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.
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.
Gas mask on the kids and grown ups fitting went on in schools and church halls until we all had these square cases with a smell of rubber and funny little nozzle on the front to let out the air. We all took it in good humour and little did we imagine at that period in time although many of us young children so innocent of war. A time would come for us to be old enough too march away. The change of the world we knew would be gone forever, Similar to the falling leaves of each summer. And fading light of each days end. Come the dawn of a new era. Priced for many with the sacrifice of life and one’s youth. It made men from boys in very short time. Freed girls to women and changed their lives to be equal among men to take a valued part in wartime Britain.
The Prince of Wales Investiture – Joan Morgan corner Shop
Fearing street party for the kids. Plenty Jelly. Plenty Pop. Cakes Galore and Balloons that pop. The disappearance of the Corner shop of times past. Toffee Apples and Ham off the bone. Bacon sliced by hand. New Zealand Butter cut and weighed by the pound. Woodbines by the Fives. A penny worth of lint and packet of pins. Lamp oil and chopped sticks. Now a memory of the past. Along with those good people who once Patronised this water hole Haven of convenience – The Old Corner Shop. The end of an Era! Gone like the snow of winter.
EBBW JUNCTION A ONCE BUSY STEAM LOCO SHEDS
THE painting depicts some of the laborious tasks on the maintenance of the steam loco. The tasks of fire dropping and fire lighting. Coal bunkering and filling up the tanks with water. Preparing and making ready for the mainline operation of the carriage of passenger and freight transport. The age of the steam engine is now over. We look back at an Era of labour-intensive involvement. Long gone are the Engine sheds. Houses and other buildings stand in its place. Only the ghosts of the past of men and machines linger on. Hooting and tooting of engine whistles and workmen’s chatter sound no more. And only a memory remains of a once regular place of work. Will remain in the thoughts of old men.
Many men who worked their lifetime for the great named G.W.R.
Authors Victor his father worked for 42 years on the great Western after a trip to at sea on the Roystan Grange Cica 1919 First World War. Being Based at Pill loco Engine sheds. He worked on the Docks and the main lines to the Valleys bring coal down – He fired for Sid Quinton and later became Driver. Dad drove Sid crazy with his larking about. I had worked on the traffic dept docks during the last war. Then after buying myself from out of the army in 1949 started work at Pill Loco engine sheds. After passing the entry test’s at Swindon – then had to work on the various first progression jobs to becoming a fireman of cleaning engines and boiler washing. One of the fireman told me that Sid was driving down the valleys Wrong way round that is bunker first.
Towing a train of Blackvien coal or Tywpentwas large something of that good burning welsh coal. It was a dark and stormy kind of night. Sid the driver was keeping a sharp look out. Authors father was nick named Mad hike. Climbed round the engine back and popped his head up in Sid’s face. Sid Quinton very near had a heart attack Sid said afterwards if he had happened to have a coal shovel in his hand he would have banged it on the head in panic. Such was the lighter fun side at work in those times. A more tragic observation of authors time while working at the sheds.
While at snap in the rest room I noticed a lone worker who always seemed to sit alone and no on would converse with him. The word “Coventry”! surfaces if the present generation understands this terminology. This worker did not live far from our home at Maesglas. I asked my Father why this fellow worker was shunned and I was told that in the 1926 strike he was a black leg and had climbed over the wall to work while his workmates were on strike. Some time later the fellow was on sick leave and ill. I wondered why no one would get his pay money for him.
Quizzed father about this Reply was F*** the blackleg. This was the hard and fast rule that was carried to the grave on those men who broke the workmates rule. United we stand divided we fall! I expect we would still have a lot of shity underpants around today if those times did return. Returned back to those hard times our fore fathers endured those men who fought in battles in the 1914-19 great War. Also their fight for the conditions at the work place for what you today enjoy with at your freedom. Author can remember one when only a young child.
Drizzly dark winter evening.
Came a knock on the door and Ma answered the door. At the door was one of father’s work mates – who had brought fathers clothes home in a bundle. Ma burst out sobbing and tears. When informed Father had met with a bad accident at work at the Pill loco Sheds. He had fallen off the back of a steam engine one of the 52 class engines. Fallen while trimming the coal stumbled off the coal-bunker down into the inspection pit. A fall of some fifteen-foot or more. Gashing his head badly and was in a coma for many days very lucky even to have survived the fall. However after much time in hospital he came home and had the care of the doctor from the Great Western Railway Company. They did look after the workers in their employment very well for those days.
The Union fees included a Two-penny fee to The Royal Gwent hospital fund. Which was a Charity Hospital this gave the member some privilege for treatment. Which was forerunner to our health service we take for granted today. Also the works Doctor came some time later to pass father fit for work. He came in his open sports racing car. Wearing the posh garb of plus fours and tweedy jacket. Golf clubs in full view in the back of the car.
My Father Returned to work the years pasted by. Then while driving he had a run away train of coal down the Eastern valley he was commended for an action in staying on train and bringing in to a stop. After telling his fireman to jump for it. However many years later he came down the same line which ran across the now top of the east entrance.
Brynglas road tunnels.
The Train was wrong way round and pushing sent the train through the box and smashed and derailed. I asked father what had happened and he said the signalman was taking the waters missing from the box but father would not say about it because the signalman would lose his job and pension. So the blame ended upon the driver in effect. Dad retired early. But I believe such loyalty to work mates would not be so common in today’s rat race society.
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.