Amgueddfa Blog: First World War

Taff Vale Railway Company - Roll of Honour

Mark Etheridge, 23 April 2016

Amgueddfa Cymru holds a large collection of material relating to the First World War. Many of these objects from the industry & transport, and social & cultural history collections can be viewed on this online catalogue. This catalogue was created to provide access to this collection of material, especially important during this period of commemorating 100 years since the First World War.

Some of the more poignant objects relate to those who lost their lives in the War, and among these are a number of Rolls of Honour. These either commemorate those who lost their lives, or commemorate both those who served, and those who lost their lives.

In the industry & transport collection is this very large (it measures 190cm x 130cm) framed and glazed illuminated Roll of Honour. It lists all those staff working for the Taff Vale Railway Company, who served and lost their lives in the First World War. The sheer numbers of staff mentioned shows how the war affected companies such as the T.V.R. and shows the tragic loss of life.

The Roll of Honour was drawn in the engineer’s office of the Taff Vale Railway at Cardiff by Ivor P. Davies. The alphabetical list details all men who served and also includes their regiment. Names are also marked to indicate those who died in action and those who died of other causes.

The Roll of Honour originally hung in the T.V.R. offices, in a building located next to Queen Street Station. Presumably it hung there until the offices were demolished in the 1970s during the rebuilding of Queen Street Station. In 1989 the Roll of Honour was acquired by Amgueddfa Cymru, and it displayed in the Railway Gallery, in a building next to Bute Road Station (now Cardiff Bay). This was an appropriate home as it was displayed in a very historic building originally built as the head office for the Taff Vale Railway Company in the 1840s. This building is still standing, though in a poor state of repair.

It is important that this Roll of Honour be displayed during the commemorations. We were therefore pleased to work with staff at Arriva Trains Wales in fulfilling this. We were able to provide a high resolution digital copy, which allowed them to replicate it. The replica has now been placed on display in the newly revamped Queen Street Station, where it can be viewed by thousands of travellers passing through.

Replica Roll of Honour on display at Queen Street Station, Cardiff.

Mark Etheridge
Curator (Industry & Transport)
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

War, What Is It Good For?

by National Roman Legion Museum - Youth Forum, 30 March 2016

Exhibition review by Museum's Youth Forum.

As youth forum members we were able to help input our opinions into the design of the temporary exhibition and have been able to see it develop from a drawing on paper to a physical form. Today we have examined the exhibition and have evaluated the information and items displayed.

Amgueddfa Cymru has been tasked with commemorating the WW1 centenary. Personally, we believe that the exhibition is very interesting as it gives an insight into the medicinal history starting from Ancient Greece right up to the 21st century. We enjoyed the exhibition overall. The video grabbed our attention the most and we were able to see a visual aspect of medicinal practice with a humorous touch.

The exhibition has a number of different displays which hold valuable information about medicine and the different tools used to carry out medical procedures such as amputations. It contains a silent video in both Welsh and English that shows a few medical procedures from the Roman times. There are some replicas of medical items in the display case that have been used such as a Face Mask used in World War One to disguise facial wounds. 

There is also a small game on an iPad that tests your knowledge of the information in the exhibition. This together with the video has proved to be a success with the general public. Some reviews say that they liked “the doctor video” and a young person enjoyed it when the doctor was “cutting the leg off”.


By Joel Powell, Emma Jones and Hannah Sweetapple.

Creativity from conflict - needlework made by soldiers

Elen Phillips, 24 March 2016

This week marks the centenary of the St Fagans Red Cross VAD Hospital which opened in the grounds of St Fagans Castle on 22 March 1916. This blog looks at three examples of needlework made by serving soldiers from the collection, including a delicate piece of beadwork hand-crafted by a patient at the St Fagans auxiliary hospital.

Patchwork chest of drawers cover (1883)

Richard Evans from Llanbrynmair served with the Army in India. While stationed there in 1883, he supposedly made this striking patchwork chest of drawers cover as a present for his mother. The back is marked with a handwritten dedication in black ink: Rhodd i fy mam Sarah Evans 1883 (A gift for my mother Sarah Evans 1883).

The bold geometric design is stylistically very similar to other patchworks made by soldiers of this period. The Victoria & Albert Museum has a large bedcover in its collection attributed to Private Francis Brayley, whose regiment was based in India between 1864 and 1877. Both Richard Evans and Francis Brayley made their patchworks from thick woollen cloths, likely to be off-cuts or remnants of military uniforms.

Needlework was considered a very useful skill for soldiers to learn, not only to maintain and repair their kit, but also as a method of relaxation – a distraction from the temptations of alcohol and gambling. Textile crafts were also used as occupational therapy for injured soldiers, as depicted by the artist Thomas William Wood in his painting of Private Thomas Walker. Held by the Hunterian Museum, the painting shows the convalescing soldier stitching a patchwork quilt from his sick-bed.

Sweetheart pincushion (1914 - 1918)

Private Brinley Rhys Edmunds from Barry died of dysentery while imprisoned at Konigsbruck in September 1918. During the War, he made this heart-shaped pincushion for his mother – possibly at a military training camp or barracks. The centre of the pincushion features the insignia of the Welsh Regiment and the motto Gwell Angau na Chywilydd (Better Death than Dishonour). Known as ‘sweetheart’ pincushions, many thousands have survived in museums and family collections, although very little is known about their production and distribution. The uniformity of these pincushions suggests they were produced as craft kits for soldiers and civilians to assemble.

Beadwork butterfly (1918)

Corporal Walter Stinson, a painter from Battersea, was a patient at the St Fagans Red Cross Hospital in early 1918. While recuperating from injuries sustained in France, he made this intricate butterfly belt buckle from tiny glass beads. It seems that he and his fellow patients made and sold similar pieces in aid of the Evening Express Prisoners of War Fund. The following note was published in the Western Mail on 19 April 1918.

Yesterday’s total of £38 15s 6d sent to the Evening Express Prisoners of War Fund included… £10 from the patients at St Fagans Red Cross VAD Hospital (proceeds of bead work).

According to Walter Stinson’s descendants, the Prince of Wales bought one of his pieces at an exhibition in Cardiff. He was discharged from the Army on 3 December 1918 for being no longer physically fit for service.

To discover more about the use of textiles and needlework to commemorate, celebrate, mourn and heal during the First World War, take a look at Amgueddfa Cymru's online collections database. And as we continue to mark the centenary of the St Fagans Red Cross Hospital, follow the hashtags #Hospital100 #Ysbyty100 on Twitter.



Centenary of the St Fagans Red Cross VAD Hospital

Sioned Williams, 22 March 2016

A century ago, on 22 March 1916, a hospital was opened in the grounds of St Fagans Castle – one of the hundreds of auxiliary hospitals set up by the Red Cross during the First World War.

Before the war the Red Cross had joined with the Order of St John’s to establish the Voluntary Aid Detachment Scheme (VAD). The aim of the scheme was to provide training for volunteers to assist the military hospitals in the event of war. Here, at St Fagans in 1909 the first detachment (VAD) in Wales was established with many others following soon after.

The Countess of Plymouth from St Fagans Castle was the President of the Glamorgan branch of the Red Cross and was instrumental in the progress of the society in the county. It was the Countess and her husband, the Earl of Plymouth, who offered the Castle gardens and grounds for hosting the VAD recruitment and training days. They later gave the Banqueting Hall over to the Red Cross to be used as an auxiliary hospital. The Hall had been originally built to host social and family celebrations but the large building with its extensive gardens was suitable for housing a small hospital.

It was the Plymouth’s who contributed to the majority of the necessary refurbishment. The hospital opened with 30 beds but within a few weeks another 10 beds were added. A year later, in 1917, the hospital had 70 beds including a new extension and sanitary wing.

Most of the nurses in the auxiliary hospitals were volunteers and members of the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment. Each hospital had some professional staff too; a Commandant, a Quartermaster and a Sister-in-Charge. At St Fagans Hospital, most of the women were local, some of whom were in the service of the Plymouth family at the Castle.

Auxiliary hospitals assisted the larger hospitals and didn’t have the facilities to nurse severely injured soldiers. Many of the patients at St Fagans were transferred from the 3rd General Western Hospital in Cardiff, others were sent directly from the front line. We can’t begin to imagine how the soldiers had suffered before coming here to St Fagans. A century on, it brings comfort that this hospital would have once been a haven for many to begin to heal the physical and mental scars of war.

Twitter: #Hospital100 #Ysbyty100


@DyddiadurKate - Dogni dillad a Make do and Mend

Elen Phillips, 9 March 2016

9 Mawrth 1946: Ir Bala hefo’r bus 12.30. Prynu shuttle o nodwyddau i Es ir machine wnio.

Yn ei dyddiadur heddiw, mae Kate Rowlands yn sôn ei bod wedi prynu nodwyddau ar gyfer peiriant gwnïo ei merch, Elsie. Yn ystod y 1940au, roedd medr gyda'r nodwydd a'r peiriant gwnïo yn fantais fawr i fenywod Cymru. Dyma ddegawd o ddogni ac ailgylchu, trwsio a phwytho.

Dogni dillad (1941 - 1949)

Yn dilyn cyflwyno dogni ar fwyd yn 1940, daeth dogni dillad i rym ym Mehefin 1941. Roedd sawl rheswm tu ôl i’r penderfyniad, ond y prif nod oedd lleihau’r galw am ddeunyddiau crai ac ailgyfeirio llafur at waith rhyfel. Erbyn 1941, roedd mewnforio cynnyrch o’r cyfandir yn amhosibl. Ar ben hyn, roedd y ffatrïoedd hynny a fyddai, fel rheol, wedi cynhyrchu brethyn a gwisgoedd parod yn ceisio ymdopi â’r galw newydd am lifrai milwrol. O ganlyniad, rhoddwyd llyfr dogni dillad i bob unigolyn. I brynu dilledyn, rhaid oedd talu gyda chyfuniad o arian parod a thocynnau o’r llyfr.

Roedd pob unigolyn yn cael cwota o docynnau i’w gwario yn flynyddol, gyda phob tocyn yn gyfwerth â hyn a hyn o bwyntiau. Pe bai angen ffrog newydd ar Kate Rowlands, byddai wedi gorfod ildio un-ar-ddeg tocyn. Crys newydd i Emrys? Wyth tocyn. Pâr o ’sgidiau i Dwa? Saith tocyn. Ar ddechrau’r cynllun, roedd pob unigolyn yn derbyn 66 o bwyntiau bob blwyddyn, ond wrth i’r Rhyfel fynd yn ei flaen, bu’n rhaid gostwng y cwota. Roedd y sefyllfa ar ei waethaf rhwng 1 Medi 1945 a 30 Ebrill 1946 – dim ond 24 tocyn oedd ar gael y pryd hynny.

Make do and Mend

Yng ngwyneb y prinderau hyn, cyhoeddodd y Bwrdd Masnach lyfryn bychan o'r enw Make do and Mend er mwyn annog menywod Prydain i fod yn ddyfeisgar a chreadigol â'u dillad. I gyd-fynd â'r ymgyrch, lluniwyd cymeriad o'r enw 'Mrs Sew and Sew' i hyrwyddo'r neges mewn cylchgronau a phapurau newydd. Sefydlwyd dosbarthiadau gwnïo mewn neuaddau bentref ac ysgolion ledled y wlad i gynorthwyo menywod ar bob agwedd o fywyd yn y cartref.

Mae sawl enghraifft yng nghasgliad tecstiliau'r Amgueddfa o waith llaw'r cyfnod hwn. Un o fy ffefrynnau i yw'r gorchudd clustog a welir yma a wnaed drwy ailgylchu hen sach ac edafedd lliw.