My grandfather William George Higgs was born in the village of Markham in 1925 but was brought up in Blaina before eventually moving to the mining town of Bargoed. He often told me about his time in childhood in Blaina, the school he went to, the girlfirend he had, Winnie Bright. He told me that he used to box for his school with pupils from other school. He didn't tell me the name of the school but I have wondered where it is or if it's still there, maybe someone could tell me. My grandfather was known as Bill to his friends and he died at the Plasgeller nursing home, in Brynmawr, March 2014, he was 88.
Hi, my Mother in law is from Blaina her name was Glenys Newbury and she lived in no 9 Ffosmaen Road there were seven children Donald, Glenys Gwyn, Doreen, Evelyn, Beryl,Dolly her parents were May and Foster ,I think she would love to talk about growing up in Blaina so if anyone knows her i will pass it on to her thank you.
Hi, I am doing research on family and understand that my Grandmother Eva May Mytton came from Abertillery and is buried there. Does anyone know anything about the Mytton family. My Great Grandfather was Sir Thomas Mytton who I understand was knighted for services to mining. xx
I am wondering if you could accept a vdeo presentation with pictures to make it both easier and more interresting,if so I am your man.I attended both Glanyrafon and hafod y ddol and remember the Furbers of nantyglo.lived near the fish and chip shop and close to Prossers and across the road from Parry.I lived in Vincent ave,and this is really meant for the webmaster.I am amazed that there is so little interrest shown by ex hafodians and others,but the place is no longer populated by locals.I remember very well toilling up from blaina in 1947,helping my mother pull a sledge with a sack of coal on it(from Tommy Gore's) all the way uphill through bigger and bigger drifts climbing a few hundred feet higher and colder,the snow was hard packed and we walked on top of it.We get to Garn cross and it gets even deeper and we have avoid cables outside Archie Hughes house and climb yet more, to 29 Vincent Ave,There's a lot of memories,mostly good.There are more memories and pictures if a memory device is acceptable.
I have been recently told that my father's old shop (the Furber Newsagency - 110 High street) has closed down. The shop was bought by my father in the the depression years of the 30s and was built up into a thriving business along with the other two newsagencies - Marshmans and Prolls. The shop was bought by the Bloodworths when my father retired. High Street in the 40s & 50s was certainly a hive of action with a variety of businesses along both sides of the street. I expect some of you will remember the names of Parfitt, Vaughn, Bernstein, Liptons, Mays, Dowdswall, Peglers and Nicklin, along with the cafes of Zerachi and Contis, to name but a few.The Gaiety was the Blaina cinema but many of us, in our teens, preferred to catch the train, on Saturdays, to Abertillery where there was a choice of four cinemas.
I have fond memories of living behind and above the shop with the 'playground' of the Forge, the Platty and the Beynon Collery Tip. As well as delivering the morning papers, selling magazines, cards, sweets, cigarettes and tobacco the shop had a variety of toys and at Christmas the comic annuals which were pre-ordered and stored in my bedroom for picking up on Christmas Eve!! Our kitchen was in the back, behind the shop, and was a place, where on return from school I would often find aunts and friends of my mother who would have just called in for a chat and a cup of tea. The shop, along with most in the High Sreet, would be closed on Wedneday afternoons and of course on Sundays. Sunday was my father's day off so Sunday newspapers were sold in a shop further up the street, one of the few open on a Sunday.
I hope this brings back a few memories for some of you. Are there any shops that you remember visiting? For me and others of my age it was Contis cafe for a vimto and the chip shop opposite for salty chips laced with vinegar on a Friday night!
I certainly remember the Pilgrims Garden in Blaina. One of the earliest photos of me was taken with my mother in the Pilgrims Garden. As teenagers we spent a lot of time in that area - the Dyffryn Park, Pilgrims Garden and 'the rocks' which was basically a slag tip from a previous ironworks. The rocks were a great area for the riding of bikes, and what is now known as 'hanging out' with friends. A popular spot for Sunday evening walks and even a spot of courting.It was somewhere to go after a glass or two of vimto at Conti's or Zerachi's cafes!
The pilgrims park has an interesting history which I have since learned about by surfing the net. Financed by a charity group and providing work for locals during the time of the depression. I remember it as a haven of green with bushes and flowers. Ah ha , the good old days!!
It is interesting to read of Blaina in the 1940s and thank you to the website owner for the opportunity to comment.
I was evacuated from Rochester in Kent to Blaina in June 1940, aged 3. I was accompanied by my aunt, Kathleen Cheeseman, aged about 13. I have only two memories of the village, one being the station and the other of the park (Pilgrim's?). The park remains in my memory because it was there that I placed a toy plane on a flower bed wall, left the scene, returned and forgot where I had left it. I never saw it again!
Whilst in Blaina, only for one year, I stayed with a school teacher's family, possibly in Nantyglo? My aunt was taken to live inh a croft, so I was told.
Sorry that I cannot offer more of a record but I was only 3 when I arrived and 4 when I left; so many years ago.
Thank you Blaina for giving me a safe home for that year.
I knew Evelyn Barret. she was my mother's cousin. She lived on the west side of Blaina
and married one Edward [Ted] Spink. She met Ted while in service in London. They had
two children, Dianna and Edward. Ted was in the Metropolitan police.
Is there a connection?
Have been doing my family tree and have strong links with Blaina. My great grandfather Joshua George Thomas lived in Bennett Street in the late 19th century. He brought up his own family in Blaina and his son Harry was my Granddad. From what I have found out my ancestors go right back to the turn of the 19TH Century and probably before that. Has anyone got any info on Thomas family or especially Joshua George?
I was born in Blaina in April 1941, my mother was expecting me and my father sent her and my sister down to her village, from London to escape the bombing. Her maiden name was Barrett, her christian name was Evelyn, and she was the daughter of John and Rachel Barrett. Her sisters were Annie and Linda and she had a brother named Jim. By various routes they all ended up in Bournemouth in what was then Hampshire but now Dorset.
I am trying to find out anything I can about the family before John and Rachel and any other relations of their's that I'm not aware of. I do know that John was a miner in Blaina and as a young man was a miner in the Forest of Deane coalfield.
Can anybody give me anymore information please.
Thanks, Eddy Spink
MAJORIE GURNEY'S STORY OF LEWIS FAMILY IN BLAINA
Uncle Tom was your grandfathers brother. He had a son who went to South Africa. Uncle Tom had one son and his name as William. So in the grave at Brixton are David and his nephew William. And there was another brother named William who lived in pump street.. William had 5 daughters and two sons but when the last son was born and Gran delivered the baby; and the mother died and a few houses down below Aunty Siranne (Sara Anne) she was a cousin. (Mrs Norrnan) She was a cousin. She couldn’t have children. And when Uncle Will’s wife had the last baby Gran delivered it and when the mother died Gran wrapped the baby in a shawl and took it down to Aunty Siranne and they adopted it. He had a good home. Siranne was a cousin to your father. There was a sister in David’s family and there was an Aunty Mary Jane who died on the ship coming home and was buried at sea. She used to tell fortunes, she had a crystal ball and had a stocking full of gold sovereigns which never came back with her effects. My father John had gone out to South Africa with Aunty Mary Jane and she was going back home to marry the Sexton at the church. I do not know when Gran went to live in Hope Street but Uncle |Tom lived with her as a lodger. Uncle Tom used to speak Welsh and gave services on a Sunday Night in Welsh. At the Hope Chapel. He used to dip his breakfast in his cup of tea. It was terrible to watch him putting everything in the cup of tea. Uncle Tom used to wear a flannel shirt and a dickey front. One day Aunty Sara (your fathers sister) went in there and she he had the dickey hanging out of the bottom of his shirt and she asked him “Uncle Tom, what have you got hanging out there. Uncle Tom owned 33 Hope Street. Mam and Dad went to live with Gran at 33 Hope Street. And he also owned a house in Abbitelery Road and so he went to live with his niece there but used to come to 33 Hope Street to collect the rent every Tuesday. He was not happy down at Abitellerry road and Gran was sorry that she could not take him back bit they did not have the room but he died not long after. They sold Abitelerry Road but the deed was missing for 33 Hope Street. Anyway it went on for years, Mam was paying all the rates. Uncle Tom paid the bond but had not been paying the rates, so Mam and Dad paid up the rates. And paid the rent. By rights the house should have belonged to Uncle Tom’s son in South Africa. They tried to get in touch with him but had no success he was already dead by this time. Died of the flu in South Africa. After this had been going on for years and years of this going on. Mam traced the deeds to a bank in Abitilarry and then Mam and the solicitor
And they arranged as Mam had been paying all the rates etc they turned the property over to Mam. We had lived in it for years and we had maintained and put in a bathroom. Then the council decided it was going to redevelop that area. They paid Mom out £300.00. Mam put the £300 in the bank. They pulled down Hope Street, Pump Street.
They built bungalows at what used to be called the tip because behind was what used to be a pit. And they cleared all that up and they built houses and bungalows up there and then Mam and Dad was to have a bungalow and Mam was waiting to go there and she died before they went there. She died at Hope street. They were going from Hope street to Southland and then they were going to knock them down. But Dad always hated Southlands he never wanted to go there. He wanted to stay at 33 Hope Street. He didn’t want to go al all. Gran was dead before I got married. She was dying when I had my 21st birthday. I was born in 1927. I got engaged on my 21st birthday. I lived with my \Mam and dad for a year with my mother and dad in Hope street. It took years before they pulled down Hope street. A family owned the house where Marjory is living now and a Miss Pomfair was a friend or Mams and she told them what to offer and we bought this house for £800.00 I come up here to live 12 month after I got married. We never had a mortgage, Des had his gratuity from the army because he was in the marines in the war and when we were living with Mam’s we saved and we were £300 paying for the house and Mama and Dad lent us £300.00. And we paid them back with my family allowance and Des war pensions. We had children by then. – Family allowance was 8 shillings. In those days nobody had money anyway. When I got married Desmond’s first pay was £4 and something. When I went to work mine was £17.00 a month and Marge got 15/- a week. I was having 5/- a week the rest went to my Mam. We moved there and we saved the money and Dilwin was taking his trade and Angela was thirteen or fourteen and we saved up the money to do alterations on the house and to put in central heating and to take some of the chimneys out.. We never have debts.
Sara| Jones was John’s wife could not speak English she only spoke Welsh. That is why Thomas only spoke Welsh. One of her uncle’s wives could only speak Welsh but she cannot remember who the brother was.
Clara Viceroy came from Tudsill., outside Chepstow. There are still Vickeries living at Tudsell.. It is a small village My friend Audrey’s aunt lived in Tudsill and she told me there are still Vickries there.. Ivor Lewis told me that Gran came from Tudsell. Because when Uncle |Dai’s wife died Gran used to go over to his house every Tuesday and come home on Friday to look after Mildred and Ivor’s mother while she was ill and he was at work. Ivor could tell us a lot about Gran. Gran had a sister and her name was Elizabeth who lived in Stow Hill in Newport. She had twin daughters who were identical twins and whatever happened to the one happened to the other. If the neighbour gave one a piece of bread butter and jam the other one new about it. The one died she was ill and the next one died within hours and was not ill..
Our gran had twins but she lost them. When she lost them they lived in Bournville under Ponty –Gwelleth bridge. Between Blaina and Abitarilly bridge.
Gran loved the pictures. I used to take her every Monday to the pictures. First house I used to take her, put her in her seat and go home and fetch her when the pictures come out I used to fetch her. How old was she then oh gosh about 75. Aunty Sal was also anout75 when she died and my mother was 75 when she died. I remember Gran’s 70th birthday in the war but you couldn’t get anything. But Mam knew the baker at the Corp and we managed to get her a cake and it was all covered in chocolate. We had it in the We had it in the Blaina inn where Aunty Sal (Sara)lived. Her husband was a Jackson. Two brothers married two sisters. Her name was Sara we called her Sal. Albert was Sal’s husband. My mother Gwendoline married Frederick Jackson. Grandmother was Lil Marshman married Tom Guerney. The name Ponsford fits in somewhere
Gran would have loved to be a midwife but she could not afford the fees to go to college. She delivered a lot of babies in her life.. There was a neighbour who had been married years and when she was expecting that her baby would never have been born if it had not been for our grandmother. She said she owed that babies life to Gran.
Gran worked hard all her life. She took in washing. When she came to Blaina before she was married. She got off the train and came out of the Railway station in Blaine was going to work at the Queens Pub and then she saw all the miners coming home with their black faces. It gave her a terrible fright. Gran had a sixteen-inch waist when she married grandpa and ended up a very large lady when she died. She was sixteen stone.
When we went to sisters in Newport she would put on clean clothe and would always put on a clean pinny under her clothes so as not to catch cold. She used to wear pinnies with a pretty floral top and a black bottom – always. To go to bed I used to undress her – took off her clothes but you used to have put on clean black stockings on to have to go to bed. She used to have very bad arthritis. And she had a skin complaint like eczema. That was because she used to go without enough to eat because she spent the money on Ronald. He was a spoilt boy. She did not go to South Africa because she could only take one child with her. She would have to leave the rest at home. That is why she never went
Our Ron wanted to go to South Africa but there was no work then either for people. Ron’s wife’s name was Dorothy and Gran said she was not to let him go without her. Since Mam died I have lost touch with those at Oxford where Ron went to live. Ron died in the Radcliffe Hosptal in Oxford a specialised hospital .Mam used to go to Oxford for Easter every year. And the hospital wanted to know if Gran would go into the hospital for tests and they wanted Marge’s mother to go as well.. Gran went but we never heard what the tests were for. After she got back home she had a letter from to ask if all the brothers and sister go to the house and they sent three doctors down to test them. But I don’t know . Whether it was something with the heart or not I don’t know. Whatever Ron went into the Radcliffe we think he knew that he only had about 12 months to live because when he come home he had a lot of things to finish up and attend to. When he was young he had his trade in a garage as a mechanic. After he went to Oxford he went to work in a car factory but he was a tool maker there and he had a lot of boys under him. He was a real craftsman there. I remember his first job as a chauffeur with the Blue Pilgrims (Blou Rokkies in our land) But I remember the morning he went away to Oxford He didn’t have enough money and he wanted this and he wanted that. He was spoilt.. Billy Jackson was a pilot in the war. But he died soon after the war in a plane crash. A civilian plane crashed into them. It happened in mid air and 12 of them died He was high up in the airforce and a lot of officers were going to France for a meeting. Billy Jackson grew up in our Gran’s house as there was not room with him Mom and Dad so he always lived with Gran. Gran raised him. Aunty Sal got married but she and her husband had to live apart as there was no room for them at either parents home so he lived with his folks and she stayed at home. Billy Jackson was born at |Gran’s house and just stayed there Later Aunty Sal and her husband got a little house and had her daughter Dorothy. But Billy Jackson stayed with Gran. Until the time his parents got a bigger house but always came home from school to Gran’s house for tea. Billy Jackson used to follow Ron around as there was not too many years between them and Ron used to come home and say Gwen this buggers following me everywhere.. Aunty Sal lived in a house called spiders castle. Her daughter is Dorothy 80 now and Billy Jackson would have been 82. They had another son named Albert and John. John been dead for years he had a very bad stroke.. Ron had two daughters.
The circus used to come to Blaina every year and Gran took Ron, to see the monkeys . Ron was little but was amused by the monkeys backsides.. Grans brother was in the boer war and he had a grant for Gran to go to school buy she had to leave school at 12 to nurse her mother with cancer and her brother worked for the railways. He worked in the signal box. He used to knit, he used to knit all his own socks and pullovers.
And Gran at 12 years of age nursed her mother till she died. Then she never went back to school, but Gran could read and write proper.. Then we used to take a book each week the Miracle and the Beries and Pegs paper. And they used to come on a Thursday. Then you would go home from work and say have the books come. Yes said gran but I dunno where they are and she would put them under he chairs cushion until she had read them But no way would you have them until she had read them.. One thing she would like to have for her breakfast and this was in the war when you couldn’t get it. She would have bread and butter and a block of Cadbury’s chocolate in between two slices of bread for her breakfasts 1d bars of cadbury’s and she would put that into her sandwich. Gran died of cancer, she would make sure she was always sick when Mam and Dad wanted to go on holidays. So that they couldn’t go. But this one year they they were going to Ramsgate They were going the first week and then Des and I would go and we would each have had a fortnight. And Gran was to stay in the Blaina Inn with Aunty Sal. But Gran used to have trouble with the bowels going to the toilet so she took half tin of Epsom salts and that stopped mom and dad going on holiday. In the night all the bedclothes we used all the bedclothes and nighties we had. But we stopped it with was milk and nutmeg. Anyway she went up to the Blaina Inn. Uncle Dai had a car he might have took her up there. She went to bed and .Des and I. went up to see her on the Thursday. And I went up to see her and she gave me 10/- pocket money and I didn’t want to take and she said me you take it because if you don’t take it somebody else will. Well I come down stairs and Des and I| were walking home and I said to Des Gran’s dying. Don’t be soft he says.. I says Gran’s dying and she was dead by the next morning. I went on holidays. But Mom sent me a telegram But they sent Mam a telegram to come home . But Aunty Sal sent the telegrams because our Mam was away and Uncle Dai was away and she had used Gran’s money to send the telegrams. So Gran was quite right if I didn’t have the 10/- someone else would. But I never seen Gran buried but Gran was my best friend. It was gran that I used to tell all my troubles to because I slept in a single bed and she slept in a double bed in the same bedroom. She used to give me pocket money for dressing and undressing her and taking her to the pictures and all this.. Oh Gran was great with all this and then she used to go to the Blue Pilgrims and I used to fetch her when it was time to go home.. So I had more to do with Gran than any of the other children.. She lived with us from the time I was 9 until I was 21. Then I got married but she died before I got married.. So I lived at home with Mom and Dad for a year after I was married because we didn’t have houses like we do today. So we just split everything in half all the bills were split in half so I could save some money. They never had to pay rent. I can see Gran now as plain as if she was here. Because I spent a lot of time with her. I remember saying once Gran you do look like and old witch and years and years later a little while before she died she said you are right I do look like an old witch.. My wedding rind is Gran’s wedding ring. It was worn very thin and you couldn’t buy 22 carat gold during the war when I got married. It was hard to get wedding rings.. She lost the wedding ring twice and when she found it she gave it to me. And she said keep thing and when you get married you can have it altered. We took it down to the jewellers in Newport and Des paid to have it altered. So my wedding ring is my grandmothers. It was altered because it was a very wide one but it had worn very thin so it is a different shape altogether. And I have a brooch off Gran which grandpa Lewis had made in South Africa. It was a bar, a gold bar with a heart in the middle with an arrow going through with a little ruby in the centre. She gave me that when I was 14 and I gave it to Angela. Gran had two brooches from South Africa. One was a pansy and I forget what the other one was. It was made of ivory. She gave me the pansy but later on gave it away to somebody else. But by that time she was beginning to fail. And Dotty Basham had the other one but Dotty Basham wouldn’t have appreciated it I dunno what happened to hers but I regretted mine going cause it was beautiful The colours in it were beautiful. But she was a tartar to take Fissons. Fisson salts she used to take it by the load.. But you see she had cancer, but the Doctor said to just leave it. Mam knew she had cancer but she did not know.. I went to Ramsgate on holiday with Dotty Basham and Gran was ill while I was away. And Mam had the Doctor and the Doctor found a big lump and then the Doctor said then it was cancer and there was nothing they could do about it. And that’s what happened when she died. Taking the Fisson salts it broke the tumour and it killed her see. But she had worked hard all her life. She never did nothing while she was with us mind. Our Mom would not let her lift a finger and Dad they were marvellous with her.
Uncle Bill was 10 months older than my Mam there was only 10 months between them. Aunty Sal was two years older than him. GRANDPA WENT TO America before he went to South Africa. John was there father. I can remember my mother saying the morning she was to get married John said to her. NOW ARE YOU SURE BECAUSE YOU CAN STILL CHANGE YOUR MIND, exactly like her father would have said to her.. Gran took in washing. She had a bit of money because Ron took his trade and in those days you had to pay to have an apprenticeship owing to Uncle Tom living with her he must have had money. She didn’t have to pay for Uncle Ron taking his trade. Something was worked out. Uncle Dai our mom's cousin he got Ron in as an apprentice. When the children were home the boys used to tip her. Uncle Tom always lived with her as long as I can remember. Cause Aunty Mary Jane the one who took him she went back and forth to South Africa plenty of times. They went on the Union castle boats there must have been money there somewhere,.. I know she used to tell fortunes because I remember seeing the crystal ball wrapped in the velvet .She must have gone out when our grandfather went out.. Everybody lived in Blaina
They all worked in the pits. Uncle Dai went to work in the iron works at Ebbervale and played rugby for them.
Uncle Bill has two sons: David & Allan. Uncle Bill was very dark and Aunty Rhoda his wife I can remember they had to get Married to. And our Mam had to make Uncle Bill go to his wedding. He didn’t want to get married. But she was a good wife. And David used to work on the busses. He was quite an artistic boy, BUT HE DIED VERY YOUNG OF A STROKE. And then Allen the youngest boy he married a girl from Abertillary and she was a schoolteacher and he was a schoolteacher. And he went teaching in Germany with the army. But he has got Parkinsons disease. He was fair and David was dark. Uncle Bill and Aunty Rhoda used to come and visit Gran every Sunday evening. And if they brought her a quarter of sweets they had brought her the world. Our Mam used to wait on her hand and foot. But that was taken for granted you know. Auntie Sal used to visit when she came down to Blaina shopping, or if she wanted something. When we were children I was an only child. Aunty Rose my fathers sister lived in the top house and she had 16 children and Aunty Sal lived in the bottom and although she had four children only three lived with her. Albie, John and Dorothy. And for two years Dorothy slept with me because they only had a two-bedroom house. So even though I had not brothers and sisters I always had plenty of children around. Dorothy BASHAM was a sickly child then they discovered she had TB.
She had to go to a place down Cardiff way called Kelem hadley and out Mam had to take her on a train to Newport and hand her over to a nurse on the station and our Mam said she would never do it again because she cried terribly Aunty Sal did not do it because she had the excuse that she had the two other children. But I DO NOT KNOW How LONG SHE WAS IN THE TB home.
Our Mam and Gran used to take turns to go and look after Uncle Dai’s wife who was dying of cancer.. He had three wives who all died of cancer. Ivor came home from school and she was running round the house naked., with a knife. She was suffering from cancer of the brain. Started in the breast and went up to her brain. She wanted to go to work in the war but the Doctor advised her not to go but she went anyway. She went to a factory where they were working with TNT powder. That was when the cancer came back and it killed her.. Rene his second wife had it internally and his daughter Mildred nursed her. His third wife Vera nobody liked her also died of cancer. Uncle Dai had the cheek to bring his washing to old Gran to do until she realised that he was married again. Her used to visit Gran every Saturday but after she stopped doing his washing he never came regularly again. When Ivor and Mildred visited their dad they used to bring their own food because Vera was not very welcoming.
Last time I saw Uncle Dai he had been pruning a tree and he fell out of it and he was 91
I believe my husband was in Glanyrafon School around this time. Perhaps you remember the name Perry James.
Hi Jennifer, with regard to your query about my Nans son living at home with her,his name was Den.....x
I was in Glanyrafon from 1964 -1968 and if anyone reads this who were there at that time would love to hear from them.
I was born and brought up in Blaina, went to the primary school, later West Side School and then on to Glanyrafon Seconardy Modern, and after
that to Ebbw Vale College, I lived in Hope Street, I dont know if anyone would remember that Street, I enjoyed my childhood there and would like to
hear from anyone who remembers me. My parents were Louisa and Sid Cook, I was an only child. I still have family there in West Side and the Coad Cae. Its nice to look back and remember Blaina and about 6/8 months ago went to the museum in the institude, that brought back quite a lot and it was nice, there were old photographs of Glanyrafon with the pupils and teachers, and particulary a weighing scales that used to be in the local
shop at the bottom of Hope Street, given to the museum by Miss Terry Hawkins, who I sometimes still see on the bus.
I have some happy memories of Blaina and its good to look back and remember my time there, I live in Newport now (not to far away) and sometimes
go up to see a cousin I have there who lives in West Side.
If anyone does remember me I hope they will get in touch.
I stumbled across this site this morning and have been totally inthralled with reading your comments.
I too am a Blaina girl, having been born in Shintons Row (long since demolished) and then lived in Cwmcelyn for most of my life. i still live there today. My Grandparents and Mother are all originally from Blaina. My Grandfather, Cyril Jones, along with his brothers, Gwyn, David and Edwin were all part of the Blaina band. in fact, i have been told that there were so many of the same family in the band it became known as Jones's band. i am ashamed to say, i didn't inherit any of his musical talents. i attended Hafod-Y-Ddol Grammar school in 1971, the year before it became a Junior Comprehensive. i have many fond memories of it. i was just a very impressionable 11 year old at the time and believed all the ghost stories surrounding the school and the Round House. Did anyone else attend this school around this time?
As an ex-Blaina boy now residing in Adelaide, South Australia I, like the previous contributor, am basking in a 'cool change' of 34 degrees after the recent 40+ temperatures. In air-conditioned comfort I have been logging onto the welsh internet websites such as Wales ic and reading about your current cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls. The UK website has shown photos of similar conditions in 1963 in Wales, which was a year after I left Blaina to emigrate to Australia. My winter memories are of the 1947 heavy snowfall which also closed schools and isolated Blaina for weeks ( I have written about this in some of my earlier stories on the "Your stories" section).
Can someone who remembers the winter of 1947 tell me how current conditions compare to the '47 cold freeze? - have the buses continued to run?, are all the schools closed?, is Cwmcelyn Road, where I lived open to all traffic?, is tobogganing still a Blaina winter sport? and has the Cwmcelyn pond frozen over as it did in 1947? I would be interested to hear from one of the readers of this website whose memories go this far back.
I hope someone can spare a few minutes to post a reply. In anticipation........
Regards to all - David Furber
So as not to confuse you I had forgotten that I had registered on the forum with my usual handle Pollytunnel...so yes we are one and the same...
Sorry not to have gotten back before...I am sure Mary Ann was the one my nan was friendly with..I have a feeling that she had a son who lived at home with her was it Des? not sure if I dreamt that or if it is a memory...I know they were the best of pals and drinking buddies!!!
I came across this site while biding time in front of the airconditioner at home in South Australia,it is 45c or in the old language 110F outside.
I migrated to Australia in 1965,Have travelled around a lot and now live in South Australia.
Still try to keep up with all the news from Wales. I have family in Nantyglo where I was born.
went to school at Garnfach primary then Abertillery tech. joined the RAF in 1953.
I have been trying to trace a Mary LEGGE, who lived opposite the market hall and library in Brynmawr,we used to be members of Holy Trinity Anglican Church which was the parish church for nantyglo. Mary was a great friend and would be in her seventies now.
Regards to all
Hi just seen your message about Mary ann Cook ,she was my Nan . I also vaguely remember your Nans name Mrs Turney. My Nan lived in the High Street Blaina,would it be the same one do you think?
My gran was good friends with Mary Ann Cook and we always had to finish our dinner as quick as poss for her to wash up and go meet Mary Ann in the Rolling Mill....I always think of them when they show the terrible trio Ena Sharples and co. on an old Corrie..as I think that there was another friend they sat with..My Gran was Carrie Turney we lived in Victoria Street West Side...
Hi Wendy, I would certainly email you if I had an email address for you, have been trying to get it. Plan to visit the Heritage Centre shortly when my cousins from Australia are visiting. They are researching my mother's family at the moment, so we plan to visit the centre and Brynmawr and surrounding area. It is some time since I was there. We will go to the Roundhouse but don't know what it will be like. Margaret
To Wendy Norman I dont have as yet Margaret Legge
I didnt know that Margaret and Husband Keith Davies has been divorced
These past twenty years
Did you know that Keith Won LLanely for Labour last General Elections
He defeated Plaids Helen Mary Jones he has taken her Assembly Seat
When I do contact Margaret I shall let you know
Eddie....would you know how i can contact margaret legge...your cousin...thankyou. Wendy
Could someone please delete what I have repeated
Eddie Legge born 23/3/36 in Forge Row Nantyglo first cousin to Margaret Legge
My home A one up and down damp infested hovel my brother and I was at age16 and 17
still shareing the same bedroom as our parents
Our family has been in the area around Nantyglo since the early 19th century
John Leg the family name then married Mary Williams 1824
Our great grand parents were both Irish Lawrence Kelly married Ellen Dalton Catholic Church
Been living in Blaina since 1968 Went to school in Glan-y-afron Blaina worked for Tommy Gore in Blaina
served on committee of Blaina Rugby
I was born into a family
Of comradeship and song
In the collieries and chapels
Marx and god were strong
Now the pit wheels turn no more
In the valleys of Gwlad y Glo
The land of coal forgotten
Since Thatcher closed the door
From Nantyglo to Blaina
We cannot hide the pain
Deserted streets empty shops
Sulking in the rain
More to follow
I am writing so promptly as I saw a note from my old school and dear friend Margaret Legge, who was looking for me......I was so excited to see she is still remembering our time at Hafod-y-ddol....if you can email me Margaret I would love to hear from you, all your news, where you are, and vice versa i can respond.... I was also interested in the other comments as being and old Hafodian I remember some of those people who were in different classes to me but nevetheless remember them, have been trying to connect with Muriel (nee Hooper)Bourne....and Kate Saunders, and Ynys Pike.....Mary Dix, Janet Clark, Veronica Williams, and David Nash, and Pat Furber......so many......would love to hear from them, or know how to connect....I haven't been home in many years (I live in Canada) but considering a trip later this year, it would be lovely to connect with everyone after all this time...For me remembering our history in Blaina, Nantyglo is like a breath of fresh air, so much fun and so many good friends. Some of the teachers at Hafod-y-ddol where a lot of us met and remained good friends and are now seeking out our past, is wonderful. If any of you would like to stay in touch perhaps we can through emails. Sending my best wishes to all of you that remember those times, Hafod-y-ddol school, the train ride on a Saturday to Abertillery, and the dance after in Blaina.....simple but worthwhile. I so look forward to hearing from you all.........Wendy Norman (nee Jones)
I attended Hafod y Ddol from 1951 to 1958 and have been thrilled to read the comments made by people whose names I recognise but have been out of touch with for many years. I was particularly interested to read news of Wendy Norman with whom I kept in touch after leaving Hafod y Ddol and used to visit her parents in Gladstone St. Brynmawr. I went to Nantyglo Primary School on Limestone Road, my main friends there were Veronica Williams and Daphne Hall. Wendy was a friend in Grammar School and I eventually lost touch with her when she moved from Llanwern, I would love to hear from her. I remember the school well, especially Bernard Wakely, who taught History, Miss Perry (French), Miss Hall (English) and Mr Silk and Mr Burton. I also remember when quite a gang of us would go on the train to Abertillery on Saturday afternoons to the cinema and then on to Blaina Institute to the weekly hop. I was prompted to look out my copy of the school photo and was surprised at how many people I could name after all these years. I no longer visit Brynmawr since the death of my parents, but went back regularly until 1988. My parents were friendly with the Jones family who lived at the Roundhouse Farm and I used to regularly play in the ruins of the roundhouse nearest to the farm building. I remember Pearl Grubb both from Primary and Grammar School and her younger brother Alquin.
I used to live at 10 Brynuelog road from1948 when i was born to 1954, when we moved away to Coventry. My Dad was Bill Cook and had 2 brothers Les and Dennis,they all worked in Six Bells pit.
My Mum was called Lottie but was always known as May.
I have 2 brothers, Verdun who has sadly died and Vivian who still lives in Coventry. My Nan was called Mary Ann Cook she lived at 116 High Street Blaina.
So glad i found this site,its nice to look back and remember...
Kind regards to everyone...... Nina
Hi everyone Blaina born folk.
I've just discovered this site as well; I remember David Furber very well. You were in the form above me Geoff Prout ,Geoff Evans, Chunky Williams were my classmates the girls were Wendy Morgan, Liz Derrick, June Coburn.
My sister was Margaret Matthews, we are both on the Hafod y Ddol photo of 54.I'm also on the choir photo.
The Blue Pilgrims came to Blaina in the early 40's I've seen a photo with my mam holding me with group of other mothers, children and
I went back to Blaina a few years ago to visit Graham Bourne and Muriel[ nee Hooper] I went to have an icecream at Zarachies ;John has passed, the cafe was run by someone else and the best icecream I ever tasted is no more.
I also remember1947 I had to go up to the Co-op milk depot and dropped the bottle on the way home to Alexandra Street.
How many remember Mr Dowswell with the shop at the bottom of the Pitch I have a vague memory of Dowswell's in the war,packed out and old Dowswell shouting at the top of his voice with a Scots accent no one understood.
Strangely, Mr Dowswell wanted to retire back in Blaina and bought our house when my Dad came to live with me in Yorkshire in 64.
The last time I visited the whole town seemed dead, nobody on the Main Street it just wasn't the same.
Hi, to all Blaina residents, ex residends,I was born kicking and screaming on the 8th May 1941,at 14,Railway Terrace,my grancher was Sam Jelly who played in Blaina brass band,he was at one time the longest playing member of a brass band totaling 69 years,from there I moved to 18,Gwent Terrace,Nantyglo. Reading previous letters there is a mention of the big snow of1947,there was an air drop over Nanyglo of supplies,and I can recall my granddad Dai Bevan and others digging towards the cemetry as the water was still running.My friend was called John Griffiths,I called at his home where he lived with his mother and sister,a few years ago Sadly the last time I called his sister was out and a neighbour informed me he had sadly passed away,also his mother
Over the years I have paid visits from where Ilive in South Yorkshire having left in 1949,and sadly, each time Blaina seems more worn,My uncle Malcom and auntie Irene Jelly still live in the old railway station,my other lovely uncle David Prosser who played the drums in a dance band has passed away. Tom Jones song is true "the old home town still looks the same"
It is a while since Ihave paid a visit but hope to do so next year,god willing.
Well Eddie you have certainly jogged my memory with your comment about the game of "bat and catty". It is amazing now to think how a game simply consisting of two pieces of wood could provide hours of amusement for us kids. As I remember the game there was one long piece of wood and a smaller 'shaped' piece with pointy ends. I am a little hazy on the 'rules' of the game (and they may have varied around the town!), but I do know that it involved getting the smaller piece into the air and then hitting it as far as you could. Apart from this, were there any other 'rules' to identify the winner?
Too soon these simple pleasures gave way to the more grown-up pursuits of cricket and football!
Thanks so much for putting this site together. My father lived in Blaina for several years in the 1940s. His name was Ivor Christopher and his father Arthur was a butcher, I think at the Co-op shop. I remember my father speaking of John Saratchi (I'm sorry I don't know the spelling) who was a school friend, and I think it was his father Tony who had the ice cream shop which is mentioned in some of the other posts. Also, Roy Norster - who I guess was a relative of the other Norsters who were mentioned. My mother was Enid Wright from Winchestown and she is in the Hafod-y-ddol photo, and again I remember her talking about the teachers - Evan Silk (I've got a reference which he wrote for her when she completed teacher training college, and she went on to teach Domestic Science at Glan-yr-Afon from 1958-1962) and Miss Perry, amongst others. She also spoke of the Pilgrims coming to the area, but I think this must have been after the Second World War. Both my parents are now dead; as I read through, I kept thinking how much I wished I could have read this site with them, and talked to them about the posts and see who they remembered and which of the shops. But thanks again for giving me a link to my heritage.
My family were in Nantyglo from 1801 the name then Legg
my great great grandmother Mary legg ne Williams was born
in Nantyglo Aberystruth 1802 married John Legg in Aberystruth 7/4/1824
1841 Census Mary Legg age 40 living with 6 children in street address
Nantyglo Iron works husband John missing
The marrage of Francis Legg to Mary Williams Aberystruth 27/6/1813
The marrage of Richard Legg to Rachel Philips Aberystruth 16/6/1814
It is nice to know they were around when the Chartist marched to Newport
A Nantyglo mine disaster 7th Dec 1837 claimed seven lives
the youngest a girl of age 13 Jane Legg
I was born in 5 Forge Row Nantyglo in 1936
A row of one up and down damp infested hovels built by Crawshay Bailey
At age 16 and 17 my brother and i sharing bedroom with mother and father
Growing up in the war years
What was it all about
Adolf Hitlar we were told
Was the devils earthly scout
PM went to Munich
Promises all denied
Hitlar marched on Poland
We thought the world had died
Our mam was always there
She never made a fuss
Are living in poverty mam
No my love
Others worse off than us
Bat and catty snakes and ladders
Children never bored
Those days of sorrow pride and joy
In my memory carefully stored
As someone who lived in Blaina in the 50s when the coal mines were in full swing, I remember vividly the many coal tips which dotted the valley floor and the mountain sides. Living in the High Street, the area behind known as The Forge provided enough flat ground to play cricket and the sawdust factory some softer ground for football! Not surprisingly all the photographs of these times painted a very grey picture of the town which was not enhanced when grey skies and rain were the order of the day. So I was pleasantly surprised to come across the website - www.thevalleys.co.uk
As I browsed through the website, which gives details of many recommended places to visit in South Wales, I came across the Ebbw Valleys. The descriptor paints a much improved picture of Blaina and the Ebbw Fach valley showing green valley sides, walking and riding trails, historic sites to visit and the good old Cwmcelyn pond, a favourite area of mine. This used to be the start of many walks up the mountain and the occasional picnic. The water in the mountain streams always looked good enough to drink, but I was put off during one of the trips when we found a dead sheep in the upper reahes of the stream!! Happy days
It was good to see the improvements that have been made over the years and I encourage all former residents, especially those of us now living in 'distant parts' to log on and revive your own personal memories. Perhaps you will even be inspired to share some of them ?
Wow you brought back a lot of memories from Hafod-y-ddol Grammar. Yes Pat was in similar grade to me actually I knew her well, and knew that she and David were married. I wonder if you are in touch would you let them both know I hope they are well and send my best wishes. Perhaps an email even from them would be lovely. Terry Pope I remember also, and yes your right about Miss Perry she was everything you say, but a great french teacher, pretty strict though. Jeanette Furber I also remember she may remember me also.
We used to pick up the train in Nantyglo on a Saturday afternoon, loaded with students, all on there way to Abertillery pictures oh it was a lot of fun, and afterwards all end up at Blaina for the dance. Most of us used to walk home after the dance, it was quite safe then to do that. I am not sure about now in Wales.
It has been awhile since I was home to Wales, I long to return for a visit as a lot of friends visit us here in Canada and I think its around 10+ years since I was home, I am due for a visit . My oldest son Ian was born in Newport at (Celtic Manor as it is called now) and he has not returned since we moved from UK, but is longing to go back to visit. My other son Andrew was born in Chepstow and my daughter Lisa born in West Midlands. We still keep our Welsh traditions and we have certainly passed them on to our grandchildren.
I do remember Mr.Burton with Sandy hair and I think looking back those were some of the most beautiful times school wise at Hafod-y-ddol. I guess we didn't consider it at the time.
We left Uk in 1974 to go to South Africa, and then two years later to Canada, followed by USA, all work related of course. We now reside in Canada and some of our children are here in same city and the others in Houston, Texas.
Interesting looking at your pictures David, and strange to see oneself on them. Thanks for posting and thanks for following up.
We'll keep in touch,
Best wishes always
It was good to hear from someone who was at Hafod-y-Ddol at the same time as me. I think you are the first to respond to the photographs I put up some years ago! I was in the sixth Form when the photo was taken and my sister, Jeannette, was in Form 1. I was in the same class as Tery Pope who stayed on an extra year and became Head Boy. I was interested to hear that you were friendly with David Nash as he married my cousin Pat Furber who is also in the photo in the row below you, two along to the left from Sandra Pope on the photo. I am still in touch with Tery Pope, who also lives in Australia. I, of course, knew all the teachers you mentioned plus Mr Burton who became Headmaster after Evan Silk, and not forgetting Miss Perry who taught french, a strict disciplinarian as I remember!
I emigrated to Australia in 1964 but I have returned to the UK on many occasions and I always try to include a visit to Blaina where I still have a few relatives. The Blaina Heritage site has been a great venue for me to share my memories of living in Blaina during the 40s and 50s and to include photos of how the place looked during those years. I hope, as you look back in this "Your Sories" section, you will be able to relive some of these memories. As for cinemas the local Blaina Cinema loomed large during my early years, but Abertillery soon became the preferred place to go on Saturday afternoon with its 4 cinemas and greater choice of films.
Have you been back recently? The last time I was there the Blaina Heritage Group were moving from the High street to the Institute building and I was unable to make my usual visit. Next time............
My mother was an Abercarn Roberts and father from Newbridge, distanty related to Glenn Catley the boxer. I was born at Natyglo hospital n 1942 and spent a lot of my childhood at 144 or 44 ? Abertillery Road Blaina with Aunt Madge and Uncle Phil who were teachers. His brother owned the petrol station nearby (Ken?). I was at Cwmcelyn primary school for while. I was educated in London and have been in Australia since 1964.
I found this site by accident but was overjoyed to see some pictures of my old school Hafod-y-ddol Grammar School which I attended 1955 onwards. I see comments and pictures by you David Furber, somehow that name rings a bell with me, and I saw myself on some of your Hafod-y-ddol pictures. I lived in Blaina as a young girl "Bryn Terrace" and attended Cwmcelyn School. Later we moved to Nantyglo and thats when I entered the Grammar School. I was a good friend of David Nash, in one of your pictures I am on his right side. My name was Wendy Jones, now Norman and I presently live in Canada. I still do remember an awful lot about Blaina, still have some family there in Club Row. Always remember doing our shopping in Liptons every Friday with my Mum, and then heading to the Coop, and the shoe shop I think it was run then by Mr. Jones. The Blaina cinema was our favourite and it was always full of youngsters like ourselves . The ice cream shop was where, if we were lucky, we had ice cream in nice glass dish with raspberry topping, I can still remember how lovely it was.
My other friends in your pictures of the school were Muriel Hooper, Veronica Williams, Janet Clark, Mary Dix, Geoff Jones, our headmaster was Mr. Silk and teachers were Jogger Jones, Mr. Ford Dunn, Mr. Hookway, etc. So good to meet you all here. Keep up the "welcome" there is a lot of wonderful memories .
I am trying to find any information about Drill Hall House, Blaina during the 1940's can anybody help please
OK, you have had long enough - is anyone out there willing to admit they googled "counting the goats"? Perhaps you even sang along!
And still waiting to hear if there are any other surviving choir members who log into this site?
Does anybody remember or have any info regarding Drill Hall House, Blaina in the 1940's on my sister in laws National Registration Card it gives Drill Hall House as her postal address she was born in 1941
I have just replied to a comment on the photo of the 1947 West Side Choir which I sent in some time ago (see the Blaina Forum section on this website).I was interested in Morgan's comment as I was in the choir that won the cup at the Eisteddfod in Newport. The choir was the brainchild of Miss Jones, music teacher at the school, who was also the choir's conductor. As the song we had to sing was in welsh we had to learn the words phonetically as the welsh language was not then taught in any of the schools I attended. I still remember most of the words after all these years - a testament to long term memories as compared with "what did I do yesterday!!" I looked up the song we sang on the internet (where else) and it is there on a number of sites, both the words and the music. If interested just type in " counting the goats" or "Cyfri'r Geifr" and sing along with the recordings.
In those days we travelled by train to Newport (can anyone remember the names of all the stations between Brynmawr and Newport? - another long term memory test harking back to the days of steam trains!). The journey down was one of apprehension for members of the choir but the journey back was one of great pride and excitement. It was a big plus for Blaina and especially for West Side School. Are there any other members of that choir out there? I would be interested to hear of your memories.
I have had a quick look at the 'School Photo' section on this website and there haven't been too many additions since the West Side Choir and the 1950s Hafod y ddol photos I sent in some time ago. Surely there are dozens of school photos hidden away in drawers in your house... why not share them? it might prod the memories of others!
Very interested to have come across your site.
My Mother, who is now 89, was born and raised in Blaina. She was Hazel Norster and I know there are members of the dynasty still in Blaina.
Her sister still lives in Waengron (Road?). She is Eunice Carter (Nee Norster of course). There was another older sister Joan who died a few years back and a much younger sister Pat who sadly has also died but they both always lived in Blaina - only my Mother moved away in 1938/9 to train as a shorthand typist at Pitmans College in London.
I haven't read all the past stories but did not see much about the mining history which was the heart of Blaina I imagine. My Mother's Father was Will Norster and they lived in Church Street at number 17, which I see from Google that has lost its 'gooley' (never did know how that was spelled) the side entrance anyway , but seems to have retained its front step (should be scrubbed daily!) Will Norster was the master blacksmith at Beynons (again not sure of the correct spelling) and did not retire until he turned seventy. He had several brothers some of whom worked alongside him.
I have many memories of Blaina as a youngster visiting in the holidays but I will tell my mother about this site and maybe I can encourage her to put some memories down. She doesn't have a computer but maybe my brother or myself can pass information on.
If there is any particular things you would like to know about between 1921ish to the end of the war years I'm sure she could shed some light.
Good luck with your site and Museum and I hope to visit it in the not too distant future.
Hi Norman My Name is lee thomas i am the grandson of yorath and may thomas who ran the bakery in blaina for many years and than moved on to own the cake shop in blaina my fathers name is norman thomas i also had a uncle norman that ran a bread round and lived next to the yew tree pub in blaina west side where my grand father and grand mother lived for many years also . You mention thomas thomas i belive this to be my great grand father who you say lived in lanhilleth i belive they actually lived in brynithel which is of cause the little village above lanhilleth i will pass this information on to my father norman who im sure would love to here of you also any questions about my family im sure he would be glad to answer.
Feel free to contact me on the email address i have supplied
Hi, I am going back quite a while, I am researching the Thomas Family, whose descendents ran the family businness known as, Thomas the Bakers in Blaina up to the 1960's when I understand, they were bought out by Mothers's Pride.
My earliest connection is with Thomas Thomas B. 1837 in Redbrook, Glos. He was a Tinplate Roller, His 1st marriage was in Machen in 1859 to Elizabeth Rees. B. 1840. Church Details etc unknown. They had 3 children, Emily. B. 1860 Machen. Robert J. B.1864. Elizabeth. B. 1869.
Mother Elizabeth. Died in 1870 followed by the deaths of Robert. D.1871. Elizabeth. D. 1871.
Thomas Thomas with the surviving daughter Emily, had moved to Abertillery and possibly was working in one of the Tin Plate Works, which were close by.
Oct. 1871.Thomas at 35, marries for the second Time to Ann Price. B. 1852. Possibly Llanhilleth, or Abertillery?
They move in to 3, Commercial st, Abertillery, where are born at this address;
16.Aug.1872.B. Sarah Ann Thomas. !This girl is a bit of a mystery! Nothing definate as to being their Daughter.No Marriage or Death details.found.
1874. .B. Robert Thomas.
1875 .B. Elizabeth
1877. B. Mary Jane "This was my Grandmother." 1902. Married Norman Brown Johnston in Cardiff and lived there until death in 1942.
1879. B. Beatrice.
1881. B. Pricilla.
1884. B. Thomas Edmund Thomas. Possible Father of Yorath, Norman and Mary. Possibly ran the Bakery.
1887. B. John.
1896. Ann (Price) Thomas dies at age 43.
1901. Husband Thomas Thomas goes to live with Daughter Beatrice and her husband, George Chapman, at 8 Forge Row.
1901. Priscilla has married in 1899 to John Hinder and were living at 47, Glandwr St. Abertillery.B. 1899. Henry Hinder. 1901. B. Ivor John Hinder.
1891 to 1896., Sarah Ann and Mary Jane are living with their Grandmother Sarah Price,(Mother of Ann (Price) Thomas. In Penmaen, Mary J is a China Shop Assistant at Cardiff Rd, Caerphilly. Sarah Ann works as a House Servant. (Where?)
1896 The Grandmother dies at 71.
1901-02. Mary Jane is living and working in Penarth, (No details) meets and marries my Grandfather Norman Brown Johnston.
I have no further news of Sarah Ann.
The other Children, I do not have any knowledge of their later details.
I have in this last week, been contacted by a Gary Smith, who is a descendent of Mary, the 3rd child of I believe, Thomas Edmund Thomas and an Ann?
Is there anybody who may have any information at all on this Family? I await with anticipation for any news, no matter how small.
Regards to all,
Norman Brown Johnston.
My Nan, who has unfortunately passed away recently, was born and raised in Blaina in 1931. Her name was Moira Angel and she grew up on Pump Street which I understand is no longer there. I would love to see a photo of Pump Street if anyone has one and also would love to hear from anyone who remembers the Angel family.
Thanks for sharing those memories Viv and also for the great photos, I have copied you e mail info to the queries page so they can be seen by a wider audience, take care, Colin
Hi to all on this wonderfull site i have just found,i have just retired so i have now time to look for the 12 years of my young life in Blaina.I was born on Abertillery road in the small house's next to the tavern,i then moved to west side ,i can remember playing in the dyfren with my much older sister and brother Sylvia and Geoffery Hooper,I went to Blaina infants school,i can remember my first day oh how my little world had a shock i thought my mother would never come for me ,i can remember we had to sleep in the afternoon on really rough blankets ,On a Saturday i can remember going to the Italian cafe for an ice cream in little siver bowls and the small cinama next door i think my older siblins used to go ,and when i was old enough to see a film i though i was really grown up and went to see Rosemary with the Canadian mountey's in ho how i loved it. We then moved back to Abertillery road 107 two doors away from the cemetery i remember helping the grounds man who lived in the house ,to clear the flower's away with my friends why would we have any fear it was good fun .
I then went to Westside school, i understand is now demolished,and as i got older i went to Glanarafon opposite the Tielers Pub where my Dad went for his much loved pint after his long shift in the pit at Bournville.I used to play on the old road near the old pit i think it also had a pond i used to go to get tadpole's.The Dyfrin park was also a fun place to play and all these's things i would often do on my own ,in those's days we did not worry as Blaina was a community of careing people.I can remember going on the train also on a saturday to Abertillery to see my Aunty's how special was that.
I can also remember my mum and dad and older sister going to Blaina working men's club on a Saturday night to dance.So if any one remember's any information of the schools i went to and i would love photo's from 1954 to 1958or9 thats's when i left to come to Leeds in Yorkshire to live. you see my mum was a northerner and my Dad never settled but made the most of a good life in Leeds, my maiden name was Vivienne Hooper, my Dad was Albert Hooper, His family all came from Lancaster street, I would love if someone remembered me from school but to find a little bit of Blaina is just so special, i dont think i was ment to leave i have very fond memorey's ,Hello to you all from BLAINA.
hi john ; with reference to your reguest about family on shop row blaina !my nanny and grancha lived in shop row , thomas and rachel mcneiell i think it was no 35? childrens names < jack , thomas ,nancy thats my mum . grayham , catherine , dolly . i know my uncle tom had 2 daughters rosemary and margret and rosemary had 2 sons one named john! we might be related ! if not good luck with your search x
A postscript to the newsagencies saga - I remember in the 50s that Sunday newspapers could be purchased from Mrs Mathews shop at the top of the High Street. I know my father wasn't interested in the Sunday newspaper trade but I am not sure about the other two - Marshmans and Prolls and later Browns. I don't think Mrs Mathews delivered the papers - does anyone remember? I would guess that she sold more News of the Worlds than any of the other Sunday papers!
As there were no comics on a Sunday I had little interest!!
Re Brown's newsagents - I remember it well from the 1960s. Hilary Brown was the newsagent's daughter- I think she moved to Switzerland. I remember Furbers well, with Bernsteins drapers close by, Ashes etc. All seemed to have good trade in those days and Blaina was alive on Saturday mornings. Amazing to think the town had 3 butchers as well, and another one in Cwmcelyn and another by the Queen's.........................all gone now.
That has certainly jogged my memory. My father had a newsagency in the High Street during the 40s and 50s and I seem to remember him selling the papers part of the business to a Mr Brown who had a shop opposite the start of Cwmcelyn Road just above Selwyn Parry's yard as you described. I had left Blaina by then to emigrate to Australia. I think you are right in that he did not have it for long and I understand that the selling of newspapers and magazines returned to 110 High Street. The shop eventually became Bloodworths.
There is a photograph of my father's shop in the photo section of this website as it was in the 50s.
So perhaps it was Mr Brown that had a lovely daughter?!
to David Furber.
In response to my letter you raised the question:Who is the mysterious third newsagent. I don't remember his name but if you look at the picture of The HIgh Street on the right hand side of the Heritage website you will see a prominent building on the right side which in my day was LLoyds Bank. Opposite is a gas light with a building behind. That is where the third newsagent was located in the sixties. To it's South was Selwin Parry's yard and he made a good living combining building and undertaking. In 1967 I remember he sold my grandmothers coffin,to my parents, for 36 pounds. It was the "luxury model" made of oak ,not pine ,with plated handles, not brass. The "standard version" was 32 pounds. But I digress, if I recall correctly the mystery newsagent was regarded as something of an upstart , he tended to sell racier magazines than the others and may not have been in business long. My working for him ,delivering the wrong papers, certainly didn't help his trade and he did both of us a favour by firing me.
A quick correction to my earlier post. I'm embarrased not to spell Glanryrafon correctly. I've been away from Wales too long.
All The Best Gareth Morgan
OK Gareth, I am intrigued. Who exactly was the mysterious third High Street Newsagent?
Dear Fellow Blainarians
I was born in Nantyglo and Blaina Cottage Hospital in 1949 and lived on Brynteg Hill till moving to Caerphilly in 1968. My father was Lewis Morgan, headmaster , Glan-a -Avon and my mother Gwyneth was very civic minded , a prominent member of The W.I. (although not featured in The Calender Edition!). Both were devoted to The English Congregational Church where she often preached and father played the organ.
Previous correspndents have recollections of The High Street and it's shops. I hadn't thought about it for 45 years but the memories, especially the smells came flooding back. Walking up from The Institute early in the morning one caught a delicious wiff of bread being baked by Henry on Mill Street. Passing The Red Lion the stale smell of last night's beer and revelries stained the pavement and assailed the senses unless a fresh delivery was in progress.As the barrels rolled down the incline to the cellar from the horse drawn dray, steadied by strong arms and encircling ropes, an intoxicating aroma of hops emanated. Opposite was Morgan's fish and chip shop to which several evenings a week I was despatched to get my supper.As I recall, chips were 3 pence and fish 6. Prices have changed but the aroma has not. A little futher up ,on the right hand side, was Nicklens, purveyors of sweets and chocolates in one store front but more importantly, at least to me, vendors of the most delicious donuts, eclairs and ice slices in the other. Many a morning was spent drooling outside that window but , alas, mostly with empty pockets; unless of course, it was Saturday when I promptly blew my weekly allowance and then, being full, was scolded for not eating all my diner. Mr. Proll's newsagent's shop, with the delightful Marilyn , his daughter often behind the counter, was next door . Further up Marshmans with a window full of toys which always distracted me. Opposite was The Grand Cinema which put on Saturday morning Westerns and whose interior reeked of cigarettes. Still on the side were two grocers: Peglers and Liptons. I don't know why but we always shopped at Liptons. Next door was Fernandez the fishmonger. Fresh fish arrived in wooden crates early in the morning and sat outside waiting for the shop to open. I'm sure , unattended as it was , that no one stole any. But, who can forget the smell of the sea and those fascinating sightless eyes! Opposite was Tony's? the Italian cafe. He had immigrated after the First World War when Blaina was a bustling place and there was money to be made.He did well, I was jealeous of his fancy Sunbeam Rapier. I would sometimes be treated to a coffee there by my mother. There is a certain atmosphere in valley cafes. The shop was dominated by a huge chrome steamer from which shreaking, screaming noises erupted as the cofffee came to the boil. The air was densely humid with steam vapor mixed with smoke and gossip. No happening in Blaina escaped the notice and comment of the morning coffee ladies. Next door was Lloyds Bank, a very proper place but doesn't new money have a certain smell? There was another newsagent opposite. I forget theowners name even though I briefly delivered newspapers for him. He chastised me for mixing up newspapers and delivering The Times instead of The Mirror, which really ticked off his customers so I have suppressed his name along with that embarrasing memory. I do remember having a crush on his daughter,Wendy, but she was a whole year older and thus totally inaccessible. Next on the right side was Barrett's The Butcher. There were three butchers in this section of the street , One was in The Co-op the other was Lawleys and although I dated Caroline Lawley breifly, we patronised only Barretts. Rember the sawdust floors. Opposite were Allens the paint and wallpaper shop and The Clarks shoe seller. He had a xray device at one time for fitting shoes and tyou could put your feet in and seeyour toes wiggling. The salesman was the father of a pal and we often stopped by on our way home from West Side to check out our feet. Miraculously it didn't cause me leukemia. And last. ,the highlight. Ashes. Emporium of anything a boy desires. Knives, airguns, model kits, sporting goods. They restrung tennis rackets, sewed satchels and repaired shoes, I still have a callus at the end of my nose where it was pressed against the window,
Well I've bored you enough. Now , having roamed The World I live in Indiana. It's a long way from Blaina but part of me is still back there. Thanks for making this site.
All The Best Gareth
I have just found this website and my stories are those that were family stories. My grandfather was Dr MJF Donovan who I believe was involved with the start of Blaina Hospital. He was also involved with The St John Ambulance Brigade Blaina Division. I hope to visit the museum with my Aunt shortly and we are looking forward to finding out some more and bringing back some memories and finding out more about St John in Blaina.
hello there my name is gwynfa evans and i,m blaina born and bred !! . i,m now relocated in kent , however i still brag about blaina to who ever will listen here in kent !! , i comment from reading about alfie barret . yes i rember him fondly ! as i was a blaina scout for 5 years from 1973 !. when i attended it was in alexandrs street . oh mr barret what a gent i can still hear him now shouting " get your hands out of your pockets !! " my place in kent has a few photos of blaina as well , i have a modern picture of st peters and a photo of st peters dated aprox 1930,s as a general view . and finding this site is a great thrill !! i shall be on this site a lot in the future !!.
I read with great interest when I saw the name Summers . My husband and I came to live in Australia 50 uears ago my memory of Blaina has never left of the town where I was born our Town Blaina .When we lived in Mill Street our next door neighboure were Mrs Summers and her daughter Margaret , she died leaving her husband and a boy Roger . I know you lived in Bournville , do you have a brother named LEROY he married a gitl from Nantyglo I went to school with her .name was Silkcoxl The surname of the boy Paul James his father kept a grocery shop in Church Street , the last I heard of him he lived in Nantygo . i. The scouts gathering were held in the hall opposite the Lloyds Bank when we returned to Blaina in 1995 it had become as the Blaina rugby club..
My name was Williams before O'Neill . My brother David married Evelyn Smith her sister was Olwen ,they had two brothers Cyril and Dacid they lived in South Griffin Terrace. David Furber and I are regular e-mailers . At the time I am able to record life as was during the depression , unfortunely our town has become some what run down. We are now living somewhat fast and noisy . Our Blaina band were one of the best I have read it is the oldest band in the UK the name started with the name Jones family and it ended with the name Jones at the beginning all from the same family . David Furber are I are in daily e-mailing , we help each other to keep our town alive Gwen
Nice to hear that you have found the various contributions of interest. Colin has done a great job in setting up the site. Yes, my father had a newsagents shop just up the High street from Ashes. It was between Bersteins clothes shop and a shoe shop and opposite Taylor's opticians shop. There is a photo, on the "photos sent in", of my father's shop (Photo number 30) and also one of Blaina High Street as it was in the 50s (photo number 29).
The other two newsagents shops were Prolls (the one you delivered papers for) and Marshmans. If memory serves me correctly Marshman's son had a shoe shop on the other side of the road for a while. You also mention Brown's shop which was opposite Vaughn's ironmongers on the corner of High Street and Cwmcelyn Road. I hear that much has changed with, sadly, many of the shops having closed down. I was pleased to see,however, when I last visited Blaina, that my father's old shop was still operating as a newsagents!
What splendid memories this site has brough back. I am still at heart a Bournville Boy and although have not been back since before 2000 have very fond memories of my childhood there. David - you mention the newsagents in Blaina I delivered for Prolls for quite a few years and remember waiting for Fridays to glance through "Parade" (very risque then). I remember the paper shops well. There was one next to Barrets the Butchers or was it Marshamans the shoe shop? It was just round the corner from a boy I went to school with. His dad owned a shop. His first name was Paul but the surname defeats me. I also remember that Browns just up past the post office - opposite the shop on the corner down from the surgery and police station. I also remember the wonder of entering Ashes - in later years to get my stachel sewn. The smells and just looking at the stuff I wanted and couldn't have. Was your dad's shop just a little way up from there - opposite Salem where the Scouts held their weekly meeting until moving down a few roads up opposite the 'stute? Thinking of the scouts the brother of Barrets the butcher - Alf - was one of the leaders of the scouts.
Thank you for the memories
My grandmother was Sarah Austin who married Thomas John Roberts. They were cousins, so related to same group of people I am researching. Sarah Ann Austin was the daughter of Mary Francis and William Austin. William Austin had twin sisters one who married the lodger Mary Jane married William Roberts.
Sarah Ann Austin was born 29 Dec 1887 at 16 Queen Street, Blaina.
My mother Jean Roberts was born in Blaina and went to school at the Blaina Primary School and the school that was on the site before Westside School. I have no pictures of my mothers family, other than one big picture of a charabanc trip during the 1920-1930's which I have sent to put on this site. My mother had a sister Eileen and brothers Bill, Glyn, Horace, Reg and Rowl. The brothers remained in Blaina and have family there today, my mother came to Bournemouth and my aunt Eileen to Kent.
My mother is now 80 and would love to see pictures of her school and her life in blaina, she was a nurse at the Blaina Hospital. If anyone has photos please please sent them to my email address. Thanks.
I couldn't tell anyone much about Blaina except that I have just discovered that my Grandparent on my father's side were both born there in the 1850's. Don't know my grandmother's maiden name but my grandfather's name (and mine) is Sullivan. I was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but have never had any reason to believe that I had a connection with Wales. Isn't life interesting?
Now all I have to do is find out my grandmother's maiden name. I will be flattered if it is a Welsh name. Won't that be fascinating?
I just logged on to your site for the the first time and noted that Dev Powell is vice chairman. It was nice to see that Dev is alive and well. I remember him well from our time in Shop Row thru the 1950's. I wonder if he remembers the carnival in 1953 when he was the carnival Queen and my Father Lou, Archie Williams and me (much to my disgust) were his attendants. They were wonderful days and a great place to grow up in. Blaina seemed such a big place then to my small eyes,I recall that being asked to go over the street by my Mother seemed such a long way. Whenever I return Home I see such changes not always for the better. Best of wishes for your site and I'm sure I will log on again.
I certainly can remember the winter of 1947 when all of our valley was at a stand still., the day it started was Friday 28th of January 1947 in that afternoon the clouds were heavy there was snow to come latter that day . ready to put our town at of action . My husband was readty to go down by car to met
Harold Phillips at Newport Station that was the day that Harold was discharged from the Army , having spent time in Germany . The train was late arriving in Newport . At 1o..oopm they started the journey to Blania , the snow storm got worse as they came up through the valley, they arrived at
Blaina at 12.30 am exhausted. and glad to be home .
Throughout the night the snow did not stop, in the morning it was really unbelievable every door in street when they went to open the door were met with a wall of snow .It was amazing how the neighbours were all helping one another especially the older people , and the worst as yet to come . Every day was worse than the day before the buses were unable to work . As for the train in those days the coal trucks that had gone down from Beynon's colliery to Newport and Cardiff they came to a full stop. . The problem of the shortage of coal was serious it was a case of borrowing a bucket of coal and at times a cup of sugar. I mentioned the trains at a stand -still , by the time the snow had stopped the coal trunks were empty no quesrtions were ever asked .
As the trians were at a full stop this incident happened when the trains were on the line just in front of the signal box .which was situated on the crossing at West side It was after a few days that the frost came a examination of the lines to find that the lines were not fit for the train to move as the train would have been travelling over a few yards of frozen.ice it could have been a disaster .
One of the outstanding problems was Yeast to bake the bread , as the bakery's were low in Yeast rumour got around for our town a plane was going to drop the Yeast in the Duffryn Park , whether that came to fruition , I don;t know all I knew we were never without bread.
Today I live in a country where we have Snow Feilds , The Snowy Mountains in N.S.W. from june - August. That is one place I will not visit /
The snow in 1947 has lived with me if my memory is good it lasted from January until the end of Febuary .
There is a crevice on the mountain not far from the Golf Club when ever there was snow it was not until that crevice was completely gone and rid of the snow . for that year .I expect it still happens . It was an omen and seeing is believing . .
Do any of you out there remember the winter of '47, when Blaina was isolated, like many other towns in the valleys by heay falls of snow?
I was young at the time, but clear memories remain of how the snow affected the lives of those of us living in Blaina. As a kid, the over-riding memory was of a sombre-grey valley transformed into a white picture postcard. The heavy snowfalls soon blanketed the slag tips turning them into toboggan-runs and created areas of pristine snow where you could imagine you were the 'first person to walk where no-one had walked before'! After days of continuous snow the town became 'isolated' with nothing able to come in or go out. As schools were closed we were free to spend our days enjoying the delights of what to us was a winter wonderland!
Blaina was cut off from Brynmawr and Abertillery with Cwmcelyn being in a similar situation. The bridge, which used to cross the road halfway up Cwmcelyn Road, became almost completely covered by a snowdrift, which made transport difficult! Even when the council cleared the worst of the snow, vehicles had to fit chains to their wheels in order to get up the hill (photos 33 and 34 in the photo section of this website were taken after a normal winter snowfall in the 60s, so you can imaging what it must have been like in '47 ). Does anyone have any photos taken in 1947?
The shops in Blaina, I believe, did a roaring trade, as people were literally stranded until the roads could be cleared. I think there was even talk of an air-drop of supplies, but I don't remember it ever happening.
As kids we thought it was marvellous and spent as much time as we could outdoors, well rugged up and wearing wellies of course. There was so much snow in the back lane behind our house in the High Street that we even had a go at building an igloo! Our main occupation was finding a decent slope where we could ride on our home made toboggans. Many of us spent a great deal of effort spreading candle grease on the runners so that the toboggan would go faster!!
Too soon, for us kids, the snow turned to slush, communications were restored and it was back to school. The slag tips emerged from their 'winter coats' with some snow remaining in the hollows in the mountains as a reminder of happier days.
I suspect the adults at the time would have had less happy memories!!
I expect there have been many winters with lots of snow since, but for me 1947 was undoubtedly the "Big One"
I went to Hafod-y-ddol from 1969. I remember the walk from the hospital, down the side of the Golden Lion and along Farm Rd.
I hated the uniform with beret and sash. Breaks times were spent down the river stinky and falling in numerous times. (it was a competion to see who could jump at the widest bit).
The school closed on 17th July 1991 but I don't know when it was demolished.
It's nice to know that someone is reading my Blaina ramblings. What a small world it is that your sister delivered papers for my father! The person who helped in the shop during the war years was a Marjorie Jackson. Perhaps your sister remembers her?
I remember the old shop with affection and I have put a photo of the shop, as it looked in the 50s, in the photo section of this site. The last time I visited Blaina, both the shop front and the interior had been extensively altered.
Re Hafod-y-ddol - I attended the school in the late 40s-early 50s when Evan Silk was Headmaster ( see photos in the school photos section taken in 1954). It is my understanding that the school closed down, as a Grammar School, when the Labour Party abolished this type of school replacing them with Comprehensive Schools. I think the buildings lingered on for a while when it became a a Primary School before being finally demolished. I had left Blaina by then - perhaps someone reading this can confirm, or otherwise, what I have said and provide a date for the demolition?
Keep reading - who knows, I may have another 'memory flash'!!!
Hi David, I was talking to my sister Rita and telling her about this web site and I asked her if she remembered Furbers paper shop and she said remember it I used to deliver the papers from the shop, I didn't know about that,this is going back to the war years, we now live in Kent, we moved away in 1946 for my Dad to find work. I see you went to Hafod-y-ddol school i went there and I understand that it is no longer standing could you tell me what happened to the school.
Going back to Globe Pit Row the only Cousins we knew was Mr.Ben Cousins who lived a few doors up from us and a few years after we moved away my Gran( Granny Webber) married him.
It's lovely reading about Blaina as I was young when we moved away and my memories are not all that great, so keep it up, I used to play with Ceinwen Gore from the pub, I wonder where she is now, oh happy days
Bye for now, Maureen
Gary Saunders I remember your Grandparents . If my memories serves me right they were members of the Salvation Army and your grandfather belonged in the Salvation Brass band , he carried the drum . As for your grandmother she performed the honour of leading the procession into the Hall with the members of the Salvation Army all strewing sheaves of corn your grandmother singing the hymn , Gathering in the sheaves and we kids singing the chorus . As this happened always in the September every chapel had a Harvest Festival on a Sunday on the Monday evening they would be the selling of the Fruit and Vegetables. , followed by a mug of cocoa . we kids took our own mug you could be sure the SALVOS looked after the children . Gwenllian .
Blaina High Street during the depression years , which lasted from 1921 to approx Our Main Street . or High Street as it was called , played ite part in serving all our needs as the street had over 40 shops, plus the Post Office , the Co-operative Sore , which was long before the modern Super - Makets, they catered for everything. To belong to the Co-operative-Store you had to become a share holder every penny you spent at the end year you received your dividend ( Divvy)as it was known . They had a saving scheme named the Penny bank , one need 3 pennies to open your account
The number of shops at that time was approx 40 shops . Staring at the bottom of the( pitch) that was the name .of the starting of the hill,
Starting with Dowdeswell's on the left hand side and finishing with The Red Lion Hotel the shops consited of 9 Grocery shops. 5 ffruit Shops .
3 Fish and Chips shops . 4 Dress shops 3 shoes shops , 3 hair dressers , Mr Whitmarch was a barber and he just loved the children coming in for , a hair cut . he used to tease the boys and asked them if their father had put a pudding basin on their heads and cut around the basin , It was all taken in good fun. , 3 newsagents , 2 cafes, 2 Hardware Shop ,3 cake shops, , 1 cobblers shop, 1 chemist Shop, 5 butchers, I seed and corn shop . 2 Electricans . , 1 gas show shop , and 1 electric show room , Rosen 's materials and stockings, 3 sweet shops 1 gift and saddlers shop I dentist . 1 optican . . The Cinema ,. next door was the jewellry shop. . A wool shop., Two bakeries , Two men's club , 9 pubs it could have been more of those .. .I hat shop. . 1 garage, 1 Undertaker.and a builders Yard
There were in our Main Street Five places of worship . The Salavation Army , Salem Baptist Chapel , . Gobaith Chapel that was in Hope Street .
Weslelyan Chapel and the Congreation Chapel and the St Peter's Church ..One of the most important places was the building our Town Band use for practice and it was uised for dancing lessons on Saturday afternoons sixpence a lesson..
IIn those days Blaina was a hustle and bustle on Friday and Saturday night as the shops stayed open until 9 'oclock at night.To add to the hustle and bustle was when the Salvation Army played the Xmas Carols . . Not forgetting our Town Band marching down the High Street at Mid night when they reurned after they had won another trophy to bring back.
There are two questions I would like an answer too. Why was the nmae of Nantyglo and Blaina taken of the maps , The name Blaina is unique there is not another Blaina in the world . Second how many shops does Blaina have today /Gwenllian Oneill nee Williams .
Can anyone remember the Pilgrim's Park . During the depression with so many men out of work a group of people came to Blaina from Oxford they were students they where known as The Blue Pilgrims . Nantyglo and Blaina were known at that time to be in deep depression.
The first gathering was held at the Wesleyian Chapel to know,the people of Nantyglo and Blaina they were there to help as much as they could to up lift the people who were suffering the hardship living on the dole . The evening started with the song John Brown's body lies a moulding in his grave ) it was not quite the song from people who needed uplifting ,The people sang it with all the gusto the Welsh people can sing
The ladies wore a Blue Unifom and they carried a sacthel and they wore on their heads a blue scarf . .
The rubbish tip was at a piece of ground one had to cross the lines where all the rubbish was put . The Blue Pilgrims aim at that time was to turn the rubbish into a park was the thing to get the men doing something, as the men were on the dole , all the work that was done was volunters.
It was just the thing on the Opening Day hundreds attented and the name The Pilgrim's Park was well deserved . .
The number of people who used the PARK every day it was full and all the people who were gardeners planted the flowers they liked . .
The one of the outstanding events that the Blue Pligrims set up was a Pageant , it was held down at the Duffryn Park it was opened by
The film star Goothie Withers unfortunely it was a wash out we had the worse thunder storm . It was held a few months later
It is sad that the Pilgrim's Park is no longer there , I was ten year old when that happened .
living in glandwr St abertillery, i do remember RALPHS buses
the garage was just down the road from where i live.
Also griffin buses as well,
If you wanted to go to CARDIFF you had to change buses in CROSS KEYS
and get the connection if you were lucky, because the bus conductor had
get out every so often put a key into a clock on the side of the road.
all the best
thanks kor the memory
I have enjoyed getting my memory together to describe our Main Street it was a very busy town especially on Friday and Saturday . However did the big buses get through the shoppers ,. can you remember , Ralph's From ABERTILLERY , THE Griffin from Brynmawr , The Red and White buses they used to go down the valley then on to London it was Ten shillings for the trip. The Williams Buses the owners lived in Henwain Street .The prices for the return tickets were six pence from Blaina to Abertillery . Sixpence to Brynmawr return . It was it Two and Sixpence return to Newport . From Blaina to Abergavenny it was Two and sixpence return it was a good ride as the Buses were well padded .
During the war it was the William;s buses that took us to Rogerstone , at one time we rode to work in the buses that were called
Utitily the seats were wooden no springs in them . It was after coming home in the early morning after the night shift that we were suffering not able to sleep we were and doing our bit for the war , That lasted for me from 1941 to 1946..
Thought I might entertain you all with another trip down memory lane. And to do so I ask the question - who delivered your newspapers, magazines and comics in the 40s and 50s?
In the 40s and 50s Blaina High street had three newsagents - Prolls, Marshmans and my father's shop at 110 High street. From Monday through to Saturday my father's early morning routine was the same. After a 6am cup of chickory coffee he collected the bundles which had been dumped outside the shop by the distributing vans which came up the valley. By this time the paper boys, girls, women and men had arrived with their shoulder bags to collect their daily 'round' of papers. It was organised chaos at the shop for a while but it was soon sorted and off they would go, hail, rain or shine. My father's one day off was Sunday when the Sunday newspapers were sold by a Mrs Mathews at her shop at the top of High street.
For a while, to earn extra pocket money, I did the High Street round. I soon learned to make sure the newspapers were put right through the letter boxes so that they kept dry when it was raining. Otherwise there would be a string of complaints about having to read soggy papers at the breakfast table! Some mornings were harder than others when the weekly magazines and comics had to be pushed through too. Where there were no letter boxes the whole lot had to be pushed under the front door, which was surprisingly easy at some houses!!
One of the benefits of living in a newspaper shop, was that I could read all the comics for free! And what a variety there was - Dandy, Beano and Hotspur are three that I remember, but there were so many more. Did any of you have a particular favourite comic or magazine?
My favourite, which I bought with my pocket money right from the first edition was the Eagle, complete with adventures of Dan Dare and the Mekon. I'm sure that if I had kept some of the early copies they would be worth a bob or two now! On trawling the internet I see that some of the very early copies of the beano, in good condition, are now worth thousands of pounds!!! If we only knew then what we know now!
In the 40s and 50s Blaina High Street was a hive of activity, except of course for Wednesday afternnon which was early closing. Some of the names of the shops are etched on my memory, such as the Co-op, Liptons, Parfitts, Bests, May's clothes shop, Nicklins sweet shop, and the two cafes, already mentioned on this website - Contes and Zerachis. There are so many others which I can visualise but not name.
What are your memories of Blaina shops in the 40s 50s and 60s? I would be interested to hear.
Glad to hear that my contribution brought back a few memories for you. The boy I mentioned - I'm pretty sure his surname was Cousins but can't remember his first name. In the summer we played cricket in an area that used to be known as the Forge which was situated behind the High Street and adjacent to Tommy Gore's coalyard. We both fancied ourselves as bowlers in those days! The Forge is now a car park as I found out on my last visit to Blaina.
I hope to get a few more of my memories down on paper in the coming months. It's nice to know that that people are reading them and it is encouraging to get the occasional confirmation of this. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
I lived in Globe Pit Row at No.4 and my Gran and Gransher lived at No. 3, we were the Webber family,your memory was correct about the toilets on the other side of the row ( it was a very narrow row), I think there was a block of six our end and another block at the top of the row, at the back and adjoining ours were the toilets belonging to the shops in the high street, they were the ones with wooden seats with a hole cut out, not very private as you can imagine,( I am laughing my head off as I am writing this), it was scary having to go over there in the dark bearing in mind that we were only young, we used to go over with a lighted candle and try to shield it from the wind.
As you came into the row from the high street there was an empty theatre, I think it was called the EmpireTheatre we were able to get in there and get on the stage and pretend we were great singing stars, what a lot of fun we used to have, this is lovely bringing all the memories back so thank you David, does anyone else remember things that happened in Globe Pit Row it would be lovely tohear from you.
David you said you used to play with a boy from the row, the only boys in the row lived next door to us in No.5 there were three of them and the only one I can remember was Billy, would this be the one.
Happy Easter All
I would like to share with you my memories of the Cwmcelyn and Dyffryn Parks in Blaina of which I have very fond recollections. I expect that they have changed since my youth but I like to think that some things remain the same. Perhaps somebdy can let me know?
I remember the park at Cwmcelyn as being the home of the Blaina Cricket and Tennis Clubs in summer and the Rugby Club in winter. I spent many a pleasant summer's day playing tennis and /or watching the local cricket match. I also remember a small garden area adjacent to the tennis courts where you could stroll or sit and enjoy the flowers in season. I understand that the tennis courts are long gone, but are cricket and rugby still played on the weekends? Cwmcelyn Park was also used for school sports days where the willing and the unwilling were dragooned into participating in a variety of sporting activities in order to win points for their particular school 'houses'!!
Dyffryn Park, as I remember it, was mainly a large open sports field, mainly used for local rugby matches. It had a series of tiered platforms along one side of the field for spectators and a small bricked clubhouse with changing rooms. At the entrance to the park was a bowling club with its closely clipped greens. It was there that I learned the rudiments of the use of 'bias' to get the bowls as close to the 'little white ball' as possible - forget the straight line and think curves!
To get to the park you had to cross over the railway lines, just past the Institute. To your right, as you approached the park, were the Pilgrim Gardens, a haven of green lawns, flowers,bushes and pathways. Further along, in my day, were the stone ruins of old iron work buildings and behind them the associated iron works slag tips. The slag tips provided a series of challenging bike-ways for young intrepid cyclists and, it was rumoured, a favourite haunt for young couples.
Dyffryn Park was also used for celebrations and activities for families following the Whitsun marches. I expect some of you will remember the annual walks down the High Street complete with the Blaina band, choirs and members of the various denominational chapels. My abiding memory is hearing the male voice choir coming down Cwmcelyn Road to join the already packed High Street.
Thats how it was for me. How was it for you?
Hi to All
my grandmother Maud was born in Blaina in 1910 and my great grandparents lived at number 4 Queens Street,Blaina
My Grandfathers name was Alfred George Young and i presume he never left Blaina and possibly buried there
. I was really wondering if Queen Street still existed..as i am planning of visiting Blaina
Would be grateful for any replies
hi randal parry i certainly do remember megan she was great,we had many laughs together ialso remember your mother ...........this is all such a long time ago yet it only seems like yesterday marian
DAVID I REMEMBER YOUR FATHER I USED TO GO INTO THE SHOP OFTEN ,I AM A BORN AND BRED BLAINA LADY RE THE OLD ROAD
WHAT A PLEASANT WALK THAT WAS I USED TO WALK TO ABERTILLERY TO PLAY TENNIS IN THE PARK ,THEN WALK BACK UP AND WAS ALWAYS GLAD TO STOP BY THE LITTLE STREAMS LOVELY COOL WATER COMING DOWN THE MOUNTAINSIDE . EVEN THOUGH THE TOWNS ARE WORSE FOR WEAR NOW ,WALES IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY , THE MOUNTAINS AND THE VIEWS ARE SO LOVELY AS YOU PROBABLY REMEMBER . THREE OF MY BROTHERS HAD TO LEAVE BLAINA TO GET WORK WHEN THEY WERE JUST 14 , WHEN THEY CAME HOME TO VISIT THE FIRST THING THEY DID WAS TO CLIMB OUR LOVELY MOUNTAINS ALL THE BEST
Hi marian churchill
you may have known my sister .
She also worked there as well ,
her name was megan parry became megan sheehy.
regarding swimming pools there were three .
two out doors one indoors.
one out door pool was in abertillery park above the rugby ground.
second was the lido in six bells.
indoor pool was in the institute.in the town.
the names of cinemas in abertillery were,
pavilion/ empress/ and the palace in the town.
Thanks for providing that information Marion. The only one I remembered after writing the story was the Pavilion. So the rumours about the rats at the Gaiety were true!
I also remember that there was an "old road" that linked Blaina with Abertillery which came out somewhere near the Gaiety cinema. I remember it in the 1950s when it was not open to traffic because of a number of mountain landslips. In the summer, after going to the Saturday afternoon session at the cinema, groups of us would decide to walk home instead of returning by train. It was a real green-field country road which could be enjoyed by cyclists as well as walkers. I have pleasant memories of honing my cycling skills there. If memory serves me correct, the road came out just to the north of Bourneville, where it joined the then main Blaina to Abertillery road. There were rumours that it was also a bit of a lovers-lane on the weekends!
As Blaina didn't have a swimming pool, as youngters we had to go to Abertillery where they had both indoor and outdoor pools. I think the outdoor pool was somewhere near the Abertillery end of the old road, on the side of the valley. I remember it as having very 'murky' waters which were not inviting. Most of the people kept their heads above water when swimming and there was no diving for pennies!!
Does anyone else have memories of the old road or indeed the swimming pool?
ah yes i remember abertillery cinemas well i used to work in them all untill 49 when i married the one on the river was the gaiety lots of rats in there the pavlion the empress and the palace up in town in those days people used to queue to get in the palace on sat. mornings held films for kids lots of noise they loved it happy days
HI, i remember the one cinema as the empress, but can t think of the names of the others . used to go to those cinemas twice a week as a child with my mother and many times on dates with my late husband .my friend lives in abertullery so will try to find out the names of the other cinemas.
Yes the Institute saturday dance used to be the highlight of the week, that is after an afternoon at the pictures. I seem to remember Blaina having the Gaiety picture house, Brynmawr one on the market sqare and four in Abertillery!
I remember the one in Brynmawr being used on Saturday mornings as part of the market and then cleaned out, sometimes not too well, for use as a cinema in the afternoon and evening. In the 50s when we could go to Abertillery on the train, we had the choice of four different cinemas. I seem to remember each cinema showed two films with an ice-cream break in the middle ( the ladies with the trays)? One of the cinemas was down by the river and had the reputation of being occasionally plagued by rats!! Never saw any myself.The other three cinemas were up in the town. Can anyone remember their names?
We always went to the afternoon performances so we could go to the Blaina institute dance afterwards.
Smoking was allowed in those days and the inside of the cinema used to get pretty 'fuggy' by the evening sessions!! Of course we never smoked so it certainly wasn't us that caused the smoke haze for the evening crowd!
hi, i am a new member to this site .i was born in blaina in maeshafod .i lived here until 1970 when i then moved to ebbw vale . it s lovely reading about old blaina .sadly the house where i was born has now gone owing to the mountain movement some years ago and the church opposite the library on the square ...the congs ... has also been demolished . i was married there in 1964.the stute dance was the high light of the town . i worked at the council offices for many years in the finance dept. and went to hafod y ddol school. does anyone remember the old glyn milwr ponds where we would walk of a summer evening with jam sandwiches and a bottle of pop for a picnic .i think the new housing site cover s most of this area now .blaina was a lovely valleys town to grow up in .in those days you could go into nicklens the sweet and cake shop and buy a plate of cakes for 2 shillings (20p).since i no longer have familly there i don t visit that often but a site such as this brings back lovely memories .
my nan lived at 116 High Street Blaina, her name was Mary Ann Cook, this was in the 50 s. She had 3 sons,Bill (MY DAD) LES, AND DENNIS. I remember the house was next door to a small dry cleaners. My nans hose had an old bakehouse built on the back, she used to tell us it was haunted. The loo was in there it terrified me that i might see the ghost!!! we moved to Coventry and my Dad worked at Keresley Colleriy. I used to go back to Blaina every school holiday and stayed with my Nan. Its over 50 years ago but i have such happy memories of that time Sadie
Hi Sue - greetings from Adelaide
I see you remember Bloodworth's newspaper shop. I lived at number 110 High Street when my father owned the shop in the 40s and 50s before the Bloodworths. I have sent in a photo of the shop as it was then - look at the "Photos sent in section" on this website - about photo number 30. Is this how you remember it? I know it has now changed its appearance and the shop section has been expanded. I think it is now called "Blaina News". I remember the daily papers being sorted at 6am for delivery by paper boys/girls/men/women who went out every weekday, hail, rain or shine. The shop always seemed to be busy, even more on miner's paydays. In those days many of the shops would close between 1pm and 2.15 for lunch!
I remember two other newspaper shops at the time - Marshmans and Proles, which were further down the High Street near the church.
Hello from sunny Brisbane. I love this site and have loved reading the stories I grew up in Blaina on High street just up from the fire station. I had forgotten about the co-op milk shed !. I am trying to find photos of Blaina as my photos were lost in transit to Australia.
I would like to show my children how Blaina was the coal tips Bynons colliery. etc I remember a friend of my mums living in a cottage off a road behind the milk shed it got pulled down for the new road to be built.
The newspaper shops I remember were nicklins and Bloodworths which we went in all the time I can always remember Mrs Bloodworth saying " thankyou ta" after every transaction oh how I loved that shop and the toy wall.
well I'd better stop waffling
I remember the sawdust factory well, when it was no longer in use, we used to play inside it, I remember one day we found a good old fashioned safe in there and decided we would crack it, (well us kids could do anything if we tried) anyway a police car arrived and he came inside and we were hiding under the table, we could see his legs and his boots, (frightenned stiff we were) well in those days you worried more about what would happen when your parents found out you had been taken home by the police, anyway luck was on our side and he did not see us, so as soon as he was gone so were we. All so used to play up in Beynons pit where they used to keep all the wooden pit props, we used to build log cabin camps there, and there there were the christmas', well that for another time.
take care all
Colin Web master
Hi again from 'Down-under'
As a Blaina boy from way-back it's been interesting reading people's memories of their childhood growing up in Blaina. Congratulations to Colin for his work in designing and maintaining the website. I hope to make a contribution from time to time and hope others will be encouraged to do so.
I remember my early years living in Blaina High Street in the 40s and early 50s We lived at number 110 where my father had a newsagent shop - one of three in Blaina. I have included a photo of the front of the shop in the photograph section of this website. I understand that the shop is still operating and is now called Blaina News, or was when I last visited.
Our playground was The Forge adjacent to Tommy Gore's coalyard and Powell's Sawdust Factory (the then 'outlawed game of soccer could be played on the flat sawdust tip at the side of the factory - hopeless for running, but great for avoiding injury!). The area, known as the Forge was behind the old Lipton's shop and was a reminder of Blaina's earlier role as a major iron producing district. I understand the area is now a carpark.
We played cricket there in summer and when the snows came, there was enough of a slope for toboganning. During the heavy snows of '47 there was enough snow to build small 'igloos' and for a time Blaina was isolated from neighbouring towns and school had to be cancelled!! Beynon's Pit was then in full production and the clanking sounds of trains went on all day and well into the night as the trucks were filled and attached to trains for their journey to Newport.
One of my friends at that time was a boy who lived in Globe Pit Road. Anyone remember this part of Blaina? - it was at the top end of the High Street. As I recall at the far corner of the road was the Co-op milk Shed where the day's milk was loaded onto milk-lorries for local delivery. But what was unusual about the road itself, if memory serves me correct, was that the houses were on one side of the road and their toilets on the other!! Very different from the normal 'down the end of the yard/garden' outside loo. Can anyone else remember this or have a similar stories?
I too have fond memories of life in Blaina in the early 50s
I lived at Henwaun Row with 6 siblings.Our playground was the mountain side...Great fun!!!plenty of room to make mud pies and such.
When the mountain moved we were given a new home down the mountain to a street called Maeshafod.Oh what a move!!!each of us
had to carry belongings all the way down from Henwaun row down to our new home, to small children a very daunting trip,dropping things
on route.....But a lovley surprise awaited us 3 bedrooms and best of all a bathroom with a toilet and running water.(a palace)
Then there was the May fair down the bottom of Maeshafod behind the Queens where our only treat would be a ride on the wooden boat
swings wher you had to pull down the ropes to enable it to swing back and forth. Can you imagine modern children today being happy
with such small delights!....I don,t think so......We were in seventh heaven! The long walk to westside school and back no such thing as school runs
or taxis,we only had shankys ponys. Picking winberries off the mountain and selling them to our gran who also moved down to maeshafod with us.
Yes I have many fond memories. Buildiing snow houses and snowmen that lasted for weeks and much more.Children today could never imagine
the simple pleasures in life that we had...What a shame!!
We moved to Newport in1962.
hi to you all,my name is Kenwyn s d Fisher i lived up on Attle rd number 98 no longer there.then when my mother was taken ill and came out of hospital we moved to Glan Ebbw.i now live in Wallisdown midway between Poole and Bournemouth.me and my partner quite often come back to see some friends those still alive that is i dont know if you knew ray bishop he is the latest to go.our next trip is around 20th of november as that is when they switch on the xmas lights in newport CITY! Blaina is a dive compared to when i lived there.which is a shame as when i took some friends back a few years ago it was a shock to me never mind them i explained that the loss of jobs and new road may have had not helped.
anyway will go now had a moan
good luck and good health to you ALL
My parents George and Marie Harris were Blaina born and bred. My mother grew up in Jubilee Cottages and Dad in Cwmcelyn. After their marriage ithey lived in the houses opposite the school in Bournville. Money was very tight and living on the dole (50p) was a challenge! Men were forced to earn money in any way they could doing almost anything to put bread on the table for their families. My father would climb the moutain behind Westside and pick wimberries (now fashionably known as blue berries) selling them for 6d (2.5p) a pound. It's a long time since I was in Blaina but the photos brought back many memories of my early childhood. We moved to Mamhilad at the start of the war but kept on our home in Bourneville and would travell back once a month, 3 children and the cat in a zipped up leather bag. The house had gas lighting and was affected by subsidance bbut it was home! My parents always refered to Blaina as home and strangely though I now live far away I still think of it as home.
they go on about germs these days but my mam had 4 of us no fridge only a pantry ,no washing machine,we would come in from playing mam would give us some bread and dripping to take out with us .we were never in always up the mountain ,down the park never clean those were the days
we used to go down the garn around the shops for cardboard for the bonfire witch dad lit in our back garden .we had some fire works and cooked potatoes in the fire it was great .
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