Amgueddfa Cymru

Hafan

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have recently been added to the industry and transport collections.

The first, is a collection of documents, photographs and objects relating to Smiths Potato Crisps Ltd. This company was formed by Frank Smith and Jim Viney just after the First World War. The Smiths Potato Crisps factory went into production at Fforestfach, Swansea in 1947, and the factory was officially opened in October 1948. The first ever flavoured crisps (cheese and onion) were produced here in the 1960s. The factory was later taken over by Walkers, and closed by them in 2006.

 

This baseball cap has the logo for 'Walter Energy, Western Coal' on it. Walter Energy (originally known as Walter Industries Inc.) was found in the U.S.A. in 1946. The company owned Aberpergwm Colliery from April 2011, but the company filed for bankruptcy in July 2015. Aberpergwm Colliery was closed by British Coal on 7 October 1985, but reopened in 1996, as of June 2016 it has been mothballed.

 

This plate, and also a pewter mug, were presented to men leaving Cwm Colliery in 1986. The union couldn't offer a presentation lamp after the strike, so these were produced instead. The plate has a presentation inscription on the front, and also historical details of Colliery painted on reverse.

 

Finally this month, this T-shirt was produced for sale during a tour by the protest singer Billy Bragg. The tour was in June 2009 and was to ‘Mark the Anniversary of the Miners' Strike, 1984-85', and travelled to a number of venues throughout Wales.

 

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

 

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have been recently added to the industry and transport collections of Amgueddfa Cymru.

The first is a really interesting collection relating to the Court Royal Convalescent Home for the South Wales Mining Industry. The Court Royal Convalescent Home was situated in Bournemouth, and was purchased in January 1946. It was formerly a hotel, and during the Second World War it was requisitioned to accommodate Members of H.M. Forces. After extensive alterations and re-decoration it was opened for the reception of patients on 7th July 1947 with the official opening on 8th November 1947. By 1957 12,500 patients had been given 2 weeks convalescence at the home. The collection comprises of documents, such as the programme for the official opening and some advertising cards. It also contains some very interesting photographs showing the home and some of the miners convalescing there.

This lithographically printed tinplate box was produced for The Briton Ferry Steel Co. Ltd. to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. On the lid are images of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. On the inside of the lid is an aerial photograph of Albion Steel Works, with Briton Ferry Steel Works in the background. Its size suggests that it may have originally contained confectionary or possibly tobacco/cigarettes. It was almost certainly produced for distribution to employees of the company which owned Albion Steel Works, Briton Ferry Steel Works and a group of tinplate and sheet works.

This postcard shows the wreck of the S.S. Valsesia on Friar's Point, Barry Island, and was taken on the 25 August 1926. The Valsesia was an Italian vessel, built in 1921, that was laden with coal during the 1926 General Strike. She drifted onto the rocks after failing to anchor, and when the tide went out she broke her back. In 1927, she was towed off the beach and taken to Briton Ferry.

This photograph shows another wreck. This one is the H.M.S. Cleveland ashore at Diles Lake, Llangennith, towards south end of Rhossilli Beach, Gower. In June 1957 when under tow by Brynforth of Swansea en route to E.G. Rees, ship breakers of Llanelli, the vessel broke her tow and went ashore at Llangennith, being driven far up the beach by the spring tides. Unsuccessful attempts to refloat her lasted until autumn and focussed on the September spring tides. She was then dismantled on the beach, the work being completed in 1959. The steel would have been consumed by open hearth furnaces at various south Wales steel works, most likely the works in the region between Port Talbot and Llanelli.

Finally this month, this cover commemorates the "Official Opening of the Tidal Harbour and Basic Oxygen Steel Making Plant at Port Talbot on 12th May, 1970". It was issued to all men employed on the construction of the new harbour. The donor was employed as a welder, by Marples-Ridgeway, the main contractor for the unloading jetty inside the new harbour.

 

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea’s current exhibition “Forget me not: Postcards from the First World War” features a fantastic selection of all types of postcards from the industry & transport, and social & cultural history collections. One case tells the amazing, but tragic, story of Captain Anthony Starkey of the S.S. Torrington.  

Captain Anthony Starkey was master of the S.S. Torrington. The ship was built in 1905 by William Doxford & Sons of Sunderland and was owned by the Tatem Steam Navigation Company of Cardiff.

On the 8 April 1917 the ship was sailing from Italy to Cardiff to load coal for the Italian railways. Shortly after 11.30am she was torpedoed by a German submarine, 150 miles off the Isles of Scilly. The torpedo hit forward of the bridge. A submarine then surfaced and opened fire on the ship. Capt. Starkey ordered his men into the lifeboats, but the submarine came alongside. Capt. Starkey was ordered below deck of the U-boat, which he did thinking he could save his men. Some of the crew went on the deck of the U-boat, whilst others remained in a lifeboat. The captain of the U-boat then ordered the vessel to dive remarking that “the others could swim”. Through the submerging of the U-boat about 20 member of the Torrington’s crew were washed off and killed. The remaining crew in the lifeboat were never heard of again. In total thirty four members of the crew were killed and Capt. Starkey was the only survivor.

Capt. Starkey was held prisoner aboard the submarine for fifteen days. He was then held in four different prisoner of war camps in Germany, including Brandenburg, Holminden, and Strohenmoor. Prisoners were poorly treated in these camps, and Capt. Starkey commented that “We would have starved if it had not been for the food we received from home. We were there for two months and a half on German rations and looked like shadows when the time was up. Then food began to arrive from home and we certainly enjoyed that. The food in the camps was always potato soup, not always good potatoes, cabbage soup and some bread.”

During his time in the various prisoner of war camps Capt. Starkey put together a ‘scrap album’. This album contains over 55 postcards and photographs, along with German bank notes, and documents such as ration cards, camp theatre tickets, letters and telegrammes.  Some of these photographs show everyday life in the camps, such as meal times and entertainment. This album in on display in the current exhibition, along with other photographs, and two newspaper cuttings pasted onto the back board of another scrap book. These describe the whole story in detail.

“Forget me not: Postcards from the First World War” runs until the 19th June 2016 at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

To discover more about the First World War collections at Amgueddfa Cymru view this online catalogue.

 

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

 

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have been recently added to the industry and transport collections.

The first object this month is this rugby shirt with a ‘Tower Colliery’ badge. It was worn in the 1992 British Coal Cup Final. The donor was working in Taff Merthyr Colliery at the time, and took part in the 1992 Final in which Tower Colliery won. At the end of the match he swapped his Taff Merthyr Colliery RFC shirt for this Tower Colliery one.

Also, this month the museum was donated two paintings of Pontardawe Steel, Tinplate & Sheet Works. These were painted in 1955 by local amateur artist David Humphreys (born 1882), who had been employed in the works.

“Bar Mill” depicts the roughing stand of the steelworks bar mill, whilst “Hot Mill’s” depicts part of the sheet mills. In both paintings the artist has carefully recorded the working positions of the rollermen and the tools and features of the mill environments, such as the racked bar-turning tongs and cabin on the left of “Bar Mill”, and the tea cans (‘sten’) and jackets in the right foreground of “Hot Mill's”. Such attention to detail to the plant and environment is a distinctive hallmark of an industry ‘insider’ recording scenes he was intimately familiar with.

   

This electric cap lamp was manufactured by Oldham & Son Ltd. in about 1995. It is a standard coal-mining specification cap lamp, but is distinguished by being specifically inscribed “H.M.I” (Her Majesty’s Inspector (of Mines)) on the metal battery lid. It was owned and used by one of the South Wales Inspectors of Mines between 1996 and c.2004 during the course of his work.

Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. The collection ranges across railway and maritime transport, coal mining, the mining and smelting of metals, general industry, and service industries (finance, leisure, consumer products, etc.).

The museum is actively collecting in this field, and this month we have added two further examples to the collections.

The first is for the The Gwendraeith [sic] Valleys Lime Coal & Railway Co Ltd. This company was formed in February 1868 to develop the limestone and coal deposits in the lower Gwendraeth Valley. The company wanted to develop limestone quarrying and lime burning, and to acquire the existing railway which it intended to extend into the coalfield on the south side of the valley. However only 185 shares were subscribed to and with insufficient capital the company was wound up in December 1869, having achieved nothing on the ground. This certificate is a good example of a number of companies that tried unsuccessfully to develop the anthracite area of the south Wales coalfield.

The second certificate is for the Llynvi & Ogmore Railway Company. This company was formed in 1866 to amalgamate the broad gauge Llynvi Railway Company of 1846 and the standard gauge Ogmore Valley Railway of 1863. Both companies’ railways were focussed on Porthcawl Harbour and both were dominated by the Brogden family, Lancashire industrialists who developed the Maesteg iron and coal industry and who expanded dock facilities at Porthcawl. The company was managed by the Great Western Railway from 1873, and eventually absorbed by the G.W.R. in 1883.

This object is a cast iron artillery round made in Blaenavon steelworks in the mid 19th century. Surplus ones were re-forged for bridle chains on colliery headgears. The chains can be seen in the last photograph of the three below showing blacksmiths at Big Pit in about 1950.

 

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

Amgueddfa Cymru holds a large collection of material relating to the First World War. Many of these objects from the industry & transport, and social & cultural history collections can be viewed on this online catalogue. This catalogue was created to provide access to this collection of material, especially important during this period of commemorating 100 years since the First World War.

Some of the more poignant objects relate to those who lost their lives in the War, and amongst these are a number of Rolls of Honour. These either commemorate those who lost their lives, or commemorate both those who served, and those who lost their lives.

In the industry & transport collection is this very large (it measures 190cm x 130cm) framed and glazed illuminated Roll of Honour. It lists all those staff working for the Taff Vale Railway Company, who served and lost their lives in the First World War. The sheer numbers of staff mentioned shows how the war affected companies such as the T.V.R. and shows the tragic loss of life.

The Roll of Honour was drawn in the engineer’s office of the Taff Vale Railway at Cardiff by Ivor P. Davies. The alphabetical list details all men who served and also includes their regiment. Names are also marked to indicate those who died in action and those who died of other causes.

The Roll of Honour originally hung in the T.V.R. offices, in a building located next to Queen Street Station. Presumably it hung there until the offices were demolished in the 1970s during the rebuilding of Queen Street Station. In 1989 the Roll of Honour was acquired by the National Museum of Wales, where it was displayed in the Railway Gallery, in a building next to Bute Road Station (now Cardiff Bay). This was an appropriate home as it was displayed in a very historic building originally built as the head office for the Taff Vale Railway Company in the 1840s. This building is still standing, though in a poor state of repair.

It is important that this Roll of Honour be displayed during the commemorations. We were therefore pleased to work with staff at Arriva Trains Wales in fulfilling this. We were able to provide a high resolution digital copy, which allowed them to replicate it. The replica has now been placed on display in the newly revamped Queen Street Station, where it can be viewed by thousands of travellers passing through.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW