Twenty 20 Memories


By  Hywel Gwyn Evans

Carmarthenshire County Council, 2006.  

Compiled by Gareth Hicks, March 2007

**My copy of this book was deposited with Glamorgan FHS in April 2022

At the time of writing the book may be purchased from Ammanford Library or any CMN library, see https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/



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