Staff from the Museum's Natural Science Department have been popping-up at the Capitol Shopping Centre in Cardiff again this year with their 'I Spy Nature' Pop-up Museum. Museum curators and learning staff showed a plethora of objects and specimens from the Natural History collections at National Museum Cardiff to shoppers over a six day period in July and August. Over 1200 people visited the pop-up museum and saw fossils, minerals, marine invertebrates, a beautiful botanical display of common British species and a variety of insects from around the world. Created for this year’s display was an ingenious dark box for viewing florescent minerals under UV light. Visitors could be seen donning their safety specs to view inside. Our younger visitors were encouraged to utilise their drawing skills to draw some of the specimens on display as part of our drawing competition. Competition winners will be announced shortly and the winning entries will be displayed on the blog. We were even lucky enough to be visited by singer and actress Connie Fisher, whose favourite object was a fossilised fish.
The I Spy Nature exhition at National Museum Cardiff will run until 3rd January 2016.
This month Amgueddfa Cymru was able to acquire this model coal dram. It is a scale replica of a ‘Patent Cambrian Tram’ invented by H.H. Evans and R. Evans in 1931. One of the patentees, H.H. Evans, was General Manager for Welsh Associated Collieries Ltd., Llwynypia, and we know quite a lot about his life.
Henry H. Evans was born on 28th April 1865 in 15 Windsor St., Aberdare. He started work as a colliers’ boy at 12 years of age at Bwllfa Colliery, Aberdare. In 1880 the family moved to Maerdy in the Rhondda Fach and Henry continued his career as a collier in Maerdy Colliery until 1884 when he was articled to Mr Rees Llewelyn, Mining Engineer, Aberdare. His training was cut short by the death of his father, Mr John Evans a colliery official, in the Maerdy Colliery explosion of 1885 when he became the family’s bread winner. He began to attend the first mining night school in Aberdare about this time, walking over the mountain from Maerdy to Aberdare for the lessons. At twenty four he gained his 2nd class certificate of competency and became the under manager of Gelli Nos. 2 and 3 Pits where he remained for several years. He later returned to Maerdy Colliery as under manager.
He became manager of Bwllfa Colliery, Aberdare in 1894 where he remained for 18 years until he became the Agent for Albion Collieries in 1912. In 1910 he received the Edward Medal for bravery for saving the life of Mr John Isaac, a colliery repairer who had been trapped under a fall of roof. The museum hold in its collections this oil painting dating from 1929, which shows H.H. Evans wearing his Edward Medal.
By January 25th 1932, he had become general manager of the Cambrian Combine and lead a team of volunteers following the explosion in Llwynypia Colliery. He was 67 years old at the time and stayed down the pit until the last victim had been found. Eleven men were killed including two rescuers.
The Mines Inspector’s report was rather scathing about the rescue attempt – “In reference to the rescue operations, in the cold light of events it must be said that they were conducted with greater valour than discretion, for even when men from the Porth Rescue Station equipped with breathing apparatus were engaged in J. Alsop’s face, officials not so equipped, including the General Manager (Mr. H.H. Evans), the Agent (Mr. R. Lloyd) and the Manager (Mr. J. Whitticombe), were engaged in Prior’s and Brown’s. They had with them a canary but appear to have had more regard for its life than for their own, with the result that one of their party, John Evans, Overman, was overcome by afterdamp and died.”
He died on May 2nd 1936 only a few weeks after being elected Chairman of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coalowners’ Association. He was buried in Aberdare Cemetery.
This Mines Rescue Service figure is seen wearing full rescue gear. These were produced for presentation by the UK Mines Rescue Service and usually awarded for 20 years’ service. There is a space at front for a presentation plaque to be attached. This example was given to the donor (who was a firefighter) after undertaking a Breathing Apparatus course with the Mines Rescue Service.
This month we were donated a copy of the original design for the Lesbians & Gay Men Support the Miners Group from 1984, along with a 30th anniversary badge manufactured in 2014. The events from 1984/85 were recently depicted in the film ‘Pride’. This donation coincided with staff from Amgueddfa Cymru attending Pride Cymru this month.
Finally, the photograph below shows the S.S. PENDEEN off Swansea on 28 March 1914. The S.S. PENDEEN was built by Gray's of West Hartlepool in 1898 for the Chellew Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. of Truro, a firm set up in the early 1880s by Richard Berryman Chellew of that town. She was employed in the classic 'coal out, grain home' trade of that era, loading coal in south Wales for the Mediterranean and returning with cereals from various Black Sea ports. Holed up in the Baltic for much of 1st World War, she was sold to a Greek company in 1922 and wrecked off the Tunisian coast six years later.
Mark Etheridge Curator: Industry & Transport Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW
Croeso i flog Archif Sain Amgueddfa Werin Cymru. Wedi ugain mlynedd o weithio yn yr archif ac o bori trwy’r casgliadau mae’r amser wedi dod i mi blymio i ddyfnderoedd y cyfryngau torfol.
Brawychus (efallai yn fwy felly i’r gynulleidfa nac i mi)! Felly a’m calon yn curo, a’m pengliniau yn siglo dyma fynd ati i ysgrifennu (a chadw’r bys yn hofran dros y botwm “Publish” am wythnos neu ddwy nes magu hyder) gyda’r gobaith o rannu rhai o berlau amhrisiadwy yr Archif Sain gyda Chymru a’r byd.
Dechreuodd yr Amgueddfa gasglu hanes llafar yn y 50au hwyr ac erbyn hyn mae bron i 12,000 o recordiadau yn ein casgliad. Ers 1958 mae staff yr Amgueddfa wedi crwydro dros fryn a dôl, dros bont a thraffordd (ac wedi mynd yn sownd mewn ambell i gae) yn recordio trigolion Cymru yn trafod eu bywydau pob dydd, eu gwaith a’u diddordebau.
Ymysg y pynciau a drafodir ceir sôn am amaethyddiaeth, crefftau a geirfâu crefft, gwaith tŷ, bwydydd traddodiadol, meddyginiaethau gwerin, chwaraeon, storïau gwerin, canu gwerin, arferion tymhorol, arferion marw a chladdu a charu a phriodi, diwydiannau, tafodieithoedd y Gymraeg a diddordebau hamdden.
Os hoffech wybod sut i olchi praidd o ddefaid neu lanhau sêt tŷ bach bren nes ei bod yn disgleirio, os ydych yn ysu am baratoi penglog ceffyl er mwyn creu Mari Lwyd neu wella gwlithen ar y llygad trwy ddefnyddio malwoden a draenen wen, mae’r manylion oll ar gadw yn ein harchif.
Mae gennym atgofion coliers am geffylau ofergoelus yn y pyllau glo yn dwyn eu baco a’u diod o’u pocedi ac atgofion gwragedd am bobi teisen gwaed gwyddau a pharatoi ffagots a brôn. Mae gennym gasgliad eang o ganeuon gwerin a cherddoriaeth, o blant yn canu caneuon sgipio i recordiadau o gynulleidfaoedd yn canu pwnc.
Recordiwyd dros 5 mil o siaradwyr dros y blynyddoedd o Gaergybi i Gasnewydd ac o Dyddewi i Dreffynnon gan ddiogelu gwybodaeth heb ei hail ar gyfer y dyfodol.
I’r ystadegwyr yn eich plith ceir 798 siaradwr â’r cyfenw Jones yn yr Archif, 415 Williams, 375 Davies, 297 Evans, 246 Thomas a 224 Roberts. Yr enw cyntaf mwyaf poblogaidd ymysg y dynion yw John (272 siaradwr) ac ymysg y merched ceir 144 Mary a 138 Margaret. Ganwyd ein siaradwr hynaf yn 1841 a ganwyd 6 o’n siaradwyr ar ddiwrnod Nadolig.
Gobeithio bod y blog cyntaf hwn wedi ysgogi eich dychymyg ac wedi codi archwaeth am ragor.
Our seaweed collection has become a lot more accessible to the public for research and learning. Selected seaweeds from our collection are now available on the Seaweed Collections Online Website as part of a project in collaboration with other UK museums and herbaria.
The project is a collaboration between museums and botanic gardens from all over the UK, bringing together their seaweed collections into one virtual space. Here at Amgueddfa Cymru, we have been taking images of each specimen so that the public can view them in detail online, along with their associated data. Initially, over 600 specimens will be accessible, with more added as new specimens enter the collection.
Each seaweed specimen is a piece of evidence that shows that a species was at a particular place, at a particular point in time. Combining the data from all UK specimens creates a powerful tool for research, for example to track changes in species distributions. Species chosen for the project include non-natives, indicators of environment change, large brown seaweeds, and those of conservation concern.
Data is searchable via name, date, collector, locality etc., and you can browse images in the media gallery. People wishing to view the actual specimen will be able to find out the institution holding it, to arrange a loan or visit.
The recently acquired Eifion Jones & Margaret Martin collection has 120 specimens represented online. This 1,000-specimen collection, as well as recent collections made by staff at Amgueddfa Cymru, has helped to strengthen the Welsh content of the herbarium.
I'm content when I'm rummaging through old records, photographs or documents. Gleaning through 'stuff' is an unusual pleasure now that I work in the Digital dept, my day-to-day work mostly bereft of bits of paper.
I love the feel of ruffling through collections; whether it's a pile of vinyl, a card catalogue, or a box of old letters and tickets from the last century (it's scary to say that: "I went to a Levellers gig in the last century".)
Nearest and dearest to me are the Screen and Sound Archive at the National Library (where my Father worked until his retirement), and the Archives at St Fagans National History Museum. At St Fagans, the history of those early, radical curators, the background noises they capture, the dialects and the voices have had me in awe for almost a decade now.
It's also a relatively egalitarian collection, that notes the value of women's histories and makes space for us to tell our stories in our own words, to share our songs, recipes, beliefs and superstitions. Paper history doesn't match up somehow, where our voices oftentimes get squished to the margins and footnotes. It must be said that it isn't a completely intersectional collection, though efforts have been made in recent years to address this, for example, in recording stories from LGBT people.
My Grandmother's Voice
I will never forget finding my Grandmother's voice in the archive. She died when I was very young and so I don't remember very much about her, apart from what I've picked up from photos and from her poetry.
She was an excellent storyteller, and it was a privilege to receive a CD of her telling a few tales. Her voice had been there, kept safe all along - and I was bowled over, not just by her turn of phrase and sense of humour, but by the noises my Grandfather was making in the background as he tinkered around. His voice was not as deep as the one I'd committed to memory, and unlocked a drawerfull of memories besides.
This encounter further convinced me that archives deserve to be recognised as inherently meaningful collections, to be treated not as a supporting cast, but as whole collections which deserve pride of place alongside archaeological objects and artwork in our museums.
The Archive Today
I've been working with the team for a while - Richard (@archifSFarchive) who is part of the @DyddiadurKate team, and now with Lowri and Meinwen, who look after the manuscripts and sound archive. I've been showing them how to use our blogging platform, so hopefully we'll see a bit more of the life of those collections online soon.
Within the digital department, we're busy revamping our pages on Welsh traditions and folksongs. While that work is going on, I've been looking in more detail at how we could potentially reach a wider audience by sharing sound clips on social platforms.
Sharing Sound Socially
The platforms we currently run - twitter, facebook and tumblr - seemed too ephemeral somehow.
Tweets don't live long enough, especially since we have so many accounts running in St Fagans; and the data shows us that our facebook fans are more interested in our events programme than our collections. Something as focussed as oral history or folk music could easily get lost or miss its mark.
So, I asked Gareth and Rhodri about their experiences of sharing music on soundcloud, bandcamp etc. I decided to create a package our of existing digitised material using bandcamp, and to release them all in one go, father than drip-feed them on the blog or on twitter.
One of the lovely things about bandcamp is the ability to add more information, like sheet music, lyrics and the history of the recording, and that I'm able to package things in an 'album' style. I was also really keen to use the 'pay if you like' function to see if we could open up a small donations stream that could be evaluated in the future.
Most of the recordings were made by Roy Saer. The sheet music and sound was arranged by Meinwen Ruddock-Jones in the archive, and additional research carried out by Emma Lile. The cover for the collection is held in our art department, and is attributed to the travelling artist W J Champan.
I used Canva to tie together the older scans of the sheet music, and to add a word or two about the archive's history. If there are any errors, therefore, they are mine! Enjoy, share, sing, donate and experiment - and if you have any feedback, please pop it in the comments!