November Meeting of History Society

A Fond Farewell to Father Andrew

The Reverend Andrew Davies conducted his last service as Vicar of Resolven on the 26th of September and has now retired. We all knew him as Father Andrew.  He was with us for 9 years and was well liked in the village for his warm, down-to-earth and cheerful presence at social gatherings and the comfort of his words when burying loved ones. He will be much missed by the community.

Mrs Julie Hicks, as Vicar’s Warden, knew him very well and says:

’’At the end of the day, Father Andrew was a valley boy.  He was born in a valley; he came to our valley and became one of us. He never pretended to be anything but what he was. You could talk to him about anything—he was the people’s priest.’’

Here are some of Father Andrew’s memories of his 9 years with us.

When I arrived at the Benefice of the Vale of Neath, like every other parish you serve in, you never know what to expect. My motto has always been you only get out what you put in

When looking at the attached photographs I know I’ve received a great deal from the parish over my 9 years. As with all ministries there is always a mix of great joy and sadness.

But my overall experience has been one of great joy, if you look at the photograph of the teas whether it was the summer or Christmas tea, it was an immense joy and privilege to see the community come together and also to be a small part of all the hard work that the ladies put in for the preparations, not only the ladies but also husbands in the weightier preparations of placing tables.

There were the Chinese Auctions, the Ukulele and other musical events held in the hall. Too many to name but many to remember and look back in with so many happy memories. The Carnivals, and Christmas Fayre. 

The Remembrance Day services ably arranged by The Royal British Legion and the pride in being invited to share those days both in Resolven and Clyne. Also, the involvement of Year 6 from Ynysfach Primary and Clyne Primary in the reading of the names on the Cenotaph.

As you can also see from the photographs the chance to take up bowls, in one I look professional and was told that my stance was good, only to be quickly followed by groans as the bowl left my hand (I made an amateur look good).

However, these are particular events held at particular times, and they only make up part of being a parish priest. It was the days walking around and sharing time with people brought the greatest joy, because it was at these unguarded times that people would share with me their joys and sadnesses, concerns, and worries, and it is at times such as these that makes it such a privilege to be a parish priest.

I end this little article with a heartfelt THANKS to all of you who live within the parish boundaries of the Vale of Neath, for allowing me to minister to you, wherever you live whether it be Clyne, Resolven, Ynysarwed, Abergarwed, Glynneath, Cwmgrach/Blaengwrach or Pont Walby; because without your love, support and prayers, I wouldn’t have had so many happy memories of my time spent with you in the privileged position of being your priest.

I Andrew.will always keep you in my prayers.

Father Andrew

Resolven History Society Meeting

A report on the meeting of Resolven History Society on Monday 11th October

Mao Zedong, as well as having his name appearing in several different versions is also misquoted as saying that “the first step in a long journey is the first”. He actually said that the first step was the first in 10,000 to take over the country which you may agree has a slightly different meaning. However, the first step of reviving the activity of the Society took place this week following the pandemic, which is the worst to hit the world in a century and a historic event in itself.

Not surprisingly, the audience in the church was far smaller than normal, and Covid-19 restrictions meant that the layout of the hall was different, however the engine had started and we were on our way. As speaker, Bernard Lewis from Cimla remarked, he had spoken to smaller audiences in the past and so long as those present enjoyed what was said, then he had done his part in the proceedings.

Mr Lewis, who has visited the Society twice before ,took “Swansea during the Great War” as his topic and explored several aspects of everyday life in the (then ) town.

On the fourth of August 1914, Charlie Chaplin’s latest film was about to be shown at the Albert Hall in Swansea. The showing was interrupted by a notice that war with Germany had commenced. The Mayor , Thomas Taliesyn Coaker , immediately made a plea for the formation of a “pals battalion” and requested a force of 1200 men. However, many had already volunteered with other regiments and despite recruiting attempts such as military bands, it stood at only 500 men, before being sent to Rhyl to prepare for the front.

Swansea has many conscientious objectors during the war. Some, such as John Oliver Watkins, a Quaker, opted instead to act as a stretcher bearer by joining the “Friends Ambulance” in France. He eventually joined a French equivalent and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his bravery.

Enemy aliens who were in Swansea, such as Carl Oscar Roth a sausage factory owner were rounded up and many were sent to the Isle of Man as internees. Conditions were not good and resulted in riots in Douglas with several deaths. Refugees from Belgium , began arriving and there were 350 in the town by 1915, housed in Maesteg House and the YMCA. The YMCA also acted as a hospital with 20 beds. Penrice Castle was used as a convalescent home for Australian officers as demanded by the Talbots of Margam for an unclear reason.

Despite being a port, Swansea’s traffic in merchandise dipped terrifically during the war, since the U Boat campaign was ravaging the merchant fleet. This caused inflation in the price of goods and food, with stagnant wages leading to strikes in local factories. Indeed Lloyd George came to Swansea to implore the workers to return to work. This was accompanied by the introduction of rationing by 1916, with shortages of butter, flour and margarine. Potatoes were also in very short supply and were sold in lots of 4lb. However, the Belgian fishermen ensured that there was still plenty of fish! Swansea Council introduced a “Grow your own”, scheme and a “make do”, effort for the population to make the best of their plight. Pigs were allowed to be kept in gardens and rabbits were sought all over Gower as a source of meat. Owing to conscription, there was shortage of bread since the number of bakers had halved.

As on the second world war . The role of women changed completely as they were brought into the factories and even formed a version of the police force , to stop “giddy young girls “, being lured by soldiers returning from the front in the rough streets of Swansea. As today, women’s football became popular and drew large crowds.

The population were busy in raising funds for the war effort. Carnivals an whist drives were popular, and free entry to special clubs for servicemen to be fed were common, with the YMCA feeding some 30,000 during the war, by day and night. !00,000 cigarettes were sent to the front and sometimes the prizes from raffles were rather bizarre, such as “ten tons of slag”. Wounded sioldiers also attended the college in Swansea for retraining.

Two VCs were awarded to men from Swansea during the Great War. Thomas Fuller , was the soldier who carried the dying Mark Rider Haggard of Rheola House from the front. Haggard’s name is featured on the war memorial in Resolven, and was from the same family as the author of “King Solomon’s Mines”. In all, some 3,000 casualties of the war came from Swansea, though the war memorial in the now City, only shows 2,300 owing to the fact that so many served in other regiments.

Mr David Woosnam, thanked Mr Lewis for a memorable talk. In a lengthy question and answer session it was noted that many of the mistakes and lessons of the Great War were adopted early in 1939, such as rationing and conscription.

Trefor Jones.

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Covid Memorial Plaque

Many of you will have noticed the Covid Memorial Plaque commissioned by the Community Council and placed on the large stone adjacent to the War Memorial.  

We are hoping to have a dedication ceremony on 13th November 2021 at 11am.

Families and friends of those in Resolven and Clyne and Melin Court who have sadly passed away due to Covid are invited to attend.  There will be refreshments in the Resolven Community Centre following the dedication.

We are also mindful that Covid has not gone away and there may be more sadness following the dedication, so this Memorial is for all those in the past, present and future who have succumbed to this dreadful disease.

We would be grateful is we could have some idea of numbers who wish to attend.

Many thanks for all the support you have given each other during this pandemic.

Thanks

Neal Francis

Chair Resolven Community Council 

NPTCBC – Notice of Temporary 40mph Speed Limit

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Funeral Notice for Mrs Jean Addiscott

Resolven History Society Meeting

Canal Group – Restoration Volunteers

The following informative, self explanatory and enthusiastic articles focus on how the Resolven Canal area is being regenerated and restored.

The Neath Canal Project is run by the Ty Banc Canal Group of Volunteers involving, among others, local young students of Llangatwg School and the 12th Neath Resolven Scout Group.

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RDN would like to wish the project all the best for the future. Well done!

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Funeral Notice for Mr Desmond Edward Thomas

Diamonds are forever

The River Neath

IMAGE BY RDN PHOTOGRAPHER MIKE DAVIES

Mike’s September Fair

Neath Great September Fair is the oldest in Wales and the 4th oldest in the UK. It goes back nearly 700 years but it was cancelled for the first time in living memory last year and yet again this September because of Covid.

Roll on Neath Fair 2022!

Meanwhile Mike Davies, our RDN photographer, has some colourful pictures from past Neath Fairs to share with us

IMAGES BY MIKE DAVIES (RDN PHOTOGRAPHER)

Resolfen History Society AGM Report

A Report on the Annual Meeting of Resolfen History Society .

After a hiatus of over two years, the History Society held an annual meeting at the Church Hall. It was encouraging that nine members were able to attend and several others sent apologies. It should be pointed out to anyone intending to return that strict measures regarding the prevention of Covid-19 are still in place within the building.

The meeting began, by remembering those who had passed away during the two years, especially Mr Gwyn Thomas the Society President and Mrs Mair Norton the former Treasurer. They will both be sadly missed and their contribution to the continuation of a History Society within the village for nigh on forty years was immense.

A new committee was elected with Trefor Jones relinquishing the Chair in order to return to his former role as General Secretary. Mr David Woosnam will now be Chairman, Julie Hicks will continue as the long serving treasurer and Jill Saunders will continue as Assistant Secretary. Val Davies will continue as Transport Secretary and the general committee includes Barbara Harris, Caryl Rees, Carole and David Jefferies.

Following a short address by the outgoing chairman, there was a general discussion on the way forward for the Society. Meetings will proceed as before on a monthly basis, but since speakers are difficult to find at the moment, this will vary in content and form . It was felt that a “workshop” approach to the history of the village would be beneficial and possibly a Q&A format for those who would not want to give a formal talk or lecture. It was felt that this would appeal to a wider audience and crucially involve more younger people in a slightly more rigorous approach to history since evidence showed from social media that there was a great deal of interest in local history.

The meeting concluded with another reading from the autobiography of Joseph Cookson, who lived and worked in the area in the 1920s. The episode concerned the changing of working in a small level above Clyne and changing to work at the more mechanised Gored Merthyr colliery. Despite being the best worker in the pit in his opinion, he remained on a junior minimum wage until becoming a fully-fledged collier at twenty one year of age. A problem with a coal cutter led to a remonstration with Mr Lloyd the under manager over pay, this resulted in Joe getting split form his “butty”, Dai Francis who in fact turned out to be Jill Saunders’s grandfather , much to her delight. He also seemed to be suffering from the long term after effects of the Spanish flu, reminiscent of the so called “long Covid”, which is prevalent at present.

Plus ca change/ nothing changes/ dim byd newydd?

Trefor Jones

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Early Bird Photographer

Mike Davies, our early bird photographer, took these images of sunrise over the Vale of Neath 12/09/2021

Mike says well worth getting out of bed for and we agree. Stunning shots!

Resolven Ladies Bowls Pairs Tournament

There were no W. Glamorgan League or County Competitions this year due to Covid 19 restrictions ,but Resolven Ladies Sec./Treasurer, Carwen Thomas filled the gap admirably for her members with exciting and entertaining “friendlies” against other clubs. She also managed to keep club competions going by involving all the new bowlers as well as the established players. It’s turning out to be a great “taster” for the “rookieS” and it’s actually thanks to them that the club membership has nearly doubled this season.

Carwen Thomas (top left)

For the Pairs Competition, new players were paired with experienced bowlers and it was played as a “Round Robin” with an A group all playing each other and a B group doing likewise-A side winners to meet B side winners at a later date.

After an afternoon of highly enjoyable bowling. it was time for tea

Carwen read out the scores, (kept secret during the match by each team ). The winners in each group will meet in the Final (to be arranged). So. congratulations to Ceri Holmes and Ann Evans who will meet Margaret Phillips and Hilary Fouracre in the Final.

Full Moon in Aquarius

August 22nd— a full moon in Aquarius with a perfect sky.

  Taken this morning over the Neath bridge. This will be our second Aquarius full moon of Leo season, an uncommon occurrence. As such, it’s only right that the stars of Aquarius preside over this lunation, since Aquarians are well known for having uncommon and unique affinities. Rare.

Mike Davies  (RDN Photographer)