Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dear Visitor

March 26, 2017

It is with great regret that I write to let you know that David Hughes suffered quite a severe stroke in February. He is still in hospital and would value your prayers. I’m sure that, when he is able, he will be more than happy to continue this blog but in the meantime he is busy on the road to recovery.

Thanks for your understanding,

Paul Hughes (David’s son)

2015 in review

December 30, 2015

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pontypool choirs in the 1930s

September 16, 2015

Back in the 1930s the entertainment on offer was limited; there were cinemas of course but we had to pay to visit those; the wireless was free, once you’d bought it and were prepared to pay the annual licence fee of £1. The BBC was set up in 1922 so it was a fairly new experience.

As a result there was quite a lot of local amateur entertainment put on by churches, Sunday Schools, Brotherhoods, and youth organisations etc. I remember that at Park Terrace Methodist Church there was the annual Sunday School Anniversary with three services on the day during which the scholars sang and recited. There were generally a few “socials” during the year, such as the Harvest Social which took place on the Monday after the harvest services. There was a small charge to attend in order to raise church funds.

Some of the major events were put on by the two Pontypool Choirs: the Pontypool Choral Society and the Pontypool Male Voice Choir each having well over 50 members. Recently, while sorting out my collection of thousands of photographs I came across two photos of these organisations which I include in this post. If you can identify anyone please either make a comment or email me.

Pontypool Choral Society

Pontypool Choral society

Both my parents belonged to this choir. My father is in the seated row third from left and my mother is immediately in front of him. The only member I recall them talking about was George Ashman. One of his relatives might identify him if he is in the photo.

Pontypool Male Voice Choir

Pontypool Male Voice Choir

My father was also in this choir and is seated in the front row third from right. If any visitor knows anything about either photo I’d be pleased to hear about it.

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.

Do you know anything about Joan Baldwin living in a miner’s cottage in Garndiffaith 1920s – 30s

March 14, 2015

I have just received the following email from Stephen Burnham.
If you can help please leave a comment as time is now short.

I have just been browsing your excellent site Reminiscences. …and I was wondering if you could help me with my enquiry.
My wife and I are travelling from Norwich to Garndiffaith on the 23rd March and will be staying in Usk for two nights.
We are looking for the place where her late mother Joan Baldwin b.1926 grew up.
We know she lived in a miner’s cottage in Garndiffaith.
We have since been informed by a surviving relative that the cottages have been demolished.Apparently there is now a new Co-op and housing estate where the cottages once stood.
Her cousin has mentioned a name that sounds like Aberystruth.
We don’t want to waste petrol travelling round half of Monmouthshire.
Thank you for taking the time to read my lengthy email.
I would appreciate any help you may have.
Good luck with your site.
Many thanks
Stephen Burnham

100-year-old photo of Cwmffrwdoer Infants School

March 1, 2015

I have just received a photograph (printed below) from Leslie Chisholm of Toronto. She has sent me a photograph of Class 1A at Cwmffrwdoer Infant School taken in or about 1910. Her mother is in the photograph. I estimate that there must be at least 33 children in the class, possibly more. I wonder how many infants teachers today would like to teach a class of that size. The little girl in the front row proudly holding up her slate board has the name of the class written on it.

I found the photograph wonderfully evocative; it is, of course, over 100 years old but some of the items I remember from my own school days in the 1930s, such items as the tortoiseshell stove and the wooden black “slates” both of which I’ve referred to elsewhere in this blog.

Leslie is planning a visit to the area in April and wants to take some photographs. I understand that a new school has been built on the site. If anyone has any information, especially names, of anyone in this photograph or has any information or photographs of the old or new school, please either email me or make a comment on this blog. Any information I receive by email I shall pass on to Leslie.

Infant School

Cwmffrwdoer Infants School class 1A


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.


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



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

The Word Press Annual Report on this blog

January 1, 2013

The Word Press people are the providers of this blog facility.
At the end of each year they supply me with an annual report.

Some of the graphics in the report are of interest only to me, but I enclose below the four which I think might be of interest to many people who visit the blog, some of whom come from far distant corners of the globe.

Picture 1
The above figures show that there were about 170 views every day

Picture 2

This shows which posts were viewed most during 2012

Picture 3
his shows the countries where visitors came from. White means no one visited from that country.
A country with shading means that someone from that country visited the blog.
The darker the shading the more people visited from that country.
If you notice the British Isles are shaded a very dark blue indicating the greatest number of visitors.

Picture 4
hese five gentlemen were the ones who made the most comments.
Quite a lot of other comments were made of course.
I’d like to thank all those who helped by making comments which added further information etc.

Little did I think, when starting this blog, in 2008 that so many visitors worldwide would have had any interest in Pontypool. I’ll now have to see what interest 2013 brings.

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 16

May 26, 2012


Exploring the tunnel

 “Old Louis the artist!”

“Eh? What’s he doing down here at this time of night? He can’t be painting.”

“That’s for sure,” Titch replied. “Well, he’s shown us that there are two doors in the walls of the cellar. We’d better not follow him, but we can have a look at the one he came out of.”

Realising that there was no one else in the cellar, Titch shone his torch on the wall to his left. He noticed that there was some upright moulding on that wall also. “Start pressing on this moulding Miff. It might open the door, same as the other side.” Both boys ran their hands up and down pressing as they went. Suddenly Miff felt the stone give but nothing happened.

“I think this is it Titch.” he whispered. They both pressed heavily in the same spot and were rewarded by a steady slow rumble as a stone door opened inwards before them.

“Wow!” breathed Titch in amazement. “Look Miff. A secret passageway.” They both shone their torches inside and could see a narrow stone-lined tunnel beyond. Slowly they entered.

“Shall we see where it goes?” asked Miff.

“Good idea,” returned Titch. “But we’d better see if we can shut the door first then, if those men come they won’t know we’re in here.” He shone his torch all around the edge of the doorway. One of the stones was painted red. He pressed hard on it and the door rumbled shut.

“Why is that stone painted red?” asked Miff.

“I suppose they realise that only people who know about the passageway would use it. They couldn’t paint the one outside could they?”

Because of the narrowness of the passageway the boys had to walk in single file. Titch led the way flashing his torch ahead as he went. To begin with the walls on each side were quite dry but as they made their way further along, they noticed trickles of water running down the stonework. After they’d walked a hundred metres or so the twisting passage became wider so that they could walk side by side. They also noticed that the top of the passage was higher. Then they walked around a sharp corner and were amazed that right in front of them was a flight of stone steps leading steeply upwards. They started climbing and when they reached the top a curved landing led them in another direction towards another flight of steps.

“Wonder where this place leads to?” queried Titch.

“Dunno! We’ve turned so many corners I don’t know where we are.”

“Let’s have a look at my compass,” replied Titch. He shone his torch on it. “That flight of steps in front of us is pointing due North Miff,” he said. “That means we are climbing up inside the hill. I wonder what’s on top of us?”

“If we carry on climbing we’ll be able to find out,” Miff replied.

At the top of the steps they emerged onto another curved landing which was quite wet under their feet. They rounded two more corners in quick succession and were met by another flight of steps. This time when they reached the top there were no further steps in sight but the passage sloped upwards. After what seemed ages it flattened out again and narrowed.

“We must have walked a quarter of a mile from the entrance by now,” announced Titch in a breathless voice. “Let’s see what’s around that corner.”

As they rounded the corner they noticed that the roof sloped steeply up above them and they emerged onto a flat area of rock about the size of a boxing ring. On the far side they could see a short flight of stone steps with iron railings on the sides.

The boys walked over and stood on the bottom step shining their torch all around. “Strange!” exclaimed Titch. “The top step ends at a blank wall.” They mounted the steps but discovered that, when they stood on the top step, the roof was so low that they were unable to stand up.

“This is weird Titch! Really weird!” exclaimed Miff. “There doesn’t seem to be a way out of this place.”

“There must be one somewhere,” stated Titch. “If old Louis got into this tunnel he must have come through a door somewhere.”

“Can’t see any moulding on this rock like there was down below,” remarked Miff.

“No,” agreed Titch. “But let’s push it and bang on it to see what happens.”

Crouching low to avoid hitting their heads they both pushed and knocked the blank wall all over but nothing happened. Frustrated by their lack of success, the pair sat down on the top step to think about their next move.

“Best turn our torches off,” suggested Titch. “The batteries must be getting low by now.” Instantly they were plunged into darkness.

“What d’you think happened to Bunny, Gogs and Smudgie?” asked Miff.

“I think it’s pretty obvious now that those men must have captured them and taken them somewhere. My guess would be down that other passage we saw Louis go down. They certainly don’t seem to have come this way.”

“What I don’t understand is why old Louis would be in this passage if it doesn”t lead anywhere.”

“I think there must be a door somewhere quite near to us. Otherwise why make these steps?”

“But we pressed all over this blank rock and nothing happened,” returned Miff.

“That’s what puzzles me,” groaned Titch.  He looked towards Miff. “If only . . .” he stopped in mid sentence.

“What’s wrong?”

“Miff, I can faintly see your face.”

“Yeah! I can see yours too.”

“But it should be totally dark in here. There must be light getting in somewhere,” Titch exclaimed. He instinctively looked above his head. “Look! Look, Miff!! Up there!” He pointed to the roof less than a metre above their heads. They could both see a distinct but very faint circle of light about the size of a football.

“That might be the way out Titch!” exclaimed Miff excitedly. “Let’s have a look.” He put his hand on the railing near him and tried to haul himself up. But the railing seemed to give way and move towards him. At the same time there was a hollow rumble above their heads as the circle was suddenly uncovered and admitted a beam of light.

Titch was first on his feet and put his head and shoulders up through the hole. “Wow!” He ducked back down to look at his companion. “You’ll never guess where we are.”