Amgueddfa Cymru

Hafan

In September 2016 Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales will again be participating in Open Doors, an event organised by Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service). The idea behind the event is to offer people the opportunity to visit a variety of sites important to the culture and history of Wales. The highlight of the event is the opportunity to visit places that are not normally, or are infrequently, open to the public.

The National Collections Centre, Nantgarw, is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and houses thousands of interesting and important objects that are not on display. Although not normally open to the general public we have always offered access to researchers, and also to various groups and societies. Staff at the National Collections Centre have always seen the importance of opening up the site to allow visitors access to view some of these objects and to see the work that is carried out by staff on site.

We are always looking for new ways to get visitors on site, to encourage people to learn about what we do, and provide more access to the collections in store. Therefore we have decided to repeat last year’s success and get involved in Open Doors again. This year we will be open on two days as part of Open Doors, on Wednesday 7th September and Thursday 29th September 2016. There will be five tours on each day at 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 2.00 and 3.00. Each tour will last about 45 minutes and visitors will be able to take a closer look at some of the collections held on site, and find out about the work of staff based here.

Booking is essential for these tours. Please ring us on 029 2057 3560 or 029 2057 3583 to book a place, or find out further information. You can also email us on industry@museumwales.ac.uk

Further details can be found on the Cadw website, as well as details of all other places open as part of Open Doors.

We hope as many people as possible will be able to enjoy the tours and be able to see some of the amazing objects preserved by Amgueddfa Cymru for the people of Wales.

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 object this month is a photograph that shows the first ever rally of the Welsh Automobile Club. This was held at Bracelet Bay (a small bay close to Swansea near Mumbles Head) on 3rd December, probably in 1906 though we are not sure of the year. Can anyone help? The photograph was taken by W. Richards (late W.C. Roberts) of 16 & 17 Castle Street, Swansea.

The Welsh Automobile Club was founded in about June 1904. The Western Mail of the 4th June 1904 reported “At last Welsh motor-cyclists have decided to form a club. I have just received details of a new organisation which is to be known as the Welsh Automobile Club. It intends to recruit its members from all parts of Wales, and has, I believe, a very representative committee… The club intends holding its meetings in all the chief towns of Wales… The organisation will be affiliated to the Motor Union and associated with the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland.”

In 1905 it had a membership of 99 people.

 

This natural abrasive stone was used to grind/polish tinplate hand rolling mills. Roll turning, grinding and polishing were highly skilled crafts crucial to the working of iron, steel, tinplate and non-ferrous rolling mills. Little is recorded of these crafts, and so this stone is important in representing this important craft. Note that the metal frameworks that supported the stones have long since been scrapped as the last sheet hand mills in Wales closed in the mid-1960s. The stone was obtained by the donor during his employment in Player’s Tinplate Works, Clydach, in the early 1950s.

As stated in previous blog posts, Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. This month we have added to this collection a share certificate for the Mawddach Gold Dredging Syndicate Ltd., dated 1896. This concern undertook the only significant attempts to search for the considerable quantities of gold that would have been washed down into the Mawddach Estaury by both natural weathering processes and during nineteenth century mining operations.

This month, we were donated a hot metal forme which was used to print the front page of Western Mail newspaper on Saturday 2 February 1980. This was the last edition to be printed using this technology.

The forme is made of Linotype 'slugs' of type (cast from a lead-tin-antimony alloy), and plastic 'line blocks' reproducing images, within a steel ‘chase’ [frame]. The formes were usually ‘broken-up’ (i.e. dismantled) after being used, this one being kept for its historic significance. Thus a forme, although crucial to the production of a newspaper, had only a transitory existence of a few hours. This technology was in use from about the 1890s to the 1980s.

The next edition of both the Western Mail (and its sister paper the South Wales Echo) printed two days later on Monday 4 February marked the transition from this 'hot metal' process (both the slugs produced by the Linotype machines and the steroplates were cast using molten type metal) to photo typesetting, offset lithographic printing, and electronic / desk-top page composition.

The two images show the final page of the Western Mail using the last forme. The second images is an article from the South Wales Echo concerning the change over, and showing the work in process..

 

Finally this month we were donated a lamp recovered from the Albion Colliery explosion of 1894.  Inside the lamp was found a letter dated 1928 relating to the South Wales Coal Miners' Hinder March. Full details can be found in this article.

 

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 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