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.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Members go wild in Brecon!!

Some twenty two members and friends visited Berecon on Thursday July 7th. I am reliably informed that a good time was had by all. Many thanks to David Woosnam for arranging the visit and to Brenda Oakes for the photo.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

!00,000 hits!

Recently, this blog reached the milestone of 100,000 hits since its inception. This is rather impressive for a small history society such as ourselves and represents an average of 10,000 visits per annum. Obviously, we have our share of junk in the responses and as has been stated on an earlier posting we have had a great increase in Resolven history from countries which presumably can be put down to spy surveillance. However, the blog itself represents a permanent archive of our activities and a source for the study of both local and general history.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Martin Luther King Junior

The Society brought its season of lecture meetings to an end with a talk by Mr Phil Davies of Neath.  Mr Davies is better known as a pop historian making many appearances on BBC Radio wales, and he explained that it was this interest which had taken him to the southern US and its various musical genres that had led him to an interest in Martin Luther King Jr. He had visited the ghetto hotel ( now the National Civil Rights Museum) where Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated in 1968 in the 1980s, and was left with a lasting impression of the fight for civil rights in the USA which had frankly outlasted the apartheid struggles of South Africa into the present day.

He reminisced that the year 1963 was significant to him because his parents had purchased a television for the first time and one of the striking images of that year was the assassination of JFK and also the bombing of four innocent black children On 16 September 1963, a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls attending Sunday school in Alabama. On 16 September 1963, a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls attending Sunday school. This was later commemorated by the famous Black Christ stained glass window by Welsh artist John Petts of Llansteffan.

John Petts's Black Christ
Mr Davies described Martin Luther King Jr as a principled, charismatic and fascinatinating man who achieved an immense amount in his short life of only thirty nine years. The son of a Lutheran clergyman, also Martin Luther King, born in Georgia in 1929  King became poliitically active in the 1950s when the Ku Klux Klan was extrememly active with 8 million members. Rapes, murders, tarring and feathering and other atrocities were common and condoned in the southern states. Civil rights had hardly been won after the Civil War, but were given up grudgingly so aptly portrayed by the fim “Selma”, starring Oprah Winfrey and Tim Roth. The bus strike surrounding Rosa Parkes was also emblematic of the inequality.

The Million Man March
In August 1963. King led the “Million Man March”, to protest about the lack of civil rights on Washington DC where he delivered his famous “ I have a dream speech”, and sent a shiver down the spine of the WASP establishment.  Mr Davies made the point that King was driven by his Christian faith, which meant that he was difficult to attack on a political level. He was alsa a moderate in that he wanted peaceful change as against that of the Black Panther movement of the muslim Malcolm X which advocated violence. In 1964, King was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as his profile resonated around the world.

Political influence was also a factor in curbing the Civil Rights Movement. Mr Davies, made the point that the death of Kennedy had ironically brought a reformer to the White House in Lyndon Johnson who introduced Civil Rights Legislation against the background of the racist moves of four times presidential candidate George Mc Govern and the use of the National Guard to enforce desegregation in schools. Behind the scenes the FBI headed by J Edgar Hoover, slowed progress to a glacial pace by surreptitiously blackmailing successive liberal politicians with discretions in their private lives ( including King himself). The fall of Johnson led to the Nixon Years and the continuation of the fruitless Vietnam War.

King himself had become something of a cellebrity and was sometimes subject to criticism form the  black lobby himself. Ironically, it was this criticism which led to him to switching hotels in Memphis from a black owned high class hotel to the “flop”, Lorraine hotel in Memphis in June 8th 1968. James Earl Ray, a petty criminal and a fugitive from the state penitentiary, was convinced that there was a $50,000 bounty on the head of King and subsequently assassinated  him  . James Earl ray died at the age of 70 in 1998 having been sentenced to 99 years in prison for the killing of King. His guilt however, is a subject of intrigue and doubt.

Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Davies for a very insightful and passionate talk

The History Society will now take a break until the AGM in September. Anyone wishing to come on the Summer trip on Thursrday, July 8th to Brecon Cathedral and Canal ( £10 members; £15 non members ) please get in touch with Mr David Woosnam.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Whitsun March

The religious Whitsun has now been subsumed by an official Spring Bank Holiday. Resolven however still maintains a traditional Sunday school march at Whitsun to this day, though severely diminished in numbers from the days of old when 18 women were needed in order to cut the bread and cheese in Jerusalem Chapel alone, during the war, for the tea party which followed the march and service. Caryl Rees has given our blog some images of the banner used by Jerusalem Chapel and the march will once again take place next Sunday, 15th May.

The banner which was paraded by Jerusalem Chapel
                                                         The Whitsun March of yesteryear.

Monday, April 25, 2016

"I Have a Dream", May Meeting

may MEETing :

Mr Phil Davies  “Martin Luther King jnr”

Meeting begins at 7:00pm in the Church hall on MondAY  9th  mAY 2016.

Membership: £10 ( including refreshments)

Visitors: £3.

Croeso cynnes i Bawb

Monday, April 11, 2016

Even Brunel got it wrong some times!!!!

Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway

This month’s speaker needed no introduction since it was History Society member, Mr Glyn Williams. Glyn has spoken several times on his favourite subject Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The difference this time was that the talk concerned one of Brunel’s less successful ventures.

The Great Western Railway, of which I.K. Brunel was its chief engineer was built between Bristol and Paddington in the period from 1835-41. During the period several smaller lines were built which came under the attention of Brunel including the Bristol and Exeter Railway completed in 1844, the South Devon railway and the Exeter to Plymouth Railway completed in 1844. It was the last railway which was the object of Brunel’s experimentation with a vacuum pipe as against a locomotive to propel the train.

The vacuum pipe which was located between the rails had piston within a cast iron tube and a leather valve connected to the first carriage. The vacuum itself was obtained by a series of uniquely designed Italianate pumping stations of which there were a dozen along the 21 mile length of track between Exeter and Newton (Abbott)  at a distance of around three miles apart ( four were never used). The towers for the steam engines were around 30’ high though they only produced some 30 horse power to drive the train.
Italianate style pumping stations

Brunel did not invent the system which was designed as a system of propelling items in shops by George Medhurst in 1799. In 1812 a prototype was developed to carry passengers through a tube, this was not patented and was later discarded. In 1830, Samuel Clegg employed a company from the Isle of Dogs and a new patent under Samuda and Clegg was licenced.  In all, the vacuum scheme was tried in four locations including one in France and another in Ireland with varying degrees of success. Brunel deemed the system to be profitable much to the disdain of another famous GWR engineer, Gooch, who thought rightly that it was a doubtful proposition

No locomotive!

Remnant of vacuum pipe which included a piston.
. In its favour some phenomenal speeds were recorded – 68 mph, but ultimately the scheme failed.

Its failure, was in part mechanical in that the 13” pipes were replaced by a15” ones making the production of a vacuum more difficult.The inclement winter of 1847 caused the leather valves to become brittle and dessicated causing more costs as locomotives had to be hired for the line which was totally dependent on the atmospheric railway. In the end it proved too expensive and ran for only eighteen months.

Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Glyn Williams for a fascinating talk.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

April meeting



Meeting begins at 7:00pm in the Church hall on MondAY  11th ApRIL 2016.

Membership: £10 ( including refreshments)

Visitors: £3.

Croeso cynnes i Bawb