More news about Gibson’s Square

It’s always a bit of a thrill when someone either emails or phones me with some information or some memory of Pontypool which I knew nothing about or had almost forgotten; a few words and the memory comes flooding back. So I was very pleased to receive from Clive Barnby, in this morning’s post, copies of photographs of the Bell Inn, Pontypool and also of the Mason’s Arms which was in the vicinity of Gibson’s Square. I’m inserting below the photograph of the Mason’s Arms.


The Mason’s Arms, Pontypool. This was somewhere near Gibson’s Square.

By way of explanation about the photographs I quote below Clive’s letter:

“I’m sending you (in the post) a copy of a picture of what is thought to be the Masons Arms pub & Gibson’s Square. It’s from “Pontypool’s Heritage” (Vol 2) by Arthur Crane, Bernard Derrick & Edward Donovan. To the left of the pub, there is a remaining cottage/s (one or two appear demolished) which, I think, may be Gibsons Lane. There is also a map in the book which shows the Masons Arms on the left side of High Street (looking towards the Bell Pitch) & it looks as if it was on the corner of what is now East View with High Street, or it could have been on East View itself as it predates the latter.

The map shows there may have been some buildings – perhaps more cottages in Gibson’s Square – running along the end of The Broadway opposite (I think) the Six Bells Inn (as distinct from The Bell). As I’ve indicated, in my boyhood the Gibsons Square area was almost completely derelict – there were remains of a wall at the High Street end of The Broadway, and opposite remains of a wall (presumably of the Six Bells) between the “Donkey Steps” and The Bell. I’m told that during the War there was an air raid shelter or something on the old Gibsons Square site, & after the War children used to play in this, but I have no memories of it. It had perhaps gone by the 1950s when I was a child & would have wandered down that way. There is now a house on the site, & the area looks quite small – difficult to imagine it having accommodated a pub & a no. of dwellings, but perhaps Gibsons Square covered part of what is now East View and The Broadway, & was demolished to make way for those developments in (I would guess) the early 1920s.”

Like Clive, I have no memory of an air raid shelter on the site of Gibson’s Square but my friend Eric Smith tells me that he does remember one which was built further back than the site where the houses were, that is towards Gibson’s Lane . My memory of that area around the Donkey Steps was one of derelict buildings. To the left of the steps going up, the buildings were almost completely demolished having little more than their foundations remaining. Further to the left, lining the Bell Pitch, and just above the Bell, there were a few houses with their shells still intact but completely ruined inside. We often went inside to play, despite being told it was dangerous, and it was still possible to go up the stairs into the bedroom areas.

On the other side of the Donkey Steps were other wrecked buildings with the odd foot or two of walls standing. This is probably why I now remember the few houses in Gibson’s Square; they were the only ones in good condition and occupied. Incidentally, I often wonder who Gibson was.

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2 Responses to “More news about Gibson’s Square”

  1. judith rainbow Says:

    Do you know anything about the SIX BELLS PUB in Stanley Road Abersuchan and possible who Evan Davies would be who owned houses in the area around 1881

  2. Julia rees Says:

    Are you thinking of the Six Bells, Stanley Road, Garndiffaith? It was originally built as a halt on the local line. It has been closed, and I think demolished. A lot of the Garn was redeveloped in the 60s.

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