Archive for October, 2012

Pontypool traders in the 1930s. Part 3

October 29, 2012

This is the final posting on the traders in Pontypool who advertised in the Pontypool Official Guide of 1924:

Page 47

Page 48


Page 49


Page 50


Inside back cover


Back cover

There is no publication date on this booklet. The only reason I have been able to date it is that it has an advert on page 48 of the events about to take place at the National Eisteddfod which was held in 1924.

Pontypool traders in the 1930s. Part 2

October 28, 2012

Here is the second lot of businesses which were trading in Pontypool in the 1930s, as advertised in the 1924 “Pontypool Official Guide”.

Page 32


Page 34


Page 36


Page 38


Page 39


Page 40


Page 41


Page 42


Page 43

Two of the above I remember well are Ivor Jones who, as you can see, also stocked Pontypool Japan Ware, which was something of a rarity, and Parkhouse. The next posting will be the last from the Pontypool Official Guide.



Pontypool traders in the 1930s. Part 1.

October 26, 2012

One thing I’ve learned from writing this blog is that long distance memory can sometimes play funny tricks. When Roy Davies mentioned the cobbler’s shop in George Street I seemed to remember such a shop thereabouts, but after reading John Owen’s comment I very distinctly recall Sharp’s shop in Crane Street, just about opposite the lower entrance to the market. His mention of rabbit elastic reminded me of a few occasions when I went there to buy some to make a catapult. I also remember looking longingly at the airguns in the window and knowing that I’d never have enough money to buy one.

As I was thinking about this jogging of my memory, I remembered an old guidebook I have on Pontypool published in 1924 and which has a number of adverts by traders in the town. 1924 was the year the Welsh National Eisteddfod was held in Pontypool; it’s possible that it was the reason for the publication of the guidebook. The book is a small landscape format 50 page document and I was able to track it down quite quickly in my archives.

I thought that visitors to this blog might recall some of the traders, and, as their addresses are given in the adverts, there can be no doubt about where they were. There are several pages of notes about the history of Pontypool and a guide to places in or near the town. One interesting fact I noticed was that the population of Pontypool in 1921 was only 25,000.

Of course I don’t want to bore viewers with a great long list of the printed adverts, so I’ll publish them in three different posts. I know that some visitors to this blog are members of the families which ran these businesses. If there are any more I’d be glad to hear from them.

The front cover of the guide

First advert inside the cover


Page 1


Page 2


Page 3


Page 4


Page 5


Page 6


Page 7

Well, that’s all for this posting. I’m sorry that some of the adverts are not quite straight but it was difficult to scan them using a folded book. I’ll post part 2 in a day or two. Meanwhile if you have anything interesting to say about any of the above traders, please get in touch or leave a comment.


Sharp’s cobbler’s shop and Brimfield’s van, Pontypool.

October 24, 2012

I recently received an email from Roy Davies which jogged my memory about a few things. This is what he says:

“I have been going back in time, as it were, since finding your site, quite often. My father, Ernest “Curly” Davies, in common I imagine with most other working class men, used to repair our shoes himself. He’d send one of us down to “Sharpies” shop in George street, Pontypool, just above the Royal cinema for a piece of leather and tacks.

                 “Sharpy” was Cyril Sharp, cobbler and seller of all things sporting from tennis racquets to longbows, and slings to knives, a fascinating shop. Inside, behind the counter, was a mound of stuff that seemed to be just thrown there. But, if you came to collect something that your dad wasn’t able to repair, they were always in that mound. Without fail Cyril would pick them out immediately. Lovely place to visit.

                  The mobile business I referred to was Brimfield’s. He had a van, quite like nothing seen locally. The body of the van was fitted out with glass fronted boxes and inside was all manner of hardware, from tap washers, complete taps and just about everything a house would need.  At the rear of the van were taps from which paraffin was dispensed into copper measuring jugs.The van was always immaculate, clean and polished.

                   Both Cyril and the Brimfields lived along Wainfelin Road. The Brimfields had a yard on the left side just as you rounded the bend and came to the straight with the chip shop on the far end on the right,

                   I wonder if there are any photos of the van . . . would be interesting.”  

Painting of George Street, Pontypool. Sharp’s cobbler’s shop would be
slightly off this picture, on the left but a little further up the street.

I remember Sharp’s shop though I didn’t go in there all that often. But I remember Brimfield’s van very well indeed as I lived in School Lane, Wainfelin, not far away. My friend John Paine and I were friendly with John Brimfield who was a year or so younger than us. I remember the store house in the yard next to the Brimfield’s house. There was a huge gallery made of strips of 2×1 inch timber and on these were all the carpets they used to sell. In the middle was a hollow part which we used as a sort of den. John Brimfield used to go into the house and pinch a few of his father’s cigarettes out of his tin of 50. These were quite common during the war when men in the forces, especially sailors, were supplied with the tins of 50 quite cheaply. We used to smoke the cigarettes secretly and out of view in our den amongst the carpets.

Wainfelin Road, Pontypool. Brimfield’s yard would be behind the white
 in the centre of the picture. Brimfield’s house is the white one
with a
 window showing. It was almost directly opposite
Wainfelin Post Office

Pontypool pets during wartime

October 18, 2012


A.R.P. or Air Raid Precautions was a term known to everybody during the war. I remember an issue of  Wills’s cigarette cards which dealt with the subject. There were also a number of small booklets which dealt with various aspects of A.R.P. such as how to operate a strirrup pump to deal with small fires and so on.

Air Raid Precautions cigarette cards

But there is one little booklet that is not so well known and that was the one telling us what we should do with our pets and other animals during an emergency. It advised that dogs should be muzzled when they were in a domestic shelter as they might become frenzied at the noise of bombs exploding and the sound of anti-aircraft gunfire. It was made clear that neither dogs nor cats would be allowed in a public shelter. I was reminded of the effect of explosions on dogs some years ago when we had a collie bitch. During the evening of Guy Fawkes night she would try to get up on our laps; she hated the noise.

We were surprisingly informed in the booklet that horses and cows would not be affected by tear gas because their eyes are less sensitive that ours.

If you were driving a horse at the time of an air raid – and horses were in common use during that time as I have mentioned in previous blog posts – you were advised to unharness the horse and tie him to a post in an open space.

Sir John Anderson and his assistants were responsible for the compilation of this booklet and they were thanked for their careful consideration of domestic animals. British people then, as now, loved their animals which were considered an indispensable part of society. Sir John was best known for his services in the Cabinet during World War II where he was known as “The Home Front Prime Minister”. The famous Anderson Shelters were named after him.

An Anderson Shelter

Approximately one quarter of the population were supplied with the necessary corrugated iron sheets to build an Anderson Shelter, usually in their back gardens. Places which were considered reasonably safe from German bombs, such as Pontypool, were not supplied with such shelters whereas places like Newport, were.