Archive for the ‘Scenery’ Category

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



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

(May 1935)

 Folly poem on parchment

Cae Breast, Pontypool

February 18, 2014

Harold Clark sent in an email in answer to C.J.Welsh’s questions. I publish a copy of it below. He provided a map to explain where Cae Breast is. Other names on the map might also be helpful in answering some of the questions asked. I’ve added an aerial view map as this also might be helpful. The name “Coed Cae Breast” can be seen at the bottom of the first map.

“Cae Breast is located from the Folly down to Pontymoile. I am attaching a map. Not very good at blowing it up and emailing it so perhaps you can do it. The ruins of the HOUSE NOT FARM I believe C J is talking about is still there but overgrown. If you blow the map up follow the wall between the park and Cae Breast up you will see two green lines coming together near where they join park side of the wall. You will see an area marked as an oblong. When I was a child I remember seeing a very old grey haired lady living there, if not that cottage come back into the park at ninety degrees from the above and the ruins of another much larger house can be seen again. I think I recollect an elderly lady living here also but whether this would be classed as Cae Breast or Pontypool Park, I would look at records for the first one. Hope this is of some help to C J



Pontypool map

Map of part of Pontypool

Cae Brest?

Aerial view of the Cae Breast area




Further news about the snowfall of 1947

July 28, 2013

Regular visitors to this blog might remember an early posting:

Recently I received another email from Geoff Lloyd who has memories of this occasion. He also sent me three photographs, all of  which I share with you below.

Many thanks Geoff.

I well remember the 1947 Snows, living on Varteg Lane, Varteg. The snow drifts in some places were up to the first floor windows and people had to dig a tunnel out. We schoolboys were quite happy as it meant no school for about 3 weeks.

The local coal miners were of course unable to get to the pits and together with all the other residents had to dig out the road to Garndiffaith so that supplies of bread and milk could be delivered.

Searching through my photographs I have found 2 of the road being dug out – the car belonged to my father, Herbert Lloyd, and he was waiting for it to be clear so that he could drive down to Garn & Varteg Co-op Chemist’s Shop at Garndiffaith, where he was the pharmacist in charge. There is also a photograph taken about 1936 of him outside the Chemists, some of your very old contacts may remember the shop.”


Herbert Lloyd’s car

Digging out the road at Varteg


Herbert Lloyd standing outside his chemist’s shop


Aerial views of Pontypool, Griffithstown and West Mon

February 28, 2013


I enclose below a selection of aerial photographs of Pontypool, Griffithstown and West Mon. They come from the massive collection of photographs now available on the Internet taken between 1919 and 1955. If you wish to see more of them just visit the website at:

General view Pontypool

General view of Pontypool


Another view of Pontypool

Griffithstown general view

General view of Griffithstown

Griffithstown railway

Railway at Griffithstown

West Mon

West Mon School

To the wedding reception – by digger!

February 13, 2013



The winter of 1963 must hold memories for the people of Pontypool similar to those of 1947 when we had huge snowfalls and which are recorded earlier in this blog. I have to admit that the snow of 1963 was a “treat” I missed. I was working in the hot African bush of Nigeria training African teachers for the Nigerian Government. I was walking around in shorts and a sports shirt.

I vividly remember all the mail from family and friends from back home as they described in their letters and on the recorded tapes we used to use how very cold and snowy things were in the UK. I  recall a photograph, in one of the newspapers we received,  of Roath Park Lake in Cardiff being frozen over.

One of the regular visitors to this blog, Harold Clarke, recently sent me an account of his wedding at the time; Pontypool people will find it interesting. He says:


“Attached is a photo of the snow of 1963. After moving back to Pontypool, some six or seven hundred meters below where this was taken outside the cricket club at Pentwyn, I am surprised how many people in the area are not aware of how deep the snow can get up here. Cynthia is from just above where the picture was taken. It took her 49 years to get me to move up here but I have to admit I love it here now.

Picture 1Harold’s wedding party

Left to right in the photo are: Brian Morgan Joan White nee Hayward, Harold Clarke, Cynthia Clarke nee White, Allen Mullings, Cliff Powell sat down, and Renee Tucker. This was not the only unusual vehicle that day. After leaving the church on St.Luke’s road by car to big arch a land rover was supposed to take over but it had broken down and a Rutter’s greengrocery lorry took over with Cynthia and bride’s maids in front and my new father-in-law and myself on the back. The digger working to clear snow up to the Blaensychan pit took over from the cross road to get us to the reception in the cricket club.

It was March before we got a car back to collect Cynthia’s things and only then via big arch. The plough was still clearing snow blowing off the mountain. The driver told us not to be too long as this was his last run for the day as the miners were on their way down from the pit. Did Cynthia take any notice? No, we got stuck in a drift by the brick works, long gone now; we could only just get out of the car. Cynthia took off for Ponewynydd to get a friend with a land rover to get us out of a drift. In the meantime, miners going home half lifted and half pushed and got the car out of the snow. We took off to intercept the four wheel drive car coming from Pontnewynydd but found Cynthia had not got to her friend’s house so I started off up the hill to Pentrepiod when I saw Cynthia with a miner on each arm leading her down the track in the snow. They had found her blown off the hard track in a snowdrift.” 


Thanks for this account Harold.


A photograph of the Robin Hood Inn Pontypool

September 2, 2012


The Robin Hood Inn

For some time past there has been a lot of interest shown in the Robin Hood Inn. Some viewers have visited it and even lived there. Others have had relatives who were the landlords at one time.

I have recently received a photograph of the Robin Hood from Brian Walker. He tells me that it was taken possibly in the late sixties from the bridge  where the old Talywain line crossed the Cwmnantddu line.

It’s rather a distant view but, at least, it’s still standing and presumably in use. If anyone has any more photographs of the Robin Hood when it was still in use please email them to me as enclosures and I’ll put them in a future blog post.

Aerial photographs of Pontypool

June 25, 2012


Many visitors might have heard on the TV news today about the large number of aerial views of the UK which has been put on line. When I opened my emails about an hour later I saw that Craig Smith was really on the ball and had found some interesting photographs of West Mon School and some general shots of Pontypool. Craig sent some comments together with the URLs for accessing the photographs. I am most grateful to him for doing this; you will find his comments on the post about West Mon.

The people who are constructing the website concerned would like to know the dates of the photographs and details about them, so below you will find a selection of the photographs. I have mostly given each one a number. If any eagle-eyed visitors can email me with dates and any other details I shall edit this post with the details published below the photographs. (My email is:

Photograph 1

Photograph 2

Photograph 3

Photograph 4

Photograph 5
This is a photograph of West Mon School taken from the rear.
It shows a cricket match in progress on the school cricket pitch.

Photograph 6
In the top half of this photograph is a distant view of West Mon.

Photograph 7
Another shot of West Mon. This time from the front.

Photograph 8
This is Pilkington’s Glassworks.

 Photograph 9

Photograph 10

Tragic drowning of nine people in the Upper Glyn Pond, Pontypool

March 16, 2012


I have mentioned the Fishponds in previous postings. That was the common name for them amongst the people of Pontypool, but their official name was the Glyn Ponds and they were separated by a short stretch of land. They are situated just off the Crumlin Road which is between the Mynydd Maen and the range of Tranch Mountains

On Thursday 23rd July 1868 there was a dreadful calamity causing a large loss of life when nine people were drowned. Three families were visiting the ponds when fourteen of them decided to take a trip on the water while the rest stayed on the bank. All went well until they were returning to the shore; suddenly, when not many yards away from the bank, the boat struck one of the stakes protruding from the bottom of the pond, making a large hole in the side and allowing the water to rush in. Stuffing a large shawl into the hole to stop the water did not work. The screams of the ladies on board as the boat sank alerted those waiting on the bank.

An artist’s impression of the tragedy

Other passers-by on the shore joined in the rescue. Some young men plunged into the water. One of them, Oliver Evans, struck his head against one of the piles and sustained a bad cut. He was later taken to the Full Moon inn where he was given a bed.  Some of the children and others were passed to the rescuers from the shore. In this way five of the fourteen who had been on the boat were rescued.

At that time Thursday was the early closing day for the shopkeepers of Pontypool but because it was well before cars became popular, there would have been a lot of people walking in and around the town centre, chatting in groups and attending various functions. It was about 9.00p.m. when the light was fading that the news suddenly spread that Miss Essex, the well known eldest daughter of James Essex, had been drowned in the Glyn Pond.

Soon afterwards, further tragic news broke about the drowning of others on the boat including several members of the family of Mr E.B.Edwards, the clerk to the magistrates.

Crowds of people left the town centre and made their way towards the pond some two miles away. By the time they arrived it was absolutely dark, not even any moonlight. Some people who had been on the bank when the tragedy had happened confirmed the fact that nine people had drowned, one of them being the boatkeeper who lived in a small cottage on the bank of the pond.

Despite the hazardous conditions within the pond, such as projecting piles and stakes projecting from the bottom, a party of men had gone out in another boat to try to find the victims of the disaster. These brave souls were: William Bird. Thomas Jenkins, Oliver Evans, George Joshua, Edmund Evans, Charles Redman and Jonathan Cooke.

One by one they discovered the bodies which were carried to the boatkeeper’s cottage. They were identified as:  Eleanor Essex, Miss James, daughter of Rev Dr James, Rector of Panteg,  Janet Sloper, Fanny Ion of Abersychan,  Campbell Edwards, Kate Edwards,  Jessie Edwards, Granville Edwards and  Luke Sanger the boatman. All the bodies were taken to the Sangers’ cottage.

The survivors were: J.F.Hiron, James Rowland Essex, Stanley Essex, George Edwards and a 12 year old girl Constance Sloper.

The inquest into the tragedy was held in Pontypool Town Hall under the Coroner Mr E.D.Batt. The only witness called was Mr James Rowland Essex. The jury returned a verdict of “accidentally drowned” and added a recommendation that, if the boat were to be used in future, it should be provided with buoys and other life-saving equipment. The other recommendation was that the posts in the bottom of the pond should not be longer than 15 inches.

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.

Severe Pontypool weather in 1940s

January 19, 2012

On August 19 2008 I wrote a blog post about Pontypool’s big freeze   <  Pontypool’s big freeze of 1941  >  On February 5 2009 I wrote about Pontypool’s great snow of 1947    <  Pontypool’s great snow of 1947  > You might have read these.

I have recently received an email from Michael Taylor with some photographs of these events. I assume that the first photograph is of 1941. Certainly this is typical of what could be seen all over Pontypool and the surrounding areas. You can clearly see how the weight of ice has brought down the cables and has even pulled over the massive post.


The ice-covered cables caused them to crash to the ground

The other four photographs below are of the snow in Pontypool Park in 1947. I imagine these were taken after the first fall because they do not show how deep the snow was, in some places well over a foot with drifts considerably deeper.

Snow on Pontypool Park tennis courts 

Snow covered Pontypool Park

Difficult to see the paths

Snow-laden tree in the park

My grateful thanks to Michael for providing these photographs.