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A Window into the Industry Collections

Mark Etheridge, 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 £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.

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

Snowman by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, 1850s

Snowman by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, 1850s

Big Pit in the snow, 1978

Big Pit in the snow, 1978

Oil painting of Thomas Jenkins, 1879

Oil painting of Thomas Jenkins, 1879

Oil painting of Susannah Jenkins, 1879

Oil painting of Susannah Jenkins, 1879

Coal from Abercraf Colliery, 1990s

Coal from Abercraf Colliery, 1990s

Badge sold to raise money for the Lesbians & Gaymen Support the Miners fund, 1985

Badge sold to raise money for the Lesbians & Gaymen Support the Miners fund, 1985

Penrikyber badge produced during the 1984-85 miners' strike

Penrikyber badge produced during the 1984-85 miners' strike

30th anniversary of the Miners' Strike medallion 1984 - 2014

30th anniversary of the Miners' Strike medallion 1984 - 2014

The Wemyss Mine Limited share certificate, 1885

The Wemyss Mine Limited share certificate, 1885

Cardiff Castle Gold Mines Limited share certificate, 1895

Cardiff Castle Gold Mines Limited share certificate, 1895

Sinking of Wyllie Colliery, Sirhowy Valley, 1925/26

Sinking of Wyllie Colliery, Sirhowy Valley, 1925/26

2nd class ticket said to have been used on the last train to run from Gorseinon to Swansea (Victoria), 13 June 1964

2nd class ticket said to have been used on the last train to run from Gorseinon to Swansea (Victoria), 13 June 1964

Cyflwyno Kate

Elen Phillips, 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.

Diary with a red cover and the words C. & J. PENNY’S IMPROVED DIARY FOR 1915 in black ink

Front of cover of Kate Ellis' diary – C. & J. PENNY’S IMPROVED DIARY FOR 1915.

First World War collections

Elen Phillips, 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.

Butterfly shaped cotton belt buckle, decorated with wire and glass beads.

Butterfly shaped cotton belt buckle, decorated with wire and glass beads. Made by Corporal Walter Stinson of the 11th (County of London) Battalion (Finsbury Rifles) when a patient at the St Fagans Red Cross VAD Hospital.

Bronze memorial plaque, often known as the 'Dead Man's Penny'. Relief of Britannia holding a laurel wreath, surrounded by the inscription: 'HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR BRINDLEY [sic] RYHS [sic] EDMUNDS'

Bronze memorial plaque, often known as the 'Dead Man's Penny'. Relief of Britannia holding a laurel wreath, surrounded by the inscription: 'HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR BRINDLEY [sic] RYHS [sic] EDMUNDS'. Sent to the family of Private Brinley Rhys Edmunds of Dunraven St, Barry.

Attachments for a prosthetic arm. Worn by John Williams of Penrhyncoch who was wounded in one arm during the First World War.

Weather warnings

Penny Tomkins, 12 December 2014

Hello bulb buddies!

Merry Christmas and many thanks for sending me your data. Keep it coming!

We are getting an interesting picture of how the weather has varied across the country. Last week, Carnforth North Road Primary School in Lancashire, England reported a low temperature of 3°C and Mossend Primary School Primary School in Bellshill, Scotland reported 13°C for the same day! That’s quite a difference! If you’ve had extreme weather you can use the map to look at records from other schools on the same day and compare. Let me know if you find anything interesting!

I’m very interested to see what your records show for the last week. The Met Office (the UK’s official weather service) predicted colder temperatures and perhaps even snow in some areas! If you have snow perhaps you could ask your teacher to send in pictures, I would love to see them and might even post some on the bulb blog.

A yellow warning was given for wind, snow and ice in some areas of the UK. A yellow warning means that there is a possibility of bad weather in some parts of the country. The Met Office warn us about bad weather so that we can be prepared for it. This is because extreme weather (such as strong winds and ice) can cause difficulties and make it harder to travel. Sometimes roads, train lines and even schools close because of bad weather.

The colour chart below shows other colours used as a code for how strong the weather is.


Green: weather not expected to be extreme.

Yellow: possibility of extreme weather so you should be aware of it.

Amber (orange): strong chance of the weather effecting you in some way, so be prepared.

Red: extreme weather expected, on red warning days your parents might check for road closures before planning journeys.

The Met Office also use symbols to indicate what type of weather to expect. The symbols below show (in order) a red warning for rain, green for wind and snow, amber for ice and green for fog. This means there will be heavy rain and that you should prepare for ice. Why not have a look at the Met Office website and see what the weather forecast is for where you live?

Symbolau i ddangos pa fath o dywydd i’w ddisgwyl (delwedd y Swyddfa Dywydd).

Keep up the good work bulb buddies!

Professor Plant

Your questions, my answers:

Stanford in the Vale Primary School - Lots of rain on Monday, then hardly any during the week! The weather has started to get really cold, especially on Wednesday and frost this morning on Friday, the children are still hoping for snow!!!The children have made up a song for recording the weather and temperature - so we have named them the singing scientists. Prof P - Hello Singing Scientists, what a fantastic nickname! You all sound like a happy bunch and I’m sure that all the singing can only be benefiting your bulbs! Could you possibly send me your song lyrics or a recording of you singing? You are not the only school to have noted Wednesday as cold! Both Ysgol Rhys Prichard and Ysgol Hiraddug commented that they had heavy ground frost on Wednesday.

Glyncollen Primary School - One of our mystery bulbs is also starting to grow. We are all wondering what flower it is going to be. We are enjoying this project. Thank you Professor Plant. Blwyddyn 4. Prof P – Hello Bwyddyn 4, I’m so glad you are enjoying the project! It’s very exciting that your mystery bulb has started growing! Could you send me a picture? And keep me updated, I’d like to know when it flowers and what you think it might be! 

St. Ignatius Primary School – lots of our plants have died already! Prof P – Hello St. Ignatius, I’m very sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your bulbs. I will be in touch to find out more. Meanwhile, if any other schools are experiencing problems please get in touch!

The Website is Changing

Chris Owen, 11 December 2014

If you’ve been browsing our Visiting or Learning pages recently, you may have noticed a new look to those areas. From 9th December 2014, we are trialling parts of a new, updated Amgueddfa Cymru website with you.

Visit the Homepage

We need your feedback to help make these new pages as good as they can be. If there’s anything that didn’t work for you; anything that you found confusing or difficult to use; any information that you couldn’t find easily; or anything that you’d like to see improved, please let us know. Equally, if there are things that you really liked about the pages, we’d still love to hear from you!

Send Feedback

Why update the website?

During an extensive study of the existing website, we identified many areas where we think we can improve.

One of our core aims is to bring you the information you need more quickly and with less fuss. We are doing this by improving our content, simplifying our navigation and reducing the clutter on our pages.

With these new pages we want to bring you a fresh, modern web experience and one that works equally well on any device you may be using - be it a mobile, tablet, screen-reader or desktop computer. Visiting each of our seven museums is a unique experience and we also hope to bring a little more of that flavour of that to the web.

These are just a few of the ways we want to make the website better. We will be doing more work on all this in the coming weeks and months.

Coming in 2015

During the first half of 2015 you will see more and more areas of the website updated and improved. New Collections, Curatorial, Venue Hire and Blog pages will follow soon, as well as a new, updated Online Shop.

We will use any lessons learnt during this period to make sure that every area of the website is as good as we can possibly make it.

Your feedback and input to the new site will help us make that happen. And, of course, this is just the beginning.

Update 1 - 16 January 2015

Huge thanks to everyone who sent their feedback to us over the past few weeks. There are too many bug fixes and updates to list here, but here are a few of the changes we've made so far:

What's On:

  • The calendar feature has been restored - you can now view events on a chosen date.
  • Added the option to view events at all our museums.
  • Show 'List View' by default.
  • Added images, suitability and cost information to the List View.
  • View and date choices are now 'sticky', so they won't reset as you switch pages.

Blogs - this is the new, redesigned blog area. We hope you like it.

Website Search - A number of broken links were fixed. We also improved the display of search results on mobile phones.

Update Collections databases - Paleontology, Mineralogy of Wales, Mollusca, Vertebrate and Marine Invertebrates database all redesigned and updated.

Using the website
new beta homepage
Highlights page
St Fagans Homepgae