Mill Road Pontypool

A short time ago a friend gave me a copy of Brian Jenkins’ book “Mill Road” which was published in 2008. The author is about ten years younger than I so that he would have been about two years old when I started my daily five-year trek from Wainfelin to West Mon School which took me very close to Mill Road on my way to the bridge over Clarence Street station which led into Blaendare Road and thence to West Mon. I well remember the sight of the refuse tip, the gas works and the little houses down below as I walked along the pavement.


 Trosnant was well known to the people of Pontypool as the poorest and most run down area of the town. Brian describes the house at number 14 in which the family lived; the Gas Board cottage had no electricity or bathroom and looked out at a rubbish tip.

It so happened that I was to become well informed about living in Trosnant by my friend, John Payne, who came to live next door-but-one to us in School Lane. John’s family had been living in one of the larger houses in Trosnant and his father worked for the Gas Board. After completing the building of Garfield, Harry Vickery, the builder of Penywain Street, put up a pair of semi-detached houses in the field which bordered our house. I noticed that when the Paynes moved in they named their house “Trosnant”.

There was a certain degree of snobbery amongst some of the people of Pontypool who looked down their noses at the inhabitants of Trosnant. I could never understand this because John and I got on so well and spent many hours playing together. In those days the baker’s van was a common sight and many people had their daily loaf delivered to the door. This was the case in School Lane. At the top of the lane were about a dozen or so quite large houses which were well built villas. One was occupied by a well known solicitor with a practice in the town. On one occasion the baker could not get an answer at this house when trying to deliver his loaf so, as the Payne’s also bought bread from him, he asked them if he could leave the loaf at their house to be taken further up the lane by John later on in the day.

John asked me to go up with him to deliver the loaf. The lady of the house answered the door and John explained that the baker had left her loaf at “Trosnant” to be delivered later. The lady looked shell-shocked as her eyebrows reached for the sky. “Trosnant!” she echoed. “Why was it left at Trosnant?” She could hardly believe her ears until John quickly explained that it was the name of their house further down School Lane. This attitude was typical of some people in Pontypool.

Brian Jenkins’ book vividly describes the conditions his family lived in but illustrates how he and his family worked hard to overcome the conditions in which they started to live and finally moved on to better things. As the back cover of the book tells us:

     “The story takes us through the trials and tribulations of life growing up in the South Wales valleys, with the successes and failures of school, college and      work, interlinked with the joys and sadness of family life. We meet an array of wonderful and diverse characters.

     This heart-warming, tear-jerking and entertaining autobiography is a personal record of Brian’s life, not only encapsulating his wonderful memories, but showing how he has become the husband, father, grandfather and indeed the man he is now.”

When the book was published Brian was living in Coed-y-Cando Road, New Inn. When I’d read the book I tried to find his phone number to ring him up to congratulate him on his book but I think he must be ex-directory as I failed to find his number.

The book is what is generally referred to today as a human interest story and I can thoroughly recommend it to visitors to this blog who have an interest in Pontypool’s past.

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2 Responses to “Mill Road Pontypool”

  1. PETER FISHER Says:

    MY FISHER FAMILY ROOTS REVOLVE AROUND PONTYPOOL AND 9 MILL ROAD TROSNANT IN 1945 AT THE AGE OF SIX ,DUE TO MOTHERS ILLNESS & HOSPITAL,WE LIVED IN CHESTER MY FATHER WILLIAM FISHER WAS AWAY IN THE ROYAL NAVY. I WAS DISPATCED TO MILL RD INTO CARE WITH MY GRAN & CO. FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS THIS BECAME THE NORM AND I LOOKED FORWARD TO BEING SENT IN CARE OF THE GUARD FROM CHESTER TO BE COLLECTED AT PONTYPOOL CLARENCE ST FOR ALL SCHOOL HOLIDAY PERIODS THRO THE YEAR. MILL RD , TROSNANT, PONTYPOOL PARK WAS 7TH HEAVEN WITH TREASURED MEMORIES OF MY CHILD HOOD SPENT PLAYING ON THE TIP IN THE BROOK , IN THE PARK, ETC.ALAS ALL MY FAMILY CONTACTS & RELATIONS HAVE PASSED ON, AND FROM THE 1960’s we were no more in PONTYPOOL.
    HOW EVER MY MEMORIES LIVE ON, ANYTHING FROM THE PAST TO DO WITH PONTY IS FOLLOWED WITH PASSION. IT WAS ON THE WEB THAT I WAS AMAZED TO FIND YOUR BLOG ETC. MILL RD, TROSNANT TOOK MY ATTENTION, WHAT”THE BRIAN JENKINS THE PICTURE **** IS THIS THE BRIAN JENKINS? WHO WITH DAVID PHILLIPS INTRODUCED ME TO DINKY TOYS, MAKING DENS ON THE CLARENCE TIP, AND PLAYING CRICKET WITH THE TRINDERS AND MIKE SMITH,TRAIN SPOTING AT PONTYPOOL RD and GWR ENGINE SHEDS, SWIMMING AT GRIFFITHS TOWN OPEN AIR POOL AND CYCLING, FISHING THE PONDS AT THE PARK AND CATCHING CRAY FISH IN THE STREAMS, YES ITHINK THE LIKNESS IS THAT OF BRIAN JENKINS WHO LIVED 5? HOUSES DOWN MILL RD HILL.
    CAN YOU GIVE INFO WHERE I CAN OBTAIN THE BOOK PRODUCED BY BRIAN, REF MILL ROAD AND TROSNANT AND OBLIGE
    PETER FISHER

    • BRIAN JENKINS Says:

      PETER FISHER… I AM THE BRIAN JENKINS YOU KNEW CAN I HAVE YOUR PHONE NUMBER PLEASE I WOULD LOVE TO CONTACT YOU

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