Archive for April, 2011

Two interesting comments

April 17, 2011

Regular visitors to this blog will probably, by now, be conversant with the right hand column where the latest comments are highlighted with a symbol. If you click on one of those comments you will be taken to the relevant comment which you can then read. Just recently I’ve received, and put in the right hand column, two comments which you might find of interest.

One of these is from Peter Jeffereys of Ilfracombe who is an old Westmonian. He is mentioned in the account of the West Mon tragedy which you can read by going to:

Peter wrote to say he had come across a book called “Action Replay” by Jeffrey Hamm of Pontypool.  The book is his autobiography and Peter says he was quite surprised to find so many of the early pages of the book referring to Jeffrey Hamm’s days in Pontypool. If you click on the link in Peter’s comment you will be taken to a site where you can read the book for yourself and even download it if you wish.  (Or just click here if you wish: book)  

You might not have heard of Jeffrey Hamm but you probably will have heard of Oswald Mosely whose “Blackshirt” organisation was well known in the 1930s and 1940s. Jeffrey Hamm became Oswald Mosely’s personal secretary and his right hand man.

Jeffrey Hamm was about 12 years older than I and lived diagonally across the road from my house at 7 Wern Terrace. He lived in Brynwern, less than 100 yards away. I didn’t know him personally but I saw him from time to time when he lived there with his parents. His father at that time was an insurance agent as my own father was. Eric Smith’s father was also. Must have been a good place to find insurance agents! Jeffrey went to the Twmpath School and also West Mon.

When I was in Mr Rees’s class in Town School I remember him visiting the class on one occasion as a pupil teacher when he taught us a science lesson on how to make a telephone out of two empty tin cans and a long length of string. I enjoyed the lesson but he never returned to do any further teaching.

I always remember that, when we went up the mountain or travelled along the Crumlin Road we saw a large concrete wall which, I presume, was built to hold up the steep bank which sometimes collapsed on that road in very wet weather. Scrawled across the length of the grey wall in huge white painted letters were the words: “Help O. Mosely”. As a young lad I didn’t know what the words meant but I now wonder whether it might have been Jeffrey Hamm who painted the sign.

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The other comment in the right hand column is from Phil Jenkins and contains a link to three photographs of the ruins of The Robin Hood Inn which he took last year. There are a number of other interesting photographs on the linked site also. So far no one has sent any photographs of the Robin Hood when it was in good condition but, until I receive such a photograph, perhaps some visitors might be interested to look at the three photos available through the link. (Click here if you prefer.)

Just in case some visitors are unable to use the link I’ll copy the three photographs below. Many thanks to both Peter and Phil.

Three photographs showing the remains of the Robin Hood Inn

The Fowler family of Pontypool

April 2, 2011

It’s quite surprising how many Pontypool people have gone to live in other countries. I know that two copies of my book were sent out to former Pontypool residents who now live in Australia. Earlier this week I received an email from a member of the Fowler family, Jacqueline Yallup. She happened to come across my blog and was thrilled to see the photograph of Fowlers’ shop and the comments about it. Her emails are self explanatory so I print both of them below.


“I am researching my Fowler family. I was so excited to come across you web page and to see a picture of the Fowler drapers, wow, to see what once belonged to the family and to read the comments.

I will be spending the day reading through all your blogs to read of life around Pontypool, a dream I always hope to reach was to go and see for myself, but becoming more crippled I fear a dream that will not be realized.

My great grandmother was Kate Gwendoline Fowler, daughter of Edwin Fowler and Edith Hesket. Kate married Stanley Copley. They settled in South Africa. My grandmother was not responsive in sharing information and so I know nothing of these families.

This web page is giving me some insight into Pontypool and its people.”


I replied to the above letter and received the second email below.



“Thank you so much for your reply. I would be delighted if you could post that up and perhaps someone out there will have some information.

I was born and raised in Natal, South Africa and we moved to New Zealand six years ago. It gave me a good insight into how hard it must have been for my great grandmother, being so far from her beloved homeland and family.

Stanley Copley was a surgeon. He was sent out to South Africa during the Boer War to the military hospital at Weston, Mooi River, Natal. He fell in love with Natal and while there applied for a practice license. He was granted this and returned to Pontypool for a short while after the war. I presume to sign off from the Royal Service and get his belongings and break the news to dear Kate. He returned to Durban, where some months later Kate joined him. They married in Durban. Must have been awful for her, strange town, very wild countryside, no family. Anyway Stanley went on to do very well for himself in Durban, was a highly respected surgeon as well as assisting to develop general sanitary conditions in the growing city. He served as Mayor for a term. After Kate passed on he moved inland to the area where his daughter was, Mooi River and where he served at the military hospital. He is buried not far from where the hospital was now.

I would be so delighted if anyone can share anything with me. I have been so enjoying reading your blogs this morning.”


So if any visitors to this blog know anything about the Fowler family or if they have any more photographs of Fowlers’ shops (either “Top” Fowlers or “Bottom” Fowlers), please email me and I will pass on the information, or photographs to Jacqueline. As she is now unable to visit Pontypool, perhaps we can export some Pontypool information to her in New Zealand.