Amgueddfa Cymru

Hafan

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

The National Waterfront Museum’s current exhibition “Forget me not: Postcards from the First World War” features a fantastic selection of various postcards from the industry & transport, and social & cultural history collections of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. An estimated 272,000 Welshmen served in the First World War, and at the height of the conflict a staggering 19,000 mail sacks a day were sent back to Britain from the front. As well as displaying a wide variety of different types of postcards, the exhibition also showcases some personal stories.

 

One of these personal stories relates to Evan William Jones, a slate quarryman from Pendyffryn, Dinorwig. Evan was born in about 1891, and when he enlisted was married to Laura with one daughter. He was initially exempted from military service on the grounds of 'exceptional domestic position', and this exemption lasted until 29th September 1916. He then enlisted in the 1/4th Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment on 25th October 1916, where he was a Private with the Reg No. 242727. His Unit Register Card notes his occupation as ‘Slate Quarryman’. On 19th March 1919 he was transferred to the Army Reserve. At the end of the war he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

 

Amongst the collection relating to Evan Jones’ First World War service are his ‘Certificate of Exemption’, ‘Unit Register Card’, and a ‘Field Service Post Card’. Along with these are eight postcards, one a studio portrait of Evan probably taken before he left for service, and five showing men in military uniform, along with three postcards sent by Evan to his family. There is also a good luck card sent from ‘Evan to my mother’. Most of these are on display in the current exhibition.

 

Evan W. Jones survived the war, but was later involved in an accident at Dinorwig Quarry when a crane overturned and fell on him, resulting in a fracture of his skull. He died at the Quarry Hospital on 1st December, 1924. The exhibition features a memorial poster printed with a poem (of ten verses) written in Welsh by Elias Hughes (Myfyrian), and containing a photograph of Evan W. Jones in the centre.

 

Dinorwig Quarry hospital was opened in 1860. General surgery was still practiced there till the 1940s when it became a first aid centre. It closed in 1962, and was later restored and opened as a visitors centre in 1970 as part of the Padarn Lake Country Park. The hospital is situated very close to the National Slate Museum at Llanberis.

 

“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 First World War collection at Amgueddfa Cymru view this online catalogue.

The first object this month is this wages book from Roath Power Station. Roath Power Station was owned by the Cardiff City Electricity Department until Nationalisation, when the Central Electricity Generating Board formed. It was situated on a site on the corner of Newport Road and Colchester Avenue, and began supplying electricity in 1902. It was essential in supplying electricity to the new fleet of electric trams that began running in Cardiff from 1902, and a Tram Depot was situated close by on Newport Road. This aerial view from the Tempest Collection shows the site in the 1950s after the construction of the two concrete cooling towers were completed in 1942.

 

 

Last year we were donated a copy of the design for the Lesbians & Gay Men Support the Miners Group badge that was produced in 1984. The events from 1984/85 were recently depicted in the film ‘Pride’. We have now been donated two of the original designs for the badge. This complements a number of objects in our collection including a 30th anniversary badge manufactured in 2014.

 

Also relating to the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike we have been donated this month this ‘Cardiff Miners Support Committee’ mug. It was manufactured by the Welsh Beaker Company in about 1985. It was purchased by the donor at a benefit gig at Cardiff Students Union, whilst a student at Cardiff, to support the miners during the 1984/85 strike.

 

Finally we need your help to identify this lovely view of a Victorian boating lake. It was taken by the photographer J. Owen of Newtown who had won a prize for his photography at the National Eisteddfod on 1889. The lake is currently unidentified but it has been suggested it might be the lake at Llandrindod Wells, or possibly Lake Mochdre at Newtown. If anyone is able to help confirm the location we would love to hear from you.

 

 

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

St Fagans: National History Museum in the past 60 years has played an important role in collecting and recording the experiences of women in Wales. The Archive collections at St Fagans reflects the work done by several members of research staff to document the many facets that contributed to the lives of past generations of women in Wales, and continues to document their experiences. This blog focuses particularly on the work of one woman researcher, namely S. Minwel Tibbott, and her legacy, and on International Women’s Day looks at her invaluable contribution to document the lives of her fellow sisters in Wales.

S. Minwel Tibbott began working in St Fagans in the early 1960’s and later became Assistant Keeper. Her research work mainly focused on women’s everyday domestic lives collected via oral testimony, photography and film, and was set against a post Second World War Wales that was rapidly transforming, but for a number of women, life had stayed relatively unchanged for generations. Domestic appliances and labour saving devices were emerging and available, but out of the economic reach of many Welsh women at this time, however, as the 1960’s progressed and disposable income more commonplace this began to change.  Many of the images shown here therefore capture domestic rituals that may have been lost had it not been for the foresight of S. Minwel Tibbott to record them. St Fagans continues to record and document the lives of women in Wales via the #Creu Hanes #Making History project. Recent donations have included an archive collection relating to one Welsh woman’s experience at Greenham Common for example.