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.

Sunday, August 24, 2014



                       Have you served on the committee?

I hope that everyone has enjoyed their summer break. September will soon be upon us and the AGM will be held on Monday,September 8th. Owing to the fact that the Church Hall is still being renovated,the meeting, beginning at 7:00 will be at the Community Centre.

We usually have a good turn out at the AGM and there are some vacancies on the committee. Don't be shy, our flourishing society relies on a lot of effort behind the scenes and as the saying goes "more hands make light work". Ideas are also needed as to how we can develop the History Society in the future. We will also be continuing to collect everyone's email addresses so that information can be sent out at short notice to as many members as possible.

You can also have the list of speakers for 2014/15 digitally if you like, following the AGM.

             See you there, a chroeso cynnes i bawb.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Dyffryn House and the Galilee Chapel, Llantwwit Major.

Some 21 members attended the annual summer trip. This year the Society visited Dyffryn House a grand mansion in the Vale of Glamorgan and later the Galilee Chapel at Llantwit Major.

Most of the present development at Dyffryn stems from the investment of the coal magnate John Cory ( he of Cory St. fame) who came to Dyffryn in the 1890s. It was later used as an education centre by the the County of Glamorgan Education Authority and its successors and in recent years has been taken over by the National Trust who are doing an excellent job in restoring the house and gardens to its magnificent glory. The members were given an opportunity to walk ( or be driven) around the magnificent gardens and had a guided tour of the house ( one of the guides hailed from the Orrells family of Resolven). During the tour, it was stated that the work now being undertaken was dependent on volunteers, with over seventy volunteer gardeners working on the project.
                                              Dyffryn House and croquet lawn 
                             In the afternoon, the members had a leisurely visit to nearby Llantwit Major and the Galilee Chapel. The Chapel is incorporated within St Illtyd's Church and is the home of four Celtic crosses and an exhibition. Llanilltyd  Fawr ( Llantwit Major) is the cradle of Christianity in Wales, with the Celtic crosses dating from the fifth century.

                                                                  Some members on the guided tour
                                            Stained glass window probably featuring Admiral Button of Dyffryn

                                                                        Time for tea!!!
                                                                One of the guides and an ancient map of Dyffryn
Which is the oldest?
St Iltyd's Church

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Trip to Dyffryn House

Members should note that the trip next Saturday 5th July to Dyffryn House will leave the square in Resolfen at 9:00. We will be aiming to return by about 5:30.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May Meeting: The Revival of 1904/05

Evan Roberts meets the Titanic
Evan Roberts
Mr Tony Waters has spoken to the Society on two previous occasions on the Titanic disaster of which he is an expert. However, some decade ago he produced a documentary film on the Religious Revival of 1904/05 which was shown on Sky TV. He explained at the outset of his talk, that he had little personal background knowledge on the life of Evan Roberts the instigator of the Revival, though he had played a “Hitchcock like”, part in the film as an extra in three of the scenes. His school friend Kevin Adams, who is now a pastor in New England, had supplied the historical content  to the documentary which had been produced on a shoestring budget. However, not to be outdone Mr Waters did manage to bring in two Titanic references to his introduction. WT Stead (the prophet of peace) of Swansea, who had proved a mentor and muse to the enigmatic Evan Roberts in 1904, had died in the maritime disaster, and Lyn Harper a preacher inspired by Evan Roberts had drowned on the Titanic dispensing the gospel to his dying breath.

The film was a very powerful one, based on the voice of Evan Roberts himself. It followed the story of Roberts as a young collier in Loughor, who was “saved” at thirteen years of age and who prepared himself for the revival at the tender age of 26. It started in west Wales, centred on the market town of Newcastle Emlyn where Roberts made a fleeting appearance as a student in Ysgol Emlyn. Influenced by Seth Joshua of the Forward Movement, he returned to Moriah, Loughor where the Revival started with missionary zeal throughout south Wales and beyond. His charisma clashed with the conventions of the age and the meetings often lasted into the early hours. Evan Roberts rarely prepared his orations which were often short and relied on a consort of young women who unconventionally, regularly took part in the services. The Revival itself drew the wrath of some of the established nonconformist denominations who denounced it as a form of hysteria. Eventually, exhausted by his efforts, Roberts retreated to a friend’s house in Leicester. He never regained his former prominence in Wales and passed away quietly in Cardiff (1951), and was buried in Moriah, Loughor.

Paryer meeting underground
In terms of the social consequences of the Revival, they were certainly far reaching. Publicans complained that the sales of beer had fallen, apocryphal tales of pit ponies refusing to budge underground because the hauliers had stopped swearing at them and sporting teams had stopped playing. Evan Roberts had visited Resolven during the revival and Resolven Rugby Club had ceased playing for two seasons. Thousands of people in Wales had been changed by the revival and these were documented in the papers of the time (along with exact numbers of converts ), including the Western Mail. Roberts had spawned a bevy of charismatic preachers in Wales and beyond, though many of his followers were mown down on the fields of Flanders during the Great War a decade later.
Evan Roberts Memorial, Loughor
Mr Trefor Jones thanked Mr Waters for coming to address the Society once again and added what a pity it was that Mr Phylip Jones was absent. He did add however, that Seth Joshua had founded the large Mission Hall in Neath where his grandparents had been members. He also added that two Brazilians who had stayed with his family a few years ago had asked to go to see Evan Roberts’s memorial in Loughor.
Mr Tony Waters

The meeting brought down the curtain on another successful year of lectures. Members will now have a few months rest over the summer. The summer trip to Dyffryn House will take place on Saturday, July 5th and the bus will leave the square at 9:00. Anyone wishing to come on the trip to contact a member of the committee or place a comment on the site.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Middle Ages lecture at Swansea University

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Confessions of a now distant past.

Mr Robert King of Abergarwed has given me a long letter sent in January 2000 to friends in Resolfen by Mr V Davies of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He also sent a letter in February 2001 extolling the virtues of “Resolfen Recalled”, which the Millennium Committee had published in September 2000. However, the first letter is a wonderful testimony of life in Resolfen (the story of the Rheola Church font is a gem) in the early twentieth century and show how times have changed and also how Americanised he became in terms of expression. I have slightly edited the content and disguised some names and addresses. The first six pages of the letter are shown below. (Ed.)

Rheola Church - demolished 1955.


Hi, Friends,

I must first apologise for not writing to you before, but as you know time goes by so very quickly. My visit to you both and the walk around Rheola was the highlight of my vacation which has brought home so many memories of my youth. As you know we lived one time about a mile up the Rheola brook in Pen Cae. It has been down so now for many years, I suppose. We had a few horses, a cow and some chickens.
Summertime as a kid, I’d ride my horse via Cefn Hirfynydd on Sarn Helen (the Roman Road) which was not far from Pen Cae. The first stop was with Mrs Howells, Blaenllwyd farm above Abergarwed for apple tart and custard. 

The on to Hendre Gletran Farm, above Ynysarwed , owned (sic) by Mr Morgan and then onto Mr Thomas’s Llety-Pela ( possibly Llettybella,farm in Aberdulais). The Thomas’s were breeding pheasants for the Ynys-y- Gerwn estate. I used to stay over some nights with the children who were the same age as me and the older brother, Fred was the gamekeeper on the estate. He later became the forester on the estate.

From there on to Ynysgollen, which people called what is now the Rock and Fountain Inn. I’d stay the night with my grandmother who had the hotel pre-war. My parents had moved there around 1938. Next day I’d cross the river Neath at Ynysbwllog farm to Clyne Tinworks, then ride up Cefn Morfydd to the Evans' farm at Llety Mawr, where Edwyn Evans lived. From there on to Pen Rhiw Angharad farm and I’d clean out the cow shed for the two old ladies who lived there. After supper, I would sit outside and look down at the Rock and Fountain across the valley and sometimes a rail road train going towards Tonna.

Next day, I would go along Cefn Mawr, above Melincourt to Glyngwilym farm and then Ffald-y-Dre farm . You will remember that old Mr Williams was keeping a shop in the village. You both would remember him and his son Willie, Ffald-y-Dre. A chap by the name of Ron had the farm by then. Mr Williams’s shop was opposite Mr Powell’s shop on Commercial Road in that small street where the bakery was. From Ffald-yDre, I would go down the Clydach brook behind Resolfen Mountain and come out by the Glyncastle colliery siding, rail road bridge. Across the canal, near the main lodge and up the Rheola brook and the castle (Rheola House?), then home to Pen-Cae. When Mr John Hurst moved to Rheola I would ride down the path past your old castle (the bachelors’ hall) and on to the stable near the laundry.

Do you remember the horse races and sheep dog trials at Rheola, in front of the house and the main road? The last one held there was about 1944 or 45. The Tube Investment Company took over the works and I always remember that day as I won four races out of six. The next year, a big extension was built to the Aluminium works and the sheep dog races and the hunter horse jumping moved to a farm in Clyne, Ynys Nedd. By that time, Pentre-clwyda race track had opened. They also had a few trials over at the Resolven brook, before they built the council home (Llys-yr-Ynys? Ed.).

In the Church belfry (Rheola Church; Ed.), when I started the demolition I found some books. One was the “Book of the Dog”, printed about 1880. I gave a book about steam engines and pumps to Tommy Croft. I often wonder who had left them behind in the belfry in a small cupboard on the wall and a box under a chair which included two telescopes and some knick knacks. From a little room above the bell you could look out at the pond (Rheola pond) in all directions. One of the windows though was blocked with bricks and clay though the window frame and glass was still in place (window tax? Ed.). The large stained glass windows (south side) some eighteen feet by eighteen, I cut up into sections and sold them on to a chap from Gloucester. The inside of the church was lined Bath stone blocks 4x16x24 inches long and connected to the main stone wall with some straps. They came out with ease as there was no cement between the blocks. 

The font was in three parts including bowl stand and base. It was also made of Bath stone with very nice carvings of oak leaves. It weighed around 500lbs and I sold it to a chap from Chain Rd., Cwmgwrach.They had just finished building those homes (which homes we will never know, Ed.), and he placed it in his front lawn as birdbath, ha ha!! By this time the people of the village were rather unimpressed by my activities, but anyway I had £10 for the font. Reg Harris (Lindsay’s father) went to see the fellow who had bought it and along with Jack Powell (Eric’s father) paid £20 for its return and they took it to St.David’s Church in Resolven. Maybe it’s still there in that shed beside the Vicarage (now old Vicarage)? I did ask Vicar Lewis (Rev. A T Lewis 1940 – 66, Ed.) if he wanted the bell and I delivered it myself rather than taking it to Swansea for scrap. That’s when I saw the font and Vicar Lewis (he was reputed to be quite a colourful character, Ed.) and he thought it was very funny! Poor Reg and Jack! The red roof tiles I gave to Hewie Taylor in payment for his help in the demolition. The pews were all pine and the ceiling beams; these were sold to various people. 

When I look back and think of ( the destruction sic) of such a beautiful building, I have regrets, since there was only a little bit of dampness in the north west corner owing to vandalism by kids breaking into the boiler room and removing some tiles. Anyway, many chapels and churches have gone the same way by now.

View of Melincwrt and Clyne tinworks
The site of Blaen Llwyd farm, April 2014

                    To be continued……….

Inside the Aluminium works 1980s, following its  closure

Rheola Church and pond

Sunday, April 27, 2014

May Meeting

may Meeting
Mr Tony WaTers  ,
Meeting begins at 7:00pm in the Community Centre  on MondAY,12th may.
Membership: £10 ( including refreshments)
Visitors: £3.
Croeso cynnes i Bawb

PLEASE NOTE: there is a change from the normal venue