A Report on the November Meeting of Resolven History Society– “Evacuees”


This month’s topic had been widely awaited by the members of the Society, since the story of the mass evacuation of children from the inner cities to the safer countryside is still within memory and equally poignant since the meeting coincided with the commemoration of the Armistice of 1918. However, Mr Peter Rees, who is a member of the Swansea Outreach Speakers of the History Association in Swansea, gave an insight which was perhaps different from the orthodox account of the lives of the evacuees themselves and the subsequent effect on social policy which is with us to this day.

Mr Rees began his talk by explaining how the policy of evacuation had its roots in the earlier bombing of the south of England during the Great War in which some thousand or so individuals had been killed by aerial bombing. The development of air forces during the 1920s and 30s, showed that the British Isles was now vulnerable to attack. This was highlighted by the Chinese invasion of Manchuria and the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. The plan for the evacuation of children was drawn up as early as 1931 and explains how the evacuation took place so smoothly in 1939, in contrast to the lack of readiness of many other civil arrangements. Sir John Andersen (he of the shelter) was put in charge of the planning at the outbreak of war. The strategy was not short of critics, especially among women such as Anna Freud who saw it as inhumane and upper class (who sent their children away to boarding school in any case). It posed a terrible dilemma for parents and in fact only 50% of those children liable to evacuation actually left the inner cities, which were subsequently subject to the blitz. Indeed, other countries viewed evacuation differently. France dismissed it as a bad idea and Germany had a partial version. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USA considered it, but following a psychological study came to the conclusion that children were better left alone with their parents in terms of their mutual mental health. The Scots indeed, took a different tack and moved some parents with their children.

A billeting officer was appointed in the reception area to match the children to the families receiving them. He did have the power to force families to take evacuees but this did not happen often. Critics have described this process as a “slave market”, in which some of the children were seen as ready labour to work on farms or as “skivvies”. The experience of the children and the hosting families varied immensely, and it was quite evident that the children from the slum areas of inner cities found adjustment to their new homes very difficult. In Llanelli they were nicknamed “Sioni daps”, and an appeal from residents was made for better shoes. Some were emaciated, lice ridden and almost feral in the way they lived. This contrasted with the evacuation from more affluent areas which was sometimes greeted with relief by the local community as was reported in a story in the Tivyside Advertizer in Cardigan. At first the editor  railed against an invasion of unruly children only to totally change his tune when he found out that it was a grammar school from the leafier suburbs of Liverpool that were coming. Wales indeed was seen as a very accommodating area for evacuation, with its strong social stability rotating around the chapel and family seen as a positive advantage. Indeed, many of the evacuees became very close to their adopted families, learned Welsh and even returned to live in Wales after the war. Many , subsequently wrote autobiographies on their experiences including Ken Fossegate, who had been evacuated to Cardiganshire and Beryl Matthews whose book “A Time to Remember”, narrated a harrowing tale of neglect by the local vicar, followed by a happier time resident in the local public house.

Education itself was a problem, in that the evacuees were taught by either old teachers on the verge (or recalled) from retirement or young and inexperienced (teachers were also called up as was the experience in Resolven school Ed). Sometimes the evacuees were taught separately from the local children or in a different building. In addition, it was common for whole school to be evacuated together and join a local secondary school (this was the experience of The Roan School in Greenwich, which was evacuated en bloc to Ammanford, Ed). Mr Rees, also stated that Swansea children were evacuated to Llanybydder following the blitz in the town and the destruction of Brynmill school, under the leadership of their teacher Mr Cooke Rees. Of course, they considered themselves to be different from the other evacuees since they still saw their parents. Parental visits were however rather problematic since quite often the children were so homesick they returned to Swansea with their parents.  Indeed all the evacuees who had been interviewed after the war recalled the gnawing homesickness which never left them.

In conclusion, Peter Rees, drew attention to the fact that the evacuation of what were essentially slum children had metaphorically “turned over a stone of neglect”. Wales had been subjected to the 10% of the population which was unseen within inner cities. In 1943, the report “Our Towns”, highlighted the neglect of the inner cities. This contributed in no small measure to the Beveridge reforms undertaken by the post war Attlee government. The famous historian A.J.P. Taylor stated that it was the key to the establishment of the present Welfare State.

Following the war, the children returned home. However, this was not the end of the trauma. Some returned to find that their parents, who had not been in contact, were either both dead or widowed. Homes had been destroyed, and the psychological distress has been described as a double death. Sometimes parents were resentful, in that they did not recognise their children and criticised their different accents and ways. Some children actually made their way back to Wales after the war, married and stayed.

Following a lengthy question and answer session, it was rather emotional to find that several of the members (including the author of this report) were either the children of evacuees or had contact with the evacuees who had come to Resolven during the war. Indeed, one of the members is an evacuee whose family were evacuated to Aberdare and stayed after the war.

The Chairman thanked Mr Rees for a memorable talk which reminded him of the accuracy of the TV drama “Goodnight Mr Tom”.

Trefor Jones

Pantomime Time



Clyne Remembrance Service

The Service of Remembrance at Clyne War Memorial on Sunday the 10th of November was conducted by Father Andrew Davies


Flag bearer Ashley Philbrick-Resolven Branch Royal British Legion

Pastor Peter Mitchell (Clyne Free Mission), Gillian Francis (Chair. Clyne/Melincourt Community Council), Moira Randall (Parish Reader), Karen Partridge ( Buglar)

David Richards-Sec, Resolven Branch o f the Royal British Legion

Buglar -Karen Partridge








Remembrance Service in Resolven – Sunday 10 November 2019



The Annual Remembrance Service was very well attended at St David’s Church Hall, Resolven on Sunday, 10 November 2019 and afterwards at the adjacent War Memorial Obelisk. The Service was conducted by Father Andrew Davies.




All the Poppies decorating the windows and Cross in the Church Hall were designed and knitted by two of the ladies of the Church.







It was 100 years ago on 11th November 1919 that the first Armistice Day (now Remembrance Day) was marked in the UK.  King George V had issued a proclamation calling for a two minute silence at 11.00am to remember the members of the armed forces who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The two minute silence was in fact adopted from a South African idea that had spread from Cape Town through the Commonwealth in 1919.  The first minute was dedicated to those who died in the war, and the second to those left behind – families affected by bereavement and other effects of the conflict.

A Cenotaph was erected temporarily in Whitehall for a peace parade for Armistice Day in 1920.

After a tremendous nationwide response, it became a permanent structure, and in the following years war memorials were created in other British towns and cities.

In 1939, the two minute silence of Armistice Day was moved to the nearest Sunday to 11th November so that it would not conflict with wartime production.  This tradition continued after World War II – Remembrance Sunday is still marked with a national service, and by special services throughout the country and beyond although the Americans mark Veterans Day instead.

Our War Memorial Obelisk in Resolven was unveiled on 1st November 1925 and attended by Lieutenant Colonel J Edwards Vaughan of Rheola.  It was first erected on the Square, but it was moved several years ago to its present position due to the volume of traffic.

A new addition to the village this year was the large Poppies placed on many lamp-posts on the main roads through the village, reminding us of Remembrance Sunday.


The Flag Bearer on behalf on The Resolven Branch of The Royal British Legion was Ashley Philbrick


The ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ was played by Karen Partridge


Five children representing young people of the village read out all the names listed on the Obelisk.



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2019 Bowls Presentation Evening

Presentation Evening 2019 – Resolven BC and TRW Cam Gears BC

The 2019 Club Tournament Presentation evening for Resolven Bowls Club (RBC) and TRW/Cam Gears Bowls Club was held recently at the Resolven Community & Recreational Social Centre (the old Cam Gears Club) which was well attended by members and friends.

President/Chairman of RBC welcomed everyone to the Presentation evening which included some members of Resolven Ladies Bowls Club.

He congratulated all the bowlers, male and female who had played for the West Glamorgan County over the past season.

He also congratulated the RBC County Open Fours Champions, Shaun (Ned) Kelly, Gareth Evans, Mike Herbert and Nigel James and the Welsh National Senior Triples Champions Aylwin Jones, John Fryer and Spencer Evans (who played in the last four games in Llandrindod Wells, replacing Randall Sims).

Lt to Rt: Aylwin Jones, Randall Sims, John Fryer & Spencer Evans









Shaun Kelly, West Glamorgan County 2 Wood Champion for the second consecutive year.






The summer of 2019 produced some great sunny days and dry weather which offered a good season for outdoor bowlers.

Speaking of the bowling green, the President said that the three Resolven Clubs are fortunate to have some hard working volunteers who are willing to give of their time and who have been working extensively and tirelessly on the Green over the year to be the best that it can be, and a green to be proud of.   This is clearly shown by the good comments received from local and visiting bowlers.

The Presentation evening continued with a buffet meal and this was followed by the sale of raffle tickets in aid of the Brain Tumour Charity.


Simon Ace, Resolven BC Hon. Secretary repeated that it had been a successful year with the club doing well in the Neath & District League and the Cwmtawe, Swansea Valley League winning the SVL Cup for the second time.

He gave an early congratulations to Carwen Thomas, Secretary/Treasurer Resolven Ladies Bowls Club for being elected to the position of West Glamorgan Senior Vice President for 2020 and therefore President for the 2021 Season.

Gareth Evans, lead bowling green volunteer and Secretary/Treasurer TRW/Cam Gears BC was invited to begin their presentations and he said that the club had had a good year and had completed their tournaments before starting early autumn work on the green. He called on Ieuan Ace the 2019 Captain to help with the presentations.




Winners of the TRW/Cam Gears Club Pairs – Alwyn Griffiths & Stephen Allen with Ieuan Ace.

(Finalists – Spencer Evans &  Dave Pavey)






Stephen Allen – TRW/Cam Gears Club Singles Winner.

(Finalist – Gareth Evans)








TRW/Cam Gears, Player of the Year, Spencer Evans, chosen by the 2019 Captain Ieuan Ace.




Lt to Rt: Ieuan Ace, John James & Gareth Evans



A Special presentation was made to John James who has given outstanding long service to TRW/Cam Gears Bowls Club mainly as Chairman.





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The evening continued with the Resolven Bowls Club Presentations.

Carole Hopkins & Ann Ace receiving recognition for providing and serving the refreshments for RBC bowlers in Resolven throughout the season pictured with Andrew Hopkins & Simon Ace.




Janice Ace who was responsible for the refreshments on the night of the presentation.







Brenda Rees & Christine Twaite who played bowls when required on several occasions with RBC during the successful retaining of the Cwmtawe/Swansea Valley Cup (Mid-Week Triples League). Shown with Andrew Hopkins and the winners trophy.







Hugh Lewis, RBC President/Chairman presenting Andrew Hopkins with the Ron Thompson Trophy as the winner of the Resolven Bowls Club 3 Wood Tournament. (Finalist – Lionel Stock)








Stephen Allen, who is the RBC Club Champion for 2019 receiving the Hugh Lewis Trophy.

(Finalist – Simon Ace)






Troy Simms, RBC ‘Player of the Year’ as voted by the club members receiving the Omri Davies Trophy from Simon Ace.








The evening continued with a performance from entertainer/singer/comedian Kevin Kaye.






Congratulations to everyone who attended on the evening which raised the sum of £105. This is to be given to The Brain Tumour Charity and added to the amount that Andrew Hopkins has accumulated to date from running half marathons etc. which so far totals almost £1000.

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Fireworks from Mike



Images by MIKE DAVIES (RDN photographer)

Farmers Arms Resolven Planning Appeal

The new owners of The Farmers Arms public house in Resolven are proposing to convert it into a dwelling.  Their planning application was narrowly rejected by Neath Port Talbot Council, by 5 votes to four.  They have appealed against this decision and any objections to their appeal have to be made by November 18th. There is already a campaigning group in the village opposing the change of use for The Farmers Arms.


Resolven – AMENDED D.A.N.S.A. Transport for Vale of Neath Medical Centre Passengers

Resolven – AMENDED D.A.N.S.A. Transport for Vale of Neath Medical Passengers

From Monday 4 November 2019

This is the Patient Transfer ‘D.A.N.S.A.’ bus near the front entrance of the Medical Centre, waiting to transport patients to and from the Medical Centre


















Remembrance Sunday Services

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Mike Captures Double Rainbow

They say there is a rainbow around every corner.

This spectacular double rainbow was captured over the Vale of Neath to brighten up a grey day.

Image by RDN photographer Mike Davies




Resolfen History Society November Meeting

Funeral Notice for Mr Brynmor Morgan

Chinese Auction in St. David’s Church Hall

History Society Report

The Swansea Workhouses

This month’s speaker was Mr Bernard Lewis of Cimla, a noted local historian and author. His topic was to follow a day in the life in the Swansea Workhouse in the nineteenth century.  He began by noting that our perception of workhouses was the portrayal handed down by Charles Dickens in novels such as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, yet this only gave half the story. The grind of the Dickensian novels belong more to the Poor Law which had been in force since the days of Elizabeth the First. Under the Poor Law each parish was entrusted to look after its poor, providing Poor Houses and alms to the poor and impoverished including medical care and burial. The level of care depended largely on the wealth of the particular parish and varied immensely .However, the revised New Poor law of 1834, the brainchild of Edward Chadwick gave the system a better organization and structure.

Firstly, under the Act, local parishes were combined to form Unions or Workhouse Trusts. Each Trust or Union would have a Clerk and Commissioner who acted as paid professional officials. The idea behind the Workhouse was one of deterrence and therefore they were far from pleasant places, with sometimes whole families forced to enter the institution. The original workhouse in Swansea was situated next to the Castle, but after the formation of the Swansea Workhouse Union it moved to the Bathing House, and re-titled a “House of Industry”. The residents were kept busy doing mind numbingly boring and repetitive tasks such as “picking oakem”, which entailed untangling hemp ropes. The residents also slept in wards; similar to what you would expect in a hospital .The next workhouse in Swansea was opened in 1863 at a cost of £16,000 in what is now known as Mount Pleasant.  It remained a workhouse as late as 1949, when it changed roles to become Mount Pleasant Hospital.

Workhouses were regularly inspected and the description of the residents was graphically unkind. They were described as “lunatics” and “the dregs of society. Notice was also drawn to the fact that there was little opportunity for exercise and the water supply for 200 hundred completely inadequate and insanitary. Lighting was exclusively by candlelight, sexes were separated and the toilets very rudimentary. In order to make life even harder in the workhouse, during the 1860s when the numbers in the Swansea workhouse increased to 235, the authorities responded by pushing the beds closer together! If there was no room in the workhouse for “in-relief”, younger people would receive “out relief”, in form of a dole or chit which they would be able to exchange in local shops for food.

Entrance to the workhouse was entirely voluntary, so long as the Master of Guardians agreed to your application. Others were directed to the workhouse if they had fallen on hard times or were destitute. Sometimes, Unions would exchange residents. Mr Lewis gave examples of Swansea residents being returned from Bristol, a process known as “removal”. The workhouse would provide medical care and treatment, though as was stated earlier the emphasis was that this was far from being the easy option.

One aspect of the administration of the records was that meticulous records were kept as to how long the residents had been in the workhouse. Routine was similar to a prison with the one important proviso that you could leave whenever you liked. The master and the matron were often colourful characters with former soldiers often fulfilling the role. Several of these key figures were dismissed by the Board of Guardians owing to misdemeanours including drunkenness and sexual dalliance. In addition, a positive aspect of the regime was that the “pauper” children were educated by the workhouse and remarkably for the period corporal punishment was not encouraged.  In addition, sometimes the workhouse would pay for the children to be educated in local schools.

Mr Lewis then gave an outline of the typical day in the workhouse which began with prayers at 6:00 am, followed by breakfast at 7:00. Work periods ensued until midday when dinner was served.  At six o’clock work finished for the day, and this was followed by a supper of bread and cheese. The diet was also regulated with a variety of set meals supplemented with gruel. It should be noted that the residents made no financial contribution and indeed they benefitted from the doctors’ fees which were sometimes rather hefty and were also buried in paupers graves, should the need arise. However, any bad behaviour by the residents was punished rather harshly.

Mr Lewis finished his talk by alluding to the contribution of Edward Chadwick to the public life of the UK during the nineteenth century. Indeed, despite being rather unpopular with his fellow politicians, who deliberately pensioned him off at one stage, his contribution to the society in which we now live is obvious. He was instrumental in the introduction of Death Registration (1836), the County Police Act (1838), the Public Health Act and also the Civil Service Examinations of 1971.

Following a question and answer session, Trefor Jones thanked Mr Lewis for a most interesting lecture and noted that our present social security system certainly owes something to the philosophy of the Workhouse.


Trefor Jones




Although the ‘all new’ impressively spacious Vale of Neath Medical Centre has been receiving patients since 19th August, the Ceremony to officially open the Centre was held on Monday 14th October 2019 at 3pm.

Waiting & Reception Area

This long awaited building has two floors, the ground floor for Doctors Consulting Rooms and Treatment Rooms along with a glass fronted Reception Area, and a first floor accessed by stairs/lift for treatments, various clinics and offices for the staff.

Emma Woolett


A small group of invited guests including representatives from the Architects (Austin Smith:Lord), Building Contractors (John Weaver Contractors),  PPG (Patient Participation Group), local Councillors, NHS Doctors/Staff were present to celebrate the occasion and to hear a short speech given by Emma Woolett, Chair of the Swansea Bay University Health Board as she explained that the development project had taken over a decade to come to where we are today as there had been complex issues and problems that had to be resolved along the way.  She went on to say that the finished project was well worth the wait and thanked everyone involved and connected with the development for their hard work.


Carolyn Edwards

The next speaker was Carolyn Edwards Chair of the PPG (Patient Participation Group) who stated that she was delighted to be part of the official opening of the Vale of Neath Medical Centre.  She said that the PPG had always been fully involved in the project from the start which was, in her words ‘a very long time ago indeed’.

She was also proud to say that the PPG had been instrumental in the purchase of the ‘hook up’ for the Breast Care Services, and for the Screen Displays situated at various points in the building. She said she was pleased to have the opportunity to thank everyone and hoped that the PPG would continue to be involved in the future.



Simon Knoyle


The final speaker was Simon Knoyle, the Glynneath Town Mayor who also praised the ‘new build’.  He said it was good to finally have a much needed facility for Glynneath, Cwmgwrach, Resolven and all the surrounding areas of the Vale of Neath.  It had been a long time coming and ended by thanking all the patients for their patience.





After the speeches, it only remained to cut the red ribbon draped over the doors and this was done by Emma Woolett, before all present were asked to enjoy light refreshments with some of the staff in a relaxed and informal atmosphere on the first floor.

Some members of the PPG (Patient Participation Group) & local Councillors with Emma Woolett


At the rear entrance to the building

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This is the Patient Transfer ‘D.A.N.S.A.’ bus near the front entrance, used to transport patients to and from the Medical Centre.

Approximate pick up times from 4 November 2019 shown below

Pick Up times Amended on 4 November 2019

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What is PPG (Patient Participation Group)?

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Report by Hugh & Lorna Lewis