Archive for the ‘Games and adventures’ Category

Possible solution to the West Mon sports mystery

July 28, 2014

Thanks to those who have commented on my previous post about the mystery of how the sports teams were selected. I realise that there were first teams and colts. That was also the position when I attended West Mon and it offered a natural progression of talent. My query was about the selection procedure for ANY team; there didn’t seem to be one. In my five years at the school there was not a single announcement about any trials which were to be held and I certainly saw no printed notice to this effect either.

Because of your comments I now think it must have been due to wartime conditions. By the time I arrived at the school the war was well underway and all the younger staff had been called up into the forces. These were replaced by mistresses who would have had no interest in boys’ rugby or cricket teams. The demobilisation of the masters would have started some time towards the end of 1945 and continued through 1946. I remember the return of both Whitty and Mosely who were keen cricketers, both of whom played for the Trevethin Cricket Team.

According to your comments it would have been in the later forties and early fifties that trials for sports teams were held, probably reverting to the process in being in pre-war years.

Pontypool might become a giant Cluedo site

January 12, 2013

Visitors to this blog will be well acquainted with the murder of Dripping Lewis in Pontypool and will have seen the accompanying photographs. You will also have seen the information about the book “Who Killed Dripping Lewis?” by Monty Dart. I have to thank Monty for alerting me to the following article in the South Wales Argus. Residents of Pontypool might possibly see some of these activities going on.


Students to turn Pontypool into giant Cluedo game

by Hayley Mills

PONTYPOOL could be turned into a life-size version of Cluedo with participants trying solve a real murder.

The idea is the brainchild of three photographic art students, Lauren Clithero, Rebekka Gill and Jodi Westmacott, who study at Newport University.

They submitted their idea for review, after 43 students were commissioned by Torfaen County Borough Council to create artwork as part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).

Miss Clithero, 21, and her two class mates thought about using the murder mystery game, after hearing of the unsolved Pontypool murder of William Alfred Lewis in 1939.

Miss Clithero said: “Author Monty Dart wrote a book last year called Who Killed Dripping Lewis?

“After reading the book and speaking to her, we thought participants in our version of Cluedo could try and work out which one of them killed him.”

In the girls’ game, eight participants would sign up and be given clues that will lead them around the town, where Mr Lewis had been seen before his murder.

Actors would be in place to hand out clue cards and objects found at the murder scene to the players at key locations, and slowly the team would work out which one of them could have been the murderer.

Miss Gill said: “We’re all fascinated by the famous Pontypool story but didn’t want to tell it in a dark, morbid way – instead we want it to be interactive so that the community can get involved.”

Back in 1939, Mr Lewis’s body was discovered by builder Thomas Brimble, who had been carrying out building work for Mr Lewis.

The blood-soaked body, which had received repeated blows to the head, was laying across the bed in his house.

He was a rich bachelor who owned approximately 200 houses in the Pontypool area.

Initial investigations led nowhere and four detectives from Scotland Yard were called in. Despite interviewing hundreds of people the police got nowhere.

The students have pitched their ideas to a panel of judges who will decide which projects to take forward later this month.

Catching “taddies” in Pontypool

March 12, 2012

I’ve been living in my house at The Moorings, Newport for over 46 years. The name suggests some boating connection and, on the original plan for the houses, the open drainage ditch – called in South Wales a reen – in the field just outside my back gate was scheduled to be widened to make room for a landing stage with access to the River Usk which is just 600 yards away. Alas, all this never happened and the reen remained in its original state.

There must be about 10 acres of fields between the bottom of my garden and the river and until about 10 years ago, we were accustomed to seeing the farmer making hay, and various animals such as sheep, cows and horses roaming there from time to time. The Caerleon valley and the distant hills made it a very rural setting. It was a genuine “panoramic view”. The trains passing by some half a mile away looked like toys.

The view from my roof garden today. The houses below cover the
 and obliterate both the railway line and the River Usk. 

The fields in question were a flood plain and, from time to time, with the spring tides and a following wind, the fields were flooded. This fact didn’t cause us any concern as the fields were some 20 feet or more below the level of the house. About ten years ago approximately 100 houses were built in the fields and as a result I noticed the build up of water right at the bottom of my garden. I’d always wanted a garden pond so I just dug a large hole and let nature do the rest. As a result I now have a fair sized natural pond on the left side of the garden stocked with goldfish and other varieties all living happily together. On the right is a shallower pond which is the home of many frogs and toads.

A week ago I looked out of my lounge window and noticed that the second pond looked as though it was boiling. I went down and, yes, there they were, the usual large collection of frogs jumping and swimming about and making huge clumps of frog-pawn. It’s a sort of annual frogs’ convention and I have no idea where they all come from, unless they spend the rest of their time well hidden in my garden. I counted 62 frogs and there were probably a similar number hidden in the reeds or below the water. One small area of the pond was so full of frogs that it looked like a rugby scrum so I took a photograph which I show below.

Part of the “frogs’ convention”

All this reminded me of the times when, at this time of year a few of my friends and I would take our jam jars with string tied around the tops and our fishing nets, and go on a trip to hunt “taddies” and usually to collect some spawn as well. We had several favourite places to do this. One of the most popular was Pontypool Park lake. It was very large and we were certain to find tadpoles and spawn within easy reach of the pathway skirting the pond.

Another favourite spot was the canal basin. The water was fairly wide at that point and a good haul of “taddies” was assured together with huge clumps of spawn.

The Fish Ponds just off the Crumlin Road was another haunt of ours. These offered plenty of water but access to them from a convenient spot on the banks was not as convenient because in some places the banks were steep and were overgrown with ferns.

Sometimes we would return home with some jam jars containing frog spawn and some containing tadpoles, together with a few bits of pond plants as food for our captives. We would then have a good look at them every day to watch their progress. Some of the spawn hatched out into “taddies” and a few of the tadpoles started to grow legs and turn into frogs which caused us a great deal of satisfaction.

On some occasions we had lessons in school about frogs to which we always gave our undivided attention. However, none of us had a garden pond in which to place our frogs and “taddies” se we usually ended up returning the survivors to the place where we found them.

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 5

March 10, 2012


Collecting the Evidence

Although the boys had agreed to meet at 10 o’clock, Gogs, in a high state of excitement because of the forthcoming meeting, started to call on his friends shortly after nine, and by half past nine had succeeded in collecting Miff and Smudgie together. These three boys, who all lived in the same street, then walked around the block of houses to call for Titch.

On walking round to the back door of the house they found Titch sitting in a chair on the lawn writing in a small notebook. His thoughtful, frowning expression changed to a broad grin at the arrival of his friends.

They found Titch sitting in a chair on the lawn

    “Oh good!” he exclaimed. “I was hoping you’d be early.” He rose quickly out of the chair and ran to the back door of the house to tell his mother he was going. Then, ramming the notebook and pencil into the pocket of his jacket, he joined his companions, and the four of them made their way down to the coast road.

When they arrived at Bunny’s house they found him examining a large pegged out rectangle of earth which had been prepared the day before in readiness for the erection of the new shed.

“Hi boys!” he called as he came over to join them by the greenhouse. The five of them were soon inside seated on boxes and various large upturned earthenware pots.

Titch got down to business straight away by producing his notebook. “I was thinking about all yesterday’s happenings when I was lying in bed last night,” he said, “and after breakfast this morning I decided to make a few notes on the whole business.”

“Wicked!” exclaimed Miff in admiration as he looked over Titch’s shoulder at the pageful of neatly written notes. “What’s all that for?”

“Well,” replied Titch, “I’ve read in books that the best way to investigate any matter is to write down all the evidence and examine it.”

“That’s cool!” exclaimed Bunny. “How much evidence have we got up to now?”

“Yes, read out what you’ve written in your book, Titch,” said Gogs becoming very enthusiastic about the matter.

“Right,” replied Titch. “I’ll read out the main facts. You can all listen to see whether I’ve missed anything out.” Titch’s freckled face took on a business-like frown and he began to read.

“Friday. Bunny, Gogs, Miff, Smudgie and Titch play cricket on the common. Ball knocked into abbey ruins and is lost. We look carefully for it and find nothing. Suddenly, without being seen approaching, a man appears at entrance to old passage. He wants to get rid of us. Another man appears. Says he belongs to a society investigating story of abbey ghost. Says they have put scanning equipment in abbey. Seems anxious to get rid of us. Gives Bunny £5 for new ball.”

“Great!” exclaimed Miff in admiration. “Fancy writing all that without any help.”

“Bet it’s full of spelling mistakes,” claimed Smudgie.

“You wouldn’t be able to tell anyway,” returned Miff defending Titch’s talent.

Seeing that another brawl might start, Titch tactfully came in. “Never mind about spelling, it’s the evidence that matters. Do we all agree that what I’ve written down is correct? Have I missed anything out?”

“No, I think you’ve got it all there,” said Bunny. “It sounds jolly good to me. There’s only one thing though; it isn’t much evidence is it?”

“Oh no,” agreed Titch quickly. “I know that, and that’s why I wanted us to meet here today.”

“How will that help?” asked Smudgie.

“Well,” replied Titch, “we’ve got to get some more evidence. Right?”

“Where from?” queried Gogs.

“That’s what we’re going to decide now.”

“You mean we’ll sort of have to watch out for things,” drawled Gogs trying to be helpful. “Like we did when we saw that white van which was always outside the school with the driver always talking to the kids.”

“Oh yeah! I remember that,” chimed in Miff. When we told the Head that it looked suspicious, he contacted the police and they discovered the driver and his wife were drug pushers.”

“Dirty kid killers!” snarled Bunny in disgust.

“You weren’t one of their customers were you Gogs?” teased Miff.

“Huh!” returned Gogs. “I mightn’t be the sharpest pencil in the box, but I’m not dim enough to start taking drugs. You’ve got to be a right idiot to do that.”

“Right!” said Titch. “We did our bit to help to sort that out, but this time things are a bit different. We’ll have to do more than just watch out for things. We’ll have to go looking for ’em.”

“You mean we’ll have to investigate?” queried Bunny.

“Exactly! We’ll have to investigate those men investigating the abbey ghost.”

Sports Day at West Mon School Pontypool

March 6, 2012


Sports Day was the highlight of the year. For one thing it was a day off lessons. A lot of preparation was involved, not least of which was the marking out of the tracks around the sports field. Garnett used to take classes out of their normal lessons to do this job. Probably they would have learned a lot more from doing this than they ever would from one of Garnett’s lessons; as a teacher of anything other than rugby he was hopeless.

The competition was between the school houses. There was a lot of cheering and shouted encouragement as the house heroes did their stuff. The heats took place first and then the finals. Points were awarded to the houses and the announcements of the points total were made at frequent intervals to the accompaniment of huge cheering from the house in the lead.

There were the usual competitions: running of course in varying distances, throwing the javelin, putting the shot, throwing the cricket ball, and so on. Each house had its “experts” in all these events but occasionally they disappointed us. I remember one tall lad named Loughlin. He was a very good runner but in one of his races he was beaten by a much smaller boy.

The sports field was a reasonable size for the occasion and it’s a natural small amphitheatre with a bank running alongside with the terrace behind for overflow. The bank was always packed with spectators.

Apart from points being awarded to the houses, each competitior was also awarded points and the boy with the most points became the Victor Ludorum which was always regarded as a great honour. It was invariably one of the older boys, often a prefect, who attained this dizzy height. The icing on the cake for the Voctor Ludorum was to have his name painted on the Victor Ludorum honours board in the school hall for posterity.


Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 4

March 3, 2012


Titch is Suspicious

The group stared at each other dumbfounded for a few moments. It was Bunny, greatly excited by his sudden gift, who broke the silence.

“Well, I must say, that was very generous of him.”

Titch was staring hard after the distant figure now getting fainter in the dim light. “I wonder why he did it?” he mused.

“So’s Bunny could get a new ball of course,” stated Gogs simply, seeing nothing complicated in the situation at all.

“We’d better collect all our gear before it gets dark,” said Miff.

The boys walked away from the abbey ruins in the direction of their cricket gear which was just a grey heap in the quickly gathering dusk. Each took his own equipment and they walked slowly along the common away from the Straight Mile in the direction of the coast road which led to Bunny’s house.

The other four noticed that Titch was very quiet as they walked along. He appeared to be deep in thought.

“Why do you think he gave me the five pound note, Titch?” asked Bunny.

“I don’t know,” replied Titch slowly, “but it struck me that he wanted to get rid of us mighty quick.”

“Yes, I suppose he did really,” admitted Bunny, half agreeing.

“But he didn’t want us messing up their equipment,” put in Smudgie. “If they paid a lot of money for it, I don’t blame him.”

“The five of us searched those ruins pretty well for the cricket ball,” stated Titch. “How much equipment did we find? None!”

“But he told us it was carefully hidden,” persisted Smudgie.

“So he said,” replied Titch. “But if it was as carefully hidden as all that, there wouldn’t be much chance of us damaging it would there?”

“No, I suppose not,” agreed Smudgie who could see the sense in Titch’s argument.

“Yes, I hadn’t thought of that,” said Bunny. “We looked around quite a bit for my ball and we didn’t see any sign of any equipment nor any wires or anything.”

“And another thing that puzzles me,” said Titch, “is where that first man came from. I could see the whole of the common between the Straight Mile and the ruins; he didn’t  walk across that way.” He turned to Smudgie and Gogs. “You two were the first to see him. Which way did he come?”

Smudgie and Gogs looked at each other with puzzled frowns.

“I don’t know,” drawled Gogs. “I was looking on the ground for the ball just near the entrance to the old passage. Suddenly somebody grabbed me by the collar. I looked round and there he was. He had Smudgie too.”

“Did you see him approaching, Smudgie?” asked Titch.

“No, come to think of it, I didn’t. It all happened pretty sudden like and . . .”

“Then there’s only one place he could have come from,” broke in Titch snapping his fingers. “He must have been down in the old passage.”

“But why on earth should he have been down there?” asked Bunny.

“Perhaps that’s where they’ve put their equipment,” suggested Miff.

“Yes, and that’s why we didn’t see it,” said Gogs triumphantly with the air of one who has just solved a difficult problem.

“Don’t be such a nitwit,” said Titch. “He said it was all carefully hidden. That passage ends in the flight of steps that goes down into the cellar. There’s nothing down there at all except a few chunks of old stone. They wouldn’t be able to hide much down there.”

“My father told me that the monks used to store food down there,” added Bunny. “I expect that’s why it’s so bare.”

“Well, it all sounds very fishy to me,” continued Titch. “I think those men are up to something.”

“Up to something?” queried Smudgie. “What on earth could they be up to in a ruined old abbey? My dad says even I’m safe to be let loose in the abbey ‘cause all the damage that can be done was done years ago.”

“Oh, I don’t mean they meant to damage anything,” replied Titch. “But you don’t get a couple of grown men lurking around a place like that without good reason.”

“But remember that man said they belonged to some London society or other and that they were going to investigate the abbey ghost. I call that a good reason,” returned Miff.

“Yes, but as Titch says,” argued Bunny, “we didn’t see a sign of any equipment, so how do we know he was telling the truth?”

“Mmmm . . . I suppose that’s true,” agreed Smudgie.

Bunny led the way to the large greenhouse

    By this time the boys had reached the entrance to the drive which led up to Bunny’s house. It was a large building standing in its own grounds and Mr Francis had bought it only a few months previously. Bunny led the way to the large greenhouse near the garden hedge. It was in here that the boys kept all their cricket gear.

“My dad’s having a big shed built over there,” said Bunny. “We’ll be able to put our cricket stuff in there when it’s up. You can’t see it now it’s dark, but a man came today and cleared a patch of ground. Then he put some wooden pegs in it and…”

“Bernard! Is that you dear?” Bunny’s mother was calling from the back door of the house.

“Yes, Mum. It’s only me and the boys.”

“Come along then. It’s time to come in now,” she called.

“Huh!” exclaimed Miff. “Isn’t it funny how mothers want you in just when it gets dark?”

“I suppose I’d better go,” said Bunny grudgingly. “Otherwise I’ll only get a row from my Dad. Just wait till I tell them about the five pound note though.”

“Don’t tell them!” burst out Titch.

“Why ever not?”

“Well,” said Titch in a low confidential voice, “I’ve been thinking.” The other four gathered round curiously. They knew that when Titch used that tone of voice he was going to say something interesting.

“I think the little matter of those two men and their ghost investigations wants looking into and I think we ought to do it. If grownups get to hear about it they’ll want to stop us straight away – you know what they’re like. So, if you don’t say anything about the five pounds, Bunny, they won’t ask any questions.”

“No. All right,” agreed Bunny. I won’t say a word for the time being.”

“But what are we going to do?” asked Gogs quivering with expectation.

“Well, I suggest we meet here in the greenhouse tomorrow and talk the matter over. We’ll have more time to make our plans. It’s absolutely pitch dark now and we’ve got to go home.”

“That’ll be OK,” said Bunny. “The gardener is not working here tomorrow, so we can use the greenhouse. Suppose we meet here at 10 o’clock in the morning?”

The others mumbled their agreement.

“Then that’s all settled,” said Titch. “We’ll all meet here tomorrow morning at ten.”

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 2

February 18, 2012


Lost Ball

  Pontyrabad, according to the official holiday guide, was “a small peaceful Welsh coastal town, one of its main attractions being a 12th century Benedictine Abbey, the ruins of which grace a peaceful green common a short distance from the sea”.

At the moment. however, the common was anything but peaceful.

Titch and his friends playing cricket on the Common

    “Howzat?” bellowed four voices in unison. Titch  turned quickly, bat in the air, to look with dismay at his middle stump now lying flat on the ground behind him. He turned and grinned good-naturedly at Gogs, the cause of his downfall.

“Well done Gogs! I must remember to do the same for you sometime.”

The other four boys converged on Titch who was still standing at the wicket.

“I vote we have tea now,” said Bunny, and to reinforce his idea he started to pull out the two remaining stumps. But no one disagreed with him. All five were hungry after their afternoon’s cricket and it was now well past their normal teatime.  It was often their custom to have what they termed a ‘cricket picnic’ on Pontyrabad common. Having collected their gear together they sat down on the springy green turf to eat their meal.

They were halfway through an assortment of sandwiches, fruit, cakes and other tasty items when their banquet was suddenly interrupted by a man’s voice right behind them.

“I hope you young gentlemen don’t make yourselves sick.” Turning around they saw a middle-aged man with a large moustache making his way across the common. As the boys turned he gave them a smile and waved his walking stick.

“Evening sir!” chorused the boys suddenly realising who the speaker was.

“Coo!” exclaimed Miff in a half whisper to the other four. “It’s old ‘Fungus’ our new history teacher.”

“Whacko and bang on!” joked Titch twirling an imaginary moustache now that the teacher was at a safe distance and out of earshot.

“I wonder where he’s going,” mused Smudgie.

“Home of course,” replied Titch.

“Does he live around here then?” asked Gogs looking over his shoulder at the now distant figure.

“Yes,” replied Titch. “He lives in one of those flats in the big houses on Common Crescent.”

“Oh yes,” added Bunny. “I can see his car parked outside.”

“What I don’t understand,” drawled Gogs in a puzzled voice, “is why he came to our school when none of the other teachers have left.”

“Yes, I wondered about that too,” added Smudgie.

“I thought it strange myself,” agreed Titch, “until about a fortnight ago when I had to take some chemistry books to the staff room for old ‘Stinks’. ‘Fungus’ was chatting to him and said that he had come to relieve the staff shortage a bit. Apparently there’s a great shortage of men teachers all over the country and really we could still do with a few more at our school to balance the staff better.”

“A few more teachers!” eclaimed Miff. “Coo! I reckon we’ve got a few too many. I’m willing to part with a few of ours any day.”

“Me too!” agreed Gogs.

“Well, anyway, that’s why he’s come,” ended Titch.

“We could have done a lot worse,” stated Bunny.   “He’s not a bad sort really. He’s jolly interesting, and that’s more than you can say for Miss Morrison’s history lessons.”

“You must be joking!” burst out Miff. “Hist’ry interestin? What’ll the boy say next?”

“No, I mean he’s not all dates and names of Kings and such like,” replied Bunny defending his opinion of the new teacher. “He tells you how people in olden days used to live, the things they used to eat, and the games the kids used to play and all that.”

“Of course there is one good thing he’s helped with,” said Gogs thoughtfully as he surveyed the grass and brushed his long dark hair away from his eyes. “He helps out a lot with the boys’ cricket.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” added Bunny. “With old Millie, all she wanted us to play was rounders. Huh! Rounders! We do get to play more cricket now.”

“I must say I was jolly surprised at all the things he knows about Pontyrabad,” said Titch, “considering he doesn’t come from round this way, I mean. I wonder where he does come from?”

“London,” replied Gogs simply. The others were amazed at hearing such a confident reply coming from him.

“And how on earth do you know that?” asked Miff.

“Well, I was outside the Head’s office the day he came. I was waitin’ for a telling off by the Head and I heard him tell the sec’try”

“Just imagine, Gogs,” teased Titch, “if you hadn’t been sent for a telling off we’d never have known where he came from.”

“I’m not a bit interested where he comes from,” protested Gogs. “I’d much rather not had the telling off I can tell you!”

“Cissy!” jeered Smudgie, at which Gogs flung his empty banana skin at him catching him full in the face. Smudgie launched his reprisal attack at once and fell upon Gogs trying to stuff a hastily gathered handful of grass down the back of his shirt, and in a few seconds the two boys were rolling over and over on the grass until they were interrupted by a shout from Titch.

“Come on you two nitwits, it’s time we were going.” Then he grabbed his bat and ran a few yards off.

“Just one last knock, Gogs, before we go. I’ll knock you for six this time.”

Gogs, who was always ready to fall in wih a challenging suggestion, rose to his feet. He grabbed the ball and, after brushing his hair from his left eye, flung the ball down hard at Titch. A smart piece of footwork enabled him to take the ball on the half-volley and it soared high into the air. Up and away it went followed by the admiring gaze of the other four, and eventually fell amongst the ruins of the old abbey where it bounced amongst the stones.

“Six it is!” yelled Bunny as he dramatically raised both arms above his head in true umpire’s style. “The only trouble is that now we’ve got to find my ball. Come on you lot, that’s my new ball. We can gather our kit together when we’ve found it.”

Though the grass on the common was fairly short, being regularly cut by council workmen, their search for the ball was considerably hampered by the stonework which was scattered about where the grass was much longer. The five boys made their way in amongst the old ruined cloisters, but, although they looked everywhere for it, the elusive ball could not be found.

 [D1]Illustration: Boys playing cricket on common   DONE

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 1

February 11, 2012


 Titch Has an Idea

Four young boys were leaning in silence against the stone wall of the old tower on the steep hill rising up from the sea in the small South Wales coastal town of Pontyrabad. They were enjoying their half-term holiday. Their eyes were fixed on the distant figure of a strangely dressed man making his way towards them carrying an artist’s easel and a large portfolio bag.

Gogs Palfrey, the tallest of the four, glanced at his watch and was first to break the silence. “Can’t think where Titch has got to, but here’s old Louis again to do another of his paintings.”

“Wonder why he spends so much time painting the old tower?” mused  Bunny Francis.

“Dunno,” replied Miff Smith  “There’s already plenty of his paintings on sale in the art shop in town. Perhaps they’re popular with the tourists.”

“Sometimes he paints the scenery you can see from the hill. I’ve even seen him inside the tower sketching the scene through the doorway,” added  Smudgie Wright.

“He’s coming straight towards us,” said Bunny      “Perhaps he’s planning to sketch inside the tower again.”

“Don’t want him in there while we’re having our meeting!” exclaimed Gogs. “Let’s go inside so he’ll go somewhere else.”

The others appreciated the sense in this suggestion so all four slowly walked around to the side of the tower and mounted the solitary step to go inside. They sat down on some of the very large stones strewn about which had previously been part of the tower wall.

A short while later, the artist Louis, appeared framed in the doorway. Seeing the boys inside he hesitated at the door as he greeted them: “Ello lads! Having fun?”

“Hi Louis!” they chorused in return.

Bunny looked up at him from his large stone armchair, “Going to do another painting Louis?”

The artist looked slightly hesitant. “Er. . . well I was thinking . . .”

“We’re waiting for Titch,” chimed in Smudgie. “Don’t know where he’s got to or how long he’ll be”.

Louis waved his one free hand. “No trouble. No trouble. I’ll go down to the shell house and work down there. I come back here later. Bye lads!” With another wave of his hand he walked around the tower and down the side of the curving hill in the direction of the old shell house.

Gogs looked through the open doorway at the retreating figure. “Didn’t seem to want to do any painting here with us around,” he said.

“Perhaps artists like a bit of quiet when they’re working,” suggested Miff.

“Are you suggesting that we’re a noisy lot?” protested Bunny in mock indignation.

“Well, we have been known to make a slight amount of noise from time to time,” returned Miff with a smile.

The impatient Gogs hauled himself to his feet and strolled to the doorway to look down the hill. “Hey! I can see Titch. He’s on his way up. Wonder where he’s been till now.”

The other three joined Gogs outside the doorway. “P’raps he was late having dinner. You can ask him in a minute or two,” replied Bunny.

As Titch neared the crest of the hill Gogs sauntered down to meet him. “Where’ve you been?” he asked. “You said you had a good idea to talk about at our meeting. Let’s go inside the tower. There’s no one about now we’ve got rid of Louis.”

“Yes, I passed him on the way up,” replied Titch. “I think he’s going to do another painting of the shell house.”

Titch chatting to his friends by the wall of the old tower

As Titch joined the others they all chatted for a few minutes and then went inside the tower. Bunny and Miff sat down on two of the large stones, and Gogs, Titch and Smudgie hauled themselves onto a large rectangle of rough masonry just over a metre high that was built into one of the walls.

“Tell us about your idea Titch,” said the ever-eager Gogs.

Titch took a deep breath. “Well, you know we said that, as there’s not much for us to do in Ponty, we could consider forming a club of our own.”

“That’s right,” chirped in Bunny. “I think it’s a good idea. We could decide what sort of things we want to do, and we might get some other boys to join us later on.”

“Makes sense,” added Smudgie. “We do all sorts of things now but it would be good if we could have our own rules and get things organised, especially in the  holidays.”

“Yes, August holidays especially need a bit of organising,” added Gogs who was already warming to the idea.

“But there’s something else I’ve been reading about in my boys’ magazine which might be useful,” said Titch.  “It was advertising a small book which is free and tells you how to form  your own secret society.”

There were interested mutterings all round. Gogs jumped to his feet. “That’s real cool Titch,” he cried. “How do we do it? When can we start?”

“Let’s send for the book,” suggested Miff, “especially as it’s free.”

“I already have,” replied Titch. That’s why I’m a bit late arriving. I went round to the post office first to post the form asking for the book. That’s why I came up the path past the shell house.”

“Well, what are we going to do in this society?” pursued Miff.

Titch was hesitant. “Well . . . I think it might be a good idea to wait until the book arrives to see what is says, but we did say that one of our activities was going to be playing cricket.”

“Yeah, we’ve got to play cricket,” enthused Gogs, “especially as we all had some equipment last Christmas.”

At this Titch stood up and announced with an air of finality, “I suggest we have a game of cricket now.” He went to the tower doorway and looked down the hill. “There’s nobody playing on the common so we can play there,” he said.

By now they were all on their feet. “We’ll all collect our cricket gear and picnics and meet by the Abbey,” announced Titch. “First one there bats first.” This challenge resulted in a mad dash downhill towards the town.

Pontypool Rugby Reminiscences

January 25, 2012


The following is a page from an old programme for one of Pontypool’s rugby matches. Unfortunately it was not dated but I think it must have been written in the early thirties or soon afterwards.

It is written by someone named Retlas which, I assume, is a pseudonym for the person who wrote a weekly page in the programmes. I cannot trace who this person was so if anyone knows I’d be delighted to hear from them.  I tried to make enquiries on the Pontypool Rugby website but I could not leave a message without registering; when I tried to do this the registration was not working.

Cecil was the step-brother of Edgar Smith, the father of my friend Eric Smith, my one-time next door neighbour. Royce Pritchard was Cecil’s son and one of our playmates; he features in one of the Boys’ Brigade photographs earlier in this blog. Eric told me on one occasion that he was the only player that had played for Wales in every position on the field. There are various records claimed for him in the piece below, but, of course, over the years these might have been equalled or passed.

“Cecil Pritchard, one of the best and brainiest forwards who
ever played for Wales, is the subject of my sketch this week. Cecil
came to the fore just at the period when specialisation in the various
phases of forward play was beginning to develop, and he was one
of the first to be given the specific job of hooker, for which he was
selected by Rowe Harding, who captained Wales against England
in the game in which Cecil gained his first cap in 1928. His opposite
number was Sam Tucker, whom he beat to the tune of 24 scrums
to 16, thereby establishing himself as the Welsh hooker. Cecil
played for Wales in every game in 1928 and 1929 and so set up a
record for Pontypool by getting eight caps in a row.“Born on the Tranch on May 1st, 1902, Cecil was the second
of three brothers all of whom started with the old Tranch Rovers
and gained fame in higher circles. The oldest, George (“Cogley”),
played full-back for Blaenavon, Torquay, Barnstaple and Devon,
and in both Welsh and English trials. Royce, the youngest,
played for Blaenavon and Abertillery. All three played against
the Waratahs in 1927-28 season : Cogley for Cornwall and Devon,
Cecil for Pontypool, and Royce for Cross Keys and Abertillery.

“Cecil went to Blaenavon in 1923 and helped that club to win
the Monmouthshire League medals, playing with his brother
Cogley.   The following season he came to Pontypool.   In those
days it was a case of “first up, first down,” and Cecil shone in every
phase of the forward game, besides being quite capable of giving .
a good account of himself at centre or full-back in an emergency.
His playing career lasted just over twenty years, his last season
was with Talywain. He captained Pontypool in 1928-29, and
played five times for Monmouthshire.

“Cecil has no doubt which was the hardest and best game he
ever played in : it was the game with the Maoris on New Year’s
Day, 1927. Next hardest was that at Perpignan during Pontypool’s
first French tour.

“A prolific scorer, Cecil set up a club record in 1926 when he
netted 21 points against Edgware ; a try, six conversions, a placed
penalty goal and a dropped penalty goal. This record was later
equalled by Frank Beddington. In each of two other games he
scored 14 points—against Belfast Collegians and in a final Welsh
trial at Cardiff.

“For the best part of one season (1929-30), Cecil played for
Bamstaple, for whom W. W. Wakefield (” Wakers “), the famous
English forward, was at that time turning out occasionally. Wake-
field’s international career had ended the season before Cecil’s


I recently received an email from Emrys Lewis, an old Westmonian who played for the school colts rugby team. He enclosed a photograph of the team which he thought some old visitors might like to see. I’m sure the photograph will stir up some memories for some people. Emrys is the boy holding the ball.


Last week I had an email from Lucy Jones who lives in Newport. She is doing some family research and said:

“My father is Paul Jones, a player of Pontypool RFC in the 60’s. But his father’s family are from Llanelli and I wanted some help from him looking there. Anyway, meanwhile I began looking at my mothers side. I have done quite well using the usual websites and have some names and dates to build upon. I am looking forward to building upon these names and dates. I have a rich Pontypool heritage it seems.

“I was interested in the fatality of Henry Whitcombe in the 1939 coach crash. I have a Henry Whitcombe in my tree (my great, great Uncle), however as the report in your blog states this chap was 62 in 1939, it doesnt quite fit with the Henry whitcombe I have as being some 7 years younger and born in Raglan. It says that Henry lived with his son, William. I have another great great Uncle called William Whitcombe who WOULD have been 62 in 1939. So, I cant help being interested in this. My great great grandfather to whom this family links is a John Henry Whitcombe (also found as Whitcomb). He was a 49yr old railway platelayer living at 8 Park Street, Griff in 1911. My mother talks of Park Street, so this house must have stayed in the family for many years. If John Henry came to Pontypool, maybe his brothers did too?”

If you are able to help Lucy in her search please either leave a comment on this page or email me and I shall forward your information to her.

Index of this blog

December 5, 2011

As the number of posts on my blog is now considerable, I am publishing a page index below so that visitors may go to a post that interests them by selecting the page it is on. The order is as they appear from the beginning of the blog. Alternatively the search facility, top right, may be used.

Hello Pontypool!

The Folly Tower

Arriving in Pontypool

Town School junior section

Tragedy at West Mon (Revised account)

Pontypool Boys’ Brigade – 9th Eastern Valley Company

Comics, magazines and other literature

The “Scholarship Class” at Town School

Pontypool in wartime: the start of rationing

When the sirens sounded in Pontypool

West Mon’s “Spitfire”

Osborne Cottage at Pontnewynydd

The good people of Pontypool help the war effort

Pontypool’s big freeze of 1941

Murder most foul in Pontypool

West Mon forms six and seven

The war ends, and Pontypool celebrates

Going to the pictures in Pontypool

Pontypool’s “Dad’s Army”

Fire at Wainfelin, and the slaughter of animals.

The Gregories of Cwmffrwdoer

Pontypool park for fun frolicks and fairs

The Grotto in Pontypool Park

Park Terrace Methodist Sunday School Pontypool

Climbing the mountain with the help of Watkins the tinsmith

Franketti’s Fish and Chip Shop

Christmas time in old Pontypool

World War II shipbuilders in Pontypool

The games we used to play in Pontypool

Pontypool’s great snow of 1947

Pontypool’s Secret Society

Drama in Pontypool

Tragedy at West Mon 2. Words from a key witness.

High Days and Holidays at Pontypool Town School

Pontypool Personalities

Two Broadways: Pontypool and New York

Decline in West Mon boarders

A great revelation on Haden Street

Accidents, Fatalities and Diseases

The book of the blog

Town School Centenary booklet 1938

Parts of old Pontypool that have vanished

News of Gibson Square

More nws about Gibson Square

Old photographs of Pontypool

Surprises in disguises

Old photographs of Pontypool carnival in the park

Information and a request

Old photographs of the Clarence area

More about the Robin Hood pub

Old photographs of Pontypool’s shopping centre

The Fowler family of Pontypool

Two interesting comments

The Queen’s Ballroom Pontypool

Fairfields of Pontypool crops up again

Is this how you remember the Donkey Steps and Gibson Square?

Donkey Steps & Gibson’s Square – a revised sketch and more information

A request from Pontypool Museum

The Parrot Public House Pontypool

Emerging information about about The Parrot and Gibson Square

Murder at The Parrot Inn and some old photographs of Pontypool

Photographs and more information about the Parrot Pub

A word map of Pontypool 1881

Further information on the Robin Hood, the Gregories and playing marbles

Further information on the Robin Hood and its proprietors

Ragtime comes to Pontypool

Tragic Peakes’ Coach Accident – two men killed

Photographs of Peake’s coach crash scene

Introduction to my Pontypool blog

Pontypool Home Guard on Parade in the Park

Do you remember Aubrey Hames?

Ponypool’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Three photographs of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Pontypool people really seem to be world travellers

See the video: “Who killed Dripping Lewis?”

Ponypool Town School’s great raffle

West Mon School Song

Severe Pontypool weather in 1940s

Pontypool Rugby Reminiscences

Some Pontypool Baptists in hot water

Free new e-book for visitors to this blog

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 1

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 2

Panteg Hospital, Pontypool and “Retlas” revealed

Interesting comments on Panteg Hospital

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 3

Another blog about some Pontypool cgaracters

Titch’s Secret Society  Chapter 4

Sports Day at West Mon School

Photographs taken inside West Mon School 2010

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 5

Catching taddies in Pontypool

Tragic drowning of nine people

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 6

The Swan Inn Freehold Land

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 7

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 8

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 9

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 10

Some close shaves in Pontypool

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 11

Titch’s Secret Society   Chapter 13

Heartless hoaxer in Pontypool

This index is by no means complete as I only index this blog from time to time.
There are a number of posts after the last item indexed above.
The latest post will be at the beginning of the blog. You can scroll down from there to find the latest posts.