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.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Plus ca change

Plus ça change: Minutes of Resolven Parish Council 1932

For those of us who double as Society officials and Community Councillors this record of the deliberations of the then Parish Council is very illuminating and shows that very little changes from decade to decade. Our ever present and admirable Clerk to the Council, Mr Ninian Williams will happily revert to copperplate if given the chance, however the state of the minutes mean that they need to be reproduced in full (without correction unless illegible) in order that members can understand them. Apologies for any typos since it is difficult typing with one finger.


A meeting of above Council was held at the Park Pavilion, Monday July 4th 1932, 7pm.

Present Councillors: I. D. Rees (Chairman), D. Davies (Vice Chairman) , E J Alyeo (?) , Ben Jones, T.J. Roberts, J.E. Jones, W Evans, D.J. Evans, R D Howells, J Burley (?),D.C.D.J Evans(?) and Clerk.

1. The minutes of last meeting was read, confirmed and signed.

2. Tipping land at top of Waungoch:

Resolved: That Councillor Ben Jones see tenant of Drehir farm re allowing young men of Resolven to play soccer games on above.

3. National Eisteddfod 1934 Neath

Copy of resolution supporting Neath application for the Eisteddfod in 1934 sent by Clerk.

Resolution: I am requested by my Council that they heartily support your application for the 1934 Eisteddfod to be held in Neath. My Council feel that in supporting your application they express the feelings of the population of the Central part of the Vale of Neath.

Resolved: That the Clerk’s action be confirmed.

4. Bridge over Gwrach Brook, Cwmgwrach

The necessity of painting the bridge was brought forward.

Resolved: That the matter be referred to joint meeting of Blaengwrach and Resolven Councils.

5. Application for 4 pairs of woods and slips(?) Also use of rink on our green.
Resolved. That application be granted.

6. Re – Mr Joshua Jones conduct on Park.

Resolved- that he be asked to refrain from using bad language on Park and not to interfere with players and informer’s letter be acknowledged.

7. Bowling Green

Resolved : That we invite Captain Mason to inspect the Green and to report thereon, and that the invitation be left in the hands of Coun. W Evans and that the following persons viz – J L Rees ( Chairman), B Jones, W Evans. District Councillor D J Evans and Clerk be appointed as a deputation to meet Cpt Mason and put the Council’s wishes to him.

8. Resolved – that the Council’s meetings during summer months be held at the park pavilion.

9. Resolved – that the attention of the County Council be called to the complaints received from farmers residing in the Parish that Parish roads are not being maintained in proper condition. The roads complained of are Glyncastle Road leading from Tan-y-Rhiw, Resolven to Rhigos via Ty’n y Cwm and Troedrhiwwrach; and Pentwyn Road leading from Resolven via Pentwyn, Heolhir and Garn cae cae.

10. Resolved that the following bills be paid viz: J Jones 22/6; Fire Brigade 32/- ; T Lewis 2/9; A Wilcox 6/3; D P Williams 6/4; J Jones 18/-;J Harris 18/-; Barry Chemical Co £14.15.0

Resolved: That the Groundsman be instructed to get two different sections of the bowling green analyzed by Briton Ferry Chemical Co or their representatives next visit.

Modern day community councillors (still meeting occasionally in the present park pavilion)would easily recognise the general structure of the report and some of the problems are still current. However there are some clues as to how things have changed in eighty years.

Firstly, prior to local government reform in the 1970s the council was a parish as against a community council. The Parish of Resolfen is very extensive and includes what is currently the community of Cwmgwrach. Phylip Jones has explained several times to the Society that the very name Resolfen refers to “parsel soflan”, literally a parcel of land above Cwmgwrach. This is evident in that matters which pertain to Cwmgwrach including the painting of a bridge over the Gwrach brook and roads to Rhigos are being discussed here. However, it is also evident that Resolfen and Cwmgwrach met separately though cooperated on certain matters e.g. cemeteries (this will feature in a future article). Also the claim of Cwmgwrach to be “the valley of the witch” is also in doubt here since the name clearly refers to the river (downcutting at this point)-gwrach is also Welsh for hook. If it referred to a witch it would logically be “Cwm –y- Wrach” – but why spoil a good story.

Secondly, the extract comes from a minute book. The entry is written in note form and presumably councillors would not have had sight of it prior to the meeting as they would today. This explains the rather individualistic nature of the entries with the expectation that no one without an intimate knowledge of the community would ever be expected to read it. Who was Joshua Jones, who betrays the fact that antisocial behaviour is hardly a new phenomenon? Similarly, why was soccer at Drehir worthy of mention? Was it due to the fact that Resolfen RFC ( with a grandstand) already played on that site causing friction– who knows, the record as today does not always tell the whole story.

Thirdly, the formal ( and successful) support for the visit of the National Eisteddfod to Neath in 1934 receives enthusiastic support, with reference to the population of the Central part of the Vale of Neaht implies that the Parish council assumed a far more representative role than the current community council which centres on Resolfen alone. Ironically, in 1934 the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol came to the Vale of Neath but not to the Parish of Resolfen.

Expenditure is comparatively low at around £20 for the month. However it would chime true with modern councillors that 60% of the expenditure is levelled at the bowling green with turf being analyzed and fertilizers being purchased for a problematic surface.

Finally, the county of Glamorgan was also within its historic borders at this point and reference is made to roads going east as far as Glyncorrwg. However a certain amount of Bowdlerism is present in the minutes since Carn Caca ( literally referring to the faecal colour of the leaching iron oxide) is replaced by a gentler “cae cae” which makes no sense at all.

As a councillor on Resolfen Community Council for eighteen years this fascinating record merely shows that although times change intractable problems seem to stay the same.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Trefor Jones