Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


Staff at Amgueddfa Cymru work across a number of different departments. These departments do not work in isolation, but staff work together to look after the collections preserved for the people of Wales.

The industry and transport photographic collections comprise over 206,000 images, covering all aspects of Welsh industrial, maritime and transport activity. One of the greatest treasures held within this rich collection is the Hansen Collection, which comprises of 4,569 negatives (two-thirds glass, and a third film) of ships mainly at Cardiff. These were taken by members of the Hansen family between 1920 and 1975. They provide an amazing photographic record of shipping activity at the port during those years. You can find out more about the history of this collection by reading this article from 2011.

One of our main aims is to make all the collections we look after more accessible. When we purchased the Hansen Collection in 1979, the first stage in the process of making the collection available was to compile a catalogue. Initially a handwritten catalogue was produced which could be consulted in the photographic research room. Then in 1996 the catalogue was published under the title “the Hansen Shipping Photographic Collection” making the contents of this collection available to a wider audience. A few years ago I worked on converting this catalogue into a digital format so that it could be placed on the museum website. It is now available for anyone to search, and find vessels they are interested in. The online catalogue has greatly improved access to this collection, and we have had enquires from all over the world because of it. People might be researching a particular ship and are looking for an image of it. A family member might have worked on the vessel and so someone might be interested in seeing what the ship looked like.

Following placing the catalogue online the next stage has been to input information on each negative onto our collections management database. A number of staff are currently involved in this, including myself and staff working in the History & Archaeology and Collections Services departments. We have so far put just over 1,500 negatives onto the system. It is a long process, especially as we are repacking the collection into conservation grade packing as we go along.  

As well as preserving the collection and making information on the collection available, we also need to digitise each negative. This will provide us with a record shot, meaning that we can minimize the handling of the original. This is especially important as so much of the collection is made up of fragile glass plates. We have made a start on this, and have so far digitsed 572 negatives. Our intention is now to continue this work and digitise the remainder of the collection.

We will be doing a series of blogs on various aspects of the process to make this collection accessible, and will be blogging on cataloguing and adding the collection to our database, repacking the collection, and the digitisation process. Check back to see how we are getting on with this important photographic collection.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

[update - voting is now closed, thanks to all who took part and look out for the winners very soon!]

Christmas Comes Early - When You're the One Designing the Cards

As summer comes to an end we are busy working on our 2015 Christmas cards and would like your help.

Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales has the most wonderful and diverse collections and we like to take inspiration from them when producing our Christmas cards.

Our curators have been scoring the collections looking for objects, paintings, photographs and specimens that shout Christmas and we have selected some images as potential cards for this year.

Help Us Choose - Vote For Your Favourite

We’d like you to help us make our final choice of six by voting for your favourite three images.

Natural History Collage 1

Natural History Collage 2

Natural Sciences Collage 3

These images have been created by the Digital Imaging Officer in our Natural Science Department. Look closely and you’ll see that these snowflakes and tree are not what they seem.

Quilt 1 (Hexagons)

Quilt 2 (Triangles)

Red and white applique quilts from the textile collections at St Fagans National History Museum. The red used is usually referred to as Turkey red!

Pine Cone Illustration

This pine cone is botanical illustration from our Natural Sciences department at National Museum Cardiff.

Welsh Woman by John Thomas

This photography of a Welsh lady comes from our photographic archive at St Fagans National History Museum, and was taken by John Thomas, an early travelling photographer.


This photograph shows children enjoying the Welsh tradition of Calennig, a celebration of New Year. It is from the photographic archive at St Fagans National History Museum.

Robin (Taxidermy)

This beautiful piece of taxidermy of a robin is from our Natural Science collections.


This illustration of turkeys by Pierre Belon comes from our Library at National Museum Cardiff.

History of British Birds 1

History of British Birds 2

These two beautiful illustrations from the History of British Birds 4th edition and was suggested by our Librarians at National Museum Cardiff.


This striking poinsettia image is also from our Library at National Museum Cardiff.

Star Map from the 1500s

Another suggestion from our Library, this is an illustration from a C16th star map.

Christmas Wreath

A photograph of a Christmas wreath hung on the door of St Fagans Castle.

Hand-Knitted Socks

A row of hand knitted sock from the textile collections at St Fagans National History Museum.

Which one is your favourite? Don't forget to cast your vote!

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