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Twenty 20 Memories

By  Hywel Gwyn Evans

Carmarthenshire County Council, 2006.  

Compiled by Gareth Hicks, March 2007

At the time of writing the book may be purchased from Ammanford Library or any CMN library, see



From the book;

"This book is a collection of some of the memories of twenty men and twenty women who were born between 1904 and 1935 and, with just one exception, within a few miles of one another in the villages of Brynaman, Cefn-bryn-brain, Cwmllynfell, Cwm-twrch, Pant-teg, Rhiw-fawr and Ystradowen, that lie immediately to the south of the Black Mountain in the far west of the Brecon Beacons National Park. These villages are essentially less than two hundred years old and are clustered close to the meeting point of the three counties we used to call Breconshire, Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan, and the people who live in them were, historically, welded together by their anthracite collieries, their nonconformist chapels and the Welsh language. It is no wonder therefore that fourteen of the men whose memories are included here worked, at some time or other, in those collieries, that sixteen of the women are, or were, the daughters of coal miners and that some three dozen of the forty were brought up as Welsh Congregationalists. It is also no surprise that it was only the man who came to live in the district, on his marriage to a local woman, who spoke English as his first language. He recounted his memories in that language, whilst all the other memories have been edited and translated from the Welsh language and follow its speech patterns as closely as possible.

The men and women whose memories are included here appear in alphabetical order in every chapter. Those of the men alternate with those of the women and they are enormously varied because they are the reminiscences of forty people who all, to a larger or lesser degree, endured the depression years of the 1930's and survived the terrible years of the Second World War in which seven of the men served in the armed forces and two of the women worked in armament factories. All forty also witnessed the unexpected collapse of the mining industry, as well as Welsh non-conformity, just a few years after that War which make their memories all the more important as valuable primary source contributions to our history as a people.

The Contributors

David Llewelyn Davies* ; Eryl Collins; John Dewi Davies; Gwenda (Powell) Dicker; Llewelyn Davies*; Janice Evans; Melville (Mel) Davies*; Mair Evans;  Glyn Edwards*;
Elizabeth Holbourn; Glyn Evans; Marianne James; Ernest (Ernie) Francis*; Minnie Jeremiah*; Leslie (Les) Griffiths*; Mary Eirwen Jones*; Danny Hamer*; Lillian Maud Jones;
Herbert Rees James*;  Magdalen Jones;  Gwilym John;  Megan Jones;  William (Wil) Lewis;  Maggie Jane Maddock*;  Bryn Lloyd*;  Bessie Morris;  Edwin Morris*;  Janet Newlands;
 Eddie Norman*;  Jean Rees; Ross Thomas; Margaret Ann Rees;  Elwyn Watkin; Sybil Samuels; Daniel (Danny) Williams; Hannah (Nan) Thomas; Gethin William; Hannah Evelyn William; Horace Williams*; Heulwen Williams*. "



  • 1. Childhood  1-38
  • 2. Local Characters   39-50
  • 3. The Chapels  51-68
  • 4.  Elementary Schooldays  69-80
  • 5.  Secondary Schooldays   81-86
  • 6.  College or University  87-90
  • 7.  The Collieries  91-122
  • 8.  Other Employment    123-160
  • 9.   The Second World War: Home Front  161-176
  • 10. The Second World War: Front Line  177-194
  • 11. After Work Activities   195-212
  • 12. Today   213-222
  • Appendix   223-224
    Local Anthracite Collieries, 1928
    No 9: Neath Area, National Coal Board Collieries, 1954
    Anthracite Coal Exported through Swansea 1935



For the sake of context/continuity these photographs are listed in the same page order as they appear in the book;-  
descriptive text [not necessarily identical to book entry], page number

George IV Inn as it used to be, 1

Berrington Hill, Cwmtwrch, Carmarthenshire, 2, 3

Cwmllynfell to Cefn-bryn-brain from Ystradowen, 4

Cwmllynfell Miners' Welfare Hall and Institute Opening Ceremony Invitation, 8

Griffiths, Tom & Mary with dau Eirwen, 9

James, Herbert with relatives in 1948, 11

Gwys Station with Stationmaster Daniel Edwards, 12

Rock Inn, Rhiwfawr, c1890, 13

Post Office, Upper Cwm-twrch with stationmaster Edwards, 14

Owen, John Dr, Berrington Hill, 15

Maddock, Maggie Jane at Aberystwyth late 1940s, 16

Ystalyfera Railway Station, 16

George IV inn, with innkeeper John Davies and dau Fiona, 17

Morris, Edwin at Gwys Station, 20

Price, Griff & wife of Tomenowen & motorbike & sidecar, 21

Charabanc with driver Llew (Gynol), 22

Upper Cwm-twrch with hotel and St Peter's, 23

Williams, Jennet & daughters & niece Maggie outside Maesgwyn, Tomenowen, 23

Williams, Jennet & grandchildren in 1936, 24

Williams, Jennet, dressmaker, business card, 24

Norman, Eddie & wife Gwyneth & grandchild, 25

Ystradowen Tennis Club, a member, 27

Lower Cwm-twrch towards Maespica farm, 28

Lower Cwm-twrch with Gilwen/Phoenix Tinplate Works & Gurnos Brick & Tinplate Works, 31

Williams, Horace's grandfather at Felin-fach, 33

Williams, Lewis (Bobs), 34

Ystradowen, New Rd, 35

Cwmllynfell, New Rd, 36

Ystradowen Nursery with owner David Griffiths & family, 37

Boblen, Y (Mountain Hare) modern, 39

Cwmllynfell & District Royal British Legion members in front of Urdd/Drinking Club, 40

Davies, Mel, 41

Wembley Steps, 41

Evans, Edward Lewis (Ned Over There) 1890-1962, 42

Bush Inn towards Cambrian Place and Tumble. 42

Lewis, Wil (Y Rock), 44

Bush Inn, 45

Ystradowen House, home/shop of Thomas Griffiths, 46

Thomas, Wil,  ice cream cart, 47

Samuel, Sybil with siblings Jean & Vivian, 47

Inter-war carnival float, 48

Local Baptists, group, 51

Brynllynfell Chapel Elders, 52

Gibea Chapel & Vestry, 53

Rhiwfawr Chapel Sunday school trip to Porthcawl, 54

Bryn Seion, Berrington Hill, tea party in 1955, 55

Griffiths, George, Maespica & family, 55

Griffiths, Tom, Gwrhyd Uchaf c 1950, 56

Gwrhyd Chapel & cemetery, 57

St Margaret's Church, 59

St Margaret Church's production of 'Rob of the Forest', 59

Pant-teg Chapel, vestry & cemetery, 60

New Chapel, Cwmllynfell & New Cemetery & former Welfare Hall, 62

New Chapel's cantata 'Olivet to Calvary' with conductor Cyril John & minister Rev Gwynfryn Jones, 62

Ebeneser Band of Hope with Rev Ifor Wynne Williams c1939, 63

New Chapel, Cwmllynfell -  former members who entered ministry inc Dyfnallt Owen & Ben Davies, 64

Williams, Margaret Anne of Cwmllynfell - pledge against intoxicating drink 1901, 65

Ystradowen School - Lemuel Powell & pupils, 69

Ystradowen School - infants out in yard, 70

Cwmllynfell School - Nurse Bevan & pupils post war, 71

Rhiw-fawr School - Headteacher Tilly Thomas & pupils post war, 72

Ystradowen School - Head T J Williams & pupils post war, 74

Ystradowen Primary School - pupils c 1946 with Head T J Williams, & W P Hicks. 75

Cwmllynfell (pre Urdd) RFC 1925/6, 76

Cwmllynfell (post Urdd) RFC 1937/8 with Eddie Norman, 76

Tro'r Gleien School - Head D N Williams & pupils post war, 77

Cefn-bryn-brain School - Infants class late 1970s, 78

Ystalyfera, Wern Schools, early photograph, 79

Williams, Heulwen, 2004, 80

Ystalyfera Intermediate (or County) School, 81

Maesydderwen School Prize Winners 1953, 83

Cwmllynfell Night School young men 1925/6, 85

Evans, Janice (nee Rees) Honours Graduate 1957, 87

Jones, Magdalen Honours Graduate 1946, 89

Cwmllynfell Colliery, closed 1959, 91

Ystalyfera Town Band with Tom & Daniel Evans named c 1930, 92

Martin, Edwin & son Merfyn along side lower Brynhenllys feeder, weir Pownd-y-gored also in view, 93

Rhosaman, Bethania Chapel cemetery - with gravestones of 2 of men killed in the explosion [1924], 94

Rhosaman, facing Gwrhyd with Rhosaman Colliery & Blaenwaun Colliery in view, 95

Brynhenllys Colliery, Cwmtwrch  Strike - extract from South Wales Voice [1934], 97

Brynhenllys Colliery, Cwmtwrch  2nd Hunger Strike -  extract from South Wales Voice [1935], 98

Cwmllynfell, Gwilym Rd - house of Llewelyn Jenkins, 99

 Brynhenllys Colliery workforce pre 1900, 104

Thomas, William (Ddolgam) leaving Brynhenllys in 1955, 111

Williams, Isaac (Cwtsh), 112

Glen Colliery workers with owner Henry John Norman, 114

Thomas, Ross with paintings, 116

Cwmtwrch from Mynydd Bach - Brynmorgan colliery and David John Price's house  Plas-y-coed in view, 118

Upper Cwmtwrch - with Brynhenllys Colliery branch line in view, 118

Williams, Gethin, 120

Dewi, John & Morlais Davies with lorries, 124

Dicker, Gwenda, 125

James bus with Llew (Gynol) & Chris, 125

Jones, W D & wife Mary outside grocery shop, 126

Gwilym Rd - with Jenkins the Ironmonger next to W D Jones shop, 127

Gynol/Rock family with American car & at Carreg Cennen pre war, 128 * 2

Maesydderwen / Naestved (Denmark) School Exchange 1966 with  teachers Jonna Moller, Hywel Gwyn & Janice Evans, 129

Upper Brynaman Junior School class 2 in 1968-  with Head Talbot Davies and teacher Mair Evans, 132

Upper Brynaman Junior School pre war damage, 132

Holbourn, Elizabeth, 135

James, Marianne, 136

Francis, M B & Sons Ltd Bakers/Confectioners - advertisement, 137

Cwmllynfell Railway Station in 1909, 138

Ystalyfera Grammar School - Magdalen Jones with class in c 1955, 142

Gwilym Rd, Cwmllynfell - with Coop Stores in view, 145

Jones, Megan, courier in Truro, 146

Glamorgan Police, Bryncethin, No 8 Police School late 1940s - with Bryn Lloyd, 147

Craig-y-nos Hospital -  James Griffiths MP, with  matron & Bryn Lloyd, 148

Temperance House - Billy Jones's shop, 149

Gwilym Rd - Cwmllynfell Post Office, 152

Rees, Jean in period costume for centenary, 152

Watkin, Elwyn family with wife May (Pen-y-wern), 156

Darren Widdon, Y, and Ystalyfera tinplate works / Farteg council houses, 160

Jones, Eryl marriage to Sgt Harry Collins of South Wales Borderers, 161

Maddock, Enid marriage to Alcwyn Williams in 1946, 162

Black Mountain transfer of goods from cart of W D Jones to George Sarnfan's sledge, 164

Cwmllynfell & District Mouth Organ Band with conductor John Walters, 166

Cwmllynfell & District Girl's Choir with conductor John Walters in 1954, 167

Norman, Edna sister of Eddie in WAAF uniform, 168

Jeremiah, Minnie & Val (Fforch-Egel) late 1940s, 168

Cwmllynfell Home Guard -  in school yard, 171

Williams, Horace (Bobs) winner at last Cwmllynfell Flower Show, 175

Evans, Glyn RAF-  at Weston, 178

Francis, Ernie & wife Janet, 180

Griffiths, Les  - South Wales Borderers 1942, 182

Wangenella, HM Australian Hospital Ship - picture & menu, 183

John, Gwilym - with RAF at Nurembourg 1946, 185

Lloyd, Bryn - Welsh Guardsman at Purbright Camp 1938, 187

Dorsetshire, HM Troopship - at Gibralter 1939, 188

Rutzen de, JFF  - battlefield grave, 189

Lloyd, Bryn - with other guardsman on Italian beach waiting for repatriation, 191

Rose and Crown - soccer supporters' dinner with Danny Williams, sister in law Lilian Maud & husband Glyn c 1949, 193

Davies, William John - Italy 1945, 194

Meritza - with Evans, Jack & Mair Evans with Val Lewis in cast in 1978, 195

Valley of Song - cast in 1964, 196

Gwalia Girls' Singers in 1955 - with Elizabeth Holbourn named, 197

Arch Bridge - with United Welsh Bus to Swansea coming through, 198

James, Herbert & wife Ilse with son Herbert, 199

National Eisteddfod, Rhyl recitation party - with trainer Mary Ann (Moc John) Thomas, 200

National Eisteddfod, Swansea  1964 recitation party winners - with trainer Megan Jones, 200

Quaker Girl - with Delme Bryn Jones & Bessie Morris in 1957, 202

Blodwen  - with Hywel Williams, conductor Vincent Thomas & accompanist Linda Lewis in 1969, 202

Maid of the Mountains - dancers in 1954, 206

Count of Luxembourg - male members in 1971, 206

Urdd Recitation group in 1951- with trainer Eurwen Morris, 207

Urdd Eisteddfod, Aberdare, recitation party winners in 1965, 208

Rees, Margaret Ann and husband Lewis on honymoon in Barry, 208

Ystalyfera, Coliseum Cinema advert re films, 209

Thomas, Nan - Eisteddfod recitation prizewinner, 210

Holiday on the Sands, Cwmtwrch operetta in 1958 - with L H Thomas, Barnett Williams, Mair Williams, & Rev Cynwyn Davies (Ebeneser), 211

Cwmtwrch Annual Junior Gang Show, 1968, 211

Ystradowen, towards bottom of Berrington Hill, modern, 214

Ystradowen, top of Berrington Hill, modern, 214

Gwys Station site - now bungalows,modern, 216

Bush - now a house with no Upper Gates close by, modern, 217

Cwm-twrch Welfare Hall & Y Sticle, modern, 218

Cwm-twrch Rugby Club - formerly Lamb Inn, modern, 219

Cwmtwrch - Cymanfa Gerddorol, Nghapel Ebenezer 1960 - advert, 220

Map Diagrams

  • Upper Aman, Twrch & Upper Tawe Valleys - mountains, feeders, villages, some farms etc, 38
  • Upper Aman, Twrch & Upper Tawe Valleys - schools, chapels & churches, 67
  • Upper Aman, Twrch & Upper Tawe Valleys - railways, tramroads, collieries & tinplate works, 122
  • Upper Aman, Twrch Valleys - halls and certain hostelries, 212


[Last Updated : 26 March 2007- Gareth Hicks]