Archive for the ‘Scenery’ Category

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.

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Photographs of Peake’s coach crash scene

November 24, 2011

Photographs of Peake’s coach crash scene

There has been considerable interest in the tragic Peake’s coach crash scene. One visitor to my blog, Michael Taylor, has kindly sent in three photographs of the place where it happened. Thanks Michael. Here they are:

This is where the coach crashed through the parapet of the bridge
and fell into the River Monnow. It was a 20 foot drop.

This photograph shows the very sharp corner
which the driver had to negotiate. 

Here it is possible to see how narrow the road is.
The left hand side of the Red & White bus is almost touching the wall. 

Tragic Peakes’ Coach Accident – two men killed

November 20, 2011

TRAGIC PEAKES’ COACH ACCIDENT. TWO MEN KILLED.

I am indebted for this blog post to Monty Dart of Newport. She is writing a book “Who Killed Dripping Lewis?” the story of the unsolved murder of William Alfred Lewis, of Plasmont House, Conway Road, Pontypool on 22nd May 1939.

Monty is planning to publish her book in about September next year. When I receive confirmation of the publication I shall publish full details on this blog.

One of the chapters in the book deals with the Peakes’ coach accident on 29th May 1939 when one of their coaches plunged into the River Monnow. The following is not the whole chapter but just a taster from the book.

“The resources of Pontypool police were already stretched to the limit, when on 29th May a coach, owned by Peakes of Pontypool, swerved across a road at a bridge, tore through a hedge and steel railings and dropped 15ft into the river. The driver and one passenger were killed and twenty one other passengers were injured. Elwyn George Thomas Palmer, the driver was aged 30, a young married man with two children of 6, Wern Terrace, he died on admission to Hereford Hospital . The passenger who died was Henry Whitcome, a widower aged 62, of 7, Twmpath, a mortar man employed on the surface at Tirpentwys Colliery. His body was pulled from the river by rescuers. He had a family of seven children. Palmer was no longer employed by Peakes, but helping out for the day because of a shortage of drivers. The outing had been arranged from the Horseshoe Inn, Pontypool. It was midnight and the passengers, who had enjoyed a day out in Worcester were merry and singing  when the coach plunged into the Monnow. The drivers of passing cars scrambled down to the coach and smashed the windows with the starting handles of their cars. They also tore at the fabric of the roof to remove it and pull passengers to safety. The Free Press reported:

“The injured were taken to three different hospitals – at Abergavenny: Ernest Horsman, 28, Chapel Lane, Pontypool aged 26, shock and a cut forehead. James Whelan, 2 castle Road, Pontypool, aged 43, concussion and abrasions. Alfred Williams, 7, Bunkers, Blaenavon aged 64, cut head and bruised ribs. James Evans, 2, Long Row, Upper Race, Pontypool aged 78, cut head, shock and concussion. James Morgan, 11, Chapel Lane, Pontypool aged 55, cut head and bruised face.

“At Hereford : William Trinder, 9, Nicholas Street, Pontypool, Gwilym Morgan, 4, Forge Road, Pontypool, Edgar Pinney, 8, Chapel Lane, Pontypool, Alfred Groves, Coedcae Place, Pontypool, Charles Pinney, 2, Clifton Place, Pontypool, Ivor Newman, 15, Coedcae Place, James Rosser, 18, Park Crescent, Penygarn. Ivor Newman, Alfred Groves and Gwilym Morgan are the most seriously injured.

“At Pontypool: John Purchase aged 76 of Chapel Yard, High Street, Pontypool, shock, lacerated eyes, ear and face. Thomas Waite, aged 29 of Edward Street, Pontypool, leg injuries and head lacerations. Ivor Morgan, aged 45, Mountain View, Pontnewynydd, concussion and cut lips. Ernest Evans, aged 45 of Crumlin Street, Pontypool cut on forearm and head.

“In addition five men were taken to Pontypool Hospital but were discharged after treatment – Harold Loveday, aged 30 of Edward Street, Pontypool, James Matthews aged 41, New Houses, Coedcae, Pontypool, John Rutter Welsh aged 36 of Forge Row, Pontnewynydd, William Thomas aged 29, Ivy Cottage, Chapel Lane, Pontypool.

“Ambulances were called to the scene but by the time they arrived many men had been taken by passing cars to the various hospitals.

“Henry Whitcombe lived with his son and daughter-in-law, Mr and Mrs William Whitcombe and their four children. His wife had died a year last September. He died from a fractured skull. He was buried at Panteg Cemetery.

“Elwyn Palmer is reported to have bled to death after glass had pieced his armpit. He died twenty minutes after admission to Hereford Hospital. Palmer had played rugby for a number of teams since the age of twelve, when he was a member of the first Panteg Wern team to win the Schoolboys’ Cup. Later he played for St James Rugby Team, for Newport Harlequins, and latterly for Cwmbran. Mr Palmer was the second of three sons of the late Mr James Palmer and Mrs Palmer of 2, Wren’s Nest, Pontyrhydyrun and has three young sisters. He leaves two young children a little girl aged seven and a boy aged two. He had been driving goods vehicles for around thirteen years and had recently been awarded a Road Safety Diploma.

“The inquest held at South Herefordshire heard from the first witness on the scene, Mr Thomas James Watkins, of Hereford who said there were patches of fog around at the time. As he approached the bridge he saw a man in the middle of the road, running towards him waving his hands. Mr Watkins continued: ‘I pulled up, and the man, who was covered in blood, told me that a bus had gone into the river. I got out of the car and saw what had happened. It is impossible to describe the scene, it was ghastly, injured men lying all over the place. The top of the bus and side had been ripped off and the only way to get to the vehicle and help the men, who could not help themselves was by climbing along a tree, which had been knocked down and was lying on top of the bus. At one time there were as many as twelve buses and cars on the scene, playing their lights onto the wrecked vehicle, while the rescue work went on. One of the first to know of the crash was Mr L. Crump, a farm worker of Grosmont Hill. He was reading in bed when he heard a tremendous crash. He could hear men’s voices in the distance, so he dressed and ran to the direction of the bridge. ‘The bridge was a danger spot’ he said ‘and has been the scene of a number of accidents. I could hear men’s voices in the distance. I could hear a lot of noise but I couldn’t understand what it was.

“The Coroner said that it was very difficult for the people at the scene to treat so many cases, particularly as they had to work in the dark. All of the passengers had been immersed in the river, their clothes were saturated and it was difficult under the circumstances to ascertain the injuries to each man.

“Mr Garfield Lewis, High Street, Pontypool, a boiler fireman at Pontnewynydd Works, a member of the party escaped with bruises and shock. The coach he said, had been on an outing to Worcester. They left Worcesster around 6 pm and made a stop of a few hours at Hereford. They left there about 11pm. Originally he was sitting in the back of the bus but had moved to a seat in the centre shortly before the accident. ‘The first thing I knew was that I went up in the air and my head hit the top of the bus. Then I was aware of water swirling around my legs’. He managed to crawl out of the coach unaided. Although dazed and shaken, he kept his head, stood by the coach and did what he could to help others. ‘One man,’ he said ‘was partially submerged. He was an elderly man. I got hold of him by his coat and held his head out of the water. The trouble was, we didn’t know where the road was or where we were. The interior lights of the bus were still on.’ Some of the men managed to climb up the bank. A car that passed the scene contained Charles Prosser of Pontypool and Frank Broderick of London. Amazingly, they both knew Garfield Lewis and gave him a lift back home. Another passenger on the bus Mr William Thomas of Ivy Cottage, Chapel Lane, Pontypool a labourer at Glascoed said ‘The coach was travelling at a very moderate speed. Before we realised what had happened we found ourselves up to our waists in water. I don’t know if the coach was on its side or on its wheels when we landed in the river. We all did our best to see everyone was alright. I think every one of us was submerged at one point.’ Mr James Matthews aged 41, a Blaendare miner had X-rays for a rib injury. He said that after the accident they had to climb up a high bank to get out of the water. ‘I had a hard smack on the forehead but I don’t know what I struck,’ he said.

“Mr Charles Vernon Jenkins, who lived in the same house as James Purchase, revealed that he almost went on the outing instead of Purchase. It appears that having bought the ticket Mr Purchase began to have ‘cold feet’ about going on his first ever coach trip and had tried to sell the ticket.

“A verdict of Accidental death with no blame attaching in any way to the driver’ was returned by the jury at the inquest at Pontdrilas.”

From my own point of view this account proves that my post “Accidents, Fatalities and Diseases” had an error in it. One paragraph referred to Elwyn Palmer having a coach accident on the Crumlin Road. Because of the above evidence, this is obviously incorrect. There was an accident with a bus on the Crumlin Road about this time but it was, obviously, not the one in  which Elwyn Palmer was the driver. My apologies for that error. Over a period of 70 years the memory can let you down. It is equally strange that my friend Eric Smith was also convinced that our neighbour, Elwyn, had died on Crumlin Road. We well remember the tragedy of Elwyn’s death but it obviously occurred near Worcester. We must both be wrong.

A word map of Pontypool 1881

August 20, 2011

Following the many recent comments on the topography of Pontypool and also some of its residents, I received an email from Darren Jones in which he describes in some detail a journey through the town with reference to the map of 1881. From the many emails I receive I know that a number of visitors to this blog no longer live in Pontypool; many have moved abroad. Some have, or have had, families living in Pontypool but may never have visited the town themselves. These people find the descriptions and visual information of great interest, particularly if they are researching their family history.

This is borne out by the number of hits on this blog. On 1st August it received 141 hits in one day and the total number of hits to date is well over 20,000 ! I don’t think it’s the same people who return to read the blog again and again; it must be folk from far and wide that are getting results when they Google “Pontypool”.

I am printing below Darren’s email, with my thanks, as I’m sure it will be of interest:

 

 “I have enjoyed reading your blog and have found it very interesting. Since reading the posts about the location of the Old Parrot, I have been looking on the Town Maps from 1881, which cover in good detail a sort of square mile or so of town. I started to write it out to add some locations of pubs to my own family tree site and got a bit carried away. 

I’ll add what I have written down, it may or may not be of any use to you. 

 Entering town From George Street

Down George St, Over the Railway Bridge and The Fountain Inn is on your left. Few buildings and you are at the junction to Malthouse Lane. Few yards down on the left is an alleyway leading to a Brewery and also Brewery Lane . Carry on down over George Street and you have The Bull Inn on your left. 3 or 4 more buildings and The White Hart is on your left ( To Bernie Groves Clinic) West Street on your right with Railway Parade just above it. 6 buildings down on the right is The Castle Inn with a Brewery just behind it. Crown Hotel on your right (Woolworths) The Full Moon on your left ( Old Tescos ) on to The Cross.

If you were to go straight on towards the bank, turn left down Park Road and The Forgehammer Hotel would be on your right, where the grass embankment now is and the bus stop. From The Cross up Crane St, 2nd building on the right is the Victoria Hotel. Opposite is The White Lion. Up Crane St, the Baptist Chapel on the right. Straight opposite is Japan Court. Get to the Junction of Market Street and you have The Ship Inn, then The Swan Hotel, then the Three Cranes. Opposite this is The Globe.

Under the railway bridge onto Montague Terrace, Past The Montague Hotel to a Junction. On the left is The Railway Inn ( Think this became the Wrington Arms ?)  just before you get to Crane St Station. Carry on up past Town School and on the right you have a Methodist Chapel. Opposite this was a Presbyterian Chapel. On up towards Bridge St Junction and opposite is Gibson’s lane, where you can either cut off up over the Donkey Steps into Gibson’s Sq or follow it on to the back of the Masons Arms. Go up High Street, past the One Bell pub, round the corner, where Broadway is, was Gibson’s Square. Right where the Workman’s Club is. Up towards the Tranch just opposite the lower entrance to Gwent Street was the Masons Arms. on up the road on the Right about 100 meters is The Bush.

Entering Town From Pontymoile

(Where the 24 hour garage is) There’s an Armoury on your left just before Bailey Terrace, and a small Gas Works on the right where the builders are now. Up Rockhill Road, 100 meters and there’s a small Foundry on your right butting onto the previous Gas Works. Turn right down Trosnant St (right before Ray Cowles) over a bridge then there’s a brewery on your left hand side. Next door is The Hanbury Arms Inn. 100 yards and you have The Kings Arms on your left. Few metres up on your right is The Friends’ Meeting House. Just up from here on the right is Zion Baptist Chapel with 2 Burial grounds around it. On the junction here is The Cambrian Inn. The road forks here, the right fork going to the Hanbury Hotel, the left hand fork bending around to The Clarence Hotel.

If you had carried on going up Rockhill Road, On your left there is a Quarry then down to your right you would see the Gasworks and 3 Gasometers then Mill Road leading to Trosnant Corn Mill and a Malthouse where the Garages are, and Mill Pond just behind the Laundry. The Left hand side was all track, with offices and goods weighing areas. Just to the right is The Clarence Hotel with Trosnant Lodge which became a doctor’s surgery. Across to Upper Bridge St, and there’s a Welsh Baptist Chapel and Burial ground. On up towards St Johns Road (Albion Road) under the railway bridge. Limekiln road goes off to your left towards the Destrucutor, just opposite is the entrance to Lower Park Terrace. 100 meters on the left hand side is The Unicorn Inn. 

Then onto Albion Road. Go past Crumlin Road, Albion Terrace to the right and Chapel Lane just behind it running parallel to it. Past Sycamore House and Ivy Cottage. Nothing there apart from a few cottages and Twmpath Level on your Left, then on towards The Finers Arms on your Right.

Thank you David for your time, Sorry if it makes no sense or is worthless to you. This was followed from a Town Plan from 1881, so confusion can be made as a lot of these were changed or demolished by the time your readers were born.”

 

With regard to the query from Clive Barnby about the possibility of publishing the 1881 map on this site, and whether there is a source for viewing it, I would like to point out that the scope for publishing graphics in this blog is somewhat limited. Something as large as a whole map of Pontypool might not be large enough in detail to be of much use. However, regarding the possibility of viewing the map, I should think that the Pontypool Museum might have a copy available for visitors to see.

 

Murder at the Parrot Inn and some old photographs of Pontypool

July 20, 2011

I’ve recently received another email from Mary (ptcp officer at Pontypool Museum) in which she says that she was given the name of one of the wrestlers by a lady who remembers reading about the murder at the pub. His name was “Fancy Fan” (or possibly “Fran”) and came from Blaenavon. If anyone knows about this character please write in and say.

I don’t think he would have gone to West Mon ! Living in Blaenavon would have put him in Priestley House (named after the first headmaster). Certainly while I was at the school I can’t recall anyone who looked like a transvestite wrestler. No, I’m sure he would not have been an old Westmonian !!

*     *     *     *     *

I’ve just received several photographs from Clive Barnby of Pontypridd. They were given to him by Allan Everson and I publish them below:

Moreton Street, Pontypool. This photograph was probably taken during
the construction of the houses in Moreton Street. This was given to
Allan Everson by a lady who lived in one of the houses on the left of the
picture. You can just see two people looking out of the bedroom windows
and a young boy standing under the scaffolding.

Brian Everson when in the RAF.
This is Allan Everson’s older brother. I’m including it because
Brian and I shared the same double desk when we were in
Mr Rees’s class in Town School. We were about nine at the
time. I liked Brian and we got on well sharing similar interests
such as Tommy Handley’s ITMA broadcasts during the war.

This is a photograph of some of the customers at the Noah’s Ark public house
in Pontypool, taken about 1930. I don’t know where this pub was so if anyone
can remember it please let me know.

*     *     *     *     *

I was recently looking through an old scrapbook of mine when I came across two very old photographs of Crane Street which were taken about 1850. In the first one you can just see the entrance to the narrow lane (under a large sign) at the side of Sandbrooke and Daws. This is where I saw the sheep being slaughtered which I described in a much earlier posting.

Lower Crane Street

Upper Crane Street

A request from Pontypool Museum

June 2, 2011

I recently received an email from Mary Mahabir who is working on the Community Project at the Pontypool Museum:

I was looking at your blog and wondered if it would be possible to post something on there for our Pontypool Townscape Community Project?

The project is all about saving the old photos, documents and artefacts relating to where people lived, worked and went to school in the Pontypool area. The PTCP will photograph or scan the documents, pictures and artefacts and store the images/information on a database for future generations to access – all items etc. are returned. We’re also creating a new archive in the museum for any items or papers that people wish to donate or loan to us. 

If any members of your blog could help with our project, I’d be very grateful.

 Best wishes

 Mary Mahabir

Pontypool Townscape Community Project

Many visitors to this blog have been very helpful in the past in sending me emails with useful information for my blog and also quite a lot of photographs. If anyone can help with the project I’m sure  the project officers will be very grateful.

I suggest that you contact the museum direct if you think you might have something of interest. The staff are all very friendly and helpful. Here are the contact details:

email for project:   ptcp@live.co.uk
telephone:  01495 752036
address:  Park Road Pontypool NP4 6JH

Here is some information about the project:

PONTYPOOL TOWNSCAPE COMMUNITY PROJECT

An exciting, two year project to collect, catalogue and digitise documents and photographs of Pontypool town and its surrounding settlement areas.

With a Heritage Lottery Grant and in conjunction with Torfaen County Borough Council, two part time project officers, a team of volunteers and the people of Pontypool, we have embarked on this two year community project to make up a detailed digital resource of the historic development of the Pontypool Townscape.

To research the historically important evidence of the Townscape of Pontypool, we are asking local people to bring in any interesting pictures, documents, deeds, leases and even rent books, whether for business, shops or housing in the area. The museum would like to copy and record this information for future generations to use. We also aim to gather all this historically significant evidence to create an exhibition to be held in the museum at the end in 2012.

For more information or to book a free talk about the Pontypool Townscape Community Project ring Mary or Peter on 01495 752036.

 

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

May 27, 2011

I’d like to thank Clive Barnby for his comments regarding the last posting about the Donkey Steps. I found them very helpful in jogging my memory. It needs jogging these days! He says:

“A neat sketch, David. In “my day” there was a butcher’s to the right of the steps as you looked up. Whether it was immediately to the right, I’m not sure. Think there may have been a house on the left.”

I’d forgotten the butcher’s shop when I was drawing my rough pencil sketch, but Clive is absolutely correct. There was a butcher’s shop just a little way down from the steps. It wasn’t immediately to the right of the steps. There was some sort of large structure in that place and, after thinking about it, it must have been some part of a boundary wall around the Gibson’s Square houses. I’ve printed below a rough watercolour sketch showing my revised thoughts. The butcher’s shop must have been built below the foundations of the Gibson’s Square houses. This suggests that it might have been just one storey but I cannot be certain about this; it might have had living accommodation above it.

This is my revised rough watercolour sketch of the area, again drawn from memory
of over 70 years ago.  I’ve put the little figure in the red coat to give some scale to the picture.
He is looking over the wall and down into the basement of the house.

When speaking to my friend, Eric Smith, about the Gibson’s Square houses we both thought that there were probably three of them, although there could have been six semi-detached houses as the structures were very large, probably much larger than those drawn in my sketch. The anonymous building to the left of the steps I simply cannot remember in any detail but Eric Smith says that he remembers that it was a house and that he recalls seeing a man in a wheelchair who used to sit outside it.

In my sketch I have placed the butcher’s shop next down to the large wall but it might have been a little further down the hill. As I passed it four times every school day I vividly recall looking into the window of the shop and seeing joints of meat and large trays of tripe. I would have been quite small at the time but I remember that the shop window was quite low and I think the building was constructed on a step area which I’ve tried to show,

Lower down were several small cottages also built on their own “steps” and a little way back off the pavement. One of them belonged to Watkins the tinsmith who featured in an earlier posting.

Clive further says:

 “The house at the top had disappeared; there was little evidence of houses there but my memories are from the 50s.  Remember a hedge running along the top to the right as you walked up, think some of the land the other side of it was used for the growing of vegetables during WWII.”

This comment really jogged my memory and I now recall the area at the top of the steps where the path flattened out. This was opposite the ruined buildings bordering Broadway. On the right there was a wire fence bordering some allotments. There might well have been a hedge inside the fence.These were used before the war so we can be certain that they would have been used during the war when we were all urged to “Dig for Victory”.

Clive’s final comment is this:

“Not sure whether from the bottom of the steps, you could see the top. Think the top curved out of sight but it is a long time ago !! Also seemed quite long but, then, things seemed longer, bigger. On returning in adulthood, it is surprising how small many of the places are.”

I’m sure this is correct too. That is why I queried the curve of the steps in my last posting. I couldn’t seem to remember being able to see from bottom to top of the steps. In my revised sketch I’ve made the steps curve around more to the right.

I think this revised sketch of over 70 years ago is about as far as we can go with information about this area unless there is someone who remembers further details or possibly might have a photograph or a drawing made many years ago.

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

May 23, 2011

So far I’ve not received any further information about the Donkey Steps and Gibson Square, and certainly no photographs. Therefore I’ve decided to draw a rough sketch of both from my own memory of them over 70 years ago. I found this rather difficult as I was trying to draw something I couldn’t see and could only vaguely remember in an imperfect way. This has resulted in a pretty awful drawing. Still, this might start a few other memories stirring and I might possibly end up with a reasonably accurate drawing.

I enclose a copy of my sketch hoping I’ll get some information on the following questions:

1. Do you know what two buildings were on either side of the entrance to the steps on the Bell Pitch?

2. Do you know how many steps were in each flight and how many flights there were?

3. I know the steps were curved. Have I got the curve more or less correct?

4. Were the Gibson Square houses two or three storeys?

I remember that the wall in front of the Gibson Square houses was short enough for us to look over the top and down into the bottom floor of the houses which was below ground level.

Please email me with any information you might remember or leave a comment.

My rough sketch of the Donkey Steps and Gibson Square houses

Old photographs of Pontypool’s shopping centre

March 29, 2011

When I lived in Pontypool during the 1930s and 1940s the shopping centres of most towns, large and small, were roughly somewhere in the middle of the town. There were no “trading estates” on the outskirts of towns. Most people wouldn’t have had a car to reach them if there had been. Shopping was a more cohesive experience in that everything you wanted you could usually get in some shop or other in the town centre. On the other hand shopping was not an all encompassing experience so that you could get almost everything you required in one shop as in today’s supermarkets.

So my theme for today’s photographs is Pontypool town centre shops etc in Commercial Street and Crane Street.

J.Knapp’s grocery shop

This looks like a very old photograph of the grocery shop of Mr J.Knapp. This was in Commercial Street and can be seen in the third photograph. Presumably that is Mr Knapp and his two assistants standing in the doorway. Flanked on either side and slightly above them there appears to be two sides of pork.

Commercial Street

Judging by the clothes on the young man in the centre of the photograph and the sepia toning of the print, this too is a very old photograph.

Commercial Street

This photograph shows a longer stretch of Commercial Street. I should say it’s slightly later than the photograph above but is still quite old. Mr Knapp’s grocery shop is in evidence though, of course, we don’t know whether Mr Knapp himself was still running it or whether one of his young assistants might have taken over.

Looking down Crane Street

The attire of the boys and the lady in black seem to indicate a photograph more or less contemporary with the second photograph above. On the left we can clearly see the sign for Walker’s Restaurant and the sign above Morgan’s shop. The young boy on the right is standing outside the top entrance to the market.


The shop of E. Fowler and Son

This shop was always referred to as “Bottom” Fowler’s because around the corner and higher up in Crane Street there was a “Top” Fowler’s. I went into this shop with my mother on many occasions and the thing that really fascinated me was the overhead wire which carried all the money flying to a central cashier who put any necessary change in the container and sent it back for the customer. Farthings were in use in those days and Fowler’s were very fond of putting up prices which were just one farthing short of the shilling; such prices as “one-and-eleven-three-farthings” which was only one farthing less than two shillings. For the sake of any visitors under the age of 40, perhaps I should explain that there were 4 farthings in a penny, 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.



Old photographs of Clarence area

March 22, 2011

I’m trying to establish some sort of theme for these old photographs in case some visitors might have a special interest. Last week the theme was the Pontypool carnival. This time there are only three photographs and they are about the Clarence and Rockhill Road slightly beyond it.

Clarence corner

This looks like a really old photograph of Clarence corner. Notice the cloud of smoke coming from the gasworks over on the right. On the left two people are standing. I remember that area quite well because it was somewhere about there that Dr Siddons had his surgery. I visited the place on a number of occasions with my mother, sometimes in a state of fear and trembling. I recall that he had his own dispensary adjoining the surgery. I think my parents used to pay 2/6 a quarter to be members of his surgery and this included any medicines which might be provided.

The Clarence Hotel

The Clarence Hotel was considered to be the “posh” hotel in Pontypool. On the left you can just see the RAC sign of approval.

Corner of Rockhill Road

This looks like a very old photograph of Rockhill Road. I assume it IS Rockhill Road; I can’t think of anywhere else that looks like this picture. I imagine that the Pontymoile park gates are down to the right on the road in view.