Posts Tagged ‘Brian Jenkins’

Mill Road Pontypool

August 3, 2012

A short time ago a friend gave me a copy of Brian Jenkins’ book “Mill Road” which was published in 2008. The author is about ten years younger than I so that he would have been about two years old when I started my daily five-year trek from Wainfelin to West Mon School which took me very close to Mill Road on my way to the bridge over Clarence Street station which led into Blaendare Road and thence to West Mon. I well remember the sight of the refuse tip, the gas works and the little houses down below as I walked along the pavement.

 Trosnant was well known to the people of Pontypool as the poorest and most run down area of the town. Brian describes the house at number 14 in which the family lived; the Gas Board cottage had no electricity or bathroom and looked out at a rubbish tip.

It so happened that I was to become well informed about living in Trosnant by my friend, John Payne, who came to live next door-but-one to us in School Lane. John’s family had been living in one of the larger houses in Trosnant and his father worked for the Gas Board. After completing the building of Garfield, Harry Vickery, the builder of Penywain Street, put up a pair of semi-detached houses in the field which bordered our house. I noticed that when the Paynes moved in they named their house “Trosnant”.

There was a certain degree of snobbery amongst some of the people of Pontypool who looked down their noses at the inhabitants of Trosnant. I could never understand this because John and I got on so well and spent many hours playing together. In those days the baker’s van was a common sight and many people had their daily loaf delivered to the door. This was the case in School Lane. At the top of the lane were about a dozen or so quite large houses which were well built villas. One was occupied by a well known solicitor with a practice in the town. On one occasion the baker could not get an answer at this house when trying to deliver his loaf so, as the Payne’s also bought bread from him, he asked them if he could leave the loaf at their house to be taken further up the lane by John later on in the day.

John asked me to go up with him to deliver the loaf. The lady of the house answered the door and John explained that the baker had left her loaf at “Trosnant” to be delivered later. The lady looked shell-shocked as her eyebrows reached for the sky. “Trosnant!” she echoed. “Why was it left at Trosnant?” She could hardly believe her ears until John quickly explained that it was the name of their house further down School Lane. This attitude was typical of some people in Pontypool.

Brian Jenkins’ book vividly describes the conditions his family lived in but illustrates how he and his family worked hard to overcome the conditions in which they started to live and finally moved on to better things. As the back cover of the book tells us:

     “The story takes us through the trials and tribulations of life growing up in the South Wales valleys, with the successes and failures of school, college and      work, interlinked with the joys and sadness of family life. We meet an array of wonderful and diverse characters.

     This heart-warming, tear-jerking and entertaining autobiography is a personal record of Brian’s life, not only encapsulating his wonderful memories, but showing how he has become the husband, father, grandfather and indeed the man he is now.”

When the book was published Brian was living in Coed-y-Cando Road, New Inn. When I’d read the book I tried to find his phone number to ring him up to congratulate him on his book but I think he must be ex-directory as I failed to find his number.

The book is what is generally referred to today as a human interest story and I can thoroughly recommend it to visitors to this blog who have an interest in Pontypool’s past.