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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

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

 

Cwmffrwdoer Infants School. Do you recognise anyone?

January 20, 2015

It’s always pleasing to receive emails from visitors to my blog especially when they write from other countries where they are now living. It’s amazing how far flung are some of the people who were born and brought up in Pontypool.

Just recently I’ve had some emails from Garry Taylor who lives in Portland USA. He says “Portland is a very beautiful place and in many ways the people often remind me of the Welsh- very kind, open, honest and willing to stop and pass the time of day with a conversation.”

Garry went to Cwmffrwdoer Infants and Junior School and also Twmpath. He has kindly sent me two photographs of some of the Infants children which I enclose below. Garry has also sent me the names of the children he can remember so it’s possible that some visitors might remember either themselves or a relative in one of the photographs.

If any visitors have any other photographs of Cwmffrwdoer Junior and Infants School please let me have copies in an email and I can add them in a later post. I know Garry would like to see them.

infants school

Cwmffrwdoer infants school about 1970 [ish]
Teachers, Mrs. Roper lady on right of image with white hair,, Mrs.
Cleaves sat directly behind her.
Christine Rappel, Linda Probert, Sally-Ann Price, Martin Leighton, Simon
Curzon,”Snakey” Kevin Price, Stephen Jones, Ian [or Neil] Foxwell, Sean
Edwards, Curt Hamer, Chris Williams, Lesa Jones [the daughter of the
Benny Jones who recently died], Sharon Young, Andrea Hill, Alison
Redman, Karen Osmond, Gareth Strange, Ann Rudick, Michelle Hurley, Alan
Hancock, Maxine Richards, Brenda Hanratty, Judith Read, Ian Watkins,
Andrew Gasconge, Paul Lamrick, Ian Francis, Michelle Hurley, Michele
Gittins,

infants school 2
The second image with paper flower
Ian Francis, Judith Read, Maxine Richards, Alison Redman, Dionne Nutt,
second row down, Clare Jones, Karen Osmond, Garry Taylor [me] Paul
Lamrick, and not sure,
front row, Steward Mathews, Linda Peacock, and

Anthony Taylor.

I don’t have any images from Junior School- I think the annual photo
must have been lost along with my many travels.

Photo of West Mon visit to Houses of Parliament in the nineteen fifties

January 13, 2015

I have just received from Geoff Nicolle a photograph of West Mon boys, of Six and Seven Arts, when they visited the Houses of Parliament in the nineteen fifties. I enclose it below together with some notes of the names of most of the boys in it. If anyone has any further details please make a comment.

West-Mon-6th.

On the picture are (left to right) John Rogers, Tony (Sam) St. Dalmas, Dick Cleverley, Keith Vann, J.D.Jones, Bill Jordan, John Clark, ‘Nobby’ Clark (History) – (John’s father), B.D.Jones, Roger Wood (behind Granville West (MP)), ’Oggy’ Mason, Ron Bente, Geoff Nicolle, Alan Brown, Arthur Westren, Tom Morgan, Terry Harper, Neville Cule, A.G.Davies, John Watkins, Deri Lloyd,I have forgotten the names of the one who seems to have a spot on his nose and the third on the far right, Bill Hillier, Jack Haig (Geography)

We had an interesting tour led by Granville Wes. Some boys from the Pontypool constituency went in to watch a debate. We were told they had seen and heard both Winston Churchill and Nye Bevan speak.
Afterwards Nobby took some boys to see a Shakespeare play. Our lot went with Jack to see the musical ‘Call Me Madam’.
I would be interested to see if anyone else in the picture can add more information . Sadly some of my best friends like Terry Harper, John Watkins and Arthur Westren died many years ago. I think John Rogers became a vicar. Deri Lloyd played for Pontypool R.F.C. when he was in 7Arts.

 

Old photographs of New Inn, The Grotto and West Mon School

January 11, 2015

Once again I am indebted to Craig Smith for supplying  the three photographs below. If you have any information about them please either email me or make a comment.

grotto

This is a very early photograph of the Grotto
before it was vandalised and railings
were put around it.

highway new inn

Judging by the style of the cars parked in the road
this photograph must have been taken in the 1920s.

I’m puzzled by the title: “The Highway Pontypool Road”. 
I always thought “Pontypool Road” referred to the
railway station.
Was there a road in New Inn by that name?

west mon

For visitors unacquainted with West Mon, perhaps
I should explain that, when I went there in the early
1940s, the left hand building housed
the lower aged boys; the quad is behind it and on
the far side were the boarders’ quarters.
The central building with the storm roof, housed
the swimming baths in the lower storey and the
gym on the top storey. Behind it was a large shelter
where we often assembled during break time
if it was raining. Part of the roof is just visible.
The building on the right was known as “The New
Building” and housed the laboratories and the
older boys.

An unknown Pontypool poet. Do you know him?

January 7, 2015

I am indebted to Craig Smith for sending me a copy of a poem he found when he bought a postcard on eBay. I enclose below the handwritten copy of the original poem. All we know is that the poem was written by someone with the initials H.M. and that it was written in 1935. Craig and I both think that, because of the style of the writing, the poet was probably a man. We might not be correct, of course.

The second illustration is a typed copy of the poem for ease of reading, and for the third illustration I’ve made it into an illustrated version on parchment with the idea that some visitors might be keeping a scrapbook of Pontypool, in which case they might like to use it.

If you think you know who the poet is please either email me or make a comment. He might be an ancestor of yours or a friend of the family.

A happy New Year to you all.

Screen shot 2015-01-05 at 00.21.19

 

THE FOLLY TOWER



O’er mountain breast to Folly Tower
Speed exiles’ thoughts in lonesome hour
Bold on the crest, it scorns the gale
And dominates Gwent’s fairest vale



Seven counties charms here cheer the eye
Gwent’s noblest hills point to the sky
An epic scene delights the mind
Here downcast souls can solace find

The winding Usk with silv’y sheen
Between the graceful trees is seen
Hill, field and wood in one huge page
Are here unfurled to human gaze

Rome’s cohorts bold, in days of yore
Paused here to rest, ‘ere on they bore
And on this panoramic view –
Feasted – they passed to conquests new

And from this hill since that far day
Legions have gazed – passed on – away
Their spirits cheered in this fair sphere
Faced life anew with vision clear



H.M.
(May 1935)

 Folly poem on parchment

Annual Report on this blog provided by Word Press

December 30, 2014

Each year the WordPress company which gives me the space to provide this blog
send me a report on how it has done during the year.
I thought that regular visitors might like to see a copy of the report so I’ve printed it below.

The concert hall in the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2014. If that were a concert at Sydney Opera House it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

There were 18 pictures uploaded. That’s about 2 pictures a month.

The busiest day of the year was October 16th with 380 views. The most popular post that day was Photographs of West Mon boys 1964.

The main attractions in 2014 were:
1. Pontypool’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with 1 comment.
2. Tragedy at West Mon (revised account) with 93 comments.
3. Parts of old Pontypool that have vanished with 25 comments.
4. Old photographs of Pontypool with 4 comments.
5. Murder most foul in Pontypool with 6 comments.

The most commented on post in 2014 was The G.Is. in Pontypool during the war.

The five most active commenters were:
1. Jennette (Osborne) Randall 9 comments.
2. Dot Jones 8 comments.
3. Lionel Barrel 6 comments.
4. Craig Smith 5 comments.
5. Glenys Hughes 4 comments.

Visitors came from 108 countries.

My thanks for your visits. I’d like to wish you all a very happy New Year in 2015 with my invitation to visit this blog during any day of the year.

The West Mon Annual School Quiz

December 21, 2014

While I was at West Mon from 1942 to 1947, every year on the last day of the school year we had the school quiz. Everyone had exactly the same questions no matter what the ages of the boys concerned, so it was possible for any pupil to win the prize.

All the teaching staff would take charge of a class each and the questions were called out. I can’t remember how many questions we had to answer but it took about an hour to complete the quiz. I can’t remember how the papers were marked, whether we exchanged papers and marked them that way or whether the staff did the marking. The former would have been quicker and would have enabled the winner to be announced the same day. Otherwise it would have meant that the winner would not have been known until the following term.

I have an idea that there was some sort of a prize but I can’t remember what it was. I imagine that someone must have made some sort of endowment to provide the prize but I cannot be at all sure of that.

Does any visitor remember the quiz? Did they participate and is it still happening? If anyone has any memories of this event please either email me or append a comment. Do we have a visitor who actually won the prize?

Pontypool – then and now. And Christmas greetings to all visitors.

December 19, 2014

The very idea of this blog for over the past six years has been to think about old Pontypool. At this time of year, as we draw near to Christmas, I suppose many of us tend to think about past times and past Christmases more than at any other time.

Over the last year or two I’ve been talking to friends who used to live in Pontypool in the nineteen thirties, forties and fifties, and there seems to be unanimous agreement that, during those times, we lived in more family oriented times and that life was happier and more innocent. Few mothers went out to work but they worked very hard in the home, cleaning, cooking and acting as the sheet-anchor of the family. Families were often poor but they rarely split up with the children being shared between father and mother. Some people have even said “I’m glad I lived through my childhood then. I feel sorry for the children of today.”

It was during the sixties that things started to fall apart in this country with a massive lowering of moral values. It was the time of “The Profumo Affair” with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies, whose death was announced today. I suppose today it would hardly raise an eyebrow.

Pontypool town was more cohesive; several people who still live there have told me that Pontypool has lost its soul. I cannot comment on this as I have not lived there since 1947.

So, if you still live in Pontypool or have lived there fairly recently, what is your opinion on these matters? If you have any opinion on the foregoing, please add a comment. Up to today there have been 537 comments placed on this blog; more will be welcome. For your information there has been over 180,000 hits on this blog so far and there are 139 followers who have asked to be informed whenever a new post is published.

Finally I would like to send to all visitors my sincere Christmas greetings with the following Christmas card:

Christmas cardMy best wishes for Christmas and the New Year

David Hughes

Pontypool expressions, humorous and otherwise

September 22, 2014

There were all sorts of expressions we used when I was a young boy in Pontypool. Some were the remainders of words from the Welsh language; others sound rather humorous now but we used them frequently years ago. Of course they might not have been used exclusively in Pontypool but in a wider area. I publish a few I remember below. Do any visitors remember such expressions?

Tamping    When we bounced balls up and down on the ground this was often referred to as “tamping the ball”. There was another expression tamping mad which meant that someone was extremely annoyed.

Whipper-in    This was a term applied to the man known as “the attendance officer”. If someone was thought to be away from school without any reason, the head teacher would ask the whipper-in to call at the house and if the pupil seemed to be in good health he or she would be grabbed by the whipper-in and marched to school.

Tapped    This was used when we had shoes repaired. When pupils were absent when the teacher called the resister a fellow pupil might explain “He’s getting his shoes tapped”. Another use of the expression was “He or she’s a bit tapped” meaning they were a bit crazy.

Ych-a-fi    This was an expression of utter disgust when something, or someone, was in a particularly filthy condition.

Mingy    This meant “mean”; any of our friends who bought a packet of sweets and didn’t share them was called “mingy”.

Taw    A good quality glass marble was referred to as a “taw”. We often played “following taws” down the gutter trying to hit an opponent’s marble. The one who did this kept the marble.

Right-o    This was an expression of agreement. There was a certain woman who lived in Bridge Street who was known as “Mrs Right-o”. The story went that, when she was getting married and the clergyman asked her “Do you take this man . . . etc.?” instead of saying “I do.” she replied “Right-o”.

A rather peculiar expression which I often used to hear used in Pontypool market when enquiring the price of an item was something like: “What do the cabbages run to today?”

One expression I have tried many years to find the source of and have so far failed is a word which was used by my mother. I can’t remember anyone else using it. Can any visitor enlighten me? The word was fakie. I’m not sure of the spelling but that is what it sounded like. If she knew of an implement which did a special job but couldn’t recall the name of it, she would say “Where’s that fakie for getting nails out of wood?” etc. Can anyone help with this one?

Of course, many of these expression might still be used in Pontypool. Visitors who still live there will know.

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.


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