At last Thursday’s meeting of the Senior Citizens’ Group at the Willows Friends of Saron, in partnership with Merthyr Library, showed a film made during the Festival of Britain celebrations in Troedyrhiw in 1951.
An audience of 60, including many who could recall these events, was impressed by the quality and range of activities which were on offer to the thousands of people who thronged the streets and packed the various venues at this time; something that was to be repeated in succeeding years (Music & Arts Festival, 1952 and the Coronation, 1953). Some of the on-screen footage was greeted with surprise and delight as faces and scenes which had long been forgotten were, once again, brought to life. Friends of Saron would like to thank Rhianwen Long and Mary Oates of Merthyr Library for making the showing of this film possible.
Some of the week’s events were:-
- Sunday parade headed by Troedyrhiw Silver Band.
- Street parties held at 25 different locations around the village.
- Baby show at which the ‘champion baby’ was Wynford P. Read.
- Crowning of the Festival Queen, Jean James.
- Nos Lawen including singing, dancing, amusing sketches and a ‘Go as you please’ competition.
- A camp fire sing-a-long opened by champion boxer Eddie Thomas.
- Festival dance with Vernon Smith’s Band at St John’s Hall.
- Performances of ‘The Vigil’, a play by Ladislas Fodor, at Nazareth and Saron chapels.
- A fancy dress competition which was won by Norman Edwards and Elinor
- Carnival Parade including ‘Hawaiian Beauties’ (Merthyr Road Children) and ‘Bubbles’ (Saron Sunday School Children).
- Tableaux mounted on lorries including Trevithick’s Engine (Saron Chapel), Early Iron Foundry (Carmel Chapel), Development of Coal Industry (Mount Zion Chapel), 100 Years of Fashion (Troedyrhiw Women’s Club).
- Sports and games including, doubles tennis at Troedyrhiw Park, swimming at Gwaunfarren Baths and races and a women’s football match at the Willows (Troedyrhiw Belles lost 1-3 to Ash Grove Ladies).
- A motor treasure hunt which was won by Mr T. J. Lewis.
- A shop window display competition which was won by James & Son.
- Religious services including a Memorial service at the War Memorial attended by a contingent of the Royal Welsh Regiment and community singing at the final thanksgiving service held at Nazareth Church.
Watch this film online by copying and pasting this link into your browser:- http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-festival-of-britain-year-1951-merthyr-tydfil-1951/
Fifty Years a Borough, published in 1955, explained – “As regards the cultural life of the Borough, the most enterprising district in recent years has been Troedyrhiw ——— In Festival of Britain and Coronation celebrations Troedyrhiw took the lead. In 1951 this district was the first to arrange a local festival week.”
A selection of historic photographs and newspaper extracts which were also on display generated much interest and discussion. It is hoped that a future event can be arranged for residents who would like to bring along photographs or other items of personal and local meaning. With their permission copies will be made together with permanent records of their recollections and feelings for addition to local historical collections.
If any reader has any interesting old photographs or other items that they would be willing to share then please get in touch eg by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org