Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Monday, April 27, 2015

May Meeting

May MEETing
Mike Rees–

“How to start a family history”,

Meeting begins at 7:00pm in the Church hall on MondAY  11th MaY .

Membership: £10 ( including refreshments)
Visitors: £3.

Croeso cynnes i Bawb

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thomas John Woodward aka "Tom Jones".

Phil Davies
Members were treated to a tremendous lecture by BBC pop historian Phil Davies in our monthly meeting. Former headmaster Mr Davies of Neath has gained a reputation as an authority on pop music on both Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. He gave a detailed and wide ranging account of one of Wales's most successful musical sons, Tom Jones. Starting with his early life and career  in Pontypridd the story wended its way to the point where Tom Jones reinvented himself as the elder statesman of pop in recent decades, masterminded by his son and manager, Mark, The talk was accompanied by a variety of video clips, stills and musical interludes. Unfortunately, since the editor was also called upon to act as IT support to Mr Davies a detailed account of the meeting was rather difficult.

Mr Gwyn Thomas, thanked Mr Davies for a wonderfully entertaining night and hoped that he would return in future to give us another installment.

Monday, March 16, 2015

April Meeting "Not Unusual".

Mr Phil Davies (BBc pop historian)
“The Young tom jones”,
Meeting begins at 7:00pm in the Church hall on MondAY  13th April.
Membership: £10 ( including refreshments)
Visitors: £3.
Croeso cynnes i Bawb

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Adelina Patti - a celeb?

Adelina Patti – a media report

Adelina Patti

 This month’s speaker was Caryl Jones of Ystradgynlais. She explained at the outset that she did not want to give a drawn out history of Adelina Patti in her presentation, since she felt that this was well known. Instead, the illustrated talk concentrated on how Patti was covered in the media of the time in order to show how much of a “superstar”, she was. An evident example was the fact that she could claim the first £1000 of any concert which grossed £1500 in takings and also earned double the annual salary of Lily Langtree.

Turning to the newspapers in the first instance, the speaker was able to show her appeal in that her movements were covered in papers and periodicals in Wales, the UK and even the USA. She was also the subject of scandal, gossip and false rumours (nothing new there then Ed.).

Secondly a series of slides was dedicated to pictures of Adelina Patti. Owing to the crude nature of printing in the nineteenth century, these were rare and also could be classified as prints as against photographs. With the exception of a picture taken of the aging Patti for her Obituary, the singer was viewed as a vibrant even “showbiz and airbrushed”, paragon of operatic perfection.

Much as today’s celebrities, Patti endorsed various commercial products. These ranged from Pears soap, Odontobaph toothpaste, an Ammoniaphone to cure all ills, jewellery, gramophones, Bryant and May matches, Havana Cigars and even Eisteddfod tea.

As today, you should not believe anything in the papers too literally and the large audience were shown false reports as to the death of her second husband the Marquis de Caux which was contradicted in the same paragraph. Another report stated that Patti had been the subject of a leg amputation and also that she planned to build a synagogue at Craig y Nos Castle, despite the fact that she was not Jewish?

Caryl Jones finished her talk in humorous vein by showing three separate reports that the world famous opera star had visited various industrial premise within the space of a few months at Barry Docks. The mystery was solved by the fact that it was actually, recording the activity of the vessel SS Adelina Patti at the port.

Mr Gwyn Thomas gave a vote of thanks and stated that his mother remembered hearing Adelina Patti practising in Craig y Nos , from Banwen on still quiet nights without today’s background noise. He thanked Caryl Jones for a very pleasant evening. Next month’s speaker is BBC’s Pop expert Mr Phil Davies who will speak on another famous Welsh singer, the young Tom Jones.

Monday, February 23, 2015

March Lecture

March MEETing
Caryl JONES –

“Madam Patti”,

Meeting begins at 7:00pm in the Church hall on MondAY  9th March  (the lecture to begin at 7:30)
Membership: £10 ( including refreshments)
Visitors: £3.
Croeso cynnes i Bawb

Friday, February 20, 2015

Abnormal activity on the web.

Normally, our web log has around fifty visitors per day, which is very healthy. However, in the last week we have had an unprecedented level of interest in the history of Resolfen with over 500 visitors already today. Scrutiny of the geographical location of our visitors shows an increase in those from Russia. I wonder whether Mr Putin has lost his copy of Resolfen Recalled ? I have a spare one if he really needs one. I also suspect that within our annals there may be a reference to Donetsk, which was originally founded by a Welshman and known as Hugheskova until Stalinist times. He was a certain Mr Hughes from Merthyr Tudful, who started the steelworks there.

Esbima, Vladimir.Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers

Update: The Editor has had a word with Mr Richard Hopkins about this and he believes that our web log has probably been linked inadvertently to some major site in some way. He will also check the provenance of the increased traffic. The number of visitors has since returned to normal levels.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Admiral Hugh Evan Thomas

February Meeting :Admiral Hugh Evan Thomas  of the Gnoll

It is our intention during the period commemorating the centenary of “The Great War”, to have one lecture per season on that topic. This month’s speaker, Mr Steve David, drew a large audience to hear his comprehensive lecture on Admiral Evan Thomas of the Gnoll Estate.

Thomas’s family hailed from Beulah, Breconshire, and had bought the Gnoll estate. He was born as merely Hugh Thomas in 1862, at Gnoll House, but as was the fashion at the time gained “Evan” in his title in 1878. One of seven children, including three daughters, his parents felt that a military career was appropriate for him and he was sent to Chatham to train as a naval officer. There, he befriended the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York (later George V) a fact which affected his rise within the ranks of the Royal Navy and his future career. In 1888 he was promoted and transferred to Portsmouth, where he became friends with the later Admiral Jellicoe.
Admiral Hugh Evan Thomas

In 1891, an accident in the Solent led to the sinking of the flagship and the loss of over 500 men, this gave Thomas a mission to revolutionise the signalling methods of the Royal Navy, which had not changed much since the days of Nelson. Steam ships now sailed at five times the speed of sailing vessels,the gunnery was far more exact and reached longer distances,therefore the Admiralty required change. During this time, Thomas was given command of the Royal Yacht, Osborne, (probably and unhappily for him, owing to unwanted Royal patronage). Luckily, he was swiftly transferred to Malta and the Mediterranean Fleet, where he also met his wife Edith Vickery the heiress of a large estate in Bedfordshire.

In 1902, he took command of HMS Caesar at Portland and the western approaches. Here, he supervised Marconi’s famous early experiments with radio signalling. In 1906, he became Commander of Dartmouth Naval College for the training of Royal Navy Officers. To his dismay, the Royal connection played a part again, since he and his wife were personally charged with ensuring the health and safety of two royal princes, when they had measles. Hugh Evan Thomas, became a proponent of pinpoint range finding of guns which could now reach twenty miles.

In 1909, Thomas was once again transferred to Portsmouth, home

Admiral Sir David Beatty

of the Grand Fleet. He realised that the rising sea power at this time was that of Germany, and the race to build enough Dreadnoughts was already in place between the first and second greatest naval powers. However, the naval bases were all in the south, a fact stretching back to the days of Napoleon. Thomas advocated a base in the north of Scotland at Scapa Flow to allay the threat. Illness intervened and Thomas did not come back to active duty until 1914.
Admiral Jellicoe

The German Navy’s surface fleet's involvement in the Great War was minimal, since they were reluctant to leave their bases, as they feared the Royal Navy's superiority. The one major exception to this was the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. It is beyond the scope of this report to give a blow by blow description of the battle. However, the inconclusive engagement, in which both sides claimed victory, is mired in controversy. Admiral Sir David Beatty,a maverick naval commander ( see his unusual uniform style above), commanded a squadron of eight which took heavy losses of both ships and men when he inadvertently took on the German High Fleet. His cavalier firing was extremely ineffective and he is quoted as saying “What’s wrong with the bloody ships today”. Admiral Evan Thomas,had four ships some miles behind Beatty and managed through sheer accuracy to sink several of the German vessels which brought the major engagement to an end. To his discredit, Beatty blamed Thomas for the loss of his ships and the matter was not brought to a conclusion in Thomas’s favour until an inquiry in the mid-1920's (nothing new there then? Ed).

Unfortunately, in 1926, Evan Thomas suffered a stroke and retired to his estate in Bedfordshire where he died in 1928. However, his legacy is here to this day since he bequeathed the Gnoll Estate to the people of the town of Neath. As Mr David pointed out it is surprising that such a commanding figure in naval history is not recognised more widely in his own town.

Mr Gwyn Thomas, thanked Mr David for his magnificent talk, and stated that in the Navy there was no hiding place in the heat of battle for both commander and men.