Author Archives: davidjcollier

About davidjcollier

Originally from South Wales I have lived in Nottinghamshire for over forty years. I am married and have three grown up children and two grandchildren. Having worked in education for 43 years I will retire in July 2012. My interests include history (general, local and family), rugby union, swimming, photography, bird watching and gardening. For the benefit of anyone who may actually read this (extremely unlikely, I admit) please do not confuse 'interests' with knowledge or skill. My involvement in a community project which aims to rescue a graveyard from the effects of almost 30 years of neglect. also keeps me quite busy.

A very busy place!

When we look at the mountainsides above Troedyrhiw and other settlements in our valley today it is difficult to imagine that they were once alive with the activities of the coal mining industry. As I grew up in the village in the 1950’s and 60’s there was still quite a lot of evidence to be seen but by now most of this has been eradicated by the various developments that have taken place over the years.


OUR DISAPPEARING HERITAGE

In the Merthyr area and elsewhere many historic sites and structures from our rich industrial past have, sadly, been lost.

I was recently reminded of one such example when I came across an interesting article from the Merthyr Express dated 30 September 1976. This describes a ‘balance sheave’ which had stood in a quarry above Troedyrhiw and, from the 1830’s-40’s until the 1920’s, had been used to lower trams loaded with building stone down the mountainside.

I have clear memories of the remains of the balance sheave still being in place while I was growing up in the village through the 1950’s and 60’s and this seems to have survived until after extensive landscaping was carried out in, I think, the late 1970’s. Does anyone know how and why this important part of our heritage was allowed to disappear?


WW2 CASUALTY WITH LINKS TO TROEDYRHIW NOT NAMED ON VILLAGE WAR MEMORIAL

A memorial inscription found on a headstone in Saron Graveyard, Troedyrhiw refers to David Glyndwr Davies who was killed while “on active service” during World War Two. From the small amount of information that we have been able to gather it seems that:-

  • his maternal grandparents were David Williams (d. 1893) and Sarah Williams (d. 1938);
  • a birth for a David Glyndwr Davies was registered at Merthyr Tydfil for April 1918;
  • prior to his military service he had probably married Joyce E. M. Hills and had been living in Kent;
  • he was known as ‘Glyn’;
  • he held the rank of Lance Corporal in the Royal Engineers and his service number was 21275678;
  • he is buried in Woolwich Cemetery in London.

We are left wondering about a number of things including:-

  1. Was David Glyndwr Davies born and brought up in Troedyrhiw?
  2. Had he, perhaps, worked in the local mining industry before moving to the Kent coalfield to work?
  3. Should his name be inscribed on Troedyrhiw War Memorial as others who, at the time of their death, were former residents of the village are?
  4. Where did David Glyndwr Davies die?
  5. What were the circumstances of his death?

If you can provide any information that will help to unravel this puzzle we will be most grateful.


TROEDYRHIW & WORLD WAR TWO

FOLLOWING ON FROM YESTERDAY’S VE DAY COMMEMORATION.

In addition to the names of 56 men from Troedyrhiw who lost their lives during the Great War of 1914 – 1918 Troedyrhiw War Memorial carries the names of an additional 17 men from the village under the following inscription:-

“In remembrance of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War 1939 – 1945.”

BOWEN W.G.
DAVIES R.T.
DINGRAM W.
EVANS E.J.
EVANS I.
EVANS W.
GRIFFITHS J.
HINGLTON J.
HUMPHRIES I.M.
JONES J.P.
OWENS T.
PHILLIPS T.
RYAN J.M.
SCRIVENS C.E.
SKENFELD A.B.
SULLIVAN C.
WATKINS W.K.

If you have information on any of those named above we would be most grateful if you would contact us at friendsofsaron@gmail.com


Some good news for a local heritage project

We realise that, whilst we are still in the grip of a terrible health crisis, this is no time for wild celebration but FRIENDS OF SARON are extremely pleased to confirm that extensive work on the boundary walls of Saron Graveyard, Troedyrhiw is due to begin once the contractors have resolved a few remaining issues. We are extremely grateful to both the landowner and leaseholder for making this possible. Ten years of pursuing our case through polite request and gentle persuasion seem to have paid off!  Our small group of volunteers look forward to continuing the programme of improvement work within the graveyard as soon as circumstances will allow. The ultimate success of this project will, however, require support from the local and wider communities to be expanded. Please help us in any way that you can. Contact us at friendsofsaron@gmail.com , via the Friends of Saron Facebook page or on 07854079361. Thank you.


Valuing our past enriches our future

Gravestones, lean, names fade

Remains of loved ones

Lie forgotten in the old graveyard

They had once walked in our village

Raising families, working, playing

Now as we moved among the dead

Trying to tidy up their resting place

We wondered if anybody cared.

  Phil Howells

As we take the first steps in, hopefully, coming out of the current health crisis it might be a good time to reflect on the lives of our forebears and some of the trials and tribulations that they had to endure. Wars, economic depression, mass unemployment, industrial accidents, the 1918 – 1919 influenza pandemic all impacted on the people of Troedyrhiw and the wider world. The stories behind the inscriptions on the memorials in Saron Graveyard in the village give us a glimpse of the lives that they led and, in some cases, the tragic circumstances in which they died. The information revealed by examining the stones themselves and exploring family histories and official records provides much of interest. Occupations noted, for example, include coal miner, housewife, saddler, mechanic, farrier, carpenter, cordwainer, publican, shopkeeper, bandmaster, stoker, butcher, engineer, railman, chapel minister, schoolchild, infant, J.P., stonemason, gardener, chemist, soldier and sailor.

We strongly believe that valuing our historic environment through initiatives such as the Saron Graveyard Project, Troedyrhiw not only celebrates our past but also enriches our future. What do you think?


Nature at Saron, Troedyrhiw

More nature pics taken over the last year or two in Saron Graveyard, Troedyrhiw.


A temporary suspension of this project in Troedyrhiw

During the continuing public health emergency the Saron Graveyard Project, Troedyrhiw has been unable to move forward. But our volunteers remain as determined as ever to rescue this important local asset while maintaining a balance between wildlife and heritage. As soon as it is a safe to do so we expect that contractors will move onto the site to carry out planned work and our volunteers will resume the programme of improvement activities. Meanwhile, all we can do is keep safe which we hope that all of you are also doing. Watch this space for future updates on this project and many thanks for your interest and support.


TROEDYRHIW LIDO

In response to a recent request I am posting the following information and photographs relating to Troedyrhiw Lido:-

An article published in the Merthyr Express in 1964 stated that “the year 1934 was not a prosperous one for the people of South Wales.” It went on to explain that “a landlord living in Llanishen, Cardiff who rejoiced in the name of Patrick Wyndham Murray Threipland owned land in Troedyrhiw. His wife Eleanor decided that she would do something for the people of Troedyrhiw.” A meeting was called in the village and it was decided to construct the swimming pool which became known as ‘Troedyrhiw Lido’ on the mountainside. “Mr Murray Threipland provided all the materials necessary and the men of the village wielded picks and shovels voluntarily (in a location that was previously the site of the ‘Old Reservoir’). Their reward came when the work was completed and the pool was opened (in 1935) by Lady Howard Stepney, the mother of Mr Murray Threipland.” ‘Troedyrhiw Bathing Pool Committee’ remained active in the village and in 1937 the ‘Troedyrhiw Free Bathing Pool institute’ was opened for the use mainly of elderly residents. The Merthyr Express reported that, as with the construction of the Lido, the costs of the acquisition of the building for the Institute and its refurbishment “have again been borne by Mr and Mrs Murray Threipland”. The building that housed the institute is today used by Troedyrhiw Scouts.

Sadly, the story passed down in the Murray Threipland family is that “following the generous donation of the pool etc some of the younger element of Troedyrhiw saw fit to roll large boulders down the mountain and into the pool – thus rendering it unusable.”

Thanks for some of this must go to the ‘Old Merthyr Tydfil’ website.

P.S. Can you guess which one of those in the 1950’s family photo is me?


The bus to Merthyr

This image from a postcard of the early 1900’s shows a horse drawn bus or ‘brake’ on Troedyrhiw Square. Claude Stanfield mentions this as follows in his autobiography:-

“Another feature before the First World War was the passenger service between Troedyrhiw and Merthyr which was serviced by the horse drawn brake. The terminal points were the Troedyrhiw Square and the Market Tavern Public House which was part of the market structure in Merthyr. Part of the Troedyrhiw Square, the side nearest the Boys’ School (now the Infants School) was made up with cobble stones and in the centre of the Square was a large gas street lamp. The horses and their brakes would wait on these cobble stones until a suitable number of people took their seats for the journey either to Pentrebach, Abercanaid or Merthyr. The brake usually had a seating capacity for 12 persons, six on each side. The brake was drawn by a pair of horses; brake and horses were owned by the Williams brothers known to everyone as Billy and Tommy the Mount. The horses were stabled next door to where they lived at the bottom of Yew Street. The Fox and Hounds in Troedyrhiw and the Market Tavern in Merthyr were very suitable terminal points and Tommy and Billy were very good customers. One of the horses was well known to everyone, he was named Ginger, very reliable for getting the brothers home whatever may be their condition at the end of the day. Both terminals were good feeding grounds for the birds, always enjoying the spillage coming from the horse feed bags. Pigeons made their home near these feeding grounds. The journey to Merthyr in good weather could be very pleasant as far as sightseeing was concerned but a little bumpy, the roads were rough and undulating. The fare was only a few pence and the service was well supported, it being very convenient for passengers who could get off at any point of the journey and to many, it was more suitable than the train service which had only one stop between Troedyrhiw and Merthyr which was at Abercanaid. The journey both ways had one permanent stop which was suitable for the convenience of the brothers Billy and Tommy, and that was the Mardy Hotel at the bottom of the town of Merthyr. They would hold up the brake just for a few minutes outside of this Hotel for the purpose of some liquid refreshment. It was no good the passengers protesting, this was accepted as one of the hazards of the journey. With the ending of the First World War, the brakes and their horses were being replaced by engine powered vehicles. Harrisons double decker bus and Snows, also the son in law of the Craze family who lived in the Ash Road Houses near Castle Pit, had buses providing the services from the Valleys to Merthyr. E. T. Jones of Yew Street, a provision merchant, started a service from Troedyrhiw to the Merthyr Vale Collieries. We used to call the old red bus the Red Cow.”