Archive for the ‘information’ Category

Do you remember a synagogue in Pontypool?

July 3, 2015

Do you remember a synagogue in Pontypool?

I recently received an email from C.J.Welsh who is researching his family history. He’s found some interesting sites about Jewish families in Wales. Here is a quote from one of the sites (JCR-UK) in question:

‘On page 46 of the book edited by Ursula R.Q. Henriques, The Jews of South Wales, Historical Studies (1993) there is a map of Jewish settlements. Those places which had a synagogue are underlined. It appears to be complete but  for short periods at any rate two other places had synagogues; these were at Pontypool and at Neath. I was alerted to these two by letters printed in the Jewish Chronicle, in 1867 and 1868. They were written by Henry D. Marks, of Cardiff, and were based on his visits to various places in South Wales.  In the first letter, referring to Pontypool, printed in the JC on 1 March 1867, p. 6, he noted that  the congregation was very small ‘consisting, in fact, of three families only, with sufficient males to form a “minyan” .’  He went on: ‘I am proud to say they consecrated a place of worship for themselves last week, and have engaged the services of Rev. D. Rosenthal, who acts as Hazan [in Hebrew] and Shochet [in Hebrew], and Teacher to their children’. The consecration took place on 10 February  1867. The writer, Henry Marks, noted that the opening of the synagogue was due to the efforts of  Rev. Nathan Jacobs of Cardiff who also gave ‘a most thrilling and appropriate sermon on the occasion’, which was reported in a copy of  ‘a local periodical’ which he had included with his letter to the editor. This was the Pontypool Free Press of 16 February – a copy of which I obtained through the good offices of the Archivist of the  Gwent Record Office. It contained a very full report of the consecration, amounting to several thousand words. The building was one which had been occupied by Mr Philip Hambleton, a builder and farmer, who appears in the 1851 Census as living in Wain House. The newspaper report stated that the two upper rooms had been ‘thrown into one’  and in the centre was a reading desk, opposite which was the Ark containing a Sepher Torah. ‘A portion of the room is railed off for the accommodation of the female members’.


C.J.Welsh also says:

“The Census records of Jewish families in Pontypool at that time throw up the surnames Solomon (pawnbroker), Bloom (pawnbroker), Jacobs (jewellery pedlar), and Crawcour.”


If any visitors have any of these surnames or can remember anything about the Pontypool synagogue, please make a comment or email me. I just wonder whether Wain House might have been in the Wainfelin area.

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Pontypool people. Do you recognise any relatives?

May 10, 2015

I’ve recently received some emails from Julia Jones who is the daughter of my wartime schoolfriend, John Paine who is mentioned in some of my posts. Julia has been sorting through some family photographs and has sent some to me for this blog.

One school photo contains a photograph of her uncle Frank Paine when he was in school, probably in Town School, but possibly George Street School. Julia says:

“I have been looking through some old family photos and have come across the following which may be of interest to some of your followers. 
The photo of the school children is I think of George Street School sometime in the latter half of the 1930’s.I have tried to attach the names to some of the faces but the only ones I can be certain of is that of my uncle, Frank Paine, and Margaret Booth Frost.”

Julia says in a second email about the same photo:

“Frank’s date of birth was May 1925, this seems to date the photo more towards the early thirties. I think they started school about four or five years of age. The sign in front says Babes 2. I expect this was the infant class.”

School photo

This could be George St School or Town School.
The names might be too small to read, but from left to right they are:
Frank Paine, Les Haines, Malcolm Durham, Charlie Phillips,
Billy Jones, L.F.Vaisey, Ivor Morgan, Doug Smith, Harold Gardener.
Betty Griffiths, Thelma Haddock, Margaret Booth Frost, Edna Young.
Hazel Jones, Flossie Edwards. Holding sign “Babes 2”.

 Frank 1

Frank Paine as army despatch rider

Mr Pearson & 3 friends

Mr T.B.Pearson (in dark clothes) with three friends and car.
Mrs Paine was Mr Pearson’s housekeeper at “Trosnant” in School Lane.

If you recognise anyone in any of the photos please either email me or make a comment. A lot of visitors to this blog are researching their families so some useful information might arise.

Cwmffrwdoer Infant School – a commemorative plate with an illustration

March 25, 2015

Recently I’ve received an email from Stuart Baldwin regarding the Cwmffrwdoer Infant School. He says:

 “Following your recent blogs on Cwmffrwdoer Infant School and my clear confusion (even though I attended the school) as to it being located in Pontnewynydd, the picture I have sent confirms it in my mind, this plate I have walked under many time as it hung on my Nan’s wall but never really took in what was written on the plate, sadly now the plate is in my possession as my Nan sadly passed away recently, but thought it right to e-mail the pic of this commemorative plate which is linked to some of your recent blogs.”

I attach a copy of the plate below as some visitors have asked whether a picture of the school was available. The one on the plate is a stylised sketch but it will be of interest to those who knew it.

cwmffrwdoer plate

The plate

Cwmffrwdoer Infants School. Do you recognise anyone?

January 20, 2015

It’s always pleasing to receive emails from visitors to my blog especially when they write from other countries where they are now living. It’s amazing how far flung are some of the people who were born and brought up in Pontypool.

Just recently I’ve had some emails from Garry Taylor who lives in Portland USA. He says “Portland is a very beautiful place and in many ways the people often remind me of the Welsh- very kind, open, honest and willing to stop and pass the time of day with a conversation.”

Garry went to Cwmffrwdoer Infants and Junior School and also Twmpath. He has kindly sent me two photographs of some of the Infants children which I enclose below. Garry has also sent me the names of the children he can remember so it’s possible that some visitors might remember either themselves or a relative in one of the photographs.

If any visitors have any other photographs of Cwmffrwdoer Junior and Infants School please let me have copies in an email and I can add them in a later post. I know Garry would like to see them.

infants school

Cwmffrwdoer infants school about 1970 [ish]
Teachers, Mrs. Roper lady on right of image with white hair,, Mrs.
Cleaves sat directly behind her.
Christine Rappel, Linda Probert, Sally-Ann Price, Martin Leighton, Simon
Curzon,”Snakey” Kevin Price, Stephen Jones, Ian [or Neil] Foxwell, Sean
Edwards, Curt Hamer, Chris Williams, Lesa Jones [the daughter of the
Benny Jones who recently died], Sharon Young, Andrea Hill, Alison
Redman, Karen Osmond, Gareth Strange, Ann Rudick, Michelle Hurley, Alan
Hancock, Maxine Richards, Brenda Hanratty, Judith Read, Ian Watkins,
Andrew Gasconge, Paul Lamrick, Ian Francis, Michelle Hurley, Michele
Gittins,

infants school 2
The second image with paper flower
Ian Francis, Judith Read, Maxine Richards, Alison Redman, Dionne Nutt,
second row down, Clare Jones, Karen Osmond, Garry Taylor [me] Paul
Lamrick, and not sure,
front row, Steward Mathews, Linda Peacock, and

Anthony Taylor.

I don’t have any images from Junior School- I think the annual photo
must have been lost along with my many travels.

Photo of West Mon visit to Houses of Parliament in the nineteen fifties

January 13, 2015

I have just received from Geoff Nicolle a photograph of West Mon boys, of Six and Seven Arts, when they visited the Houses of Parliament in the nineteen fifties. I enclose it below together with some notes of the names of most of the boys in it. If anyone has any further details please make a comment.

West-Mon-6th.

On the picture are (left to right) John Rogers, Tony (Sam) St. Dalmas, Dick Cleverley, Keith Vann, J.D.Jones, Bill Jordan, John Clark, ‘Nobby’ Clark (History) – (John’s father), B.D.Jones, Roger Wood (behind Granville West (MP)), ’Oggy’ Mason, Ron Bente, Geoff Nicolle, Alan Brown, Arthur Westren, Tom Morgan, Terry Harper, Neville Cule, A.G.Davies, John Watkins, Deri Lloyd,I have forgotten the names of the one who seems to have a spot on his nose and the third on the far right, Bill Hillier, Jack Haig (Geography)

We had an interesting tour led by Granville Wes. Some boys from the Pontypool constituency went in to watch a debate. We were told they had seen and heard both Winston Churchill and Nye Bevan speak.
Afterwards Nobby took some boys to see a Shakespeare play. Our lot went with Jack to see the musical ‘Call Me Madam’.
I would be interested to see if anyone else in the picture can add more information . Sadly some of my best friends like Terry Harper, John Watkins and Arthur Westren died many years ago. I think John Rogers became a vicar. Deri Lloyd played for Pontypool R.F.C. when he was in 7Arts.

 

Old photographs of New Inn, The Grotto and West Mon School

January 11, 2015

Once again I am indebted to Craig Smith for supplying  the three photographs below. If you have any information about them please either email me or make a comment.

grotto

This is a very early photograph of the Grotto
before it was vandalised and railings
were put around it.

highway new inn

Judging by the style of the cars parked in the road
this photograph must have been taken in the 1920s.

I’m puzzled by the title: “The Highway Pontypool Road”. 
I always thought “Pontypool Road” referred to the
railway station.
Was there a road in New Inn by that name?

west mon

For visitors unacquainted with West Mon, perhaps
I should explain that, when I went there in the early
1940s, the left hand building housed
the lower aged boys; the quad is behind it and on
the far side were the boarders’ quarters.
The central building with the storm roof, housed
the swimming baths in the lower storey and the
gym on the top storey. Behind it was a large shelter
where we often assembled during break time
if it was raining. Part of the roof is just visible.
The building on the right was known as “The New
Building” and housed the laboratories and the
older boys.

An unknown Pontypool poet. Do you know him?

January 7, 2015

I am indebted to Craig Smith for sending me a copy of a poem he found when he bought a postcard on eBay. I enclose below the handwritten copy of the original poem. All we know is that the poem was written by someone with the initials H.M. and that it was written in 1935. Craig and I both think that, because of the style of the writing, the poet was probably a man. We might not be correct, of course.

The second illustration is a typed copy of the poem for ease of reading, and for the third illustration I’ve made it into an illustrated version on parchment with the idea that some visitors might be keeping a scrapbook of Pontypool, in which case they might like to use it.

If you think you know who the poet is please either email me or make a comment. He might be an ancestor of yours or a friend of the family.

A happy New Year to you all.

Screen shot 2015-01-05 at 00.21.19

 

THE FOLLY TOWER



O’er mountain breast to Folly Tower
Speed exiles’ thoughts in lonesome hour
Bold on the crest, it scorns the gale
And dominates Gwent’s fairest vale



Seven counties charms here cheer the eye
Gwent’s noblest hills point to the sky
An epic scene delights the mind
Here downcast souls can solace find

The winding Usk with silv’y sheen
Between the graceful trees is seen
Hill, field and wood in one huge page
Are here unfurled to human gaze

Rome’s cohorts bold, in days of yore
Paused here to rest, ‘ere on they bore
And on this panoramic view –
Feasted – they passed to conquests new

And from this hill since that far day
Legions have gazed – passed on – away
Their spirits cheered in this fair sphere
Faced life anew with vision clear



H.M.
(May 1935)

 Folly poem on parchment

Annual Report on this blog provided by Word Press

December 30, 2014

Each year the WordPress company which gives me the space to provide this blog
send me a report on how it has done during the year.
I thought that regular visitors might like to see a copy of the report so I’ve printed it below.

The concert hall in the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2014. If that were a concert at Sydney Opera House it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

There were 18 pictures uploaded. That’s about 2 pictures a month.

The busiest day of the year was October 16th with 380 views. The most popular post that day was Photographs of West Mon boys 1964.

The main attractions in 2014 were:
1. Pontypool’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with 1 comment.
2. Tragedy at West Mon (revised account) with 93 comments.
3. Parts of old Pontypool that have vanished with 25 comments.
4. Old photographs of Pontypool with 4 comments.
5. Murder most foul in Pontypool with 6 comments.

The most commented on post in 2014 was The G.Is. in Pontypool during the war.

The five most active commenters were:
1. Jennette (Osborne) Randall 9 comments.
2. Dot Jones 8 comments.
3. Lionel Barrel 6 comments.
4. Craig Smith 5 comments.
5. Glenys Hughes 4 comments.

Visitors came from 108 countries.

My thanks for your visits. I’d like to wish you all a very happy New Year in 2015 with my invitation to visit this blog during any day of the year.

The West Mon Annual School Quiz

December 21, 2014

While I was at West Mon from 1942 to 1947, every year on the last day of the school year we had the school quiz. Everyone had exactly the same questions no matter what the ages of the boys concerned, so it was possible for any pupil to win the prize.

All the teaching staff would take charge of a class each and the questions were called out. I can’t remember how many questions we had to answer but it took about an hour to complete the quiz. I can’t remember how the papers were marked, whether we exchanged papers and marked them that way or whether the staff did the marking. The former would have been quicker and would have enabled the winner to be announced the same day. Otherwise it would have meant that the winner would not have been known until the following term.

I have an idea that there was some sort of a prize but I can’t remember what it was. I imagine that someone must have made some sort of endowment to provide the prize but I cannot be at all sure of that.

Does any visitor remember the quiz? Did they participate and is it still happening? If anyone has any memories of this event please either email me or append a comment. Do we have a visitor who actually won the prize?

Pontypool – then and now. And Christmas greetings to all visitors.

December 19, 2014

The very idea of this blog for over the past six years has been to think about old Pontypool. At this time of year, as we draw near to Christmas, I suppose many of us tend to think about past times and past Christmases more than at any other time.

Over the last year or two I’ve been talking to friends who used to live in Pontypool in the nineteen thirties, forties and fifties, and there seems to be unanimous agreement that, during those times, we lived in more family oriented times and that life was happier and more innocent. Few mothers went out to work but they worked very hard in the home, cleaning, cooking and acting as the sheet-anchor of the family. Families were often poor but they rarely split up with the children being shared between father and mother. Some people have even said “I’m glad I lived through my childhood then. I feel sorry for the children of today.”

It was during the sixties that things started to fall apart in this country with a massive lowering of moral values. It was the time of “The Profumo Affair” with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies, whose death was announced today. I suppose today it would hardly raise an eyebrow.

Pontypool town was more cohesive; several people who still live there have told me that Pontypool has lost its soul. I cannot comment on this as I have not lived there since 1947.

So, if you still live in Pontypool or have lived there fairly recently, what is your opinion on these matters? If you have any opinion on the foregoing, please add a comment. Up to today there have been 537 comments placed on this blog; more will be welcome. For your information there has been over 180,000 hits on this blog so far and there are 139 followers who have asked to be informed whenever a new post is published.

Finally I would like to send to all visitors my sincere Christmas greetings with the following Christmas card:

Christmas cardMy best wishes for Christmas and the New Year

David Hughes