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.
- Name: eclecs
Monday, May 25, 2015
Members of the 9th Welsh Regiment from Resolven, July 1915
As the years commemorating the Great War of 1914-18 progress, Mr Glyn Davies has given the Society a cutting from the Aberdare Leader of 24th July, 1915, which refers to the above photograph.
" The 9th Welsh - On Wednesday, the inhabitants of Resolven turned out in grand style to give a send-off to the boys of the 9th Welsh. Nearly a hundred Resolvenites have joined this particular regiment , in which one of them is colour sergeant, viz William Hawkins and three are sergeants, viz., T. Owens, Reggie Stroud and Jim Hooper. On Tuesday evening the boys had a smoker at the New Inn. Also Mr Jenkins the proprietor of Vivian Hall, gave a free admission to them and their families. Some 50 presents of pipes and cigarette cases were presented to the boys by their friends.
At 11 o'clock on Wednesday morning a procession was formed , headed by the Resolven Brass Band, and after parading the streets speeches were made. Councillor T.W. Herbert said that the inhabitants wanted to show their appreciation of the lads who had so nobly answered the call of the country. They were proud of them all, and were sure they would distinguish themselves - Councillor F.H. Beaman hoped that the boys who had proved their worth on the football field would also cover themselves in glory on the battlefield - Dr R.D. Pritchard, whose only son is in the army, felt it difficult to speak. He remarked that these young men were doing a great duty in sacrificing their family ties for their country's sake. He hoped they would come back safe . - The following received presents : - Tom Owen, Reg Stroud, Arthur Hutchinson, Brychan Morgan, Tom Nicholls, Henry Lewis, Richard Evans, David Thomas, Evan J Jones, James Hughes, Joe Pickford, William Harris, Gwilym Morgan, Trevor Morgan, Richard Williams, William Hawkins, Tom Rewbridge, Jim Lewis,
J. Parry Evans, S. Bowen, Llew Jones, David Beynon, Richard Morgan, William Davies, Charlie Thomas, Fred Rowlands, Lee Hopkins, Walter Jones, Jim Hooper, T. Dorrington, W. Williams, Charlie Daidy, Fred Edwards and William Jones.
After the presentation the recipients had to go through the ordeal of an all round hand shaking. The station was thronged . The band played selections during the wait. Some very touching farewells were witnessed. The train steamed out amid the booming of detonators. The boys are expected to be at the front this week."
What a terrific witness to a society now well and truly at war. This is written in heroic and even stoic terms with the atmosphere of an adventure. The only words of doubt came from the doctor who evidently knows of the horrors which are in front of the recruits. To compare a battle to a game of rugby seems banal to us, but fits the tenor of the time. The reference to detonators is also a reminder that even though a hundred Resolven men had gone to war, many more were working underground as miners since it was a reserved occupation.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Ghost walk with Robert King
Leaving the Gardens the group passed the life-size bronze statue of benefactor, entrepreneur, and politician Howel Gwyn.He died in 1888, months before the opening of his eponymous hall in the town. Queen street was built as a straight road to the new market and included a British School ( now the Halifax) which is reputedly haunted by children, and an English baptist chapel ( now M&S). Robert explained that there was a crypt below the chapel which is accessed through a trapdoor in the middle of the road, this too had ghostly associations. The Masonic hall is also an imposing building on Queen Street. The market in Green Street surprisingly had no ghost stories attached to it at all, though it has once doubled as a centre of entertainment as well as commerce. The reference to Green and Orchard streets in this part of the town, refererred to Ty Mawr or Mackworth house where Burtons used to stand. This was the most expensive property in Glamorgan at one time.
Turning down Orchard Street, the rear entrance to the Castle Hotel revealed an original cobbled road. Originally the Ship and Castle this is a truly historic building with numerous ghost stories including those with connections to smuggling and murder. It is also of course the venue where the WRU was formed.
Robert then took the group through the heritage area associated Alfred Russel Wallace a contemporary of Darwin who had assisted with the Origin of Species. He designed the Mechanics Institute ( now the headquarters of the Neath Antiquarians). St Thomas's Church was originally the garrison chapel of Neath Castle and is the only building of the centre of Neath still used for its original purpose. The site of Jestyn Jeffries Solicitors was once a bath house and ghostly goings on have been reported there.
Finally, the group went up old Market Street with its numerous taverns and heritage architecture, passing the Butchers Arms ( now the Duke), the St Ives (with its connection between Cornwall and Wales's trade in copper and coal - Tregelles Price, the quaker is buried nearby) and the Bunch of Grapes ( now a house). The nearby Mission Hall is also closely associated with the religious revival of 1904 and its charismatic preacher, Seth Joshua.
Water Street was built over the Gnoll brook and was also the site of the synagogue in Neath with several ghostly connections associated with this once wild area of the town.
Mr Trefor Jones thanked Robert King for a fantastic ghost tour of Neath. Though everyone had visited the sites many times, no one had realised the significance of much of what they had passed by habitually.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Discovering your past
Discovering your family’s past: a journey of discovery
This month’s speaker was Mr Mike Rees of Bryncethin, but formerly of Maesteg. Mr Rees, a professional family history researcher had previously phoned the Society regarding his relatives ,the Barclay family of Stag House Abergarwed , and when it turned out that he was also the same Mike Rees who had been in school with our secretary, he was asked to come to speak to us. He attended one of our lectures this year given by our President, Mr Phylip Jones who through pure chance was speaking on the same Barclay family.
Mr Rees began his talk by referring to the boom in internet electronic searches for family history. He described them as being useful tools but little more than that, since the joy of finding out the history of everyone’s family lay in the spade work of delving into the “shoe boxes”, and other archives which families possessed. He began by setting out the basic questions of any search:-
First – How far can you get? It is possible for anyone with grandparents born before 1911 to get back to the 1790 s .
Second – do you have any rich, notorious or unknown relatives.Be prepared for shocks and scandal.
Third – decide which line or lines you wish to take. After all you have many different family lines branching into grandparents, great grandparents etc. You cannot do them all at once.
Fourth – is there an intriguing and long standing family myth which you would like to resolve as a focus to your research?
The first stage is to find out how much you already know. Speak to other members of your family and other siblings, in which to get vital information regarding dates and location of births, occupations and other family details in order to construct a family tree. Mr Rees,stated that the 1911 Census, was now freely available online and was “gold dust”, in tracing ancestry. The censuses are in a reliable form to 1841 (first census 1801) and therefore would have included people born in the 1790s. The Civil registration of marriages also started in 1837. Before then, every legal marriage would take place in a Church, therefore the parish registers would take you further back.
|Section of the 1911 Census|
The family Bible is also a trove of information, since it was the custom to write the the births, deaths and marriages with dates in these. The added advantage was that it was sometimes possible to work out the legitimacy of the birth and the existence of siblings who died between censuses in an age of incredibly high infant mortality. The attendance book at a Sunday school was also a valuable resource.
Mr Rees frequently referred to the importance of libraries (a vanishing resource in themselves) in keeping local records. The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth has extensive records of will and probate. Archives and Libraries also have microfiche records of local publications and newspapers in which relatives and events could be painstakingly traced. The procedure for getting access to some of these places can be quite a trial in themselves. Historical publications can also be a valuable resource, and Mr Rees referred to “The History of the Vale of Neath”, by D.Rhys Phillips as a classic example. Neath Library has many copies and there are also copies in the volunteer led Cyber and Resources Centre ( formerly the library), in Resolven.
Some more unusual sources of information are the asylum records of the nineteenth century. Mental illness was little understood and many people ended up in so called lunatic asylums but with the added advantage to the family researcher that a photograph was always included even as early as the 1860s.
To conclude, Mr Rees turned to various agencies which could prove short cuts or help. The Glamorgan Family History Society publishes ( in booklet form) indexes of parish registers, baptisms and burials. Churchyards and headstones are also catalogued. Censuses are also extremely useful, but personal recorda are kept for a century before publication. 1921 therefore will be the last meaningful resource since little remains of the 1931 Census owing to war damage and there was no census in 1941. Following censuses are in a different format.
Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Rees for a fascinating talk.
The Society will now take a short break until September. However, there are two events scheduled:-
1. A Ghost walk with Robert King on Monday 18th May. Meet at the Church hall at 5:30 for a lift or meet at the bandstand in Victoria Gardens at 6:00. There will be a £3 charge.
2. Annual Trip – Cynffig and Ewenny Priory, Saturday 13th June.
Arrangements: Meet at Church hall – 11:00
Cost: £11 including buffet at the Prince of Wales in Kenfig.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Thomas John Woodward aka "Tom Jones".
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".
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Adelina Patti - a celeb?
Adelina Patti – a media report
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.