Winter Sunset

We are so very fortunate to be living in a spectacular part of Wales as we tend to get the best sunrises and sunsets.

taken 17/02/2019 by RDN photographer Mike Davies 

Resolfen History Society February Report

How many Resolven residents have heard of Iestyn ap Gwrgan?

This month’s speaker was Mr. Steve David of Neath who gave a very illuminating talk on the role of the Resolfen area in Welsh history. He began his talk by lamenting the current state of the teaching of Welsh history in schools and the fact that exposure was very limited.

He began by stating that the conformist view of how the Normans had conquered south Wales by the actions of “Twelve Knights”, was factually incorrect. The process of breaking the grip of the local lords was a more drawn out and complicated process. It also drew on the varied geography of the area in that some areas were Norman controlled and others under the control of the Welsh.  Chepstow castle was the first Norman fortification to be completed in 1067, only one year after the Conquest and before the Tower of London. In 1093, the last unified Prince of South Wales, Rhys ap Tewdur,  was defeated and the Normans pushed as far as the Ogmore river. A line of castles was built across south Wales as far as this point, which meant that the Normans controlled what is now the Vale of Glamorgan, the “bro”, but the Welsh still had absolute control of the upland areas, the “blaenau”. (a scrutiny of place names in Glamorgan shows this clearly Ed. ) Unfortunately the uplands suffered from poor soil, had a transhumance economy (see the place names  Hafod and Hendre Ed.) and bred horses.

The local lord, Iestyn ap Gwrgan, resided in the area between Resolfen and Glyncorrwg. He fought the English at Cefn y Sais (literally the English ridge Ed) above Tonmawr . The Neath valley around the area of Resolfen was an important bridging point and meant that passage could be made between the Swansea and Aman valleys to those of eastern Glamorgan ( Gwynsyllwg) . Iestyn’s son, Hywel maintained a Welsh lordship in this area known as “Tir Iarll”, and it is estimated that it had a population of between 10-12,000. The area was famous for the processing of skins and its accompanying reek from the leather production. In 1129, Hywel managed to kill a Norman marcher lord, Roger Armor from Devon and 120 of his soldiers and then took control of a new Welsh lordship in  the borough of Aberafan. Such was his control that it was he who gave the land to the Cistercian Order to found a monastery in Neath with 175 acres of accompanying assart land. Such was his prestige that he married Marged the daughter of Lord Rhys of Deheubarth, the most powerful Welsh lord. Money also came to establish St Illtyd’s church in Neath from an area known as “Roussilion”, which is a probable transliteration from the Welsh “parsel soflan”, which gives us the name of the mountain Mynydd Resolfen.

In 1172, the grandson of Iestyn, Morgan  rebels against the Norman lord of Glamorgan and takes Bridgend castle with a subsequent conflict rumbling on for four years. Morgan’s cousin Careithin is incarcerated in Cardiff castle as a hostage. However, following a resumption of hostilities in which Morgan burns Miskin and the site of what was to become the castle at Caerphilly, Robert  the Earl of Gloucester blinded Careithin leading to his death. Ultimately, Morgan was forced to become a vassal of and surrenders 100 acres of the area around Resolfen to become a grange of Margam Abbey. Morgan retained the right to appoint the Vicar who incidentally was instructed to conduct mass both in Resolfen and at Glyncorrwg on the Sabbath. The right to appoint eventually came down to the Bishop of Llandaff and continued until the coming of the railways in 1851.

Following the insurrection, the ap Gwrgan family, took a Normanised name of de Avine, and Morgan’s grandson Leyshon adopted Norman ways. He married the highly attractive Marged”Llygad Glas” (Margaret of the blue eyes) and assumed a more elevated cultural existence.  They probably resided at Mynydd y Ddinas in Baglan.

However, this is not the end of the story since at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 a notable casualty was Gilbert de Clare the Duke of Gloucester, so prompting another rebellion by the Welsh lords. This time the combatants were Llewelyn Bren and Dafydd Gam. Leyshon joined the fray. The rebellion was successful at first with Neath sacked , Bridgend burned and Cowbridge (the original Norman market town) also sacked.  However, in 1316, Llewelyn was caught and horribly executed in Bristol. Luckily, for Leyshon, the de Avine family made amends with the king and were forgiven, taking the title of the Constable of Neath castle . In 1349 however, the de Avine family sold this right to the Despenser family and moved to an estate in Somerset, taking away the last vestige of local Welsh control.

Following a lengthy question and answer session, Trefor Jones deputising for Chairman Gwyn Thomas thanked Steve David for a memorable talk and it is good to report that he will be returning next year to speak on the Bute family.

REPORT by TREFOR JONES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many Resolven residents have heard of Iestyn ap Gwrgan?

This month’s speaker was Mr. Steve David of Neath who gave a very illuminating talk on the role of the Resolfen area in Welsh history. He began his talk by lamenting the current state of the teaching of Welsh history in schools and the fact that exposure was very limited.

He began by stating that the conformist view of how the Normans had conquered south Wales by the actions of “Twelve Knights”, was factually incorrect. The process of breaking the grip of the local lords was a more drawn out and complicated process. It also drew on the varied geography of the area in that some areas were Norman controlled and others under the control of the Welsh.  Chepstow castle was the first Norman fortification to be completed in 1067, only one year after the Conquest and before the Tower of London. In 1093, the last unified Prince of South Wales, Rhys ap Tewdur,  was defeated and the Normans pushed as far as the Ogmore river. A line of castles was built across south Wales as far as this point, which meant that the Normans controlled what is now the Vale of Glamorgan, the “bro”, but the Welsh still had absolute control of the upland areas, the “blaenau”. (a scrutiny of place names in Glamorgan shows this clearly Ed. ) Unfortunately the uplands suffered from poor soil, had a transhumance economy (see the place names  Hafod and Hendre Ed.) and bred horses.

The local lord, Iestyn ap Gwrgan, resided in the area between Resolfen and Glyncorrwg. He fought the English at Cefn y Sais (literally the English ridge Ed) above Tonmawr . The Neath valley around the area of Resolfen was an important bridging point and meant that passage could be made between the Swansea and Aman valleys to those of eastern Glamorgan ( Gwynsyllwg) . Iestyn’s son, Hywel maintained a Welsh lordship in this area known as “Tir Iarll”, and it is estimated that it had a population of between 10-12,000. The area was famous for the processing of skins and its accompanying reek from the leather production. In 1129, Hywel managed to kill a Norman marcher lord, Roger Armor from Devon and 120 of his soldiers and then took control of a new Welsh lordship in  the borough of Aberafan. Such was his control that it was he who gave the land to the Cistercian Order to found a monastery in Neath with 175 acres of accompanying assart land. Such was his prestige that he married Marged the daughter of Lord Rhys of Deheubarth, the most powerful Welsh lord. Money also came to establish St Illtyd’s church in Neath from an area known as “Roussilion”, which is a probable transliteration from the Welsh “parsel soflan”, which gives us the name of the mountain Mynydd Resolfen.

In 1172, the grandson of Iestyn, Morgan  rebels against the Norman lord of Glamorgan and takes Bridgend castle with a subsequent conflict rumbling on for four years. Morgan’s cousin Careithin is incarcerated in Cardiff castle as a hostage. However, following a resumption of hostilities in which Morgan burns Miskin and the site of what was to become the castle at Caerphilly, Robert  the Earl of Gloucester blinded Careithin leading to his death. Ultimately, Morgan was forced to become a vassal of and surrenders 100 acres of the area around Resolfen to become a grange of Margam Abbey. Morgan retained the right to appoint the Vicar who incidentally was instructed to conduct mass both in Resolfen and at Glyncorrwg on the Sabbath. The right to appoint eventually came down to the Bishop of Llandaff and continued until the coming of the railways in 1851.

 

 

Following the insurrection, the ap Gwrgan family, took a Normanised name of de Avine, and Morgan’s grandson Leyshon adopted Norman ways. He married the highly attractive Marged”Llygad Glas” (Margaret of the blue eyes) and assumed a more elevated cultural existence.  They probably resided at Mynydd y Ddinas in Baglan.

However, this is not the end of the story since at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 a notable casualty was Gilbert de Clare the Duke of Gloucester, so prompting another rebellion by the Welsh lords. This time the combatants were Llewelyn Bren and Dafydd Gam. Leyshon joined the fray. The rebellion was successful at first with Neath sacked , Bridgend burned and Cowbridge (the original Norman market town) also sacked.  However, in 1316, Llewelyn was caught and horribly executed in Bristol. Luckily, for Leyshon, the de Avine family made amends with the king and were forgiven, taking the title of the Constable of Neath castle . In 1349 however, the de Avine family sold this right to the Despenser family and moved to an estate in Somerset, taking away the last vestige of local Welsh control.

Following a lengthy question and answer session, Trefor Jones deputising for Chairman Gwyn Thomas thanked Steve David for a memorable talk and it is good to report that he will be returning next year to speak on the Bute family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resolven Welfare Hall Newsletter

It’s been all things fundraising at the Miners Welfare Hall again since Christmas. The trustees have been searching relentlessly for funding to restore the old building to its former glory and in the meantime have been raising money for immediate repairs so the place can stay open for use by the community.Our very own RESOLVEN YOUNG PERFORMERS were back at the Welfare on January 26th with a show to raise funds for the scheme.

 

With their usual flair and commitment, they performed a show to be proud of and donated £243 to the restoration scheme. RYP are a friendly, welcoming group who – under the watchful eye of Christina James and her team – Chris Edwards, Charlotte Edwards, and Carri Davies  – not only encourage youngsters to perform on stage but encourage confidence and team work. Along with performing the older more experienced members help teach the ‘babies’ and newcomers and all ages mix as equals.

The Miners Welfare thank them for their efforts and hope to see them again very soon

CHINESE AUCTION

February 2nd brought a Chinese Auction to the hall. Following the one at the Church Hall which was a great success we asked for donations of items from the village and the generosity was astounding.  Items came in thick and fast and were well supported.

 

 

 

 

Volunteers who helped with the Chinese auction Beverley Healey and Glenda Keane

Tea and cakes were on offer and the auction itself was great fun and some bargains were had – some people were luckier than others and there was nobody luckier than Shannon Chambers who went home loaded with her successful bids.  Anyone who has been to a Chinese auction in the Church Hall will know what its all about and those who are left wondering what it entails please try your luck in the next one Resolven holds, either in the Church Hall or the Welfare Hall.  You won’t be disappointed.

 BBC WALES VISITS  WELFARE HALL

The Welfare Hall has had the good fortune to have BBC Wales  show an interest in our social club and in the endeavours of the trustees who are trying to save the building for our future. To give them a chance to see how we provide entertainment to our members a showcase event was held on February 8th . with Owen Money and Mandy Starr as guest judges and Darren Bromham Nichols making up the trio. The stage was set for a variety show that was worthy of a performance upstairs in the now closed theatre. Acts came mostly from the village itself with a few extras from the locality and the added bonus of Mandy Starr singing like a nightingale and Owen Money making us laugh .

Owen and Mandy

Mandy onstage

 

Cubs and beavers

The always reliable and entertaining RYP opened the show with a mix of music and dance from previous shows and the audience were immediately excited making Christina James tearfully proud once again . Resolven based XCLUSIVE dance troop led by Caryn Pritchard were next with a performance that was breathtaking for its beauty and its daring with lifts that had the audience holding their breath. Resolven girls Chloe and Elise Addiscot brought their ARTS ACADEMY to the Welfare from Glynneath and gave a professional performance both singing and dancing to cheers from the crowds. One thing these 3 acts had in common was Carlie Harris who danced and sang with all 3 groups. Her talent and her energy know no bounds !

Soloists  LIBBY HERBERT and CHRIS DAVIES were in fine song as was duo ANNA AND JAKE  who although they are new to Resolven feel part of the ‘family’ already .CLASSIC & CO have played on this stage before and didn’t fail to rock the crowd.  Welfare regulars,  WHITEFERN  MOUNTAIN STRING BAND played blue grass to the delight of the audience

Whitefern Mountain Band

.The unlikely named INDONESIAN ARCHITECTS are the Welfare based ukulele and guitar band of musicians  who meet every Thursday at the Welfare Hall for practice if anyone wants to join or learn how to play. This is a social gathering of local musicians who love to play along in a group and new members are welcome to come along.

Last but not least a special mention must go to JOSH SIMS (who also performed with RYP) AND KIERON SIMS for their outstanding presenting that oozed glamour and wit including a song written and performed by themselves that left the audience weak with laughter and will no doubt be talked about for many years .

Josh and Keiron

Josh and Keiron with BBC researcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All this was put together by Matthew Young and his team –Dean, Sian, Mark and Kieron – and everyone was impressed with their efforts.  The three judges were there to comment rather than chose a winner and I do believe Resolven surprised them with this variety show .

As an added bonus  our friends from Bryn Terrace had finished their sponsored dry January and slimming challenge and they came on the night to present a cheque for £505.00—  icing on the cake  to a fabulous evening and more funds for the restoration project !

Bryn Terrace

Watch this space for the latest newsletter from the trustees and for  news of the Welfare being shown on BBC Wales in the coming months .

 

Trustee Chairman Greg Williams–REPORT by DIANE SIMS

Funeral Notice for Mrs Jennifer Langdon

St. Valentine’s Day Greetings

Photo by MIKE DAVIES (taken on Rheola lake)

 

 

Message from America

Eric Powell, now of Florida but a Resolven boy ( John Street), has shared his memories with us before and we were delighted to hear from him again this week.

Dear Anita,

I’m still getting  enjoyment from  receiving the Resolven District News. Also my continual appearance in each edition, through the Resolven School photographs section, where I appear with my school mates near the end of our time attending the Boys School. I can recall most of the names in that photo and thought it may be of interest to your current readers to see what their grand (or great grand) fathers looked like and dressed in the years 1944/1945.

 

Resolven Boys’ School, Standard 7, Teacher, Arthur Morris (who probably took the photo); Date, 1944 or 1945.

Back row, left to right;
Unknown; Darrel Price, Neath Road; Joseph Lock, Abergarwed; Bernard Thorne, Rheola Avenue; Ken Lewis, Nant-Y-Gleisiad; Terry Norton, Glyn Neath Road; Roy Maddox, Glyn Neath Road.

Middle row, left to right;
Ken Davies, John Street; Wally Regan, John Street; Levi Evans, Company Street; Eric Powell, John Street; Evan Bevan, Cory Street; Donald Fearn, Yeo Street.

Front row, left to right;
Meirion Stock, Yeo Street; Sid Thomas, Maes-Y-Tyra; Jim Orrels, Maes-Y-Tyra; Bryn Morgan, Glyn Neath Road; Roy Harris, Abergarwed; Des Lewis, Nant-Y-Gleisiad; Mansel Johns, Cory Street

We all look very well despite four/five years of wartime rationing. Changing from short pants to long trousers, as now we are going on for fourteen, soon to leave school and start work (as did Joe Cookson in his autobiography). Arthur Morris took hundreds of photos of us boys as we passed through the Boys’ School, despite being busy as senior officer of the Resolven Home Guard. It was the job of us boys to run messages for him, to the homes of the men when they were needed to be on duty, or if an emergency occured, such as German pilots wandering the mountains, following being shot down! We also delivered the “Home News”, gathered from news of the village and edited by Dan Herbert, our Standard five/six teacher. Evan Jenkins, headmaster, put in his share serving on the committee of the Comforts Fund (but still had sufficient time to whack us with his bamboo cane when discipline was required!

With best wishes to all in Resolven and District,

Kindest regards,

Eric Powell,
Saint Petersburg, Florida, U.S.A.

Melincourt Falls in Winter

Image by Mike Davies

 

Funeral Notice for Mrs Janice Church

Tweet! from Gnoll Country Park

Frozen!  I wish it was spring!

 Taken this morning at Gnoll Country Park by MIKE DAVIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February Meeting of Resolfen History Society

A report on the January Meeting of Resolfen History Society

 

In the absence of the normal scribe, David Woosnam and Cathy Grahame have kindly provided an account of the meeting. Another change to the programme, was that of the advertised speaker since Mr Phylip Jones was unable to speak owing to illness. Glyn Williams, ably stepped into the gap and gave another splendid talk on his “hero’, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this time on the numerous mysteries which surround the engineering genius that was Brunel.

The first mystery surrounds Brunel’s  Christian name  since he may have originally been called “Eysambard”, ( he was half French by extraction Ed.) though no one really knows which one is correct. Glyn was of the opinion, that probably either would have suited.

The second mystery surrounded the “Lost Bridge at Paddington”. Brunel had favoured a different location to that of today’s London terminus. He built a bridge over the canal and erected a new viaduct at the site ,so obstructing the view of the bridge. As rail traffic increased, the staton was moved to its present location. Some ninety seven years later, the bridge (which was the first built by Brunel) was discovered and lies now ( in pieces) in the good care of English Heritage. Glyn wondered how such a treasure could have been simply forgotten ?

The third mystery, is that of Brunel’s famous fixation with that of using the “broad gauge”, for his famous GWR between London and the west of Britain.  Robert Stephenson had set the gauge between the rails at 4’ 8”; George Stephenson  at  five feet  but Brunel set the gauge at seven feet and a quarter of an inch. Despite, protestations as to the efficiency of the broad gauge , Glyn thought that Brunel had proverbially “dropped a clanger”, but pride dictated that he kept to his original plans.

Resolven Welfare Hall Events

  1. The Welfare is host to a fundraising concert by local youth group Resolven Young Performers on Saturday 26th January. After so many successful shows over the years by this group the Welfare is pleased to welcome them back again to perform a charity night for the Restoration Fund.

 

  1. CHINESE AUCTIONSaturday February 2nd  at 1pm.  Anyone who has attended a Chinese auction at the Church Hall will understand the concept. There is a £2 entry fee and light refreshments are included. There will be a variety of new and nearly new items up for grabs ranging from household items to jewellery and even a guitar will be on auction along with all manner of other things.

 

 

3 .WELFACTOR = in conjunction with BBC Wales we will hold a Variety Show on February the 8th  with mainly local talent and the Welfare is thrilled to have Owen Money and Mandy Starr in attendance on the night . More details can be found on the Resolven Miners Welfare Facebook page. This is going to be a cracker.

REPORT BY DIANE SIMS

Total Lunar Eclipse

When most people were tucked up in their beds last night, I could not miss  this wonderful show of our universe-the lunar eclipse.  Getting the picture was a waiting game, hoping the cloud wouldn’t spoil the spectacle.  On this occasion, the heavens were kind to me.
The next one is in ten years time and I’m hoping to get that one too!

This kind of eclipse occurs when the Earth passes precisely between the Sun and the Moon. In this situation, the Sun is behind the Earth, and the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.

 

REPORT and PICTURE MIKE DAVIES

First Snows of Winter

 Is this a taste of what is to come? 

Brecon Beacons.  Picture  taken from Neath,17/01/2019, by MIKE DAVIES

Funeral Notice for the Rev. David Ormond