New Local History Book Launched In Resolven

NEW LOCAL HISTORY BOOK LAUNCHED IN RESOLVEN

The following is a profile of the talented author William Alun Willis. William was born and brought up in the village and is a true Resolven boy. He is well known to many as his family kept the local post office. He left the village for a while but returned to his roots and is now happily living in the village with his young family. He has a keen interest in ‘everything local’ and believes that the past and its people should not be forgotten. His latest offering gives an insight into the Resolven of today, while reminding us of what village life was like for past generations ‘back in the day’.

William’s new book, ‘RESOLVEN THEN AND NOW’, has been on sale since 15th November 2017. This book chronicles the history of Resolven in photographs between 1895 and the present day. It is William’s intention to compare the old and the new by way of the local shops of the time, the Resolven Institutions, Societies and local Industries. Most of the photographs and images that William used have not been seen or published before, and include some rare pictures of village life.

‘RESOLVEN THEN AND NOW’ – front cover

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The new publication covers every aspect of village life such as shops, local societies, stage, transport, schools, war heroes, sport, worship and coal mining. William was keen to cover as many interests as possible. Each photograph is accompanied by detailed captions containing names and information about the subjects. Many of the eighteen chapters contain potted histories of the topics.

William spent many months gathering and taking photographs and compiling the captions and histories of the subjects. This could not have been achieved without the support and keen interest of the people of Resolven, to whom William as the author acknowledges a great debt. It quickly became apparent to him how strongly the village cares about its history and its heritage, and how this feeling is shared among older and younger generations alike.

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There were so many contributions to the book ‘RESOLVEN THEN AND NOW’ that William has decided to publish a second volume of photographs in the Autumn of 2018. This publication will aim to cover new subjects, such as Resolven’s great characters, its traditional pubs and historical eating places, farms, Rheola House, as well as shops and stores at the higher end of the village. Anyone who would like to to contribute is kindly asked to contact William via the address contained in the book.

Postman and Staff pictured outside the Resolven Post Office of ‘….NOW’

RESOLVEN THEN AND NOW’ may be purchased directly from William, the author, at the retail price of £8.95 or from Marcia’s Shop [Resolven Post Office].

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William Alun Willis was born in Resolven. His parents, Joan and Vic Willis, ran the village Post Office for more than 40 years. His mother, Joan, was a serving Justice of the Peace for more than 20 years. William attended Ynysfach Primary School, Resolven (see photo below c.1968 – author is 4th pupil from left in the back row).

Ynysfach School pupils – 1969

William started writing comedy scripts with his close friends Eurfyl Davies and Geraint Evans whilst studying for ‘A’ Levels at Dwr-y-felin VI Form College, Neath. Publishers W.H. Allen took an interest, and encouraged the author to try to write professionally.

William attended the University of Wales at Swansea, gaining a combined honours degree in Social History, Sociology and Social Anthropology. However, much of his ‘studying time’ was spent writing and editing the University ‘Rag Mag’ – a charity publication. William was also editor of ‘The Beck Mail’, a residential hall newspaper.

In 1984, William gained his post-graduate qualification in Social Work Studies (specialising in Childhood and Adolescent Behaviour) at Southampton University, before returning to Swansea University to take up the post of Press Officer.

William worked in the training department at Milland Road (under the auspices of Neath Borough Council) for more than twenty years, specialising in special needs teaching and, later, key skills training. He became Training Officer for Neath Borough Council at Milland Road in 1988.

Between 1990-91 William took a gap year, first back-packing around Egypt, Libya and the Sudan; then accepting a year’s TEFL contract at the English Education Centre in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he taught English to professional groups such as doctors, architects and businessmen.

William returned to work for Neath Borough Council in 1991, where he met his partner, Joanna, in 1994. They have been together for 23 years, and have two wonderful children.

In 2001, William began writing for radio and television (see last section of this article), but also decided to re-train as a Law Costs Draftsman [legal accountant], from which job he recently withdrew to take up professional writing again.

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PREVIOUS PUBLICATIONS

William’s first local history book was co-written with his cousin, Alun Evans, and was entitled ‘GHOSTS AND LEGENDS OF THE VALE OF NEATH’. William also illustrated the publication. A foreword was provided by Chris Stuart of BBC Radio Wales.

The book related some of the many supernatural stories about the Neath Valley, including: the Hounds of Hell; the Fountains of Paradise; King Arthur at Craig-y-Dinas; the Devil’s Pathway; Edward II at Neath Abbey; the Ghostly Mera; the White Lady of the Gnoll; the Old Lady of Water Street; the Farmhouse Monks; the Dance of Death; the Schoolhouse Haunting; and the Hitchhiker of Briton Ferry.

Published in 1987, this title sold two-thousand copies in 3 months, but is now out of print. Copies are occasionally available via e-bay or local second-hand bookshops.

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Later in 1987, the author and Alun Evans co-wrote/illustrated another book, ‘FOLKTALES AND SUPERSTITIONS OF THE VALE OF NEATH’, which was also a sell-out success.

This book chronicled some of the many traditional folktales linked to the Vale of Neath, including the giant Ysbyddaden Pencawr, the lovers Cilhwch and Olwen, the mischievous fairies known as Tylwyth Teg, the Green Goddess, the Water Horse, the Mari Llwyd, Guto Bach, and Tam and Merin’s encounter with the hobgoblins.

Although sadly now out of print, copies of ‘FOLKTALES AND SUPERSTITIONS OF THE VALE OF NEATH’ are occasionally available via e-bay or local second-hand bookshops.

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In 1993, William wrote and illustrated his first solo publication, ‘OLD CRAFTS AND CHARACTERS OF THE VALE OF NEATH’. BBC Wales Producer/Presenter Anita Morgan provided the foreword.

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This book was a history of all the traditional crafts practiced in the Vale of Neath, such as coopering, tanning, smithying and wheel-making, and also looked at local characters such as the the drover, the tinker, the apothecary, the rat-catcher, the cockle-seller and the poacher. Owing to the much larger print-run for this publication, some copies are still available via the author. The retail price is £3.50 (softback, 44 pages including covers).

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THE AUTHOR AT BBC WALES

In 2001, William entered a competition run by the BBC – ‘The Celtic Nations Comedy Cup’ – which was aimed at developing new comedy writers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. William was fortunate to be chosen as one of the winning Welsh entries, with a prize of his winning comedy play being staged at the West End in Glasgow. As a result of this, William was given a commission to write a comedy series for the BBC.

In 2002, the comedy series ‘Do It Yourself’ was completed, which followed the exploits of the staff at Dragon DIY and Pet Store. All six episodes of this first series were recorded before a live audience at Resolven Miners’ Welfare Hall in February 2003. The series was directed by ‘Only Fools and Horses’ director Gareth Gwenlan, produced by Darren Broome, and featured an all-star cast from Welsh comedy television and radio. The show was a resounding success, and over the next 5 years another four series (24 episodes) of ‘Do It Yourself’ were commissioned from William, and were recorded before live audiences in a range of local theatres, such as the Coliseum in Aberdare and in the Cwmaman Institute.

In 2007, William wrote another series for the BBC – ‘The Harder They Fall’ – a six-part comedy which followed the trials and tribulations of a compensation law firm. Gareth Gwenlan directed, and Paul Forde produced the series. The cast included veteran actress Margaret John (‘High Hopes’), Brian Hibbard (‘Twin Town’ and ‘The Flying Pickets’), and Richard Mitchley (‘Blackadder’ and ‘Dr Who’). This time, the complete series was recorded before a live audience at the BBC studios in Cardiff.

William has only recently returned to professional writing after taking time out to help raise his two children. Among other projects, he is currently working on ‘Richman’s World’, a comedy pilot episode for television.

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Resolven Youth Rugby Abroad

This is the first year for quite a while that there will be no junior rugby teams in Resolven.  The talented group of youngsters who “kicked off” together as under 7’s and played through to the under 16’s are now all in the Resolven Youth team. But before the start of their first season as a youth team and to mark all the years they’ve been together, the boys and family and friends went on tour to Toronto Canada. Lyn Roderick, Resolven Youth fixture secretary and father of the Youth Team Captain Bradley was one the dads in the party;

“We needed £3000 to help towards the boys’ costs.-a huge amount but with a bit of “beg and borrow”, discos, “stars in their eyes” and even a duck race among other events, we got there in the end. The original target was nearer £6000 when we began looking at prices with travel agents, but my wife Yvonne took over and organised it all- the flights, the accommodation and the sightseeing. She saved an awful lot of money.  In the end, the boys only had to contribute £200 each towards a fantastic trip.  We were based in Toronto in the same hostel for the whole week. We even had a whole floor to ourselves-48 of us, 26 boys and the rest were friends and family (mostly dads).

Only 2 matches were scheduled so that we could do some sightseeing. We travelled everywhere in a yellow school bus, (that was arranged by Yvonne too).  We went up the CN Tower, visited the Water Park- all mega-and went under Niagara Falls on the Lady of the Mist boat.  Amazing!  It will stick in my mind for ever.

 

 

Everything worked so well on the trip; even though we only played I match.  It was against the Toronto Nomads and Resolven won it- 80 points to 5. The boys exchanged team shorts and handed the Nomads a miner’s lamp made by one ot the parents

Good memories -making it well worth all the effort. It will stick in my mind for ever”.

LYN RODERICK

 Update on Resolven Youth –they are in top position in their division at the moment.

United Churches Carol Service

Clyne Free Mission Carol Service with Salvation Army Band

CLYNE FREE MISSION EVANGELICAL CHURCH

Neath Road Clyne SA11 4BW
2017

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION

O Come let us adore Him Christ the Lord’

———— Join us for our ————

SALVATION ARMY BAND CAROL  SERVICE

Monday December 11th at 7.00pm
( All proceeds go to The Salvation Army)

A WARM WELCOME IS EXTENDED TO YOU
Clyne Free Mission Evangelical Church SA11 4BW

    

www.clynefreemission.org.uk 

Ynysfach W.I “get crafty”

November turned out to be a month full of craft and creativity.

Our first crafty caper was a trip on the 4th November to see the ‘Made By
Hand’ exhibition held in Cardiff City Hall.
This annual event is held to showcase the work of 135 exceptional craftsmenand women from Wales .
The skills on display were astonishing, delightful and in some instances beyond belief or imagination.

The makers displayed products beautifully and were more than willing to explain the processes involved and in some cases were actually making things while we watched. Almost every craft medium was represented, so no matter where your interest lay,  there was something to delight you- from ceramics to wood turning,jewellery to textiles.

Everyone enjoyed the exhibtion and the chance to make a start on their Christmas shopping.

Our second creative inspiration was provided by our speaker at our November meeting.
Alison Westwood from Eclipse Gift Wrapping demonstrated a myriad of interesting ways to wrap your Christmas gifts. In her deft fingers tissue paper, cellophane and ribbon were beautifullypleated, tucked and tied to result in an elegantly wrapped gift that anyonewould be delighted to receive.I’m not too sure that these materials would behave in quite the same way inmy hands!

However Alison assured us that it was all easy with a little bit of practice

-A most interesting and entertaining evening.

Anybody interested can view Alison’s tutorials on Youtube.

Our last craft event was a trip to a craft fair held in Margam Orangery on  the18th November. This event was organised by the Glamorgan Federation to enable WI members to display and sell their handmade wares.There were many stalls for us to browse and lots of beautifully made goodies for us to buy.  We then went on to Cowbridge to enjoy a delicious lunch and even more retail.therapy.

So it was a month of inspiration, and we have many new ideas that I’m sure our own clever crafters will be able to make to stock our craft stall at the Resolven Christmas Fayre on Saturday the 2nd of December! 

Jen Colley (President Ynysfach W.I)

 

 

Resolven Christmas Lights

Entrance to village 2016

The Christmas street lights have always been provided by Neath/Port Talbot  Council, but this year Resolven Community Council has taken over the  task. Clerk to the council Mrs Cheryl Payne explains:

 

 

“We will be paying for and putting up the lights in Resolven this year, but there might be a  delay through having to deal with legal requirements, of which we were not at first aware.”

Children’s Multi Climbing Frame Removed

The multi climbing frame was removed from Resolven Park today.  It was a “star attraction” for many years, but  was in need of repair and the cost for Resolven Community Council would have been prohibitive.

 

Now for the good news!  A replacement multi climbing frame will be arriving in the spring and the hard working team from Urban Recreation Newport, who were taking the old frame down today, were delighted to hear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Team Members Welcome

The Resolven District News team is looking for recruits to help run our refreshed village website.   All you have to do is keep your eyes peeled and ears open for what’s happening on your patch (club, society or family occasions and celebrations).

Pass the info. on to us—- or write it up yourself if you enjoy putting a few words on  paper or  keyboard.

 

Contact us now on this link:   am@resolvendistrictnews.co.uk

 

 

Report from Resolven Welfare Tuesday Club

  The CISWO (Coal Industry Social   Welfare Organisation) runs a Tuesday club at the Welfare Hall every other Tuesday from 11am until 1pm where people meet and socialise. Recently, they invited Trefor Jones from the Resolfen History Society to give a talk and he chose his subject well, recalling the anthracite strike of 1925. Trefor made his talk really interesting telling us how the coal industry was run in the past and how the South Wales Miners Federation endeavoured to improve the life of miners locally. It was at the time when streets and tips were named after local colliery owners – for example, Lyons place and Tweedle tip were named in Resolven after such owners.  This was pre war, pre NUM, pre NCB and pre welfare state and the collieries were in many cases small businesses whose wages fluctuated with the price of coal.

In a nutshell, the story unfolded that after WW1 there was a boom in anthracite mining in Wales that created a takeover of the small mines in the south Wales coalfield.  Small collieries were bought out by people such as Alfred Monde and companies were created from combined small mines. This led to the breaking of what were spoken rules among miners and the small mine owners In that they were not recognised by the more affluent new company owners.  As anthracite coal became more profitable and the takeovers progressed, the intimate relationship of the small owners with their workers was lost.

In June 1925, a particular breakdown of the unwritten rules led to what was to be known as the ‘boxer rebellion’. It began in the Bettws collieries in Ammanford where dissention grew over the breaking of the unwritten rules, and they were backed by the South Wales Federation and other pits. The story goes that 2 mines – 1 in Crynant and 1 in  Glynneath – were the only collieries in the Swansea area not to support the strike and a 400 man gathering fronted by a silver band marched from Bettws to Crynant .  They met the men going to work and   requested they support the strike.  When support wasn’t immediately given the men who came by train from Neath were ‘encouraged’ back onto the train and went home – this might be where the name ‘boxer rebellion’ came from. There were a few police at the site who were ill prepared to meet the 18,000 strong crowd of men that had joined the original 400 on route from Ammanford to Crynant. The next day the men marched to Glynneath where they encountered a very different force of police and there was a pitched battle where miners were badly beaten. One father of 5 with a dependant widowed mother to care for in particular was so badly beaten that he never worked again. After this the dispute fizzled out.

The police of that day were said to have told how the crowd of 18,000 sang ‘Aberystwyth ‘en masse which was intimidating and put fear into the police. It must have been something to hear 18000 men so united.  Another story told was of how the sergeant in charge on that day was a rugby player, and thefollowing year he incurred a sport injury that resulted in him never working again just as the beaten miner the year before – coincidence?

In August, police arrived from Cardiff and there followed a series of conflagrations where the police were housed in the Abernant Inn in Cwmgors and the dissent that erupted included dynamite being thrown at police in Gwaun Cae Gerwyn and carnage was the result . The aftermath was that 1 colliery flooded and was closed down, 180 miners were arrested and jailed until the case reached parliament and a judge released them, claiming them to be dependable solid people. So in the future when you hear of the 1926 general strike you can look back to 1925 and remember the boxer rebellion that preceded it 

 There was so much more to this story and there are many more stories like this that we might never hear of without the knowledge of Trefor Jones and the Resolfen History Society and if you would like to hear more they meet monthly in St David’s Church Hall at 7pm

DIANE SIMS

Mike Captures Beaver Moon Shot

IMAGE MIKE DAVIES

Our talented RDN photographer Mike Davies, or Abergarwed boy as he still likes to call himself, captured this stunning shot of the moon juxtaposed with an image of Neath town clock recently.  Mike says it was named a Beaver Moon by the American Indians, because it appeared as winter approached and helped them to hunt in fading light.

Mike has been in the spotlight himself recently.  He is a B.B.C Weather Watcher and he was chosen as our Welsh representative in a programme to celebrate the Weather Watchers 2nd anniversary.  Well done Mike!

This is part of the letter he received from the B.B.C programme makers:

“Mike has been a regular weather watcher for 2 years although he has been involved with the BBC for over 10 years, we like Mike’s work and every photo tells a story of whatever the weather is like in his part of WalesOther candidates chosen were from Aberdeen, Northern Ireland, England and the West Country

The producers came down from London to talk to him and Mike gave them a guided tour of our area

Melincourt Falls-IMAGE MIKE DAVIES