Amgueddfa Cymru

Hafan

Since the last post the local families coming to the Museum from Ely and Caerau have been enjoying taking part in a variety of exciting sessions, including:

  • Experiencing what it was like to go to school in Victoria Wales.
  • Learning to handle a newt found during pond dipping in the Tannery ponds.
  • Making clay coil pots to take home

So far 102 people have taken part in this programme of activities at St Fagans and the feedback from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I enjoyed the experience of going to a Victoria school because I learnt new things and how they learnt back then.”

“I had a good time holding a newt and looking at all the pond bugs.”

“Brill, we had lots of fun, will be coming back!”

“I liked pottery because you can get messy and it is crafty.”

“Calming session.”

The children are learning a lot, so are the parents, and so are we. We’re finding out just how much families love to learn together and the families are discovering all that the Museum has to offer them. Many of these families had not visited St Fagans until coming along to one of these sessions, and now they are thinking of coming back again. This is why we value our partnership with ACE Action Ely Caerau so much, as they are able to help us to meet and work with these lovely groups to show them just how relevant the Museum on their door step can be to their lives.

With one more week to go we are looking forward to welcoming more families to Bryn Eryr, the Iron Aged farmstead, to help us with an authentic Iron Age smelt, and a very enthusiastic group who will be coming in to take part in a traditional weaving workshop.

Keep following this blog for more updates.

If you are interested in taking part in fun family activities and events at St Fagans over the summer there are lots of opportunities to get involved, just check our What’s On for more information.

This week we welcomed the lovely Croeso Club from Caerphilly to St Fagans. They are an informal community group set up by a local resident, Sandra Hardacre, almost ten years ago. The group aims to support community members to learn new skills, be sociable with others and go on new adventures.

Over the last 6 weeks they have been working with Groundwork Cymru to help to pilot a new project called Go Green 4 Health, which is all about inspiring, supporting and encouraging individuals to use the outdoors to be more active. Each session focuses on a different aspect of using the outdoors for activity, such as ‘the benefits to being outdoors’, ‘overcoming barriers’ and ‘’staying safe’.

For their last walk the group members had asked if they could come to St Fagans, so Flik Walls, project coorindator, got in touch with us at the Museum and we set it up.

We planned a 30 minute walk, taking in some of the key buildings at St Fagans such as Nant Wallter Cottage, Rhyd-y-Car Terrace Houses and the Oakdale Workmen's Institute, of which some of the ladies had very fond memories.

We also made sure there was plenty of time to stop for a coffee and piece of cake on our way around. This was a perfect chance for the ladies to talk about their experiences of being part of the Go Green 4 Health project and share their thoughts and feedback with myself, the Groundwork Team and the project evaluator Katy Marrin. It was also a lovely opportunity for the group to share poems some of them had written about their journey together. Here's a lovely poem written by Lyn:

Go Green 4 Health Poem

Two lovely people came to coax us all to walk,

To ramble and enjoy ourselves and also have a talk.

 

We played walking bingo, I’m sure it was a fix,

Next we all said poems that was a real mix.

 

A lovely trip to Trelewis Park, fresh air and loads of rests,

Caerphilly Castle we went next, soaked through right to our vests.

 

And what about walking football that we were meant to play,

They said there was some cheating, ‘we were robbed’ I heard them say.

 

The last walk sadly to St Fagan’s, a fab day out for all,

So now the Croeso Club love walking, they’ve really had a ball.

 

We are really looking forward to developing a link with Groundwork Cymru so we can continue to work together on similar projects in the future. Follow this blog for updates and to find out how it's all going.

 

Over the summer we are working with ACE Action Ely Caerau (Communities First) to put together a series of fun and accessible family workshops and activities for local families. The programme was developed ahead of time with ACE and includes sessions such as:

Traditional Toys

Wash Day with Beti Bwt

Rag Rug Making

Life in the Iron Age

Pond Dipping

Pottery

So far we have had lots of fun making rag rugs, learning about and playing with traditional toys, discovering what life was like for our ancestors living in the Iron Age and experiencing what it was like to go to school in Victorian Wales.

 

Here’s a snap shot of some of the feedback from the children and parents who have come along

“I love it here and I had fun.”

“Had a really enjoyable afternoon, learning to make rag rugs. Very interesting. Will definitely carry this on. Thank you to all concerned.”

“I really enjoyed playing with the toys.”

“I've learnt lots!”

"I thought it was very fun, but I would not want to go to school in Victoria times."

There are still lots more sessions to come so follow this blog to learn how the rest of the summer goes!

This week we have also started a new programme of exciting storytelling, reading and activity workshops with Cardiff Libraries. These are open to everyone and will be taking place on Monday’s and Wednesday’s at St Fagans until 24th August so why not come along next time!

If you are interested in taking part in other similar family activities and events at St Fagans over the summer there are lots of opportunities to get involved, just check our What’s On guide for more information.

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.

Don't worry no violence was involved.  It was the turn of Llainfadyn this week, our quarrymen’s cottage from Gwynedd, to receive a clean and make over from our Historic Interior and Conservation Volunteer team.  It was a big task so thanks to everyone involved. This included stripping the beds and giving everything including the feather mattresses a good airing and beating to remove a winters worth of dust and dirt.  As long as the textiles are strong enough this is still a very effective method of removing grime without the aid of modern appliances.

We also held a competition between a modern broom and a traditional one made from hazel twigs (that all important witches’ accessory at Halloween).  To help protect the collections on display it's important we try and reduce the amount of dust and dirt being brought into the houses by our thousands of visitors each year.  Our first line of defence to achieve this is the cobbles outside, these help dislodge the grit and dirt from peoples' shoes before they even enter the building, but for these to work the cobbles need to be clean and not clogged up with dirt. So one of our first important tasks was to clean the stones outside.

So which broom won?  The traditional of course, with its long twiggy brush it was the best at dislodging the dirt from between the cobbles.   This job would certainly have been an everyday task for most households in the past.

Our second line of defence to keep the dust down is the rag rug, often found in cottages of this period.  These were made from scraps of material or worn out clothes and blankets, so as well as providing much needed comfort and colour they were great at trapping dirt.  They could then be picked up, taken outside and beaten with a carpet beater to remove the grime.  We are currently making one for Llainfadyn, unfortunately the odd hail storm meant that Jane and Emma had to find seats by the open fire to carry on their work.