February Meeting:Jeff Childs
The illustrated talk began at Carn Llechart, a five thousand year old burial site on the mountainside above the town of Pontardawe. This marked the location of the earliest Pontardawe families who lived on higher land than today because the climate was warmer at that time. However, most of Pontardawe’s history can be gleaned from its heavy industry since the town has smelted iron and steel, produced chemicals, pottery and even soft drinks. These industries were associated with a handful of families over centuries: Lloyd, Herbert, Gwyn, Parsons and Gilbertson. These in their turn had built many of the grand houses in the area, a few of which are still standing, including Gelli Gron, Plas Cil-y-bebyll and Alltycham.
St. Peter's Church
Jeff spent the bulk of his talk speaking on the role of William Parsons and William Gilbertson who had started the metal smelting industry in the nineteenth century a tradition which lasted for over a century when the steelworks eventually closed in 1960. The Parsons family were responsible fro the building of St Peter’s Church in Pontardawe with its 197 foot steeple. The Gilbertson’s themselves had a mixed reputation locally, since Arthur Gilbertson was a benefactor in many ways but was also a great opponent of unionism and syndicalism which was rife among the industrial workers in the 1890s.
Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Jeff Childs for the time that he has given the Society over the years, and presented a book token to him in appreciation of his efforts. However, this was not the end of the road since Jeff has one last talk on the “Growth of the Penlle’r gare Estate”. We look forward to hearing him again next year.