Cymraeg

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.

The first few months of 2017 has already seen Amgueddfa Cymru acquiring some interesting additions to the industry and transport collections. As usual this month I’d like to show you some of the objects that have recently been added to these collections.

This red brick is inscribed Ynysddu Brick Co. It was found fly-tipped at ‘Cyfarthfa Willow Cinder Tip’, Merthyr Tydfil, a tip used by Ynysfach Ironworks from around the 1830s, until 1868 when construction of the Brecon & Merthyr Railway severed access to the tip.

The brick was manufactured at Ynysddu Brick Works, which was closer to Cwmfelinfach than to Ynysddu in the lower Sirhowy Valley, Monmouthshire. The works operated for a limited period in the early twentieth century, it was not shown on the 1899 OS map, and had been demolished by the time the 1948 OS map was surveyed. The works was connected by a three quarters of a mile long tramway to Wentloog / Yr Ochr Wyth Colliery, from where it probably obtained its coal, and clay or shale. Closure of the colliery in 1920 may have caused closure of the brickworks also.

This oil on board painting depicts a miner with a pit pony, and is titled ‘Pit Pals’. It was painted by William Salton in the 1970s. We believe the artist was an ex-miner, but don’t have any further details. If anyone can help with further information, please get in touch.

This photograph album contains 77 black and white photographs showing the construction and refurbishment works at the docks in Swansea, Port Talbot and Briton Ferry. The photographs date between 1927 and 1935.

We were also recently donated another photograph album. This one contains 92 photographs taken between 4th May and 6th June 1957. The photographs show the installation of 33kv package type switchgear at Cardiff Power Station.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. This month we have added three certificates to this collection

The first certificate is a Aberdaunant Lead Mining Co. Ltd. share certificate dated 31 March 1876. The company was registered in 1869 to reopen the ancient lead and zinc mine of the same name near Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire. The mine was worked on a modest scale until 1876 when it was abandoned, producing 150 tons of ore. Little was achieved in the first three or four years of the company’s existence and application was made in November 1872 to reduce its capital from £75,000 to £15,000 in 1872 following financial difficulties. Almost all recorded production occurred in 1873-75. Despite much development work, no further ore was produced and the mine closed in 1879. The shareholders resolved in 1879 to liquate the company but liquidation was not completed until 1898, and the company was struck off in 1902.

The next is a British Motor Corporation Ltd. share certificate dated 8 May 1965. The company was formed in 1952 to merge Austin and Morris motor vehicle production. Morris was the holding company that owned Nuffield which included MG, Riley and Wolseley. In 1965 BMC acquired the Pressed Steel Co. Ltd., a major body panel manufacturer previously part-owned by Morris. In 1966 BMC was renamed British Motor Holdings Ltd. and in 1968 merged with Leyland to form British Leyland. BMC owned a number of Welsh production plants and subsidiary companies, notably Morris Motors at Llanelli, and the Pressed Steel plant, also at Llanelli. Both were, and continue to be major employers.

The last certificate is a Carnarvonshire Great Consols Lead Mining Co. Ltd. share certificate dated 15 September 1884. The company was registered in 1881 to take over the operating of Llanrwst Lead- Zinc Mine. Work tailed off at the mine in 1883-84 and thereafter it was kept on care and maintenance until the extensive plant was auctioned off in 1887. The mine was not subsequently worked but was dewatered in the 20th century by the underlying Parc Mine and is now well-known for the rare exposure of nineteenth century pumping equipment in the shaft bottoms after over half a century beneath water.

This sculpture is titled The Crown Dragon / Y Ddraig Goron. It was made by the artist David Petersen in September 2011. It was commissioned by Crown Packaging UK Neath Works (former Metal Box Works) and made from can components manufactured at the works. The Metal Box Works at Neath was a major local employer with over 3,000 staff in its 1960s – 1970s peak, and as a manufacturer of tinplate can components was intimately connected with the deeply important Welsh steel and tinplate industries which supplied its raw materials. We are hoping to put The Crown Dragon on display at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea in time for St. David’s Day.

This Grovesend Steel & Tinplate Co. Ltd. World War 2 employee registration card issued to Stanley Thomas, a second helper in the tinplate works hot mills. At the start of the war, many substantial employers would have had identity and registration documents printed for issue to employees. Survivals are few and scarce. Their low survival rate is probably due to wear and tear of daily use and continually being carried in a pocket or wallet, and also potentially due to their being superseded by National Registration Cards which were issued by the Government to all members of the population on 1-2 October 1939.

 

 

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

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to show you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.

 

The first object this month is a passport issued to Cardiff shipowner Robert McNeil for travel on the continent. It is dated 16 September 1896. Robert McNeil was the founder of the Cardiff shipping company McNeil, Hind & Company.

 

One collection accessioned this month consists of three certificates and two photographs. The certificates were all issued to William Challenger of Hafodyrynys, who was a colliery manager. The certificates comprise a Second Class Certificate of Competency, and a First Class Certificate of Competency both issued under the Coal Mines Act, 1911. This Act had set up a Mining Qualifications Board to make sure that colliery managers, firemen, deputies and other staff responsible for mine safety were suitably qualified and to issue these certificates of competency. The third certificate was issued to William Challenger electing him a Member of The South Wales Institute of Engineers in 1944. Also in this collection, are two photographs (both illustrated here).

The first is a group photograph showing the Llanhilleth Colliery Rescue Brigade, 1923-24, with some wearing rescue apparatus. The photograph is mounted onto card with a handwritten title and list of names. William Challenger appears in the photograph (seated front left) and was the captain.

The second photographs is a group photograph showing "Monmouthshire Education Committee Mining Students' Tour in Lancashire, 1922'. Photograph includes William Challenger (seated second from right) who later became a colliery manager. The photograph is mounted on card with title and names of students printed on it.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and most wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. This month we have added to this collection a share certificate for the Anglo-Belgique Shipping Co. Ltd. This company was based in Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, and was established in 1916 by Evan Owen of Llangrannog and E.L. Williams of Penarth to take advantage of high war time shipping rates. They acquired the steamer Kyleness which was renamed Cymric Prince. When Williams left the partnership, Evan was joined by his sons Alwyn and Aneurin. Boosted by the post First World War shipping boom, by 1922 they were operating three steamships prefixed Cymric- The difficult years of the late 1920s caused the company to mortgage its two remaining ships to Barclay’s Bank which foreclosed on the mortgages in 1933, whereupon the company was wound-up. The distinctive name suggests an intention to trade with Belgian ports.

 

Finally this month, we have acquired a Tata Steel Port Talbot fortnightly works newspaper. It is Issue 221, and dated 28 April 2016. It would have been given away free to employees at Port Talbot works, and visitors to the plant.

 

Find out more about the industry and transport collections here on the monthly blog post.

You can also learn more about the collections on our web pages here.

 

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

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.

 

The first object this month is wooden plaque carved with a profile of Joseph Stalin. Stalin was leader of the Soviet Union from the mid 1920s right up until his death in 1953. The plaque was carved in situ on a pit prop at a west Glamorgan colliery in the 1930s. Later it was removed from the prop, presumably after it had been removed from underground. It was thankfully preserved by a worker who was a member of the Communist Party.

 

I have also included two images from the historic photography collections. The first is an underground view showing miners working on the coal seam at Penallta Colliery circa 1940. Metal props can be seen at the centre, with wooden props either side.

The second image shows a miner and pit pony at the pit prop dump at Blaencuffin Colliery in 1974.

 

The second object to enter the industry collections this month was an underground battery locomotive used at the Glamorgan Haematite Iron Ore Mine, or as it was locally known, Llanharry Iron Ore Mine. This was one of eight battery locomotives built in 1961 by Greenwood and Batley Ltd., of Leeds that was supplied to the mine.

This photograph is an aerial view showing the mine and tips. The image is taken from the Tempest Collection.

 

Finally this month, we have acquired a brass time check from Chislet Colliery North Pit, Kent. The 'D' on the check denotes the ride down the pit - A, B, C, and D. The donor was a Welsh man who went to work in Kent.

You can see more examples from the check collection here.

 

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