Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Many thanks to Mr Doug Davies of Llandefaelog (formerly of Y Deri, Glynneath Road) for donating an original copy of D.Rhys Phillips's " The History of the Vale of Neath" for the use of the Society. A facsimile version of the book was produced by Neath Borough Council in 1994 to coincide with the National Eisteddfod in the area, but this is the version produced in 1925 and sub-titled " A Romantic Valley in Wales". We will have a chance to thank Mr Davies formally in March since he will be the guest speaker.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January Meeting

Another gem from Phylip Jones

As has been stated many times before, Resolven has a history society as against a local history society, in that our aim is to promote the study of history in all its forms. However, one meeting which is ever popular is the lecture given by our President, Mr Phylip Jones loosely described as a local theme. If ever the term “expert” was given to any local historian then Phylip must fully deserve that title and his talk is always eagerly awaited by members.

This year, Phylip strayed slightly out of the confines of the lower Clydach, in that he took the community of Clyne as his focus. The name “Clyne” is an Anglicisation of the word “clun” in Welsh, which refers to a field or meadow. Sometimes, the word clun is lost or subsumed in local place names e.g. Glyncastle (Glyn would refer to a valley) was originally “Clun y Castell”.

The hamlet of Clyne according to Phylip extends from the upper Clydach (known locally as the Melincourt brook today) to the river Twrch, up-valley of Cyd Terrace (which would put the terrace technically in Tonna). The word twrch itself was a matter of curiosity since many Welsh place names especially rivers refer to animals. Twrch takes its name from the wild boar ( it also refers to the cutting down of the river “tyrchu” Ed.), other local place names such as Blaen-nant-yr hebog and Llettybella (pine marten) show the same propensity.

In 1841, Clyne was an extremely rural society composed of farms such as Cefngelli,Ystradowen,Tynewydd,Ty Du, Ynysdyfnant,Henllan, Glyngwilym, Llettydafydd,Blaencwmffrwd and Balentwrch. The “Bottle and Glass” was a tavern situated in the hamlet which was owned by Gruffudd Griffiths. Only ten residents were described as colliers in the cesus. By 1861, two new houses had been built Canal House and Penrhiw House, the latter being the home of celebrated historian D. Rhys Phillips. In 1871, Moses row was built and the urban development of Clyne began especially around Clyne Tinworks. Many of the incoming residents came from the upper Swansea valley and the community remained a totally monoglot Welsh speaking one.
Clyne Tinworks 
Phylip then turned his attention to Education in Clyne. There was no record of a circulating school in Clyne (though a mistake may have been made regarding Clun being mistaken for Glyncastle in one record). Resolfen had a National school in 1854, but Clyne would have to wait for its Board school until 1996. The Reverend D.G. Morgan was the Chairman of Governors and the headmaster was Mr R J Martin. Interestingly, Mrs Martin was also a member of staff despite the practice at the time of women desisting from being teachers on getting married. The school opened with a total of 104 pupils.

Phylip then concluded his talk by looking at the log book of the school and pointing out some notable events. The school roll had declined slightly when Resolven Board School opened in 1899, since it was obviously easier for children from Melincourt and Moses Row to attend that school. The funeral of D.G.Morgan meant that the school was closed for the day. This was also the case following the relief of Mafeking and the return of Colonel Vaughan (Rheola) at the end of the Great War. In 1904, a holiday was given for the children to visit Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Neath.  Interestingly, Hermon Chapel was described as a vestry, since it did not become a fully-fledged chapel until the 1920s. This was due to the fact that buildings were used as nearby vantage points for the holding of a Sunday school, saving the members a long walk back following morning chapel. The pensioner’s hall known as the “Ganu” in Resolfen performed a similar service for Bethania Chapel in the village. The “Ganu” is a corruption o “Y Gangen” – the branch, and was also known as Einon Chapel.

Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Phylip Jones for a most memorable talk.

Annual Dinner:
Members and friends should note that the annual dinner has been arranged for Friday March 3rd at the Farmers Arms. The cost is £13.50 and the menu will be available at the next meeting. Contact any member of the committee to add your name.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Why,oh why?

During our recent meeting featuring the Resolven War Memorial one of the late Dai Blaina's poems on the futility of war was on display. The inspiration for the poem was a visit by Cor Meibion De Cymru to the battlefields of Northern France and Flanders including the Welsh memorial at Mametz Wood. The poem is reproduced in full below: 

Why, oh why ?
On the twenty seventh year of June
Côr Meibion De Cymru in full tune
Set out to commemorate
The Greatest loss of life to date .
More than a million gave their lives away
For all the world to sing today.

As we remember their greatest sacrifice
Thoughtless pens treat men like lice.
Generals with Haig behind the lines,
Intelligence vague,confused minds.
Attack! Attack! The signals flashed
Attack! Attack! The lives they smashed.
Battered by shot and shell
Shattered by this man-made hell.
A million and more of varied tongue
With supreme courage, but so young

Their silent graves throughout France
Hide the brave smiles of these lads
Why, oh why? did they have to die
Why, oh why? we still reason why.
As tears drop from those who mourn
The fields of those ‘neath granite stone
Surely as the huge mounds
All this land is sacred ground.

As we stood on the Dragon’s Hill
Facing Mametz Wood, all standing still.
Many thoughts cloud my heart and brain
Were all those tears dropped in vain.
Thoughts of the Somme, for moments lost
As I count again, another cost.

Still sacred beneath this sacred shrine
My thoughts steal back to thirty nine.
Six long years, two more than four,
The tears of Somme dry on the floor.
So confused I look to the sky
And ask again, oh why, oh why?

Still standing at the Mametz Wood
My prayer was answered as we stood.
The brutal chambers of the gas
The Burma roads that soil the maps .
Perhaps, a fool, I could not see
A child from school knows that we are free.

David Davies

(Dai Blaina)