22 December 2014,
With Christmas almost upon us I thought I'd start this month's blog with a few wintery scene from our photographic collections. The first was taken by the Welsh photographer John Dillwyn Llewelyn (1810-1882) during the 1850s on his estate at Penllergare near Swansea. It is very likely to be the first photograph of a Welsh snowman! The second shows Big Pit colliery, Blaenafon (now Big Pit: National Mining Museum) in the snow in 1978.
This month has seen quite a number of new additions to the industry collections. One of the most interesting are these two oil on canvas portraits of Thomas Jenkins and his wife Susannah. Thomas Jenkins was owner of the Avon Vale Tinplate Works (which opened in 1866) and Aberavon Tinplate Works (which opened in 1875), both located at Aberavon, Port Talbot. After his death in 1891, his shareholding was inherited by his two daughters, one of whom had married Colonel David Roderick David, one of Thomas Jenkins' co-partners in the Avon Vale Tinplate Works. The other married William M. Jones, a local ship owner whose vessel 'Sisters' is recalled by the family as having carried the works' product for export.
Neither works are signed nor dated, but both are inscribed on the reverse by the sitters. The inscription states that they sat on their respective 71st and 66th birthdays in February 1879.
This piece of coal was removed by open cast methods from a coal pillar left in the 9' seam at Abercraf Colliery workings in the late 1990s. We have a number of samples in our collection of coal from various Welsh pits including, some mounted like this one, but also many samples collected on the last working day of various collieries.
Many of you will have seen the recent film 'Pride'. If so you'll know the amazing true story of how a group of gay men and women raised funds to help families affected by the miners' strike. This badge was purchased by the donor "at an all night fundraiser for mining families held at the Scala cinema in Kings' Cross in early 1985. At the time they were sold for ÃÂ£2.50 each (which was quite a lot in 1985) with all proceeds going to straight to the Lesbians & Gaymen Support the Miners fund."
We have also had a number of other donations this month relating to the 1984-85 miners' strike. This badge was produced during the 1984-85 miners' strike, and was apparently designed by Tyrone Jenkins, a South Wales cartoonist. We would love to know more if anyone has any information.
2014 was the 30th anniversary of the start of the strike, and this limited edition medallion commemorates this.
We have added a further two share certificates this month to our collection. The first is for The Wemyss Mine Limited, and is dated 1885. The first Wemyss Mine Ltd. Company was floated in 1880 to acquire the Wemyss lead mine adjacent to the Frongoch lead mine near Pontrhydygroes in mid-Wales. After its collapse in 1884 it was replaced by a second company of the same name registered in 1884, to which this certificate relates. In the years 1885-1889 when worked by this company, the mine employed only a dozen men and produced very modest tonnages of lead and zinc ores. The company ceased work in 1889 and was struck off in 1894.
The second certificate very surprisingly relates to the Cardiff Castle Gold Mine!! No, there isn't gold under the castle! This was actually an Australian enterprise run by Welsh emigrants located in the internationally famous Coolgardie goldfields in Western Australia. The company was London-registered in 1895 and so the name probably served as both a sentimental attachment for the emigrants as well as a marketing tool to attract British investors.
This photograph shows the sinking of Wyllie Colliery in the Sirhowy Valley in 1925/26. Wyllie Colliery was sunk by the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, and named after a director of the company, Alexander Keith Wyllie. It was the last deep mine to be sunk in Monmouthshire, and one of the last in south Wales. The colliery was closed by the National Coal Board in March 1968.
Finally, this 2nd class single ticket is said to have been used on the last train to run from Gorseinon to Swansea (Victoria). It is dated 13 June 1964.
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW
19 December 2014,
Dw i wrth fy modd yn twrio yn storfeydd yr Amgueddfa. Sdim byd gwell na darganfod gwrthrychau sydd heb weld golau dydd ers degawdau. Llynedd, tra'n chwilota am gasgliadau o gyfnod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, fe ddes i ar draws dyddiadur o'r flwyddyn 1915 mewn amlen yn yr archif. Wrth bori'r tudalennau, a thrafod gyda chydweithwyr, fe daeth hi'n amlwg fod stori'r perchennog yn haeddu cynulleidfa ehangach. Felly, dyma ni - croeso i brosiect @DyddiadurKate.
Eleni, i gyd-fynd a rhaglen yr Amgueddfa i goffau canmlwyddiant y Rhyfel Mawr, mi fydd tim ohonom yn trydar cynnwys y dyddiadur yn ddyddiol - canrif union ers i Kate Ellis, merch ffarm o ardal y Bala, nodi ei gweithgareddau beunyddiol yn ei blwyddlyfr bach coch. Ar y pryd, roedd Kate (Rowlands yn ddiweddarach) yn ei hugeiniau cynnar ac yn byw gyda'i rhieni - Ellis Robert Ellis a'i wraig Alice Jane Ellis - yn Tyhen, gerllaw pentre'r Sarnau. Wrth drydar y dyddiadur, byddwn yn defnyddio sillafu, atalnodi a thafodiaith y ddogfen wreiddiol.
Nid dyddiadur ymsonol mo hwn - peidiwch a disgwyl cyfrinachau o'r galon. Yn hytrach, yr hyn a gawn yw cipolwg ar fywyd dyddiol yng nghefn gwlad Meirionnydd ar ddechre'r ugeinfed ganrif - o'r tywydd a thasgau amaethyddol i brysurdeb diwylliannol y fro. Prin iawn yw cyfeiriadau Kate at y Rhyfel, er i nifer o drigolion yr ardal ymuno a'r lluoedd arfog. Ond mae hynny ynddo'i hun yn ddiddorol - iddi hi, ar yr wyneb beth bynnag, roedd bywyd yn mynd yn ei flaen fel arfer.
Cadwch lygad ar y blog am ragor o fanylion am y prosiect ac i glywed mwy am y bobl a'r digwyddiadau sy'n cael eu crybwyll yn y dyddiadur. Cofiwch hefyd ddilyn @DyddiadurKate o ddydd Calan ymlaen i olrhain ei hanes drwy gydol 2015.
Tro nesaf: Ar drywydd Kate Ellis.
17 December 2014,
After months of behind the scenes activity - rummaging in stores, researching, documenting, conserving and digitising - Amgueddfa Cymru's First World War catalogue is now online. At the moment, the catalogue includes over 500 records - archives, photographs and objects from the collections housed here at St Fagans. New records will be uploaded over the next few weeks, including some fantastic additions from the industry collections. We'll keep you posted.
I can't tell you how much this project has meant to me and my colleagues. It may sound corny, but we really do feel emotionally connected to the people whose lives are commemorated in the collections. From Walter Stinson's delicate beadwork jewellery, to Brinley Rhys Edmunds and his typo-ridden memorial plaque, these stories have captured our imagination. To us, Walter and Brinley are no longer anonymous names on file.
Talking of files, it hasn't been easy to pull-together our First World War collections. When curators speak of "newly-discovered" or "hidden" objects, please don't think that museums are full of misplaced or lost items - there are no "dusty vaults" here! The issue is usually a lack of documentation - the information stored on file which helps us to locate and interpret the collections in our care. Collecting methodologies have changed over the years, so too standards in documentation.
Many objects featured in the database were originally catalogued according to their function, making it difficult for present-day curators to draw-out their First World War significance. A classic example being a set of prosthetic arm attachments used by John Williams of Penrhyncoch. These were found in the medical collections, catalogued in 1966 under "orthopaedic equipment". By chance, I was looking at the accession file a few months ago and found a scribbled note saying "wounded in one arm during WW1". If only the curator had asked more questions at the time, especially given that John Williams himself donated the arm attachments to the Museum!
Thankfully, accession files are never closed indefinitely. New research and the reassessment of collections through community partnerships means that we're constantly editing and tweaking our records. So, if you knew a John Williams from Penrhyncoch who lost an arm during the First World War, please do get in touch.
28 November 2014,
The 14th October 2014 was the 101st anniversary of the Universal Colliery disaster at Senghenydd. 440 people were killed in this disaster on the 14th October 1913. It is still the worst mining disaster in the U.K. Last year on the centennial of the disaster a Welsh National Memorial to all mine disasters was unveiled on the site of the pit head. The memorial can be seen on the front of this memorial service programme acquired recently.
You can read an article on this disaster on our website. It is also possible to view all the objects from our collections that relate to this disaster on our ‘Images of Industry’ online database. Check it all out here
This interesting autograph book was donated this month. The book contains autographs, inscriptions and drawings connected with the South Wales Miners Federation, and most date to 1926. There are also some inscriptions relating to the Spanish Civil War. The photograph here shows the main inscription on the inside of the front cover.
This month also saw the launch of our First World War online database. It currently contains all objects and documents from the social & cultural history collections. It will soon include all our WW1 related objects from the industry collections as well. The site can be viewed here
To complement the launch of this database, staff from across Amgueddfa Cymru were involved in an ‘Explore Your Archives’ event held at the Oakdale Institute at St. Fagans: National History Museum. This event was an opportunity to show some original documents and photographs to members of the public, and promote the work we do in looking after these important collections.
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW
28 October 2014,
During October we were fortunate to be donated this interesting gunpowder bag used at Curtis's and Harvey Ltd.’s gunpowder factory in Glynneath. Their monogram can be seen on the front of the cotton bag. It was used by the donor's great grandmother Elizabeth Thomas. She left school aged about 14 to work on a farm, but later began work at this gunpowder factory during the First World War. This timely donation allowed us to put this object on display at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea in the exhibition “Working for Victory: Welsh Industry and the First World War” which runs until 15th March 2015.
This month we purchased three share certificates to add to our important collection of Welsh share certificates.
The first is for five £100 shares for The Abercwmeiddaw Slate Quarry Company Limited and is dated 1898. It was a Liverpool based company registered in 1876 to acquire the slate quarry of the same name at Corris which had been opened in the 1840s. The company operated as a middle size quarry (in 1882 it employed 188 men producing 4,000 tons of slate) until it was wound up in 1905 as the Welsh trade declined. A new company of similar name was formed in 1911 and reopened the quarry on a smaller scale, until ceasing to exist in 1938.
The second certificate is for one £50 share in the Pen-y-Bryn Slate Company Limited, and is dated 1882. Registered in 1881 to acquire slate quarries at Nantlle that originated in the eighteenth century and which had been worked on some scale since the 1830s. The company was a typical mid-sized concern, operating four quarry pits serviced by Blondins in typical Nantlle style. In 1883 it employed 240 men and produced 5,000 tons of slate. The company failed in 1887 and the quarry closed until 1895 when it was reopened on a smaller scale until the 1940s.
The final certificate is printed on vellum and is a £50 share in the Blaenavon Iron & Coal Company, and is dated 8 September 1836. This company was an early joint stock company (with an enormous capital of £40,000) established to acquire the iron works and collieries from the Hill family and their partners. The new company considerably expanded the works and began a new works at Forgeside, built many houses, and introduced steam locomotives, making the works one of the leading UK iron producers. It became a limited liability concern in 1864.
On 26th August 1892 at explosion at Parc Slip Colliery killed 112 men and boys. This new accession is one of two booklets of letters for the Tondu Explosion Relief (Cardiff) Fund which would have been sent out to raise money for the relief fund. They are dated Town Hall, Cardiff 3rd September 1892.
We have a small collection of objects and photographs relating to this disaster including a commemorative mug which can be seen here
This brick was manufactured at one of the Hedley Brothers collieries, probably in the Bryncoch area. It was recovered from the building known as St. Peters Schoolroom on Brecon Road, Pontardawe. Amgueddfa Cymru holds the Welsh national collection of bricks, and this is an important addition.
The final object this month is a colliery official’s yardstick (also known as Deputy's stick). It was used by the last N.C.B. Manager at Big Pit before it closed as a working mine in 1979. A yardstick was carried by officials as an aid in the process of testing for gas. Before about 1960 there was a hole at the top of the stick into which the deputy could fit the hook of his lamp in order to raise it into the roof to test gas. More recently a special sampling valve could be fitted onto the ferrule at the other end of the stick in order that gas samples could be taken using a sampling bulb which is then injected into a Garforth type safety lamp.
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW