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.

Life was hard

A haunting photograph of a girl in a graveyard. An average lifespan in the Merthyr of 1851 of a mere 17 and a half years. If this intrigues you then check out this link –

Girl in a Graveyard


A Family Tree in Numbers

Family tree in numbers

Just for fun I recently began looking at the family tree that my sister had created to find out how many individuals I could identify in different generations and how this compared with the theoretical numbers. Having been born in 1947 and grown up in Troedyrhiw, I was also interested in discovering when the family had become established in the village and where they had come from originally.

Of the 254 individuals to be expected in the 7 generations before my own I could only put names to 34, which represents 13.4% of the total. The number of identifiable persons reduced sharply as I looked further back in time. This can be explained by the relative lack of early records compared with those from more recent times.

I found that my mother’s side of the family was becoming established in Troedyrhiw in the period leading up to the birth, in 1854, of her paternal grandfather in the village. Tracing backwards and forwards from this point reveals ancestors that were born quite locally in Dowlais and Quakers Yard and others that came from further afield – Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire, Somerset and London. This whole area was quite a ‘melting pot’. My father and his forebears all hailed from Northamptonshire and have, in their turn, added their genes to the Troedyrhiw mix.

There is much more that can be told and, no doubt, yet more to be discovered!

The work at Saron goes on. Can you help in some way?

It was a cold and crisp day at Saron Graveyard, Troedyrhiw last Saturday but our volunteers soon warmed to their tasks. Our group remains as determined as ever to take the programme of improvement work as far as we can. Our workers may be small in number but they have many skills and, when necessary, are not afraid of hard physical work. Saturday’s achievements included:-
* removal, not for the first time, of a considerable amount of fly-tipped domestic waste which had been thrown into the graveyard and strewn beside the adjacent footpath – WE SOMETIMES DESPAIR!;
* some early planting including Lily of the Valley;
* laying of flowers on the family grave of Doris White nee Thomas of Southampton, formerly of Troedyrhiw, who died recently at the age of 98;
* laying of flowers by visitors who, although unable to locate a family grave, wished to leave a token of their respect for those who have been laid to rest in this special place;
* stabilisation of a number of headstones.

If you feel that you might be able to help us in any way please drop in for a while to our next Volunteer Day which will be held on Saturday 24th March from 10.00am. You will be made most welcome.
Thanks for last Saturday’s efforts must go to Steve C., Simon, Clive, Sheila, Steve E., Andrew, David, Phil, Mike and Diane. Your input and support were most appreciated.

Local History Forum

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At a well attended meeting of Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum held at Carmel Chapel last Thursday members enjoyed an extremely interesting talk delivered by Clive Thomas. He spoke knowledgeably about some occupations that were once common in our valleys communities paying particular attention to the coal industry. Evidence gathered from an examination of monumental inscriptions in Saron Graveyard showed how the local population included cordwainers, saddlers, ironworkers, underground workers etc reinforcing our understanding of how difficult life was for many of our forebears. You are warmly invited to attend the next meeting which will be held at the same venue at 7.00pm on Thursday 22 March. Further details will be published later.

From Troedyrhiw to Papworth Hospital

Papworth Hospital in Cambridge is world renowned today as a centre for heart and lung transplant surgery. It will soon be celebrating its centenary having opened on 12 February 1918 to treat TB patients including discharged soldiers from WW1. Its founder was Pendrill Varrier-Jones who was born and spent his early years at Glantaff House, Troedyrhiw.

For more information check out these links on the BBC News and Merthyr Heritage Plaques websites:-

This project needs your support

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The Saron Graveyard Project, Troedyrhiw depends upon its enthusiastic and friendly volunteers. Why not join us for a while or simply drop in on one of our Volunteer Days to see what we are doing? You will be made most welcome and will provide much needed support to a small group that has been making a real difference to a sensitive and important part of the historic fabric of the village. Our next session will be held on SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY FROM 10.00am AT SARON GRAVEYARD, CHAPEL STREET, TROEDYRHIW

This project needs your input


We know that there is considerable interest in the progress of the Saron Graveyard Project, Troedyrhiw and would like to warmly invite you to a meeting about this. Your views on what we have been doing, the challenges that remain and the best ways forward would be greatly appreciated. Please join us at the Angel Inn, Bridge Street in the village from 6.30pm on Friday 23 February. We hope that you will be able to make it.

For Local History Enthusiasts

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Following an unexpectedly long break since our last meeting Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum will recommence its activities on Thursday 22 February. You are cordially invited to join us at Carmel Chapel at 7.00pm for what promises to be another very interesting and enjoyable talk by Clive Thomas. We look forward to seeing you there.

A ‘First’ for Troedyrhiw

Alice Lidster

The 100th anniversary of the achievement of votes for women (or, at least, some of them) seems to be an appropriate time to note an important ‘first’ for Troedyrhiw. The ‘Pioneer’ newspaper reported on 24th May 1915 that Troedyrhiw had laid claim to being the first place to have a lady station master / mistress when Miss Alice Lidster had been appointed to this position at Troedyrhiw Halt on the G.W.R. and Rhymney Joint Line following the departure of her predecessor Mr David Walters to join the Army.