Posts Tagged ‘Donkey Steps’

Information and a request

March 17, 2011

One enjoyable aspect of writing this blog is the number of emails I receive from people who either give me information or ask for it. In this post there’s a bit of each.

A short while ago I received an email from Jeff Oates asking for information about the Robin Hood pub at Cwmffrwdoer. He says:

“I recently discovered from the 1911 Census that my Great Grandfather Oliver Richards born 1869, lived in the Robin Hood Public House, Cwmffrwdoer, with his wife and 10 children. A few weeks ago I managed to find and photograph the ruins of this pub. I have learned from several sources, that the pub was still open in the 1950s, but I have been unable to find any photographs of it. I would love to hear from anyone who may have such a photo or indeed any memories of this pub.”

If anyone can remember anything about this pub please email me ( and I will pass on the information to Jeff.


Another email came from Harold Clarke who had some interesting information about the Donkey Steps which from time to time have had several mentions in this blog. He says:

“With reference to the park gates I did first get told of the blacksmith committing suicide over missing one bunch of grapes when attending George Street School and have heard the same story many times. I would think it correct.

The Donkey Steps that have always gone by that name as long as I can remember are not the true Donkey Steps. These are buried under the Road surface and were a series of long shallow steps so that the horses pulling the drays up the Bell Pitch well all the way from the Globe Hotel could be hitched one behind the other with extra horses being brought in at the bottom. This put them on relatively flat ground which enabled them to be pulled up the very step gradient. I am trying to find a write up on this in one of my books. I am sure I still have it.

The picture of the Masons pub brought back a conversation, many years ago with my father who said there were two pubs long gone from the end of Broadway. I am sure one was the Masons, I might remember the other some time. My father would have been familiar with this part as he was born in Nicholas Street.

I am sure in the back of my mind there was an air raid shelter on the end of Broadway also a Static Tank same side as the houses but if I am right it would have been one of the first removed after the war as I do not remember playing in or on this one as we did at the bottom of Broadway and the Circle Brynwern”

If any visitor has a picture of the Donkey Steps I would very much appreciate a copy to add to my ever-growing file of photographs of Pontypool.


News of Gibson Square

February 14, 2011

Since my last posting on this blog a week ago there has been quite a flurry of activity and I’ve received a number of emails containing some valuable information and photographs.

First of all I should like to thank Jeff Oates who supplied me with a 1917 map of Pontypool which quite clearly shows the whereabouts of Gibson’s Square. I print a copy of the map below. If you locate the top of Bridge Street and Franketti’s chip shop, the Donkey Steps are just on the other side of High Street (or The Bell Pitch as we referred to it). Just a short way up the steps on the right was a low wall and behind it were a few houses accessed by a gap in the wall. When walking up the steps it was possible to look over the wall and down into the houses below. As you will see on the map, that was Gibson’s Square.

I have coloured Gibson’s Square in red and Gibson’s Lane in green

Strangely enough, when I originally asked my friend Eric about this matter he made the suggestion that Gibson’s Square might have been in that very place; that was before his neighbour told him it was at Trevethin. I had no idea where it was. Perhaps Eric had been told the whereabouts many years ago and it suddenly surfaced in his mind. Our brains are strange things when it comes to memories of long ago.

A narrow lane leads from the bottom of the houses and runs alongside them up to where Broadway was eventually built.  It’s marked as Gibson’s Lane on the map above. According to the Google aerial map of that area it looks as though the lane is still there. It also seems as though all that area down to the bottom of the Bell Pitch is now a green area. Anyone living there might be able to confirm that.

In my last posting I published the email from Jan Davey asking the whereabouts of Fairfield, Tin Town and Gibson’s Square. Because of the help I’ve received she now knows all three.

But there is also a bonus !  Apart from the information about Gibson’s Square, Jeff Oates later sent me a photograph – taken in 1931 – of Town School folk dancers who had won trophies. You can see the photo below which was published in the Free Press. On the left is Mr Petty, about 10 years younger than when he taught me, and on the right is the headmaster Mr Lewis. I don’t know who the two women are but they were not on the staff when I attended the school, nor was there any folk dancing.

Town School folk dancers with their trophies. Photograph taken in 1931
Mr Petty on the left and Mr Lewis on the right. No other names known.

Jan told me in her email that her mother spoke about being in Mr Petty’s class. She also thinks that the girl in the front row second from the left bears a resemblance to her mother, so, taking both ideas into account the girl is probably Jan’s mother. She doesn’t have any photographs of her mother at that age.

Since receiving the above information I have been sent a huge collection of well over 300 photographs from Terry Stundon. Some are very old and some taken recently, but I was delighted to receive them and, subject to copyright, I shall be publishing some of them on this blog in the appropriate postings. Because of this I would urge visitors, once again, to retrace their steps through the blog as I am constantly adding information and illustrations. Also there are comments added, especially over the last few days.

If any visitors recognise anyone who is not named in any photographs on the blog I should be pleased to know their names and, where possible, hand on the information to relatives. Any relevant photographs would also be welcomed.