This cigarette card dated 1928 – 9 relates to an interesting former resident of our village.
Charles (‘Charlie’) Jones was born in Troedyrhiw in 1899 and died in 1966. He has been described as one of the “unsung heroes” of Welsh football in the 1920’s and 1930’s as his clubs were reluctant to release him and other players for international duty for the smaller home nations.
The senior clubs that he played for were Cardiff City, Stockport County, Oldham Athletic, Nottingham Forest and 176 times for Arsenal winning three league titles with them towards the end of his career. He also played for Wales 8 times and went on to captain the side several times.
As explained in previous posts the volunteers of the Saron Graveyard Project in Troedyrhiw have been working for some years to rescue this important part of the historic fabric of the village from the results of many years of neglect. Contractors are now on-site carrying out extensive structural work on the boundary walls. We are extremely grateful to them for the professional way in which they are carrying this out and to the landowner and leaseholder for making this possible.
It has been said that ‘in Wales you are never very far from a chapel’. The chapel was once at the heart of community life and, for a period in the nineteenth century, a new one was being built in Wales every eight days.
Troedyrhiw had its fair share of places of worship. Whilst quite a few of the buildings remain only Carmel Chapel (1852) and St John’s Church (1852) are now active. In former years, congregations would also have been found at Bethel Chapel (1890), Mount Zion Chapel (1871, demolished), Nazareth Chapel (1858, rebuilt 1897), Saron Chapel (1835, rebuilt 1852, demolished), Tabernacle Chapel (1895), English Wesleyan Chapel (1852) and St David’s Church (1915, demolished).
Saron Chapel was the earliest and largest chapel in the village and the only one to have an adjoining burial ground where many former residents were laid to rest.
The walls enclosing the site of the historic Saron Graveyard and former chapel in Troedyrhiw date from the period 1835 to 1886. Our Victorian forebears certainly knew how to build using a plentiful supply of stone that was quarried from the mountainsides above the village. Unfortunately, nothing lasts for ever and a long period of neglect following the closure of the chapel in 1983 and its demolition in 1990 resulted in a derelict site with crumbling and unsafe boundary walls. A small team of volunteers have been striving to restore the graveyard to a fitting condition by working towards the creation of a memorial and wildlife garden as a community asset. We are extremely pleased that contractors have now begun what is likely to be a fairly lengthy programme of work that will return the boundary walls to a safe and secure condition that will, hopefully, make them good for at least another 100 years. Many thanks must go to the landowner and leaseholder for making this possible.
Friends of Saron are very pleased to announce that preliminary work has begun on restoring the neglected and unsafe boundaries of Troedyrhiw’s historic graveyard. Specialist contractors have been on site and residents who are passing through the Chapel Street area should be able to follow progress over the coming weeks. We are very grateful to the freeholder and landowner for making this possible. Our volunteers are looking forward to getting back onto the Saron site when this work is completed and the Covid restrictions have been eased.
A passing remark in a reply to a recent post led me to look again at what I had discovered previously about the game of quoits that was once popular in our area and was certainly played in Troedyrhiw. The game survives in some parts of Wales and other areas of the UK. The, so called, ‘Long Game’ as played in Wales and Scotland involves throwing a heavy metal ring some 18 yards towards a ‘pin’ positioned at the centre of a 3ft square filled with clay. There are some regional variations in other parts of the UK. Follow this link to see what the game looks like:- https://www.facebook.com/1484326208545919/videos/375775743141486/
The ‘Quoits Ground’ in Troedyrhiw was located behind Victoria Buildings on the site of what is now the “Celtic Bunkhouse’ between School Road and Tyntaldwyn Road. This seems to have been the venue used for games by the Quoit Club that was based at the Fox & Hounds pub (Now an Indian Restaurant). According to Claude Stanfield’s autobiography quoits was also once played in a quarry behind the Dynevor Arms and also on The Willows. Notable players from Troedyrhiw included D. Morton and Boyo Sims who captained the victorious Welsh team in an international match against England in 1955.
You can read what Carolyn Jacob has written about the history of the game in our area on the Old Merthyr website and also Innes Macleod in Merthyr Historian – Volume 17.
Just to the south of Plymouth (South Duffryn) Colliery there once stood a terrace of workers cottages called Quarry Row. As the map from around 1900 shows the cottages were likely to have been named after one of the quarries that was located on the mountainside nearby. As you may have read in a previous post this quarry once contained the remains of a balance sheave or drum. This had once been used to lower drams (trams) loaded with stone down an incline, which is also marked on the map, while drawing empty drams back up.
Quarry Row was probably built in the 1820’s to house workers employed in the ironworks, coal workings and quarries. Census records show that, as the century progressed, the occupations of residents of Quarry Row switched from those associated with ironworking to almost exclusively the coal industry.
I seem to remember my late father telling me that, when he came to Troedyrhiw after WW2, the cottages were still occupied and an end house (I don’t know which) was a Police Station! Soon after this these houses were abandoned and became derelict, finally being demolished during the developments that took place in the 1970’s.
I recently posted about two tragic accidents in local collieries in 1891. One of the incidents was the fall of a mason from a chimney stack that was being erected at Plymouth (South Duffryn) Colliery. There is no doubt that, at this time, health and safety measures to protect those working in such hazardous situations would have been minimal. Over 70 years later, as my personal recollections confirm, such considerations had not moved on by much.
By 1962 the stack was deemed to be “unsafe” and was being prepared for demolition. No attempt was made to keep the public away as contractors cut large holes in the brickwork on one side of the chimney and it was perfectly possible, as the photograph shows, for curious passers by including myself, my father and a neighbour to walk up to the work in progress and have a really close look. Fortunately, we all survived to tell the tale!
There was another excellent turnout at Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum last Thursday for the latest in its programme of talks held at Carmel Chapel in the village. The speaker was Richard Morgan, a former archivist at Glamorgan Archives. Richard gave a most interesting and engaging presentation based on his long-held interest in the origins and meanings of the names of our towns and villages and how these have changed over time. He shared with us some examples drawn from the research that he conducted for his book ‘The Place-Names of Glamorgan’. The talk included fascinating and sometimes amusing instances from across the county and dealt with quite a few from our local area. Ideas were also provided of ways in which we as individuals or as a group could pursue this topic further.
The entry for Troed-y-rhiw in Richard Morgan’s book includes the following:- historical references:-
This year marks the bicentenary of the founding in Troedyrhiw of the ‘cause’ that was to become Saron Welsh Independent Chapel in the village. A History of the Welsh Independent Churches (Thomas Rees & John Thomas 1871+) tells us that members of Bethesda Chapel, Merthyr came to Troedyrhiw in around 1820 to start a Sunday School which was held from house to house. By 1835 the first chapel had been constructed and this was replaced by a larger building on part of the same site in 1852.
From its elevated position on the valley side Saron looked down confidently, through good times and bad, as the village grew and developed below. It was to here that many local people came to find spiritual support, for educational, cultural and other community activities and, finally, to be laid to rest in the chapel graveyard in what they expected would always be tranquil and undisturbed surroundings. Saron Chapel, Troedyrhiw closed in 1983 and was demolished in 1990. Its historic graveyard was abandoned to its fate and had become a shameful and embarrassing blot on the village until the community group Friends of Saron intervened. As a group of volunteers with no religious, political or other affiliations we are working hard to create Saron Memorial & Wildlife Garden as a community asset that we can all be proud of. PLEASE SUPPORT US BY EITHER JOINING OUR VOLUNTEERS ON SITE OR IN SOME OTHER WAY. WHY NOT SEND US A MESSAGE?