An old road with pot holes. As numerous as the shell holes on the Somme. Often filled with water. Dockers and coal trimmers Riding Bicycles with a big shovel balancing on their shoulder. Load oaths and grunts With shallow water splashing would some times be heard. Blending in with the grunts of live stock and pigs in the many pig cots. When under influence and the worse for a drop of amber nectar. Often failed to ride and balance a safe path. After a first stop drink session at the Waterloo hotel. One of the first available water holes near the docks. A splashing and tangled of man and machine in puddle. Now this lone Bridge still stands in defiant idleness of use as other new road takes its place. Comet Stores and speeding traffic. Once in use many soldier men trod its back. Off to France a few came home. Many not. Our war weary returned and soon forgot. Only a bridge.
A picture of life in the late thirties.
A bath in front of a living room fire on a Saturday night. The tin bath carried in to the living room brought in to use form its hanging place of a nail on the wall outside or in the coal house.
Bathrooms had been introduced into confines of the main house. These houses built in the early thirties started to give the comfort so desired of the working class. But alas no added luxury of central heating those times. bathrooms were more like being in an ice house than a sauna. In wintertime it was pure luxury of the added pleasure of warm coal fire blazing in the back ground.
On tin Bath Night
The simple addition of more boiling water to prolong the ecstasy. A fire made up with small coal from the river Ebbw. washed down from the valley mining washeries. Which was made up into small round balls. Which hissed when placed on the fire. But What a fire it made. One would listen to the radio. “In Town tonight” The famous catch words of the playing radio program. Once again we stop London’s Traffic to be in Town Tonight.
The time when every household had a last or was it a lass. And it did not have a skirt on. Father would mend the family shoes. Buy from Woolworth’s the 3d and sixpenny store. A piece of leather
Sprigs to nail on the leather. Sometimes the poorer of families would mend with car tyre rubber. A fine old job it was to cut it. Often one would hear load oaths when the old fellow failed to hit the small nails and hit his protruding thumb. The Nails being held in the lips being hastily discharged in the speed of a spiting cobra. The Mother would make herself absent with out leave departing to the kitchen. Preparing and frying up a bit of bacon and chitterlings to keep him happy. When the job was finished the kids often would be walking like a load of clog dancers with pepper in their drawers. ten foot talk and tap dancing on rubber.
If your old man supped is ale at the Muffler Club. You had your mark and. All the kids went to Barry Island in a Charabanc. A bucket and spade to play with the sand. Mam would go up to buy Barry rock and some chips. We all sat on the sand and thought what a wonderful trip. We made sandcastles galore and had a dip in the sea. Its time to go home when the sun went to sleep. Forever the memory of this wonderful day will remain in our minds it’s memory we keep.
A Glance back to the wash day of past. Laborious boiling, bluing, and then mangle. But not before using the scrubbing board and brush. And slabs of Puritan soap. how different from today flick a switch. Slap a ready a meal in the Microwave oven. Far cry from the stew or scratch meal the woman had to prepare. To feed the old man home from work along with the kids from school. This came after a day of black boiler to stoke. Soap suds and steam. And another thing – Also over her life time. Child bear eight to ten kids. The old man never had a lot out of life and to keep him happy. Bed time meant action on the back.
Enlisting in the British army after the fruitless attempts to join the merchant navy at Cardiff turned down not of choice but fancy of going to Gravesend sea school not for me. I was at the time full of the spirit of adventure in one’s body or plain bloody stupid as my father said when I signed up.
A day out in town on the pop I was with a friend Bernard Danaher who also worked at the same place of employment as I did. The Arrow fuel works adjacent to the transporter bridge in Newport. I at that time of war earned good pay for my age of seventeen years Basics pay £4.15 plus the bonus.
I worked on the small coal which came ladened in big twenty ton iron monsters – At half penny a ton bonus Both Jim and I an older man. We unloaded by shovel but first would open the catches of the side doors of the wagon and coal and dust descended down into an open grill. To be mixed with the tipped up other coal that came in on two other train track roads Moved into position by the capstan by rope around in coil form of energy. Making it easy to tip this way chain around wheel central underneath axles and hoist up to discharge through the front truck big end door.
Ours hard on the Shovel we both worked to get to the bottom of the smooth floor of steel truck to make an easy slide into small coal.
The day of joining slightly pissed. I had my identity card so easy in for join up Bernard did not have his – lucky him. The office was near the old Argus office in High street Newport near the Doebells pub also near where one day the love of my life worked Lovell’s Cafe and dining rooms. Fate had decreed that one day when in the RA army service we would meet at the Labour Hall. Passing the medical at Cardiff of a day with the colours swear an oath witnessed then all was set for the March the third ‘45 to join the colours at Lanark to undergo the six weeks training.
Night train to Carstairs the day or evening arrived we were on the cold draughty station of our town on a journey that changed our lives for ever. Fate had made its turn again and mates who followed my crazed action to join up with the armed service for king and country one local friend Billy Richards seen off by his father also other parents waved their sons departure off on a cold dark second of March night on that god forsaken lonely platform Newport railway station, blacked out lights of war time. I was alone no one saw me off. We settled in our carriage compartment with overhead dim light bulbs and netting luggage racks and leather straps on windows pictures of seaside towns on each sidewall excitedly we wrote our names on the compartment ceiling. The steam engine puffed its way
Out of that cold drafts swept station that had chilled our young poorly clad bodies. Later on as the year went and leave came and many wind swept blown hair of ye dam loving female of the good bye dolly I must leave you good looking kiss me goodbye tears in eyes and wave as train sped out puff whistle a last sight of a well-dressed costumed girl of a soldiers dream . And every girl a good attractive bird of the female of the species. The path to stars heaven and the future being laid in this attraction. Made for the trot or itchy feet as the tears – goodbyes came harder to endure to leave on time at end of leave pass, anyway it was exciting!
But now the heat of the steam heater under the seats wafted to out cold bodies we felt warm and so excited our new adventure the night was long on the packed train a mixture of service personal Matloes on way to bases up in the cold Scottish north most navy bases of that command/ colour of khaki and blue seemed to dominate the packed train girls and boys kipping in corridors on their feet half stewed with the call of that elusive beauty thing called sleep, onward towards our mystery trip of a life time change for ever “ Castairs Scottish village station” : Night train to Castairs: Steam engine locomotive, puffing steam and smoke that certain aroma of smoke cinder smuts a warming mix with carriage under seat cast iron ribbed steam heater, blending in harmony with clank of carriage wheels against each rail joint of all wheels of each turn this winding towed snake like monster twelve carriage laden dim lit ghost train of our past destiny.
Those days or nights of wartime journeys were in itself an adventure, to observe the numerable and various uniforms of service men of those war time days uniformed packed station. Directed by RTO offices manned by red caps, police of the army. Over the bridge to Crew an iron bridge over the railway tracks, for one had to break ones journeys at Crewe.
Go to the welcomed Sally Ann for a cup of tea or one of the many volunteer tea refreshment water holes so thankful were service personnel for any refreshment, as rationing of foodstuff was in full cry Our youth stood out as I expect we young men about to join up looked bewildered and many offers of cigarettes and directions I myself amazed at sailors with of cigarettes stuffed in their breast pockets gifted us looked after us we were young among these so seasoned men of war time Merchmans convoys who had been through hell. Hardships it brings out the best in one fellow men woman who see us young about to endue war time for the first lime.
The memory and the further train journey of a dark cold night maybe the words of mother rang out in mind as bod froze “you won’t like getting out of bed and soldiering on a frosty morning” full of fear rang out in more ways than one when the frost lay on the ground shouting sergeants scream” pick up your kits line up snarl shout spit an swear” Why did I not listen to Dad and mother stay home and worry the girls of Maesglas. Mother regretted her loss too for I worked and three pounds ten out of her earnings made for harder cash flow. Gordon’s highlands training here we come Day trip to castle martin from Norton barracks Worcester over the wall. Saw Joan then came trotting back with excitement.
The cold bedroom of those far off times of the roaring thirties. The 1930 house had little or no central heating installed in any houses of the working class of that period. Council dwellings far from it maybe had the added luxury of even an inside bath and toilet. In winter one had to brave the conditions of the comparable Icelandic weather to even bath or sit on throne. And Even the coal fired bedroom grate was only used in time of illness of one of the family. The price of coal to the poorer families being rationed by cost. The one living room fire maintained to heat the hot water for washing and bathing. And on a chilly night overcoat be it railway or army became that extra blanket.
A wind swept day and dull overcast skies.
The Elements of weather become an extra enemy in the expectation of impending air attack on near by Newport docks. In desperate futile effort to control the ever Jonah and the whale similarity defence barrage balloon. High tension power lines act in unison with high wind and destroys the effort of men and women of the air force balloon defence regiment. The depicted scene above is now altered. Road and buildings now grace this sky line of past scenic view. Long gone are the Pill Loco sheds and the spider web of railway lines that went over the bridge depicted carrying a train load of American Tobacco in their round crates. This bridge was a vital transport exit from the ships bringing in supplies to our country at war.
Unloaded from the berthed ships at the south quay and transported by tank engines puffin clouds of steam in unison and effort with a struggling country at war. Over the swing bridge and up the fourth road. Past the work place of NUMBER THREE CROSS OVER. A tall four story building The work place where the author worked when a boy on the telephone system and would dial signal box depicted which was FOUR TWO. message train now coming up the fourth road. Puffing like hell and tooting loaded with weapons of war. The Author his father often would drive his engine and train with loaded goods past and toot the hooter in carnival merriment. These were the days of troubled times of war news and men were cheerful at work never the less. We stood together united. Only one span is now remaining of its three spans of this bridge of sighs heavily guarded in war time by both our own troops and American. Vital rails link and target no doubt. And beneath the bridge in minds of courting young couples a memory will remain of days or nights that used to be. That maybe many of you were conceived.
A Day on the way to work place via he old road Maesglas. circa 1940
Once upon a time we all went to church on Sunday several weeks before the whit religious Sunday. This became a sort of go to church on Sunday and get your mark to qualify for the treat. Which was a little stamp on the card that was presented to one when they attended Sunday school. The good lady Sunday school teacher taught about the good ways of the lord. And stamped the card to enable you to attend the walk in your Sunday best. Ones parents bought a fresh new suit of clothes of Jacket waist coat and short trousers. Paid for over the preceding months on another weekly installment card from the local Packman. The Packman called on his regular round. Displaying his samples of nice new woven of two by two twill cloth. In cut squares of cloth in book like form.
The walking Sunday best was delivered with all excitement of the forthcoming walk from Church. Many fathers and mothers and eager watchers lined the road. Watching their offspring’s in all of the antics of a few broody hen or father crowing cockerel. The girls decked out in pretty frocks and boys in fresh new smelling cloth. After this parade kids mothers and one and all loaded the makeshift horse and hay carts. To be transported to the field of the farmer who gave permission for use for a day. And Refreshments of teacakes and nice fresh brewed lions labelled tea. Well sweetened and milked in china cups and saucers. The scent of wood burning smoking boilers adding to the beauty of it all. Many sports of sack egg and spoon races were played in eager competition.
A Memorable day of the picture you now are looking at. Duffryn field Tredegar Estate.The author worked on the Tredegar Estate Farm for Mr Cullimore. In the early part of the war years I would walk to work down past this now field of now houses. My Memories of thistle cutting and cow dung spreading at four pence a heap. worked along with a young lady who was one of the Wynn family. Who lived in the first cottage of on the Lighthouse road. Serving in the land army. Young girl and boy would toil in pleasure in the sun soaked fields. My early age of thirteen I would take in the friend ship of all who worked at farm. Sadly no tale ends without some later tragic event. Joan Cullimore the boss mans daughter later shot her husband and then her self. Mr Cullimore was a good man also a JP and treated me very well. But on discovery of my art of making a good cup of tea insisted that I made the tea for the harvest tea time break. While we all worked the long hot double British summer rime evenings gathering in the hay. Plenty of nice Ham and gibbons and salad and afterwards home made cider to puddle the brain to work longer. Alas the docks new road now runs over this once Cullimore farm house and the orchard of apples that produced this cider nectar for past residents of this first house on this country lane. Gone into the past are the white gate once at the top of the light house road. Standing now at present time a roundabout and speeding cars and turning wheels. with no thought of folk of past that once trod this pathway of a once peaceful and pleasant country area.
I saw an airship in the sky. Hear its engines drone from far away – Then overhead it flew away. Someone remarked it was the sister ship of the R101. Did I see the R100? The R101 Crashed at Beavais in France October 23erd the year 1930. The German Graff Zeppelin flew over in 1932. The pilots gondola was at the front of the ship. On the British it was in the centre. The R100 was 777foot long and the largest Airship in the world at that time. It was simply Luxurious with Ballroom and Promenade deck. Built by private enterprise. Completed over 20.000 miles of flying in the 1930s.
The R101 was trouble from the start.
The bad trials and prestige at stake the Government insisted. The Maiden flight should go ahead And that fateful flight to India ended the dream of British Airship Plans. Only six passengers survived. No Crew members. Did the extra 30 foot length added to the ship and the rush and tear to get ready prepare it for its fate? That crash in flames on a wooded hillside in France. Did I see the R100 or the Graff Zeppelin?.
Painting of this event. oil on canvas 24″x 36″ In Collection of Atan Poulev Paris.
The whole history of the air ship is an interesting one.
Zeppelins could travel a great distance, and did achieve up to 250.000 miles in eleven hours. And the name became attached to the craft, from the name of the German, Count Von Zeppelin. Who experimented with making an air ship and his first ship flew in the air at around the 19OO. And with the encouragement of the German government, with their construction for military use in mind, At the outbreak of the First World War Germany had something in the order of twenty five in its fleet of airships. and increased this to around eighty eight. These craft were made of a frame work of girders running the length of the ship and rings of girders at intervals. Made from aluminum, around about sixteen compartments made the bays to hold the gas bags. Which were filled with hydrogen. Driven by eight engines. Each driving a propeller. These were attached to the so called cars. Slung out from the craft like little motorbike cycle side cars. With girders holding them out from ship. At the front, centre and rear of the keel. The quarters for the crew, storage and petrol, were inside the main framework, towards the nose of the underside of the ship. The main controls were in the front gondola. On top of the airship, several guns were mounted fore and aft. For the defence against hostile aircraft, Airship carried out a number of raids over France, and Britain.
Although in the end these ships of the air proved a disappointment, their slow speed and huge bulk, and the easy target for the aeroplane of that period. Led to the raids by airships. To peter out after the year nineteen seventeen. Also the forcing down the then L.33 earlier in nineteen sixteen. almost Completely intact. The design was then copied and used to build the R34 which made the memorable trip across the Atlantic to Long Island in the United States. And was one of the most flown airships of the British. But alas this ship came to grief in an accident, in the North Sea, and was wrecked. The year nineteen thirty one. Tragic though it was, the British R.101 crashed at Bovaies in France. The year being OCT 1930;
The R.38 built by the British for the Yanks; broke her back over the Humber. Forty five lives being lost. The Hindenburg, which was unlucky to be destroyed by fire at Lakehurst. A real catastrophe this turned out to be, and being witnessed by crowds of onlookers. Crowds Welcoming the tying up and landing in New Jersey May 6th 1937. Newspaper men, News reel camera men of those day’s. They were helpless and shocked to do anything to help those on board. Some on board who jumped were struck by the falling mass of girders and flaming fabric. The ship exploded into a ball of flame. The Americans air ships the Shenandoah, broke her back, and crashed in a thunderstorm in 1925. The Akron lost at sea 1933. The Macon also lost at sea 1935,the lives lost in these crashes totalled 90. And the Rigid Airship, the gas bag as it was known was, finely abandoned by the British 1930. Also the Germans discontinued after the loss of the Hindenburg 1937. Although the Americans continued, very successfully to build non rigid craft, after their losses. Flying over 4 million miles without mishap. In the Second World War.
Their Navy had in service some 150 airships in the campaign against German subs operating in American waters. The use of Helium. The main story behind the success. The use of this gas instead of the lightest of the elements the gas hydrogen. Fed into in bags in the rigid frame of the airship. Hence its name RIGID.