Parts of Old Pontypool that have vanished

It’s only natural for any town to evolve. Buildings get old, outdated and no longer of use and are then demolished. This has happened in Pontypool. I looked on a street map of the town recently to find Moreton Street and discovered it had vanished and now has another name.

From time to time I receive emails that ask about old Pontypool and some of its residents in an effort to find out what happened to them. These emails are not usually put on this blog, but I do what I can to help the senders.

Just a few days ago I received an email from Jan Davey about things that happened some time before I was bornl, so, initially I was unable to help.  Below I quote Jan’s email:

Dear David, just been reading some of your articles and messages regarding yours and others memories of Pontypool and wondered if you could help me in my quest for information. My mother Violet Taylor was born in Pontypool in 1920 at 9 Gibsons Square. She attended Town School between 1925 -1934 with her bother and sisters. Her father was a war Veteran and fought at the Battle of Rorkes Drift and was wounded as a result. Due to his injuries ( a spear hole through his leg) and ill health he was unable to work in the latter years of his life and so himself and his family had to survive on the small disability pension he received from the army. At some point between 1922 and 1935 (when he died) they moved to 8 Fairfield, Pontypool.  David I have been trying to find out exactly where these places were situated but havent been very sucessful to date. Obviously they no longer exist but I wonder if anyone could provide any information regarding either or both of the addresses?  My mother rarely talked about her home life and and am starting to wonder if she may have been embarrased about their living conditions. The reason behind my thinking mainly comes from information I have recently gained from a long lost Aunt. The last property they lived in at 8 Fairfields she described as being down by the park, and near to the river. i think she also said it was behind where the old Labour Exchange and Post Office were? She described the house as having a rounded roof similar to that of a Nissan hut?  Where could these houses have come from because I cannot find any info relating to them other than from what my aunt described – damp and run down! When making enquiries locally an elderly lady said that she remembered some properties down by the area I described as being called Tin Town.  Could they have been ex-army accommodation been left over from the WW1?

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.   Many Thanks in anticipation.   Jan Davey

Fortunately my friend, Eric Smith, who has lived in the Pontypool area all his life, was able to help. Apparently Fairfield is that area to the left after crossing the river bridge just past the Park Cinema. When I lived in Pontypool it was generally referred to as “The Fairground”. It was just past the Labour Exchange and was a quite large flat area covered in a mixture of earth and ashes. I think there are some new houses built there now. The roads are Park Road and Church Wood Road.

I remembered the name “Tin Town” which I heard my father use. I assume it was a nickname. Eric informed me that it was a row of houses built specifically for workers at the Town Forge Tinplate Works. I don’t know whether this was the reason for the “Tin” name or whether it was because some of the buildings had “tin”, that is corrugated iron, roofs. If you are standing with your back to the Park Cinema you can walk across the road and into a lane which leads to the Town Forge. It’s a dead end but I seem to remember some steel steps near the Forge which led up onto Osborne Road. The name of the present road is Forge Lane.

Eric told me that he didn’t know the whereabouts of Gibson’s Square, but today he phoned again to say that a neighbour of his in New Inn, who had been in the same class at Park Terrace School, had just told him that it was at Trevethin somewhere between the church and the Italian Gardens. The square was demolished  before the new estate was built at Trevethin. When I was in the Cubs we met in a room above the arch where the Pontypool Museum now is, but, on one occasion we were taken up to the Italian Gardens and sat around our camp fire. I remember seeing several red squirrels in the trees.

If any visitor to my blog has any information about Violet Taylor, please get in touch ( email:  david.hughes43@ntlworld.com ) and I shall pass on the information to Jan. Also if anyone has any photographs of any of the places mentioned above I’m sure she’d like to see a copy of them. They can be included in an email as a jpeg file.

 

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29 Responses to “Parts of Old Pontypool that have vanished”

  1. Clive Barnby Says:

    I think Gibson Square was the area – largely derelict in my youth – between East View and the end of The Broadway. At one time there was a pub there – the Masons Arms – & a lane of cottages. Of course, there may have been a Gibson Square in Trevethin.

  2. Harold R Clarke Says:

    Not sure if this is the right place on blog for this I don’t expect anyone alive today to have used the roller skating rink in Pontypool but like me have they heard of it from parents my father talked of using it and it was located below lower Fowlers streching back towards the market of course Fowlers is used by others now last time I was in the town it was S.W.E I never heard anyone else talk of this Father said it was a very good rink but was talking many years after using it so how good not sure

  3. Terry Stundon Says:

    From the little research that I have done so far, Gibson’s Square (Along with Gibson’s Lane) is within Pontypool itself and probably near the East View area.
    It should be remembered that Pontypool, for the purposes of Parish reords, was a part of Trevethin and this can lead to cofusion.

    http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Place:Pontypool_Registration_District,_1891_Census_Street_Index_G-I

  4. Terry Stundon Says:

    Hi Jan, I don’t know if this means anything to you but there is a Private Frederick Taylor (B Company), previously of The Monmouthshire Militia, listed as a survivor in the Rorke’s Drift role of honours.

  5. Clive Barnby Says:

    I dont have any recollections of my mother’s family (my father was from Cwmbran) mentioning a roller skating rink, I’m afraid. However, prompted by Harold’s comment, does anyone remember if there were livestock pens – going from Crane street near “Top Fowler’s” into Market street – were there some behind the Wheatsheaf? Between there & the railway, perhaps where the police station now is? There wasnt (in my day, at least) a working livestock market in Pontypool but I seem to remember some disused animal pens. But it was a long time ago & maybe memories & imaginings are getting mixed up . . . so wondered if anyone could confirm this . . . or otherwise.

  6. Terry Stundon Says:

    Hi Clive.
    I’ve upped a photo of the “Blue Boar Field” (Which was where the market now stands) as it lends some credence to your thoughts.
    You can see it here:

  7. Terry Stundon Says:

    Fairfield is behind St John’s Church and adjacent to Bushy Park in Wainfelin.

  8. Terry Stundon Says:

    The cattle market was around about where the Unemployment Office/County Court/Tax Offices now stand.

  9. Clive Barnby Says:

    Thanks, Terry, for making available the photo of the Blue Boar field, & for the info on the cattle market. I think that rings a bell & that I have read that somewhere, perhaps Chris Barber’s history of Torfaen. Maybe there was an outdoor market for smaller livestock such as pigs & sheep, where I’ve suggested, around by the current police station, or maybe it is a figment of my imagination !!

  10. haroldclarkciob@btinternet.com Says:

    it is possible that a small market was were the police station is now as I remember an area of land thier that was used for car parking behind that a very neglected orchard which went right through to the houses beyond I cannot recall what my mother was talking about at the time but I do recall something about blue boar feild she came to Pontypool early 1920s so I would think it was used for something around that time

  11. Clive Barnby Says:

    Arthur Crane et al’s “Pontypool’s Heritage” refers to there being a number of pubs on the Sowhill in 1911. These include the Labour in Vain, Forge Hammer, Colliers Arms, Wellington (the “Sali”), The Bell & The Bush. They (the buildings) were all (at least) standing the last time I was in the area apart from The Bush which I remember was opposite the Colliers, perhaps a little bit further down towards The Bell.

    The book also refers to The Oak, Victory & Noah’s Ark, none of which I remember. Dont know where they were, dont know if one of these would be the name Harold was searching for in one of his earlier comments – one of the pubs his father had mentioned to him as being near the Masons Arms. Or possibly they were in the area of Brynwern, Wern Terrace &c, demolished to make way for those developments. Would be interested if anyone remembers these or knows where they were.

    Neither the Masons Arms nor the Six Bells which was, apparently, adjacent to The Bell, are mentioned as still trading in 1911 though the buildings, or some remains of them, may have been there for some years.

  12. Ray Denham Says:

    Interesting to see Jan’s email. My wifes grandmother was living at 9 Gibsons Lane in the 1891 census

  13. Clive Barnby Says:

    More on pubs . . . In an earlier comment to a contribution, I did refer to a no. of pubs that had been on the Sowhill, including the Noah’s Ark, & wondered if anyone had any info. I’ve received a copy of a photo from an Allan Everson which shows some of the reg’lars of the Noah’s Ark, apparently in the 1930s. The pub was opposite The Bell. I guess it was on the corner of the Coe’ca’. I have a vague memory of a derelict or demolished property there

  14. lyn jones Says:

    i believe the victory was in region of the high st opp old frankettys fish shop,and a small item reguarding it appeared some years ago in free press ,re a sailor from nelson days, opening it with his mother who apparentley went to portsmouth to meet him, and was taken on board his ship in bosuns chair

    • Jeannette (Osborne) Randall Says:

      Jeannette Randall of Northants. Lyn you are quite right The Victory pub was opposite Francetti’s to the left of the Donkey Steps and I lived there with my parents in 1941/2 . It had been converted to a private dwelling and my father rented it when we were bombed out in Coventry. My father was Tom Osborne of a large Osborne family living in Osborne Road. I believe they were bakers and confectioners and had a small restaurant in Osborne Rd near the Post Office. In 1942 my father who worked for Joseph Lucas/Girling was allocated a bungalow at Llantarnam in Cwmbran where I lived for 8 yrs, attending St Albans Convent in the Park. Oh Happy days

  15. Clive Barnby Says:

    I recall there was a patch of ground by Franketti’s where, clearly, there had been a building. I think it was just at the entrance to Crumlin street from Bridge street. Maybe this was the site of the Victory?

  16. Trixie Says:

    My interest in Pontypool comes from my Mother, she was born in George St. at the time of a visit to the street when I was a small child the ground where the house stood was just a piece of scrub land. My Mother’s family where Phillips, my Grandfather Major Phillips died in 1917 in WW! on the battle field. One of my Mum’s cousins also lived on George St. he was born in London and went back to live there he died at 48 George St. in 1974. Were there any
    back to back houses there as I remember a row of homes which were facing a very tall wall and though there was a front door there
    wasn’t a back one. I don’t know exactly the who the family we visited were but i am presuming they were family Phillips. My Grandparents Major (Magor) and Florence lived also on Torfaen Tce, at that time
    my Grandfather had died and Florence was married to Edward Grant.
    Trixie Farndon

  17. Alistair Says:

    Back in 68 I remember a Hut in the park by the town hall bus stop. There was a fire inside and normally a bunch of older gents reading their papers and passing time. When I came back to ponty in 93 I was dismayed to find it wasn’t there because I was going to sit out of the wind while waiting for the bus.

    Anyone know what happened to it and when?

  18. M Joseph Says:

    My mother Doreen Bustin (as was) lived in the Broadway. I remember visiting my gran there and catching the bus home to Newport at Forgehammer. Does anyone know where I can view photos of either?

    • clive barnby Says:

      Any relation to Malcolm Bustin? Played for Pontypool a season or so late 60s. Think he lived somewhere along the High Street possibly near the Forgehammer pub. The latter was still standing last time I was in Pontypool tho’ the rest of the “old side” of North Road & Moreton Street gone. I think there is a picture of the pub in one of the “Old Pontypool” pictorial books but it is a relatively recent photograph. There may be something of Broadway in one of them, tho’ it is probably one of the areas that has changed least.

      • Stephanie Says:

        Hi Clive,

        I have just been reading through these comments and noticed you’d mentioned a Malcolm Bustin. Is this Malcolm John Bustin? (Also known as Percy). He is a close relation of mine and I would be grateful for any information you would be willing to share regarding his whereabouts.

        Many thanks
        Steph

      • Michael Joseph (son of Doreen Bustin) Says:

        I have not heard of a Malcolm Bustin in our family but it is an unusual name. Perhaps he was a son of one of my mother’s step brothers or sisters. Do you know his parents names?

  19. Mike Says:

    I wonder if anyone could help me. I am tracing part of my family in Pontypool. My great uncle was William(Billy) Ford. He married Olive West in 1924 and had 4 children – Raymond Colin Ford, Brenda Ford, Betty Ford and Billy Ford. I am hoping that Brenda is still alive. She married Sam Hewitt in 1960 – if anyone knows her please can you let her know I an trying to trace her.
    Originally My great aunt Olive was from Brewery Row in Pontypool – does anyone have a clue where that was?

  20. Terry Stundon Says:

    Brewery Terrace was just below the top entrance to Malthouse Lane. The Fords are alive and well in Pontypool.

  21. Robert Says:

    Tracing my family history in Pontymoile. George Alfred Robotham was my grandad. Does anyone remember Barrack Row or the Inn on Pontymoile Front?

  22. Gordon james Says:

    I was born in pontymoile,lived at old Bailey,went to pontymoile primary and then to tympanum sec mod,left school at 14 worked at panteg steel in finishing and roughing,called up national service Swb in Brecon then to Germany came back home and migrated to Australia with my mate Wally Norman from the race sadly Wally passed away 9/2/2016,would like to hear from any one who knew us regards gordon

  23. Carolyn Edmunds Says:

    Hi,
    I started life in pontypool with my parents first home being 1 Market St. Then moving to Trevethin until I was five when my sister was born, then we moved on to Cwmbran.
    I was born in 1961 but I have lots of memories of that time we lived in Pontypool. As my father was raised in Jubilee Terrace and my Mother in Garndiffaith.I can remember the hut by the bus stop and looking over the railings at the fountains.I can also remember the Clarence bus stop and was still using the bus service to and from there up until the time it had closed.Can any one remember the Steam Trains that used to run through Pontypool I can remember being at my Grand Parents house in Jubilee Terrace and waving to the drivers as they went past at the bottom of the very long garden my grandparents had,and the outside toilet that was right down the bottom too!
    The houses are gone now as are the steam trains and the little hut the Clarence and the days of nice times we grew up in but memories will always stay, I found your web site looking for Panteg Hospital and I am so glad I did.
    I thank you for this opportunity to remember and share only a small fraction of my childhood memories.
    Kind Regards,
    Carolyn Edmunds, nee Banner.

  24. carol Says:

    im doing my family tree and have just got a wedding cert from great grandparents, the writing is terrible. Their place of residence at the time of the marriage was Gainddiffaeth or Gaind diffaith or words to that effect. they married in a chapel ibenegen the words are very difficult to read. Does anyone have any clue. It was in 1855

  25. Gordon james Says:

    Is there anyone who can remember anything about pontymoile, I lived in old Bailey,and remember Ruters,hfb bakery,mission hall etc.would loved to hear from anyone please.thanks regards Gordon James .

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