Amgueddfa Blog: Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf

Archibald H. Lee was the first Secretary appointed to National Museum Wales in 1909 and held the post for 44 years. His professional life began in 1899 when he entered the service of the Cardiff Corporation as a junior clerk in the old Town-hall on St Mary Street. During this time he would have worked on the City’s case for the establishment of a National Museum, so it must have been gratifying for him to join the fledgling staff of the new Museum.

After a few quietly productive years, the outbreak of WWI saw a large number of staff leave the museum for military service and Lee was no exception. He commanded a company of the 5th Welch Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross after the Battle of Gaza.

After the war, Lee resumed his position as Secretary and the Library holds a great number of photographs showing him at the forefront of important events and gatherings. In 1927 the new building at Cathays Park was officially opened by King George V and Queen Mary and Lee lead the Royal party up the steps to officially knock on the door with the ceremonial staff.

He established a life time bond with the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society when he joined in 1909, going on to hold the posts of Honourable Secretary, Council Member, President [1931-2] and finally Honourable Member in 1954. Some highlights during these years were helping to organize and celebrate the Society’s Diamond Jubilee, contributing an article titled Museums in Cardiff for the Society Transactions [1932] and being awarded the Honorary Degree of M.A. by the University of Wales [1937].

During WWII, he was an active member of the 16th Glamorgan Home Guard ‘National Museum Wales Section’. The Museum suffered some damage through enemy air raids on Cardiff and extensive precautions were implemented to protect the collections. These involved the transfer of important specimens to the basement strong room, sandbagging of sculptural and bulky exhibits, the protecting of all glass cases and windows with gummed strips, and night time ‘fire-watch’ duties, all of which  Lee would most likely have been involved in.

In 1953 Lee retired as Secretary with a civic luncheon held in his honour and the award of an O.B. E [Officer of the British Empire].

He passed away in 1970, aged 87 years.

 

The collection at St Fagans National Museum of History includes numerous archives relating to the Welsh experience of the First World War. While working with colleagues to produce a digital database to commemorate the centenary of the conflict, I found an intriguing bundle of documents associated with a young soldier with connections to Penarth who died, serving with the Grenadier Guards, exactly 100 years ago today. His name was Oscar Foote and in this blog I have pieced together his last 24 hours from the archives we hold at the Museum.

On the night of 6 July 1917 an exhausted Oscar Foote had just returned from fighting in the trenches of Ypres for some well-earned rest and recuperation in a nearby camp. This camp was well within range of German artillery and on occasions they would shell the area. The morning of 7 July had begun like any other morning for Oscar. He had just put away his shaving kit when shells suddenly started bursting in the vicinity. A shell landed close to Oscar’s hut, creating murderous splinters in its aftermath. One of these splinters caught Oscar in the head and neck. Although his comrades desperately went to his aid, their efforts were in vain. He had been killed instantly. That afternoon, Oscar was buried by his comrades in Canada Farm British Cemetery, near Elverdinghe. A card dated 3 January 1918 includes a photograph of a simple wooden cross marking his resting place. 

The Oscar Foote archives came into the national collection in 1946 – a donation from a Mrs Maillard of Penarth who had been corresponding with him during the War. It appears that Mrs Maillard also donated material to the Imperial War Museum (IWM), possibly in response to the Bond of Sacrifice initiative. More research is needed to unpick how letters addressed to Mrs Maillard from the IWM came into our possession in 1946, but both institutions were actively collecting war memorabilia from soldiers and their families during and immediately after the conflict. Another blog for another day.

The digitisation of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ First World War collection is supported by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.

Os ydych yn un o ddilynwyr selog @DyddiadurKate, ’da chi’n siŵr o fod wedi sylwi nad oedd Mrs Rowlands mor gyson â’i chofnodion yn 1946. Pam? Gallwn ond ddyfalu. Gofynion teuluol, dim awydd … pwy a ŵyr. Gan fod mis o dawelwch o’n blaenau  — does dim cofnod tan 10 Hydref! — dyma gyfle i ni lenwi’r bwlch gyda rhagor o hanes Kate Rowlands y Sarnau.

Yn gynharach eleni, daeth pecyn drwy’r post i ni yma yn Sain Ffagan gan Eilir Rowlands, un o wyrion Kate. Ynddo roedd toriadau papur newydd, hen luniau, coeden deulu a llythyr yn llawn atgofion amdani. Felly, dyma i chi grynodeb o'r llythyr arbennig hwnnw yng ngeiriau Eilir Rowlands: 

Fy ofynwyd be fyddai fy nain yn feddwl o hyn i gyd – syndod mawr mi dybiaf, gyda’r ebychiad lleol ‘brenshiach y bratie!’ Ond dw i’n siwr y byddai yn hynod falch bod ardal cefn gwlad y Sarnau a Chefnddwysarn yn cael gymaint o sylw yn genedlaethol ac yn fyd eang, a bod y pwyslais ar gymdogaeth glos gyda gwaith dyddiol yn cael y sylw haeddiannol.

Fe sonir am y dyddiadur mewn sgyrsiau yn yr ardal a mae’r enw KATE yn ddiarth i bawb. Fel KITTY TY HÊN y byddai pawb yn ei chyfarch a'i hadnabod… Ni wyddwn fy hun tan yn ddiweddar ei bod yn cael ei galw yn KATE pan yn ifanc!! KITTY ROWLANDS sydd ar ei charreg fedd yng Nghefnddwysarn gyda’r cwpled:

’Rhoes i eraill drysori

Ei chyngor a’i hiwmor hi

Mae'n amlwg oddi wrth dyddiadur 1946 fod cymaint o fynd a dod ag yn 1915 a'r gymdogaeth yr un mor glos. Y gwahaniaeth mwyaf mi dybiaf oedd fod ceir a bwsiau a'r ffordd o drafeilio wedi datblygu oedd yn golygu fod pobl yn mynd ymhellach i ymweld â'i gilydd. Hefyd roedd tripiau wedi dod yn ffasiynol yng nghefn gwlad.

Ganwyd fi yn 1950 felly cof plentyn sydd gennyf am nain a taid yn byw yn Ty Hên, ond yn cofio’n dda am ddiwrnod dyrnu, cneifio a hel gwair. Ty hynod fach oedd Ty Hên, ond clud a chysurus. Bob tro yr oeddwn yn cerdded y milltir o’r Hendre i Ty Hên roedd nain bron yn ddieithriad yn crosio sgwariau ar gyfer gwneud cwilt i hwn a llall. Llygaid eitha gwantan oedd gan nain erioed ond roedd pob sgwar bach yn berffaith. Wrth roi proc i'r tân glo hen ffasiwn ei dywediad fydde 'fyddai'n mynd â hwn efo fi sdi' gan chwerthin!

Roedd safle Ty Hên mewn lle hynod o brydferth. Mae'n edrych dros bentre Sarnau a mynydd y Berwyn yn y pellter. Mae'n cael haul peth cynta yn y bore. Ffordd ddifrifol o wael oedd i Ty Hên ers talwm, rhan ohoni ar hyd ffos lydan a elwid yn 'ffordd ddŵr' ac yn arwain i allt serth a chreigiog. Mi glywais nain yn dweud sawl tro am yr adegau y byddai fy nhaid wedi mynd i nôl nwyddau gyda cheffyl a throl ac yn dod adre i fyny'r allt byddai'n gweiddi ar fy nain (a oedd yn disgwyl amdano ac yn ei wylio wrth ddrws y tŷ) 'SGOTSHEN'. Beth oedd hyn yn ei feddwl oedd os oedd fy nhaid wedi gor-lwytho'r drol ac yn rhy drwm i'r ceffyl ei thynnu fyny'r allt a'r drol yn cychwyn ar yn ôl, byddai'n rhaid cael 'sgotshen' (wejen o bren) tu ôl i'r olwyn i arbed damwain a thamchwa. Byddai nain yn disgwyl am y waedd ac yn gorfod rhedeg yn syth gyda'r 'sgotshen' yn ei llaw a'i gosod tu ôl yr olwyn.

Mae Ty Hên erbyn heddiw yn hollol wahanol o ran edrychiad oherwydd fe unwyd y tŷ gyda’r beudy a’r stabl ac mae yn awr yn un tŷ hir. Perchnogion y tŷ yw par ifanc o Loegr sydd â chysylltiadau Cymreig ac maent wedi dysgu Cymraeg. Maent wedi addasu yr adeilad allanol ar gyfer beicwyr sy’n dod ar wyliau. Medraf glywed fy nain yn dweud ‘brenshach y bratie’ pe byddai yn gweld Ty Hên heddiw ac eto yn falch bod bwrlwm a bywyd yn dal yn yr hen gartre.

Gyda diolch i Eilir Rowlands, Cefnddwysarn.

Gan gofio bod llai na blwyddyn ers diwedd yr Ail Ryfel Byd prin iawn yw’r sylw a gawn gan Kate Rowlands o ran sgil effaith y rhyfel ar ei theulu a’i chymuned. Dydi hynny ddim yn syndod i’r rheiny ohonoch ddilynodd ei hanes ym 1914 – wrth ei ddarllen, digon hawdd oedd anghofio fod cysgod y Rhyfel Mawr ar drigolion y Sarnau.

Fodd bynnag, sawl un ohonoch sylwodd ar ei chofnod y ddoe?

      21 Gorffennaf 1946 - Adref trwy'r dydd. Dewi Jones (Tai mawr) yn pregethu yn Rhydywernen. Dechreu Rations ar y bara.

Ar drothwy’r Ail Ryfel Byd roedd Prydain yn mewnforio 60% o’i bwyd. Wrth gofio am y prinder yn ystod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, cyflwynodd y llywodraeth y sustem dogni ym mis Ionawr 1940. Dosbarthwyd llyfrau dogni i bawb a bu’n rhaid i bob cartref gofrestru gyda chigydd, groser a dyn llefrith lleol. Roedd y rhain yn derbyn digon o fwyd ar gyfer eu cwsmeriaid cofrestredig. Y bwydydd cyntaf i gael eu dogni oedd menyn, siwgr a ham. Ymhen amser cafodd mwy o fwydydd eu hychwanegu at y sustem, ac fe amrywiai swm y dogn o fis i fis wrth i’r cyflenwad o fwydydd amrywio. Dyma enghraifft o ddogn wythnos un oedolyn:

               Bacwn a ham                     4 owns               

               Menyn                                2 owns

               Caws                                  2 owns (weithiau caniatawyd 4 neu 8 owns)       

               Margarin                             4 owns

               Olew coginio                     4 owns (ond yn aml cyn lleied â 2 owns)

               Llefrith                                3 peint (weithiau dim ond 2 beint, ond caniatawyd

                                                               paced o lefrith powdwr bob 4 wythnos)

               Siwgr                                  8 owns

               Jam                                    1lb bob 2 fis

               Te                                       2 owns

               Wyau                                  1 wy yr wythnos os oeddynt ar gael

               Wy powdr                          paced bob 4 wythnos

O fis Rhagfyr 1940 roedd popeth arall gwerth eu cael ar y sustem ‘pwyntiau’. Cai pob person 16 pwynt y mis i brynu detholiad o fwydydd fel bisgedi, bwyd tun a ffrwythau sych, gyda’r gwerth y nwyddau’n codi yn dibynnu ar eu hargaeledd.

Roedd hi’n dipyn o dasg gwneud i’r dognau bara’ tan ddiwedd yr wythnos, ac roedd yr ymgyrch ‘Dig for Victory’ yn annog y boblogaeth i balu eu gwelyau blodau a’u troi nhw’n erddi llysiau. Cafodd pawb eu hannog i gadw ieir, cwningod, geifr a moch - rhywbeth oedd yn ail-natur mewn cymuned wledig fel y Sarnau. Efallai nad oedd siopau lleol Kate wastad yn gallu cael gafael ar y danteithion megis y bisgedi, y bwydydd tun neu bysgod ffres o’r môr fel siopau’r trefi a’r dinasoedd, ond roedd manteision i fyw yn y wlad a’r wybodaeth gynhenid o fyw ar y tir. Doedd dim angen cwponau na phwyntiau i hela cwningod gwyllt, colomennod, brain a physgod dŵr croyw. Byddai’r plant yn cael eu gyrru i gasglu ffrwythau gwyllt a fyddai'n cael eu defnyddio i greu cacenni a phwdinau blasus, yn jamiau a jeli. Byddent yn casglu cnau cyll, cnau ffawydd a chnau castan, madarch, dail danadl poethion a dant y llew – ac mae’r arfer hwn o fynd i chwilota am fwyd gwyllt wedi dod yn arfer ffasiynol unwaith eto i’n cenhedlaeth ni.

Gwaethygu gwnaeth y sefyllfa bwyd ar ddiwedd y rhyfel. Yn dilyn cyfnod sych a chynhaeaf gwael, bu’n rhaid dogni bara ar y 21ain o Orffennaf 1946. Roedd hwn yn benderfyniad dadleuol a gythruddodd y boblogaeth – nid oedd bara wedi cael ei ddogni yn ystod y rhyfel. Ysgwn i faint o wahaniaeth gafodd hyn ar deulu Kate? Gwyddom ei bod yn parhau i bobi bara ceirch yn ystod 1946 – dyma oedd y bara a fwyteid fwyaf cyffredin yng Nghymru tan y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg. Gwyliwch y ffilm hyfryd o’r archif yn dangos o Mrs Catrin Evans, Rhyd-y-bod, Cynllwyd, yn paratoi bara ceirch.

Daeth dogni bara i ben ar y 24ain o Orffennaf 1948, a chodwyd cyfyngiadau ar de ym 1952 – rhyddhad mawr i genedl o yfwyr te! Tynnwyd hufen, wyau, siwgr a da-das neu fferins oddi ar y sustem ym 1953 a menyn, caws ac olew coginio ym 1954. Daeth 14 mlynedd o ddogni i ben ar y 4ydd o Orffennaf 1954 pan godwyd y cyfyngiadau ar gig a bacwn. Mae hi’n anodd amgyffred y rhyddhad a deimlwyd, yn arbennig o ystyried yr ystod eang o fwydydd a danteithion sydd ar gael i ni heddiw.

In 2017 St Fagans National History Museum will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute. The building was at the heart of Oakdale village community for 80 years until it closed in 1987 and then moved to St Fagans.

Exactly 100 years ago, on 3 July 1916, the work of building the Institute in Oakdale began when a ceremony was held to lay the first foundation stones. This type of ceremony is common when large public buildings are built to mark the beginning of the main construction phase. During the ceremony, a trowel is used to place the mortar where the foundation stone is laid and a trowel is then engraved to commemorate the ceremony.

Two foundation stones were laid at the ceremony for the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute in 1916, one on either side of the main entrance door. The stone on the left was laid by Harry Blount on behalf of the workmen of Oakdale Colliery and the stone on the right by Alfred S. Tallis representing the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, owners of the colliery.

Harry Blount was one of the original members of the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute Committee, formed in 1913. Their meeting place in the early years was in the ‘Huts’, the old barracks which once accommodated the workers of the Oakdale Colliery shafts. In the minutes of the Committee it notes that on 6 January 1914, Harry Blount proposed that they should ‘proceed with the new Institute at once’. At the same meeting Arthur Webb was appointed as the architect and within a month his sketch plan had been accepted by the Committee.

Alfred S Tallis, Managing Director of the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, was involved with the Institute from the beginning with the promise of a financial loan for the building work. He was also the main promoter of the idea of a model village at Oakdale for the company’s workforce with modern housing built in a rural area, away from the colliery. The work of building the new village began in 1909 and the first street, Syr Dafydd Avenue, was completed in 1913 and designed by the Institute’s architect, Arthur Webb, Tallis’s brother-in-law.

The minutes of the Committee briefly mentions the arrangements for the ceremony held on Monday 3 July 1916; there was to be a cold lunch at the Oakdale Hotel with the full Committee attending and the Oakdale Colliery Band were to play around the village half an hour before to advertise the event. The ceremony itself was at 5 o’clock and Sir Charles Edwards, M.P. was asked to attend and to speak.

The two foundation stones can still be seen either side of the Institute’s main door at St Fagans and the commemorative trowels from the ceremony are displayed on the wall of the Institute Committee Room. Both trowels were donated to the Museum in the months before the Institute re-opened at St Fagans in 1995, by Harry Blount’s grandson and by Alfred Tallis’s grand-daughters.

In 2017, the year of the centenary of Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, the Museum is planning to bring the building alive once again, to reflect its original purpose as a place for the community. We’ll be updating you on the project as we go so look out for #Oakdale100 news in the coming weeks and months.

This project is supported by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.