Posts Tagged ‘Harold Clarke’

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.


Further information on the Robin Hood, the Gregories and playing marbles

September 20, 2011

I have recently received an email from Harold Clarke concerning some of the items posted on this blog. I know that some visitors are researching their family history so I am quoting the salient points of Harold’s email below. My thanks to him for this information.

“I have some information to add. In The Kelly’s Directory for 1901 it shows Jabez Gregory living at Fairfield Handbury Road and William Henry Gregory, Boot Maker, also living in Handbury Road. It would have to be a big coincidence if the two were not related, Jabez being the same that kept the Robin Hood and the coal mine. Jabez I believe to be the son of Benjamin Gregory born in Somerset and his wife Ann. Pentwyn Slope situated near Abersychan first opened 1843 and closed in 1917. It seems to have been owned at the time of closure by Jabez listed as J Gregory and Co Ltd. It had four men working there, two underground and two on the surface. It is listed as mining old coal. The actual location I believe to be to the rear of the present cricket pitch although there is some evidence that it could be near the viaduct  close to the Robin Hood as I have another mine known as Pentwyn Slope owned by Oliver Richards from Snatchwood with two men working below in 1908.

“If Jeff Oates has done any more research I would certainly like to hear from him as we have an overlap in dates. I have John Curtis as landlord in 1901. He married twice having eleven children, maybe twelve. I know, as previously stated, that one of the Curtises married Albert Powell so I have The Curtis Powell family through to the 1930s as landlords. Somewhere in there fits Jeff’s grandfather who had to be named Oates in 1911. I will get the pub records. 

“As I was writing the above, I don’t know why, but the following occurred to me: “KNUCKLEDOWN BARFULLOCK” pronounced as one word, meant knuckles firmly on the ground and the marble had to roll before hitting the target marble.” 


I also received an email from Elizabeth Sefton who accidentally came across the blog (as so many people do) whilst looking for information on Pontypool Japan Ware.


“I enjoyed reading about the Gregories. I have very fond memories of the shop and the owners. My parents always insisted on my three sisters and myself having good leather shoes on our feet. And the Gregories were invaluable to my parents to make sure we got the best. We lived in Edward Street Pontypool. I used to get so excited when I had new shoes (still do actually). I loved everything about getting them. The walk to the shop, the smell of new shoes as you walked through the door, the fuss I got from Mr and Mrs Gregory, looking at the little shoes in the glass cabinet in the front of the shop, the seats, stools with mirrors, and stacks of boxes of shoes in the fitting room, having my feet measured, choosing my shoes and last but not least watching Mr Gregory adeptly packing our shoes in brown paper tied with string. Sometimes I would be allowed to wear my new shoes home, so Mr Gregory would put my old shoes in the box and pack them in the same way. 

“Years later, when I had children of my own, the tradition of going to Gregories for good leather shoes continued but for both my sons the memories are of the young Mr Gregory (Anthony) who taught my two sons to tie their shoes with the two loop bow method, which my youngest son (now 33) has continued to use. I am glad this site popped up whilst I was looking for information about Pontypool Japan Ware. Lovely memories!! Thank you.”


As a result of Elizabeth’s letter, I phoned my cousin, Anthony Gregory, to let him know that his lessons on tying shoes with the two loop bow method were still bearing fruit. I told him about Harold’s information, above, and he said that Jabez Gregory was a distant cousin. W.H. Gregory was Anthony’s grandfather. I remember him as I met him on a couple of occasions when I was a young lad.

Anthony also said that the Gregories hailed from Pilton in Somerset so that ties up with some of Harold’s information. He further told me that Bob Trump, referred to in a much earlier posting on this blog, was the great uncle of Michael, Anthony and Vera. Apparently there was a Keith Gregory who had a shop in Freehold Land. I know nothing about him but if anyone remembers the shop I’d be pleased to hear about it.

Another member of the Gregory family was Owen Gregory who, at quite a young age, had a shoe shop in Osborne Road, Pontypool. Whilst I was doing my book signing at the Pontypool Museum last November, a gentleman approached me to ask for another of my books “Pontypool Memories”. He said he had already bought one but he wanted another to send out to Australia to Owen Gregory who is now living there. Apparently he knew Owen and spent some time with him when visiting Australia.