Amgueddfa Blog: St Fagans National Museum of History Making History Project

The Cardiff 2018 National Eisteddfod Chair is sponsored by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales to the celebrate 70th birthday of St Fagans National Museum of History.

St Fagans has championed crafts in Wales since it opened in 1948, and sponsoring the chair for the National Eisteddfod in 2018 is a fitting celebration, which continues the Museum’s tradition of supporting Welsh craft and makers.

Chris Williams had the honour of designing and making the 2018 Chair. He lives in Pentre and has a workshop and gallery in Ynyshir, Rhondda - he works as a sculptor and is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

Elements of the chair were made at St Fagans National History Museum in a purpose built building, Gweithdy. This is a brand new sustainable building celebrating the skills of makers past and present - where visitors of all ages can experience traditional craft skills first-hand.

At Gweithdy, Chris demonstrated and shared the process of making the chair with visitors – a first in the history of making the National Eisteddfod chair.

Swipe, or tap the circles below as Chris explains the process of making the iconic Eisteddfod chair:

  • From the Hearth to the Stage

    The 2018 Eisteddfod Chair, through the eyes of its maker

  • The Inspiration

    The 2018 Eisteddfod Chair is inspired by Welsh stick chairs like this one, pictured at Cilewent Farmhouse at St Fagans.

  • Celebrating Welsh Makers

    This Welsh carthen, or blanket, was chosen for its beautiful repeating pattern - becoming the main motif for the chair

  • The rough materials - elm and ash - arriving at the workshop in Pentre

  • I designed the chair in Rhino 3D, so I could have an accurate model. This enabled me to take dimensions, to create jigs and templates for shaping the arms, spindles and legs

  • The seat and back are made from the same elm tree. Sanding the wood reveals the grain, and reveals any defects in the timber that need to be sanded away

  • I shaped the seat with a scorp and cabinet scraper at Gweithdy workshop at St Fagans. It was nice to share this experience of making the chair with the public

  • The seat and back were then engraved using a Co2 laser engraver - thank you to Caerphilly council for letting me use the engraver! The elaborate pattern was inspired by a blanket woven at Esgair Moel woollen mill in the 1960s. The mill (and the blanket) is now at St Fagans museum.

  • The clamping operation was complex and required a number of sash clamps to control the pressure

  • The text on the arms was also engraved with the laser engraver. This was done on a flat piece of ash which was laminated to the curved arms with many, many G clamps

  • Gluing the legs into place

  • Getting closer... The back is mortised into the seat

  • The arms are cut around the back to create a unique join, and glued into place. Then, the spindles are fitted with wedges, to be cleaned when the glue has dried

  • And here's the finished article - the 2018 Eisteddfod chair. Good luck to all the competitors!

Sut beth oedd Cymraeg Caerdydd yn y gorffennol? Dylan Foster Evans sy'n trafod lleisiau coll ein prifddinas:

 

Wrth bori mewn papurau newydd o ddiwedd y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg, fe welwch fod trafod o dro i dro ar ddiflaniad Cymry Cymraeg ‘brodorol’ Caerdydd.

Roedd gan y dref yr adeg honno ei ffurf ei hun ar y Wenhwyseg, y dafodiaith leol draddodiadol. Ond er bod niferoedd siaradwyr Cymraeg Caerdydd ar gynnydd, llai a llai a siaradai hen dafodiaith Gymraeg Caerdydd. Mae’n destun rhyfeddod, felly, ein bod ni heddiw yn gallu gwrando ar leisiau’r to olaf o unigolion a fagwyd yn siarad y Wenhwyseg leol yn y Gaerdydd bresennol neu’n agos iawn ati.

 

Mae gwrando arnynt yn brofiad sy’n gofyn am ychydig o ymdrech ar ein rhan. Ar adegau, waeth cyfaddef ddim, mae rhyw afrwyddineb yn nodweddu geiriau rhai o’r siaradwyr olaf hyn. Nid niwsans mo hynny, chwaith, ond rhywbeth sy’n gwbl, gwbl greiddiol i’r profiad. Hen bobl yw’r rhain ac mae olion y degawdau i’w clywed ar eu lleisiau.

Ac yn achos sawl un, nhw yw siaradwyr Cymraeg olaf y llinach. Mae eu perthynas â’r iaith wedi breuo o flwyddyn i flwyddyn ac o ddegawd i ddegawd.

Ond yn yr afrwyddineb hwnnw — ac yn wir yn eu Saesneg — y daw eu profiadau’n fyw.

Dyna lle clywn ôl addysg a anwybyddai’r Gymraeg; dyna lle clywn effaith diffyg trosglwyddo rhwng cenedlaethau; a dyna lle’r ymdeimlwn â realiti shifft ieithyddol. Ond er gwaethaf hynny oll, mae yma wir brydferthwch.

 

Enwau'r ddinas - o Blwyf Mair i Lanetarn

Y cynharaf ohonynt yw Edward Watts (1840–1935) o Landdunwyd ym Mro Morgannwg. Fe’i recordiwyd pan oedd yn hynafgwr dros ei ddeg a phedwar ugain.

Cofiai ymweld â Chaerdydd tua chanol y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg ac wrth sôn am safle hen neuadd y dref yn ‘Plwyf Mair’ mae’n cofnodi elfen o ddaearyddiaeth Gymraeg Caerdydd sydd bellach wedi ei cholli.   

A dyna chi Tom Lewis y ‘trychwr’ o ‘Rwbina’ (nid ‘o Riwbeina’ fel y dywedai llawer ohonom heddiw).

A’r Husbands — cynnyrch cymuned amaethyddol Llanishan, Llys-fæ̂n a Llanetarn, chwedl hwythau (ond Llanisien, Llys-faen a Llanedern i ni, debyg iawn).

Caerdydd wahanol iawn oedd Caerdydd llawer o’r lleisiau hyn. Ond hebddyn nhw a’u tebyg, gwahanol iawn fyddai ein Caerdydd ninnau.

 

 

Gyda diolch i Beth Thomas, Meinwen Ruddock-Jones a Pascal Lafargue. Am ragor o hanes y Gymraeg yng Nghaerdydd, dilynwch @CymraegCaerdydd a @diferionDFE - ac am ragor o Archif Sain Ffagan, dilynwch @ArchifSFArchive

Bydd arddangosfa o hanes Trebiwt, y Bae a Chaerdydd i'w gweld yn Y Lle Hanes trwy gydol yr Eisteddfod.

Don’t know what to get the children for Christmas this year? How about a little inspiration from the museum collections. Some of these items are going to be on display in the new galleries at St Fagans National Museum of History in the autumn of 2018.

Miniature toy sewing machine

Accession No: F82.51.63

Got any budding sewers in your family? This lovely little sewing machine belonged to Margaret Eckley of Sully who played with it as a child in the 1930s. It is hand operated and decorated with an image of Little Red Riding Hood. It comes with an instruction manual too.

 

Set of toy soldiers

Accession No: 56.313.134 – 154

You could try the classic set of toy soldiers? These came from Brecon. Did they march all the way? They were donated to the museum in the 1950s and probably belonged to the donor’s children, who were born in the 1890s.

 

Corgi Toy Tractor

Accession No: F00.27.9

You could try the ever popular Corgi toy range. This tractor was played with in Cardiff in the 1950s – 1960s.

 

Welsh Costume Doll

Accession No: 30.316

This doll dressed in traditional Welsh costume was played with in the middle of the 19th century. She must have been a treasured item, she was in the donor’s family for eighty years. To see more Welsh costume dolls visit the People’s Collection Wales website.

 

Lego Christmas set

Accession No: 2000.194/1

Would Christmas be complete without Lego? Here’s Father Christmas with his sleigh made in the Lego factory in Wrexham.

These objects are not on display at the moment, but you’ll soon be able to see them on our website along with many of our Art, Archaeology, Industrial and Social & Cultural History collections. Thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for support with this ongoing work.

If there is a specific object you want to see at any of our museums, check that it’s on display first, and if it’s not, you can always make an appointment to view it.

People's Postcode Lottery Logo

The Voices from the Archives series is based on recordings in the Oral History Archive at St Fagans National History Museum. Connected to the agricultural activities, demonstrations and displays at the Museum - they provide an insight into the lives and histories of farming people, the agricultural practices in the past, how they developed into contemporary agriculture.

Lambing in Pembrokeshire, 1984

March is lambing time at Llwyn-yr-eos Farm, the Museum’s working farm. Lambing in the past and present was described by Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire, south west Wales, in a recording made in 1984. Aged 79, he recalled lambing in an interview about his life in farming, but also described how it was being done on a farm in the area in the year of the interview. The following short clips are from the recording.

Pembrokeshire born and bred, Richard James had farmed at Lambston Sutton in the south west of the county. It stood between the large county town of Haverfordwest a few miles to the east, and the coastline of St Bride’s Bay to the west. The lowland coastal areas, warmer climate and lower rainfall made agriculture more diverse than in many other parts of Wales, with the keeping cattle and sheep and the growing of early potatoes and cereal crops. The coastal areas could be exposed to the winds and rain from the Atlantic Ocean though, and weather conditions could strongly influence lambing, to which Richard James refers in the first clip:

 

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire

 

When lambing was to take place was decided by when the ewes were put to the rams. Up until then the rams on the farm had to be kept separate from the sheep. It was always a concern that rams might break through a poor fence or hedge and cause lambing to start at the wrong time. Also, a ram of poorer quality or a different breed from another flock could also result in poorer quality lambs and reduced income. After mating, a ewe is pregnant for between 142 and 152 days, approximately five months or slightly shorter.

In this clip, Richard James describes at what time of year lambing took place on a local farm, and how it was being done by a farmer using a former aircraft hangar.

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire

The final clip is about working the day and night shifts:

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire

 

This year, Oakdale Workmen’s Institute – or the ’Stute as it was known locally – is celebrating its centenary. Built during the First World War, it was at the very heart of community life in Oakdale until the late 1980s when it was moved to the Museum. To mark this important milestone, we recently launched the #Oakdale100 project with the aim of re-interpreting the building and making it alive again with community voices.

As part of the project, we’ve been revisiting our archives – digging out photographs, oral history interviews and objects associated with the building. I’ve been looking specifically at the photographic collection – digitising hundreds of images, with colleagues from the Photography Department, which we previously only held in negative format. The photos document the wide range of events and activies which took place in the Institute – from the visit of Prince Albert in 1920 to amateur dramatics in the 1950s. They also capture the architecture of the building and the fixtures and fittings of each room. My personal favourite is the photo of the library, showing a young boy browsing the shelves.

As well as digitising the material we already have in the collection, we’ve also been busy making connections with the Oakdale community of today. Last year, we held a drop-in workshop in the village, encouraging local people to share their stories and scan their images for the Museum’s archive and People’s Collection Wales.

We also recently set-up a Facebook page for the project and what a response we’ve had! We’ve been inundated with anecdotes and memories, comments and photographs. It’s certainly a powerful tool for re-engaging with the community.

If you have any stories or photographs associated with Oakdale Institute, please get in touch. We would especially like to hear from you if you have photographs of parties or gigs, which we know were regular occurances at the ’Stute in the 1960s-80s.