South Wales & West of England Standard Manufacturing Company Ltd., Bute Street & Herbert Street, Cardiff

The South Wales and West of England Standard Manufacturing Company Ltd appears to have established its Cardiff operation shortly before World War I.  No reference has been found prior to 1913, but that year’s Western Mail Directory lists the company at 43 Bute Street.  By 1915, they occupied substantial corner premises fronting onto both Bute Street and Herbert Street, where their business embraced the manufacture and wholesale supply of dungaree overalls, khaki & white drills, shirts, singlets, and oilskins.  During 1915, the company was contracted to manufacture several thousand kit bags for the Welsh Army Corps at a unit price of 1/11½d (slightly less than 10p).

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In 1940, the company received building approval to extend their factory and it is thought that Mary Traynor’s drawing depicts the Herbert Street frontage of this extension, for which plans were drawn up by Cardiff architect, T. Elvet Llewellyn.

By the 1950s, the company was marketing its products under the brand name Stamana (presumably a contraction of STAndard MANufActuring) and directories indicate that they were still operating from the same premises – by then known as Stamana House – into the 1970s.  The building has since been demolished; part of its site has been taken for road widening, while the remainder is now a grassed and landscaped area on the east side of Bute Street between Herbert Street and the pedestrian and cycle path passing under the Cardiff Bay railway.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/21]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan of extension to factory premises at 42 Bute Street, 1940 [BC/S/1/34142]
  • Western Mail Cardiff Directory, 1913
  • The City and Port of Cardiff – Official Handbook, 1955
  • Kelly’s Directory of Cardiff, 1972
  • http://cymru1914.org/cy/view/archive_file/3907059/3
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Nonpareil Market, James Street, Cardiff

Over the next few weeks our blog will once again highlight a collection which helps to record the changing face of Cardiff and south Wales.  In June 2014 Glamorgan Archives received a very interesting and unique deposit from Mary Traynor, a Cardiff based artist who, since the late 1960s, has tried to capture buildings in Cardiff and the surrounding area which are at threat of demolition.  Her work has been displayed in various exhibitions over the years and highlights many buildings that have since been lost.  The collection contains her sketchbooks and loose works, some of which had previously been framed and on display.  These sketches and paintings complement many other series of records held in the archives, providing a valuable source to those researching the history of buildings in the area.

Glamorgan Archives volunteer David Webb has been using these records to undertake research into the histories of some of the buildings featured in Mary Traynor’s works of art.

The Nonpareil Market stood on the corner of James Street and Louisa Street, in Cardiff’s Butetown.  It was 48 & 49 James Street until about 1905 when the street was re-numbered and it became 27 & 29.

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A carved stone plaque above the third storey of number 27 (formerly 49) reads ‘The Nonpareil Market 1889’ and this is something of a mystery.  The premises were already in existence prior to that year – approval to add the third storey was sought as early as 1871.  In 1889, Frederick Ward, a butcher, received building approval for alterations to both 48 and 49 so it may be assumed that the plaque was installed as part of this work.  However, the reason for doing so remains unclear.  Nonpareil is a word of French origin, meaning unequalled or unrivalled, but no record has been found of the name ‘Nonpareil Market’ being used either as an address or business name there.  Ward’s business was based at number 49, while 48 was a grocery shop operated by the well-known entrepreneur, Solomon Andrews.  Since Andrews was also engaged in the building trade, it is tempting to speculate that he might have been behind the erection of the plaque – but no evidence has been found to that effect.

Ward & Co, Shipping Butchers were still listed here in Kelly’s 1972 Directory – having, by then, expanded into Solomon Andrews’ former shop, but Mary Traynor’s drawing shows that the premises were bricked up by 1980.  The building was subsequently demolished as part of a larger-scale redevelopment. Some of the site was taken for road widening, while the remainder is now occupied by modern flats fronting onto Louisa Place.  The ‘Nonpareil Market’ plaque has been re-installed close to its original location, in an archway over a footpath into the new development.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/20]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan of alterations to 49 James Street, 1871 [BC/S/1/90569]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan of alterations to 48 & 49 James Street, 1889 alterations [BC/S/1/7416]
  • Butcher’s Cardiff District Directory, 1882-83
  • Kelly’s Directory of Cardiff, 1972
  • http://wearecardiff.co.uk/2014/04/18/100-days-in-cardiff-the-non-pareil-market/
  • Williams, Stewart, Cardiff Yesterday, vol. 31, image 69

“Get your butty to wash your back”: Pithead Baths in the South Wales Coalfield

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DNCB/79/8/188: Three unidentified Colliers, Caerau Bath Opening, 6 Mar 1954

As the Glamorgan’s Blood project continues, material concerning the colliery pithead baths comes to light within the Glamorgan Archives collection.

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DNCB/66/197: Pithead Baths, Treharris, General view of the pithead baths, c. 1921

The introduction of pithead baths from the 1920s onwards was a huge benefit to those working in the south Wales coalfield. Before the pithead baths, miners would return home from work in dirty clothes, wet from water in the pit and sweat, increasing the hazards of mine work by adding the danger of contracting illness. The introduction of the pithead baths offered some protection against these types of ailments, with showering and changing facilities allowing miners to return home in clean and dry clothing. 1

Washing at the pithead baths also meant that miners were not having to wash at home in the family sitting room, a task that often required the miner’s wife to prepare the miners’ bath and clean and wash his dirty clothes, tasks that brought coal dust and dirt into the family home. The preparation of the bath water was also dangerous to the miner’s family as:

…many children were badly scalded – and often died – as a result of falling into prepared bath water or upsetting water which was being boiled in readiness for the bath. One south Wales coroner claimed that he conducted more inquests into the deaths of children who were scaled than he did into miners who were killed underground. 2

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DNCB/66/3: Penallta Miner bathing, c.1930

One of the main areas of the National Coal Board collection concerning the Pithead Baths is the colliery building plans collection. As part of the Glamorgan’s Blood project the archivist and project conservator are currently working simultaneously to catalogue the material and assess it for conservation treatment and storage requirements.

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DNCB/1/4/2/10: Abercynon Pithead Baths, Apr 1950

The wide range of sizes, processes and materials present in this collection pose a variety of conservation issues and requirements in terms of storage, access to the material and long term preservation. The plans for the pithead baths in the NCB collection display a variety of different techniques and processes for producing architectural drawings.  Diazotypes, blueprints and pencil and ink drawings appear most frequently on a range of substrates.  Examples of wash-off prints, gel-lithographs and silver halide prints also appear in this collection, displaying different conservation issues.  The most pressing conservation challenge is the heavily degraded acetate support used as both a tracing material and as a negative to create duplicate plans, appearing in this collection as a base for both pencil and ink drawings and diazotypes. The majority of these acetate plans display advanced plastic deterioration in the form of embrittlement which has caused them to crack and shatter, making them impossible to produce in the searchroom.  Digitisation of these plans will be the only way to make them accessible, as options are limited in terms of conservation treatment and long term preservation of this type of material.

 

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DNCB/60/65/4: Example of a Shattered Plan, Acetate, 1951

The plans show the pithead bath facilities from collieries across south Wales, dating so far from between the 1930s-1970s. Through floor plans, site plans and elevations researchers will be able to see what facilities were on offer to colliery workers, including separate clean and dirty entrances and locker rooms, shower facilities, boot cleaning areas, medical treatment centres and canteens. On nationalisation these facilities became ‘a necessary piece of equipment for production’ and the plans and other material within the Glamorgan Archives collection will ensure that these buildings, now mostly vanished from the south Wales landscape, are recorded for future generations.

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DNCB/1/4/13/2-3: Perspective Views of Cwm Colliery Pithead Baths, Jun 1952

Louise Clarke, Glamorgan’s Blood Project Archivist

Stephanie Jamieson, Glamorgan’s Blood Project Conservator

  1. Evans, Neil; Jones, Dot, ‘A Blessing for the Miner’s Wife: the campaign for pithead baths in the South Wales coalfield, 1908-1950’, Llafur : Journal of Welsh Labour History, p.7
  2. Evans, Neil; Jones, Dot, p.6

Glamorgan’s Christmas Past

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

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As we enter the final few Christmas shopping days it’s interesting to look back at what our forebears were buying for their Christmases. The papers of Sybil Rolley of Fairwater, Cardiff (ref.: D790), held at Glamorgan Archives, shows what one family were purchasing for their Christmas celebrations.

One volume records their budgets for every Christmas from 1951 to 1965, documenting their meal and the cost of ‘extras’ such as decorations and presents! Of course it also records the increase in the price of Christmas over the period, and the variety of food and presents people received. The Christmas food recorded included, among other things, Ideal milk, tins of tongue, blancmange, and Turkish Delight. More familiar to our current Christmas shopping lists would be Cadbury’s Chocolate Biscuits, Tango and boxes of Milk Tray.

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Presents that are shown on the list include chisels, the record ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, cigarettes, and a nylon slip with a £1 note. There are none of the more familiar items we might ask for nowadays, like toys or electronics.

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This is not the only Christmas themed archive we hold. Amongst others are the records of the David Morgan Department Store (ref.: DDM), which include many photographs of the shop during the festive season. From the themed ‘Old Woman who lived in a Shoe’ of the 1930s, to the bunny girl elves and burly Santa of the 1960s, and the famous ‘wall of crackers’, we have a selection of photos documenting the history of the store at Christmas.  They illustrate the changing styles and fashions of the Christmas period while David Morgan traded in Cardiff.

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We hope all our followers have a wonderful festive season.

Merry Christmas!

‘Humorous Entertainment of Artistic Magic’: Cardiff Naturalists’ Society Supporting the War Effort

One of the more usual items in the records of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society held at the Glamorgan Archives is a poster (28cm by 43cm) with accompanying postcard size flyers advertising an afternoon of ‘Humorous Entertainment of Artistic Magic including Sleight of Hand, Novel Magical Effects and Oriental Magic’. To be held at the Cory Hall in Cardiff, on January 6 1919 at 2pm, the show was to be provided by Mr Douglas Dexter, ‘The well-known entertainer of London’. In addition, ‘musical items’ were to be provided by Mr Shapland Dobbs’ Party.

Poster

While the subject matter covered by the lectures provided by the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society was wide and varied, this was, without a doubt, a new departure for a Society created for the study of the natural sciences. The explanation was provided on the back of the flyers.

Ticket

Ticket reverse

This invitation is issued by the members of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society who desire to give a pleasant afternoon to members of the Forces who happen to be in Cardiff.

Although the war had ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, there were thousands of men and women serving in the armed forces waiting to be demobilised. In January 1919 Cardiff was a major hub for troops returning to south Wales. There were also a number of military hospitals in the town and the surrounding area. The Cardiff Naturalists’ Society was clearly looking to play its part in helping to provide entertainment for the armed forces. The concert may also have been a contribution to ‘Gratitude Fortnight’, a series of events organised by the Mayor of Cardiff, in January 1919, to reward the troops and raise money for charities including the King’s Fund for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors. The entertainment was provided free of charge for ‘Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen (whether British, Colonial or Allied). On leave or in Hospital’. The Society was anticipating a large turn-out for the Cory Hall was a much bigger venue than that used for most of its public lectures. Even so, the flyers warned that:

It is regretted that the accommodation will not permit the admission of others than men in uniform.

Dexter was indeed well known. Born Arthur Marks in Eastbourne in 1878 and a teacher by profession, Douglas Dexter made his mark as both an accomplished magician and as an international class swordsman who was selected for the British team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. On the afternoon of 6 January those present would have witnessed the skills of a leading figure in the Magic Circle. Dexter’s repertoire included tricks, such as the Triple Stab, that he guarded jealously, so much so that he sued a fellow magician for allegedly stealing his ideas. The reference to artistic magic was probably to a trick that Dexter was developing at that time that involved white silk scarves being placed in an empty bowl and mysteriously emerging coloured as if they had been dipped in dye.

In the Transactions for 1919 it was reported:

… an entertainment was held at the Cory Hall under the auspices of the Society, to which all of the wounded sailors and soldiers in the Military Hospitals were invited. Over 700 attended and had a thoroughly enjoyable time [Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, Vol LII, 1919, Cardiff, 1922].

No doubt Douglas Dexter was well received by the service men and women. Dexter went on to perform in a number of Royal Variety Performances and for King George V at Windsor Castle in 1928. He was awarded the Gold Medal by the Magic Circle in 1926. For the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, however, it was back to business later in the month with a lecture by Dr A E Trueman, on 23 January 1919, ‘A Geographical Study of the Cardiff Area’.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’: The Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society

The Report and Transactions produced annually by the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society provide a treasure trove of material on all aspects of the natural sciences. By 1900 the Society was flourishing, with over 500 members and separate sections for archaeology, biology, geology, physics and chemistry. The reports and papers produced by the sections were collated each year and published as a record of the Society’s activities and as a contribution towards the wider understanding of the natural sciences. Bound volumes of the Report and Transactions from the creation of the Society in 1867 through to 1970 can be found on the shelves of the searchroom at Glamorgan Archives. Dipping into just one of the books (for example, the volume that draws together reports for 1897 to 1902) you are struck, immediately, by the range of material produced by members of the Society. There is something for most tastes and interests with papers on:

The Excavations carried out on the site of the Blackfriars Monastery at Cardiff

The Birds of Glamorgan

Effects of a lightning flash

The Great Flood of 1607

Notes on the Psalter of Ricemarch

Notes on the hatchery and fish hatching at Roath Park

The Geology of the Cowbridge District

Meteorological observations in the society’s district.

However, if you are looking for a recommendation why not try a piece provided by Robert Drane in Vol. 33, ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’? Drane was one of the leading lights of the Society from its creation in 1867 to his death in 1914. He was the first life member of the Society and its President in 1896-97. His interests were wide ranging and he was a regular contributor to the Report and Transactions. In the article titled ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’, first delivered as a lecture to the Biological section of the Society on 15 December 1898, he set out the findings from one of his many visits to the islands off the Pembrokeshire coast.

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In the report Drane provides detailed observations on the wildlife and the local flora and fauna that he found on the islands in June 1898. His writing is characterised by an unerring eye for detail, whether assessing the stomach contents of a Herring Gull, the physical characteristics of the Skomer vole or the varieties of Broom found on Ramsey Island. He evidently delighted in attempting to debunk existing theories and local folk lore and, in particular, the suggestion that ‘nothing can be false that’s once in print’. For example, in the paper he contends that the Skomer vole was most likely a new and distinctive species and, therefore, challenging the view of …an authority at the Natural History Museum… that they are a local variety of the common bank vole. He also concludes that the Herring Gull on Skomer prefers a diet of eggs, including Puffin eggs, rather than local reports that its staple diet was rabbit.

The core of the paper lies in his investigation of three areas. In Drane’s words he set out to:

…determine the question of the specific difference of the Ringed and Common Guillemot, to find out what the Shearwater feeds on, and obtain some specimens of a large Vole, abundant there, which I am disposed to regard as an Island variety.

He reports in detail on each subject. However, as always with Robert Drane, you are provided with much more. For example, he condemns the …rapacious egg collectors… on Grassholm, praises the owner of Ramsey for his care of the island’s population of Choughs and quizzes the keepers of the South Bishop’s lighthouse on the range and number of birds observed.

The report is also peppered with titbits of information from his observation that a Puffin on Skomer had 39 sand eels in its crop to the sighting of a Dew moth on Ramsey Island. Drane, who was 65 at the time, and his travelling companion, a fellow member and later President of the Society, J J Neale, must have amused and alarmed the local people as they edged out over cliff faces to observe Guillemot nests and carried off puff-ball fungus to be cooked and eaten. With regard to the latter he reported:

We took it home and, sliced it, fried it, and ate it for breakfast much to the doubt, if not to the disgust of the natives, who subsequently finding that we suffered no harm regarded us as gods…

Drane

Robert Drane and Joshua John Neale, both members of Cardiff Naturalists Society, c.1900 ref.: DXIB23d

For a rich and detailed account of the wildlife on the Pembrokeshire Islands with a slice of humour and local colour ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’ is well worth a read. As for the title, Drane enjoyed setting his audience a challenge. A previous paper titled ‘A Pilgrimage to Golgotha’ had evidently left many mystified as to its possible content. Robert Drane explained that ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’ had, therefore, been carefully selected …so that everyone here tonight perfectly understands… what I am going to talk about…  Perhaps I will leave you to work it out for yourself. Drane’s explanation is at page 59 of Vol. 33. Why not have a look?

If you are interested in finding out more Robert Drane and the many and varied reports produced by the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, bound copies of the Annual Report and Transactions for 1867 to 1970 can be found on shelves of the Searchroom at Glamorgan Archives.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Hughesovka 1917: Edith Steel’s story

The stories of most of the Welsh families that worked for the New Russia Company in Hughesovka end in 1917 with their return to Britain following the fall of the Czar’s Government in the early part of the year. However, many of the foreign workforce had lived and worked in Russia for many years and their sons and daughters had married into local families in the Donbass area.  The choice in 1917 was much more complex for such families and several elected to remain in Russia. The Hughesovka Research Archive provides a glimpse into the lives of some of those who opted to remain in 1917 and tells us of their fortunes in the following decade in revolutionary Russia.

Edith Steel was the daughter of Samuel and Tabitha Steel. The Steel family was originally from Blaina in Gwent and had worked in Russia in the coal and iron industries for many years. Edith and her two sisters and two brothers were established members of the Hughesovka community. Like many others, most of the Steel family opted to leave Hughesovka in 1917 and return to Britain. Edith, however, had married a local man, Alexandre Bolotov and, by 1917, they had two sons Dnietroff (Kolka) and Alexandre (Sasha) both serving in the Russian Army. It must have been a sad day when, on 19 September 1917, Edith’s mother, her sister, Mary, and 3 nephews left Hughesovka for Petrograd on the first leg of the homeward journey. Her brother in law, Percy Blackburn, stayed on until April 1918 and would have been one of the last of the foreign employees to quit Hughesovka. After that time, with Russia torn for many years by revolution and civil war, communication with family and friends in Britain would have been difficult if not impossible.

The story is picked up 12 years later through two letters in the Hughesovka Research Archive from Edith and her son, Alexandre, written to Mary Blackburn (nee Steel). It seems that Mary had managed to get a letter to her sister, Edith. This was quite a feat for, by 1930, the Bolotov family was living in the town of Gubakha in the western Urals, over 1000 miles east of Hughesovka, which had been renamed Stalino in 1924. We are not told why the family moved from Donetsk. As a mineral rich area looking to develop its mining industries, Gubakha would have needed men skilled in mining and iron making. It may well have been a forced move, although it is possible that the family simply took advantage of the work opportunities in the area. Whatever their reasons, as with Hughesovka in the early days, life in Gubakha would have been harsh with the feel of a frontier town. It would not have been helped by a climate marked by below freezing temperatures for many months of the year.

The first letter is from Edith replying to a letter sent by her sister Mary from Manchester in October 1930. Despite their situation her concern was primarily for Mary who, in the intervening period, had lost her husband and a son and daughter. The text in the Archive is a copy taken from the original:

My dear sister Macha!

We are all very happy to receive a letter from you. From the beginning I did not want to believe when Sasha handed your letter and said look here is a letter from Macha and it came from England.

It was really very hard for you to go through all the bad things and all one after the other. First your loving husband, then your lovely daughter and finally your son. I was crying all the time when I was reading your letter.

We with Sasha also had experienced bad times. We lived through two wars, first Russian-German and then revolution. Both our sons were fighting in war. Sasha came back alive but Kolka my youngest lost his life. Later we had shortage of food and on top of it we both contracted typhus and were ill for a long time. Fortunately we had friends in Belgium and we received regular food parcels from them.

Soon after returning from war my son got married and my second joy was when they had a son, they named him Nikolas so I became happy grandmother. Then they had a daughter and named her Eda, just like me and third child Ninatchka, she is only two and half years old. She is very lovely child and she loves me very much.

My daughter in law is from the Ukraine and her name is Fany. We all live together in one flat. Financially we are very well off, my husband earns very good money. Sasha earns good money. Sasha also has very good position, he works as engineer in charge of coke furnace. The factory is situated in the Urals. My grandson Kolka goes to school and Eda is also learning reading and writing. I am going to photograph them both and send you pictures when they are ready and please, dear Macha, send me photos of all my nephews, photos of my brothers Albert and Aleksander. Tell my brothers to write to me and describe everything about themselves.

Dear Macha, do you know where is Uncle Tom and Aunty Olga Kuper? I think that they are also in England. When you write letter to London please give our regards to Aunty Febi.

Dear sister I am longing to be near you, to talk to you and find out all about you and your children and to know more about your late daughter. It is tragedy that you lost her so soon. Now we are both without daughters, daughters are so much nicer, they are more gentle and loving.

Please write to me all about your life in England. Here in Russia at present everything goes ahead, we are building factories, producing works, new buildings, life is completely different to what it was before.

Dear Macha, I would like to teach my grandchildren English language, but unfortunately I have not any books in English. Please send me English books which will help me teach them.

Please write to me more often. Give all my love to all. Your loving sister Eda Bolotova.

PS

Macha, Sasha has holiday very year, maybe we could come and visit you in England. Tell us how to get entry to England. Write, write soon.

The tone in the letter is interesting and it may have been that the family had to take care in speaking of life in Russia. Outwardly it is upbeat on their life in Gubakha and conditions in Russia. However, there are several telling comments on the difficulties that they had endured over the past decade. The second letter is to Mary from Edith’s son, Alexandre (Sasha), dated 18 October 1930. It provides a more frank description of their situation. Alexandre also recognised that there was little possibility of the Bolotovs being allowed to leave Russia to visit Britain. The original letter is held in the Archives and the text below is taken from a translation.

Final image for posting

Dear Aunty Mary,                                                                 

We have received your letter dated 7.10.1930, it is the first one for the past 10 years.

Many changes occurred at your place in those years and I am sending our condolences on the death of grandmother, Uncle Petia and other relatives. The only thing that is good is that your sons are grown up and therefore you shall be looked after and happy, which we wish you from all our hearts.

There are many changes here as well. As you will now we have settled in the Urals.

We are all alive and well: Mother, father, wife and children: Niusia, Idunk and Kolka. We live together and the time goes fast. My son is now seven and a half years old and goes to school. Idunia shall start school in the next year. My youngest Niusia, she is two years old, is still at home happily running around the rooms.

I am working from morning until night on the coal furnaces. The father works on the building of a large coal chemical plant.

Grandmother Ida and the wife are occupied on home duties.

In the evenings we are listening to the radio and find out all the news and what is happening in the Soviet Union.

The winter is almost here. It is cold and sometimes the frost reaches -40c. Our locality is full of forests and mountains. In the forests there all kinds of creatures and animals – also some bears. In my free time which does not occur often – I take a rifle and go hunting.

You are inviting us for a visit, but it is so far and it is impossible to arrange for such a trip, one has to obtain a permit to leave.

Write often please, let’s keep contact which we lost such a long time ago.

We are sending greetings from all our family, to all our relatives so far away. We are wishing you a long and happy life and you Aunty to marry the sons and wait for grandchildren.

I am kissing you many times from my heart, your nephew Sasha.

Address:       Russia

Ural

St, Gubakha

Coal Plant

Master of the Coal Furnaces

Alexandr Alexendrovich Bolotov

PS Mother is going to write herself as soon as she can. We are going to get our photo made for you soon.

For sisters who would have enjoyed a reasonably affluent lifestyle in Hughesovka, life had clearly been very difficult in the decade since they had parted. It’s tempting to conclude that those who had left for Britain had been the lucky ones. To an extent that is probably true. However, Mary’s husband, Percy had returned from service with the British Army in Russia in poor health and, despite being a skilled man, had found it difficult to find work. Mary and Percy had six sons but it is clear they had always wanted a daughter. As Edith guessed, they must have been hit hard by the death of their daughter, Joyce, within three weeks of her birth in 1925. Further tragedy was to strike the family the following year when Percy died at the age of 48, only one day after they had lost their 9 year old son, Joey, killed in a motor accident. As a lone parent caring for her family in Manchester, life must have been difficult for Mary Blackburn. It is also difficult to imagine how her sister Edith had coped in Russia during the Civil War. The loss of a son in the war and the move to Gubakha must have been traumatic experiences. Edith was just grateful that her husband and son had work and the family was still together. It was a small matter but, hopefully, Edith and Mary were able to take comfort from once again being in contact after a break of 13 years and able to share news of the family and, no doubt, memories of their days in Hughesovka.

The material used for this account is drawn from letters held in the Hughesovka Research Archive at Glamorgan Archives.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer