Amgueddfa Cymru


This month Amgueddfa Cymru was able to acquire a painting of Henry Howard Evans. The painting dates to about 1892, and is interesting as it has been painted over a photograph. The photograph was taken by Goldie Bros. of Cardiff and it is signed at bottom right. The brothers Frank and Lawrence C. Goldie had studios at Swansea, and in 1888 they opened a photographic studio in Queen Street, Cardiff where this photograph was probably taken. They produced photographic portraits of people such as the Marquis of Bute and Madame Patti. This photograph has then been painted over to resemble an oil painting, and presumably this was done by, or on behalf of, Goldie Bros. The painting contained an engraved inscription on the frame that shows it was presented to Mr H.H. Evans, who was Undermanager of the Gelly Colliery, by the Gelly House Coal Workmen and friends on his leaving the colliery in December 1892.

We know quite a lot about the life of Henry H. Evans. He was born on 28th April 1865 in 15 Windsor St., Aberdare. He started work as a colliers’ boy at 12 years of age at Bwllfa Colliery, Aberdare. In 1880 the family moved to Maerdy in the Rhondda Fach and Henry continued his career as a collier in Maerdy Colliery until 1884 when he was articled to Mr Rees Llewelyn, Mining Engineer, Aberdare. His training was cut short by the death of his father, Mr John Evans a colliery official, in the Maerdy Colliery explosion of 1885 when he became the family’s bread winner. He began to attend the first mining night school in Aberdare about this time, walking over the mountain from Maerdy to Aberdare for the lessons. At twenty four he gained his 2nd class certificate of competency and became the under manager of Gelli Nos. 2 and 3 Pits where he remained for several years. He later returned to Maerdy Colliery as under manager.

He became manager of Bwllfa Colliery, Aberdare in 1894 where he remained for 18 years until he became the Agent for Albion Collieries in 1912. In 1910 he received the Edward Medal for bravery for saving the life of Mr John Isaac, a colliery repairer who had been trapped under a fall of roof. The museum holds in its collection another painting dating from 1929, which shows H.H. Evans wearing his Edward Medal.

By January 25th 1932, he had become general manager of the Cambrian Combine and lead a team of volunteers following the explosion in Llwynypia Colliery. He was 67 years old at the time and stayed down the pit until the last victim had been found. Eleven men were killed including two rescuers.

The Mines Inspector’s report was rather scathing about the rescue attempt – “In reference to the rescue operations, in the cold light of events it must be said that they were conducted with greater valour than discretion, for even when men from the Porth Rescue Station equipped with breathing apparatus were engaged in J. Alsop’s face, officials not so equipped, including the General Manager (Mr. H.H. Evans), the Agent (Mr. R. Lloyd) and the Manager (Mr. J. Whitticombe), were engaged in Prior’s and Brown’s. They had with them a canary but appear to have had more regard for its life than for their own, with the result that one of their party, John Evans, Overman, was overcome by afterdamp and died.”

He died on May 2nd 1936 only a few weeks after being elected Chairman of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coalowners’ Association. He was buried in Aberdare Cemetery.

This painting joins the other painting mentioned here. As well as a model of a coal dram. This model is a scale replica of a ‘Patent Cambrian Tram’ invented by H.H. Evans and R. Evans in 1931.

As well as this photograph/painting we have acquired a number of other photographs this month, these include these two photographs showing Oakdale Colliery and Markham Colliery, which were taken during the late 20th century.

Finally this ‘book’ of matches we have collected for the two adverts that relate to tourism in Porthcawl. On the front is an advert for Caesars Palace & Mississippi Ballroom while the reverse has an advert for Trecco Bay Holiday Caravan Camp.


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



We are delighted to welcome our new intern, Theo Tamblyn, to the Invertebrate Diversity Section of the Department of Natural Sciences. Theo is currently in his gap year between A Level’s and university and is looking into studying an Earth Sciences degree at either Bristol University or UCL next year.  Theo’s passion for the natural world started at a young age, firstly with a focus on insects, which then evolved into collecting and learning about shells (molluscs), aided by his 8 year membership to the Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland. He is no stranger to the Department, having already undertaken work experience with the Mollusca Curators whilst still at school, and Theo is keen to work with us once again. So, what will he be doing...


The Ted Phorson collection

Theo will be spending a total of 3 months with us curating and databasing the Ted Phorson collection, which was bequeathed to us in 2006. This collection, although primarily British marine molluscs, also contains lamp shells (Brachiopods), seed shrimp (Ostracods) and a group of miniscule marine seafloor dwelling animals known as forams (Foraminifera). It is a complex collection consisting of a mixture of microscope slides, growth series, loose micro-specimens and larger shell material. You can see from Figs. 3 and 4 that the slides and growth series in particular are often extremely beautiful.


Small but perfectly formed

The uniqueness of Ted Phorson’s collection comes from the fact that he meticulously picked out the tiny shells found in fine un-sieved shell-sand, therefore capturing the juveniles (young) of many species. Juveniles are an ongoing problem for scientists, with very few illustrations published of even the most common species, and so a reference collection like Ted Phorson’s is invaluable. The work that Theo carries out will make this collection accessible for the first time - it can then be utilised for Museum research projects such as the Marine Bivalve Shells of the British Isles, as well as being a useful resource for external users.

We are grateful to the Conchological Society of Great Britain & Ireland who have kindly part-funded Theo Tamblyn’s internship.

Conservators are a misunderstood race. When we start talking about what we do (conservation, of course), many people see us cuddling pandas and elephant babies. Some of us do indeed work with elephants – but generally only long after their demise. Because we protect not the living from dying, but the dead from decaying.

Natural and cultural heritage (for a definition, please see here) does not last forever. In fact, heritage can be incredibly ephemeral. In the museum context, just think of all the materials we hold in store: paper, wood, bone, feathers, leaves, glass, ceramics – all things that can break or decompose easily. But this just happens to be what your heritage is made of. All those objects making up our cultural treasure chest are in constant danger of breaking, getting mouldy, being eaten by insects, falling apart.

It is the job of your friendly museum conservator to make sure your children and your children’s children will still have that cultural reference point in many years to come. This requires a lot of work, all of the time – the rot never sleeps. Usually, only when things go wrong do conservators end up in the news. Most of the time, these highly skilled and experienced people go about their jobs unseen, in laboratories and studios deep in the bowels of museums, or in the galleries long after closing time.

To be a conservator today requires years of training, and rightly so – our heritage is too precious to risk gluing a beard back on wonky and with the wrong type of glue. The National Museum’s team of 20 conservators cares for approximately three million objects. These collections are hugely varied: the museum collects helicopters, microfossils, skeletons, oil paintings, mobile phones, harps and 18th century ball gowns. Conservation is therefore definitely for the specialist.

Restoring a painting, cleaning a Viking sword or preparing a fossil dinosaur skull, let me tell you, is really not easy. If you want to do it well it takes knowledge of materials, history and analytical sciences, experience and skill. Is it any easier to store things? Well, no, actually, to store objects correctly – that is, without inviting decay – the store must be dry (but not too dry!), cool, clean, free from pests, well organised, and have the right type of shelving for whatever we are storing.

Do you now want a chance to find out what a conservator is and what they really do? If you have a coin bring it along to our first Museum Conservators Open Day – we’ll show you what it’s made from during half term week: 27th October 2015 at National Museum Cardiff. You can play the X-ray game (perfectly safe, promise!), find out what creepy-crawlies are eating our collections and your wardrobe at home, and try your hands at conservation skills. All for free from 10am to 5pm!

Ymhen dim bydd y Nadolig yma eto ac rwy’n siwr bod llawer ohonoch eisoes wedi dechrau ar eich rhaglen ymarfer corff yn barod ar gyfer dathliadau’r Ŵyl.  Ond, os nad yw loncian ar balmentydd caled neu chwysu yn y gampfa yn apelio, beth am ddechrau gan bwyll bach trwy ymarfer y tafod yn gyntaf?

Ar nosweithiau oer o aeaf cyn dyfodiad y radio, y teledu a gemau cyfrifiadurol i'r cartref, byddai’r teulu yn ymgynnull o amgylch y tân ac yn creu eu difyrrwch eu hunain trwy adrodd storïau a rhigymau, datrys posau llafar a rhoi cynnig ar ynganu clymau tafod. 

Bu clymau tafod yn rhan bwysig o adloniant yng Nghymru dros y blynyddoedd a cheir llawer enghraifft yn Archif Sain Amgueddfa Werin Cymru.  Mae eu hadrodd  yn fodd i feithrin y cof, i ymarfer llefaru yn glir a gofalus ac i reoli’r anadl.  Pa ffordd well i baratoi ar gyfer partïon y Nadolig?

Dyma rai enghreifftiau o’r archif.  Allwch chi eu hynganu’n gyflym, yn glir ac yn gywir ar un anadl?


Cwrci Cathlas

Yn gyntaf, cwlwm tafod ar gof Mary Thomas, Ffair Rhos, a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1979:

          Ma cwrci cathlas yn tŷ ni.

          Ma cwrci cathlas yn tŷ chi.

          Ond ma’n cwrci cathlas ni yn saith glasach na’ch cwrci cathlas chi.


Iechyd Da i Ni’ll Dau

Ar recordiad arall mae Dr W. Grey Hughes, Waunfawr, a recordiwyd yn 1971, yn cofio cymeriad o’r ardal yn codi ei gwpan mewn te parti ac yn adrodd y canlynol:

          Iechyd da i ni’ll dau.

          Os ‘dy nhw’ll dwy’n caru ni’ll dau fel ‘da ni’ll dau'n caru nhw’ll dwy,

          iechyd da i ni'll pedwar. 

          Os nad yw nhw’ll dwy'n caru ni’ll dau fel ‘da ni’ll dau'n caru nhw’ll dwy,

          iechyd da i ni’ll dau, a gadal nhw’ll dwy o’r neilltu.


Englyn i’r Pry’ Cop

Ac i gloi, dyma un o’m hoff enghreifftiau i yn yr archif.   Adroddwyd y cwlwm hwn gan Lewis T. Evans, Gyffylliog, a recordiwyd yn 1971.  Englyn heb gytsain i’r pry’ cop:

          O’i wiw ŵy i wau e â; - o’i ieuau

                       Ei weau a wea;

                 E wywa ei we aea,

                 A’i weau yw ieuau iâ.


Mae llawer yn cofio clymau tafod a adroddwyd iddynt gan eu rhieni neu aelodau arall o’r teulu.  Oes gennych chi ffefryn?

This is a short introduction to one of the Archive collections held at St Fagans: National History Museum. The Paper archive consists of 35,000 items relating to Welsh Social and Cultural History.

Whose story does it tell?

This archive gives us a picture of people's everyday lives in Wales during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and up to the present day.

What does it contain?

It contains among other items diaries; letters; trade account books; memoirs; linguistic studies; local history and folklore; traditional recipes; notes on traditional medicines; records of traditional buildings; agricultural records; educational and school records and a large collection of folk music.

A Recent Donation – Letters written by Ffransis Payne between 1935-1936

Ffransis Payne was Keeper of Collections at the Welsh Folk Museum (now known as St Fagans: National History Museum) and worked alongside Dr. Iorwerth Peate. Recently, his son Ceri Payne collated and then donated to the Archive extracts of letters, his father sent to his mother before they married in the period 1935 to 1936.

Ffransis was born in Kington in Herefordshire and previously worked as a farm hand in Cardiganshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire. He also worked in the steelworks of Ebbw Vale, in the rail yards of Neath, as a clerk in Glasgow and as a book seller back in Cardiganshire.

He became an Archivist in Swansea in 1934 and was then appointed Assistant in the Department of Folk Culture and Industries at National Museum Cardiff in 1936.

In his letters to his future wife Helly Bilek, a 19 year old from Austria, he discusses international events (the rising tensions on the continent pre Second World War); Welsh political problems (a clash between unemployed workers and the Welsh National Party in May 1936 during the Pwllheli Annual Fair, regarding the Government's proposal to build a new air base and bombing school at Porth Neigwl) and a comment from his friend Saunders Lewis on the event.

The letters also contain comments about his work at the Museum and items collected and researched by him, and finally domestic observations about living and working in Cardiff during this period.

Wednesday, 15th of April, 1936 - I have just been listening to the news on the wireless. The situation in Austria is serious, it was said, and frontier troop movements etc. .......there is a month for us to see what will happen...
Western Mail, Monday May 25th,1936 - "Fight at Welsh Air Base Protest Meeting, Nationalist Party Leaders Clash with Unemployed"
Tuesday, 26th May, 1936 - I had a talk with Saunders Lewis today. He says the newspaper report exaggerated. He certainly seems unruffled.
Tuesday, 30th June, 1936 - My first real job has been assigned to me, it is making a catalogue and guide to the Museum's collection of samplers!!
Sunday, 5th July, 1936 - As for my work at the museum. I was and am quite serious. If you are interested in people and ways of life, you will find plenty to interest you in my work.