) in question:

‘On page 46 of the book edited by Ursula R.Q. Henriques, The Jews of South Wales, Historical Studies (1993) there is a map of Jewish settlements. Those places which had a synagogue are underlined. It appears to be complete but  for short periods at any rate two other places had synagogues; these were at Pontypool and at Neath. I was alerted to these two by letters printed in the Jewish Chronicle, in 1867 and 1868. They were written by Henry D. Marks, of Cardiff, and were based on his visits to various places in South Wales.  In the first letter, referring to Pontypool, printed in the JC on 1 March 1867, p. 6, he noted that  the congregation was very small ‘consisting, in fact, of three families only, with sufficient males to form a “minyan” .’  He went on: ‘I am proud to say they consecrated a place of worship for themselves last week, and have engaged the services of Rev. D. Rosenthal, who acts as Hazan [in Hebrew] and Shochet [in Hebrew], and Teacher to their children’. The consecration took place on 10 February  1867. The writer, Henry Marks, noted that the opening of the synagogue was due to the efforts of  Rev. Nathan Jacobs of Cardiff who also gave ‘a most thrilling and appropriate sermon on the occasion’, which was reported in a copy of  ‘a local periodical’ which he had included with his letter to the editor. This was the Pontypool Free Press of 16 February – a copy of which I obtained through the good offices of the Archivist of the  Gwent Record Office. It contained a very full report of the consecration, amounting to several thousand words. The building was one which had been occupied by Mr Philip Hambleton, a builder and farmer, who appears in the 1851 Census as living in Wain House. The newspaper report stated that the two upper rooms had been ‘thrown into one’  and in the centre was a reading desk, opposite which was the Ark containing a Sepher Torah. ‘A portion of the room is railed off for the accommodation of the female members’.

C.J.Welsh also says:

“The Census records of Jewish families in Pontypool at that time throw up the surnames Solomon (pawnbroker), Bloom (pawnbroker), Jacobs (jewellery pedlar), and Crawcour.”

If any visitors have any of these surnames or can remember anything about the Pontypool synagogue, please make a comment or email me. I just wonder whether Wain House might have been in the Wainfelin area.

Pontypool people. Do you recognise any relatives?

May 10, 2015

I’ve recently received some emails from Julia Jones who is the daughter of my wartime schoolfriend, John Paine who is mentioned in some of my posts. Julia has been sorting through some family photographs and has sent some to me for this blog.

One school photo contains a photograph of her uncle Frank Paine when he was in school, probably in Town School, but possibly George Street School. Julia says:

“I have been looking through some old family photos and have come across the following which may be of interest to some of your followers. 
The photo of the school children is I think of George Street School sometime in the latter half of the 1930’s.I have tried to attach the names to some of the faces but the only ones I can be certain of is that of my uncle, Frank Paine, and Margaret Booth Frost.”

Julia says in a second email about the same photo:

“Frank’s date of birth was May 1925, this seems to date the photo more towards the early thirties. I think they started school about four or five years of age. The sign in front says Babes 2. I expect this was the infant class.”

School photo

This could be George St School or Town School.
The names might be too small to read, but from left to right they are:
Frank Paine, Les Haines, Malcolm Durham, Charlie Phillips,
Billy Jones, L.F.Vaisey, Ivor Morgan, Doug Smith, Harold Gardener.
Betty Griffiths, Thelma Haddock, Margaret Booth Frost, Edna Young.
Hazel Jones, Flossie Edwards. Holding sign “Babes 2”.

 Frank 1

Frank Paine as army despatch rider

Mr Pearson & 3 friends

Mr T.B.Pearson (in dark clothes) with three friends and car.
Mrs Paine was Mr Pearson’s housekeeper at “Trosnant” in School Lane.

If you recognise anyone in any of the photos please either email me or make a comment. A lot of visitors to this blog are researching their families so some useful information might arise.

Cwmffrwdoer Infant School – a commemorative plate with an illustration

March 25, 2015

Recently I’ve received an email from Stuart Baldwin regarding the Cwmffrwdoer Infant School. He says:

 “Following your recent blogs on Cwmffrwdoer Infant School and my clear confusion (even though I attended the school) as to it being located in Pontnewynydd, the picture I have sent confirms it in my mind, this plate I have walked under many time as it hung on my Nan’s wall but never really took in what was written on the plate, sadly now the plate is in my possession as my Nan sadly passed away recently, but thought it right to e-mail the pic of this commemorative plate which is linked to some of your recent blogs.”

I attach a copy of the plate below as some visitors have asked whether a picture of the school was available. The one on the plate is a stylised sketch but it will be of interest to those who knew it.

cwmffrwdoer plate

The plate

Do you know anything about Joan Baldwin living in a miner’s cottage in Garndiffaith 1920s – 30s

March 14, 2015

I have just received the following email from Stephen Burnham.
If you can help please leave a comment as time is now short.

I have just been browsing your excellent site Reminiscences. …and I was wondering if you could help me with my enquiry.
My wife and I are travelling from Norwich to Garndiffaith on the 23rd March and will be staying in Usk for two nights.
We are looking for the place where her late mother Joan Baldwin b.1926 grew up.
We know she lived in a miner’s cottage in Garndiffaith.
We have since been informed by a surviving relative that the cottages have been demolished.Apparently there is now a new Co-op and housing estate where the cottages once stood.
Her cousin has mentioned a name that sounds like Aberystruth.
We don’t want to waste petrol travelling round half of Monmouthshire.
Thank you for taking the time to read my lengthy email.
I would appreciate any help you may have.
Good luck with your site.
Many thanks
Stephen Burnham

100-year-old photo of Cwmffrwdoer Infants School

March 1, 2015

I have just received a photograph (printed below) from Leslie Chisholm of Toronto. She has sent me a photograph of Class 1A at Cwmffrwdoer Infant School taken in or about 1910. Her mother is in the photograph. I estimate that there must be at least 33 children in the class, possibly more. I wonder how many infants teachers today would like to teach a class of that size. The little girl in the front row proudly holding up her slate board has the name of the class written on it.

I found the photograph wonderfully evocative; it is, of course, over 100 years old but some of the items I remember from my own school days in the 1930s, such items as the tortoiseshell stove and the wooden black “slates” both of which I’ve referred to elsewhere in this blog.

Leslie is planning a visit to the area in April and wants to take some photographs. I understand that a new school has been built on the site. If anyone has any information, especially names, of anyone in this photograph or has any information or photographs of the old or new school, please either email me or make a comment on this blog. Any information I receive by email I shall pass on to Leslie.

Infant School

Cwmffrwdoer Infants School class 1A



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