A Fine Romance

Hail! genial season of the year

To faithful lovers ever dear

Devoted be this day to praise

My Anna’s charms in rustic lays

Now billing sparrows, cooing doves

Remind each youth of her he loves

My heart and head are both on flame

Whene’er I breath my Anna’s name

These lines were penned by a Captain Bennett in a Valentine poem written in 1818 to Mrs Wyndham, also named as ‘Anna’.  The poem can be found in our Fonmon Castle collection (ref. DF/V/133) and runs to 78 lines of rhyming couplets, far weightier than the snappy valentine messages found in cards today.  In the poem Captain Bennett gives full vent to his romantic side, evoking images of Cinderella and her Prince, praising Anna, including her ‘fairy feet’, as well as casting doubt on the suitability of her other suitors, one of whom he names as ‘Tredegar’s Lord’.  He also describes writing Anna’s initials or ‘cypher’ in the sand with a walking stick, which although the waves may wash away ‘the darling name’ could not ‘blot that cypher from my heart!’


So who were Captain Bennett and Anna, and did their story have a happy ending?  Although the poem is part of the Fonmon Castle collection it also has references to Dunraven, an estate near Southerndown owned by the Wyndham family.  A little detective work has revealed that Anna was the daughter of Thomas Ashby of Isleworth, London and Charlotte, daughter of Robert Jones of Fonmon (hence the Fonmon connection).



Anna was first married to Thomas Wyndham of Dunraven and Clearwell Court in the Forest of Dean (MP for Glamorgan), but he died in 1814.  However, Anna remarried in July 1818, only months after the poem was written.  Her new husband was a John Wick Bennett of Laleston, presumably ‘Captain Bennett’ the sender of her Valentine.  It appears his poetic efforts had not been in vain and perhaps helped sway her towards accepting his proposal!

Finding references to ‘love’ and ‘romance’ in the archives can be a difficult task as they are not terms usually found in catalogue descriptions!  However, there are many stories of romance to be found, whether hidden in private diaries or in letters, especially those written when lovers were parted and they were the only means of contact between them. Wartime, especially, led to the separation of many and we have several stories of romance which blossomed during difficult times.

Sister Isabel Robinson found love when she worked at the Red Cross Hospital in Cardiff in 1916.


Whilst she was nursing there she met and married Daniel James Dwyer of the Australian army. He was recovering in the hospital from a head wound he suffered in action in France.



The couple later settled in Australia at St. Kilda, Victoria but returned to England where Isabel died in 1965.  Isabel’s photograph album is held at the Archives and includes photographs of staff and patients at military hospitals in Bridgend and Cardiff (ref. D501).

One of our most important collections relating to the Second World War are the many letters written by Pat Cox of Cardiff to her fiancé, Jack Leversuch, who was serving overseas in the forces (ref. DXGC263/2-32). Throughout the war Pat sent regular letters to Jack giving him her news.  Jack kept all the letters he received from Pat and brought them home with him when he finished serving overseas.



The letters give personal details of the couple’s courtship as well as describing how Cardiff was dealing with air raids, the black out, evacuation and rationing.

Valentine cards also appear in our collections.  Many nineteenth century cards were handmade and beautifully coloured, sometimes decorated with intricate cut outs.  During the latter part of the century commercially printed cards appeared, although to our modern eyes these are also beautifully decorative.  Here are two examples of Victorian valentines (ref. DX554/18/3,9), both edged with feathers.




Do you have any old documents, photographs or valentine cards?  Please let us know as we would love to add them to our collection.




‘I’ll sing a song of heroes true’: A Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary by PS Caleb Morris



The Glamorgan Archives holds a large number of items that tell the story of the Glamorgan Constabulary from its creation in 1841. One of the more unusual items is a poem penned by Police Sergeant Caleb Morris (PS 175) in 1918 entitled, ‘A Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary’. At the time, Morris was 48 years old and past the maximum age for military service. Originally from Pembrokeshire, he had joined the Glamorgan Constabulary at the age of 24 in 1894. He was a well-known figure in the Abernant area and was promoted to Sergeant in 1915. He figured regularly in the pages of the local press, giving evidence in criminal cases heard in the local courts. Morris, however, was also known in the community for his talent in writing verse. There are several newspapers reports in this period of events where the audience was entertained by ‘topical verse’ and ‘verses of welcome’ delivered by Caleb Morris. This was a talent that he used in good effect when, in 1918, he produced his ‘Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary’.  His aim was to celebrate the men of the Constabulary who had joined the armed forces to fight in the Great War. Several hundred men from the Constabulary left their posts to join the forces and 92 lost their lives.

The poem is reproduced in full at the end of this article. It tells the story of specific events, including the desperate attempt to hold back the German advance in the early months of the war. By and large, however, it majors on the deeds of specific men. For example, Fred Smith, who was a Police Inspector at Bridgend at the outbreak of the war, and also known for his exploits on the rugby field playing for Cardiff and Bridgend. Fred had extensive military experience, having fought in the Boer War as a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Glamorgan Yeomanry, and was awarded the DCM. During the Great War, as Lieutenant Colonel Smith, he commanded the 16th (Cardiff City) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment and was awarded the DSO. After the war he returned to the police force with his appointment as Chief Superintendent at Gowerton.

The verse also tells the story of one of the legendary figures of the Glamorgan Constabulary, Company Sergeant Major, Dick Thomas. Dick Thomas had joined the force in 1904 and was promoted to Sergeant and stationed at Bridgend in 1913. He was widely admired as an exceptional rugby player for Bridgend, Mountain Ash and Wales. In particular, he had the distinction of playing in the first Welsh side to win the Grand Slam in 1908. He is remembered as one of the heroes of the assault by the Welsh Regiment on the heavily defended German positions at Mametz Wood on 7 July 1916.

One of the most poignant stories is that of James Angus, originally from Brecon. Angus had joined the Glamorgan Constabulary in 1893 and was stationed at Barry and Abercynon. Like Fred Smith, he had military experience. His father had fought with the South Wales Borderers in the Crimea and James Angus had served with the Grenadier Guards in the Boer War. In 1914 he joined the 16th Cardiff City Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he was Acting Commander of the 11th Battalion of the South Wales Borderers when he died, tragically, in a swimming accident in September 1917.

The verse also deals with events on the home front, commending the men, like Morris, who had to stay in Wales but, nevertheless, were doing ‘their bit’ to win the war. In addition, there is a lengthy tribute to the Chief Constable, Capt Lionel Lindsay, for his leadership during the war years. Lindsay had first joined the Constabulary as a Superintendent in Merthyr in 1889. He succeeded his father, Henry Gore Lindsay, as Chief Constable in 1891 and held the post until 1937.

The poem ends on a fairly sombre note, telling the story of the thousands of women who dreaded the arrival of the post each day in case it brought news of the death of a loved one. Delivery of such letters and telegrams would have been a familiar occurrence in local communities across Wales. No doubt Caleb Morris would have feared for the life of his only son, David, who was in the Merchant Navy. David was an officer on ships owned by W J Tatem and Co of Cardiff.  As far as we know, he survived the war but not without a number of scares. In May 1918 the Aberdare Leader carried details of his return from India on the SS Madras. The convoy had been attacked on both the outward and return journeys by German submarines and had lost six ships. It was reported that … one torpedo missed the bow of Sec Officer Morris’ ship by only a yard or two and struck the next ship which was alongside.… [Aberdare Leader, 18 May 1918].

Copies of Caleb Morris’ tribute were printed by the Western Mail and sold at 3d a copy. They were enormously popular and, in June 1918, it was reported that £67 11s had been raised, suggesting that over 5400 copies had been sold. The proceeds were passed to the Welsh Prisoners of War Fund. Caleb Morris served in the Glamorgan Constabulary for 26 years and retired in March 1920 aged 50.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer


A Tribute to the Glamorgan Constabulary

Respectfully dedicated to Captain Lionel Lindsay, MVO, Chief Constable

I’ll sing a song of heroes true,

Known to you as ‘Men in blue’.

The gallant members of the Force

Are never wanting in resource;

When Britain’s sword flashed in the light

For Belgium’s liberty and right,

The brave Glamorgans honour bound

Exchanged their beats for battle ground.

Four hundred men as true as steel

Knew how to march with toe and heel;

They knew their rifle and their drill,

A dauntless band with iron will.

These men that would not break or yield

Could now command upon the field.

A smarter lot of army men

Was never known to human ken.

They hailed from Porth and Mountain Ash,

That ‘Scrap of Paper’ made them rash.

They left Bridgend and Aberdare,

Took up their guns and did their share;

From Briton Ferry jovial Ben

Rejoined his unit there and then:

And now a captive with the Hun,

May God be with him when alone.

From Port Talbot, Pentre, Barry,

On their journey did not tarry.

Every Hamlet, Town and Village

Were responsive to the Message.

Men from all the Shire’s divisions

Joined the battle of the Nations.

A spirit moved within each breast

That hurried them to do their best.

With solemn vow and eager heart,

Determined all to play their part.

Never yet had they been thwarted

In a venture once ‘twas started.

Ere the middle of September

Many crossed the Straits of Dover;

Forward march through France and Flanders,

Till they met the Goosestep dancers,

‘Got in Himmel Donner Wetter’,

Blood was running there like water.

The BEF with wounded arm

Gave Kaiser William the alarm,

His dreams of Paris and Calais

Evaporated on that day.


The soldiers said, and still repeat,

That Angels fought in that retreat.

Like lightening flash or human thought

A modern miracle was wrought;

The British caused a German rout;

Attila’s millions turned about.

The Huns retreated to the Aisne,

A sorry plight for men so vain.

Many a policeman’s blood was shed,

And some were numbered with the dead.

Among the men who crossed the foam

To fight for Country, King and Home,

Was Colonel Smith of football fame,

To-day he plays the sterner game:

Fred was mentioned in despatches,

How he fought the cruel Bosches;

His clever tactics foiled the foe,

His merit won the DSO

May further honour be in store

‘Till Smith commands the Army Corps.


Another star looms on the view,

A credit to the Men in Blue;

Brave Colonel Angus made a stand

That brought distinction and command;

A Grenadier to the core,

He won his spurs against the Boer.

As true a man as wore a sword

Or stood before the German Horde,

But sad to me ‘tis to relate

How Angus met his mournful fate;

For when he was with honour crowned

A message came that he was drowned.

For acumen and gallantry

His name will long remembered be.


Another hero, strong and tall,

A master with the gloves and ball,

A football player lithe and bold,

An International of old.

He won his cap for strength and dash-

I mean Dick Thomas, Mountain Ash;

As Sergeant Major at the Front

Was in the van, as e’er his wont.

Poor Dick is numbered with the slain,

And buried on a foreign plain;

He met his death with smiling face,

‘Twas worthy of a gallant race.


And Corporal Jones of Cynon Town,

Who joined the Guards and won renown;

A man of truly valiant worth,

A giant he, in length and girth;

He won a medal for his pluck,

But lost a limb, what bitter luck.

Poor Jim will never march again

To music of a martial strain.


Could I but weave as Poets can,

I’d sing a song to very man.

All deserve their names to glitter

On a shield in gold and silver;

One and all without exception

Are worthy of the British Nation.

Many a gallant deed was done,

The twentieth part will ne’er be sung.

Behind the lines the crosses tell

How brave Glamorgans nobly fell.

Many are to-day for valour

Numbered on the Scroll of Honour;

For ‘Robert’s’ always in the van,

A soldier, constable and man.


Three hundred men were left at home,

They could not sail across the foam.

The DSO and DCM

Will ne’er be won by one of them.

They too deserve a word of praise

For arduous work in anxious days,

Willing service to the Country

Yet may win a star or bounty.

Their patience, tact and courtesy

Disclose inherent chivalry.


Our gallant Chief, and friend in need,

To all of us a friend indeed;

The martial mien his Giants bear,

A triumph to his special care.

Every man a Drill Instructor-

Aye, and ready for the Sector.

There’s not a Force throughout the Realm

With better Captain at the helm.

His ancient lineage, gentle birth,

Add lustre to intrinsic worth.

A Chieftain he whose loyalty

Was honoured by our Royalty.

The deeds he’s done since war began

Are worthy of the Lindsay Clan.

A valiant Chief of noble heart,

To King and Country plays his part;

And when his men return again

They will not seek his aid in vain.

His name will ever revered be

For honour and fidelity.


Another Gentleman we know,

Brave Colonel Williams, DSO.

A man respected in the Shire,

Descendent of a noble sire;

Grandson and a worthy scion

To ‘Alaw Goch’ of Ynyscynon.

He early won his King’s reward

As Captain of the Celtic Guard;

Before this War the Welshmen had

To wear Grenade of Gaelic pla’d,

His love of Wales and his Nation

Brought to pass the Welch Battalion.

(Ye Giant Welshman, service seek,

‘Cymru am Byth’, go! Don the leek;

When a Teuton you encounter

Make him eat the leek for dinner;

Treat him as the bold Glendower

Treated Pistil for his bluster.)

When War is o’er and Peace shall reign

May he come back to Wales again,

For Wales can ill afford to lose

The man that won that Cross at Loos.


I’d love to touch a finer chord,

If but the Muse with my accord,

For now I tread on holy ground

Where the bereaved are to be found.

Ye women brave, whose hearts have bled

For husbands, sons and lovers dead;

Yon brave Soldier-sons of Gwalia

Sleepeth in that Grand Valhalla.

My inmost soul with pain is strung,

I can’t express with human tongue,

The pain and sorrow that is wrought:

Though glory won, ‘tis dearly bought.

There’s not a herb, however good,

That ever has or ever could,

Or great physician’s healing art,

Can heal the wounds of broken heart;

There’s only One, the Lord above,

That knows the depth of woman’s love.

All through the watches of the night

They never sleep till morning light.

They watch the postman from afar,

The door is left upon the jar.

The mother peeps behind the blind

And prays that fate at last is kind.

The Postman passes with a will,

The Mother’s heart is standing still.

Sometimes the truth is grim and hard:

Her boy lay buried  in the sward.

O what is sorrow? Who can tell?

‘Tis only them that love too well.

The anguish, pain and poignant grief

Beyond the conception and belief.

God of Mercy, stretch forth Thy palm

And give Thy children healing balm.

Caleb Morris, PS 175. Abernant, Aberdare

Rev. Henry Bowen and Annie Bowen of Cardiff

Within the Collection at Glamorgan Archives are the family papers of the Reverend Henry Bowen, parish priest at St. Catherine’s Church, Canton, Cardiff . The extensive archive covers the lifetime of Henry Bowen and his wife Annie. This period of the 20th century witnessed two world wars, the depression of the inter-war years, and the major social changes enacted during the move from Victorian Britain to the Swinging Sixties.

Henry Bowen served throughout the First World War.  He attended Oxford University and was a parish priest in Cardiff during the Second World War. This short article cannot hope to do justice to this remarkable and interesting collection, so will briefly focus on Henry Bowen’s life during the First World War.

Henry enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in autumn of 1914.  As was the case with so many volunteers, he joined up with a number of friends from Llantrisant. The main source of this article are love letters that Henry sent to Annie throughout the war years, which number well in excess of one hundred. The letters written during 1914 and up until July 1915 cover the period when Henry was stationed at Park House Camp on Salisbury Plain, prior to being posted to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).

Henry’s letter of 9 August 1915 describes the section of the frontline where he was stationed but, due to military regulations, he wasn’t permitted to divulge any details of his actual location, apart from:

the area has cobbles and the church bells that sound like home.

At the end of his letter he explains that, due to the demands of secrecy. his letter is placed within a military envelope where he is required to make a declaration on his honour that he is not divulging any military matters or location.



As Henry’s son points out in a separate set of notes, his early letters are limited in content, but gradually interesting facts creep in: sightings of aircraft bombing, his first contact with real conflict, and one of his friends, who became an airman, being shot down over Holland in 1915. Of course, the correspondence with Annie should not be viewed as eye witness history of the conflict at the trenches, but rather as a series of love letters.

On 10 March 1916, Henry apologizes for not having written before:

only it is so awkward the trenches we are in… Perhaps you will understand  when I tell you it is impossible to move twenty yards in the daytime.

On 24 April 1916, once again Henry apologises for not having written:

Many a time during the last four weeks… I have been on the point of sitting down to write a decent letter but we have been on the move every day.

There were many letters between June and November where the strong affection Henry feels for Annie is the central theme. It should be appreciated that these letters were written against the backdrop of the Battle of the Somme, where Henry was witness to the horrific physical conditions of the trenches, which became a quagmire  of mud, with appalling death and injury. Henry’s daughter Dorothy has added a set of excellent notes based on conversations she had with her father after the war, stating his vivid recollection of the tremendous barrage which preceded the battle during the week leading up to the start of the main offensive on 1 July 1916.  This day saw the greatest number of causalities in one day in the history of the British Army, some 60,000, including 20,000 killed. Reading the letters for these 5 months there is no indication of the momentous carnage associated with the battle being so fiercely fought.

Henry spent the greater part of 1917 attending officer infantry training in Scotland.  Included within the collection are a number of Military Training manuals, which are more applicable to battlefield conditions prior to 1914. However, reprints had addressed the changes, reflecting the static nature of trench warfare. One feature, which was still looked upon as of paramount importance in officer training, was the emphasis on drill and discipline.

1918 witnessed Henry returning to active duty at the front; once again we have to speculate where he was stationed. The general tone of his letters suggests it may have been the period of a major German counter offensive during the opening months of 1918, when British forces were driven back some miles.

On 31 March 1918, he writes:

It’s been a deuce of a time but thank God I’m quite well. All my kit has gone I have only what I stand up in… I could not get any writing matter away as everything has been topsey turvey.

Included in the papers for this period is a leaflet depicting the brutal nature of the First World War, describing the procedure to be followed when using a box respirator (gas mask) when poison gas was being used in an attack. As his daughter observes, no mention is made by Henry of many Llantisant men who had become casualties. But in the gloom and widespread sadness of 1918 one significant happy event occurred; Henry and Annie got married in August. The other major event which featured in Henry’s letters of 1918 was the surrender of Germany and the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918. His letter of that date describes his emotions and relief at having survived a catastrophic war which claimed the lives of 17,000,000.

This short piece gives only a small insight into the experiences of Henry and Annie during 1914-1918. The collection contains many documents relating to the full and interesting life of Henry and Annie after their marriage: his time at Oxford, starting a family, and becoming parish priest at St. Catherine’s Church in Canton. One interesting item is Henry’s diary for 1941, an important year in the Second World War. 1941 saw bombing raids bringing the Blitz to Cardiff, major desert battles fought in North Africa, the German attack on Russia, and the attack on Pearl Harbour by Japan which saw the USA join the Allies; all are described. Henry’s military background as a soldier is evident by the glee he expresses at British successes and German setbacks, which are not tempered by his position as a local parish priest. To anyone wishing to look in more detail at the lives of Henry and Annie Bowen please do contact Glamorgan Archives, where staff will be happy to assist interested members of the public in their research.

John Arnold, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Puddings and Parcels: Christmas fundraising in the First World War

Christmas is traditionally a time when we think of others and when charities launch special appeals to raise funds.  During the First World War this was even more important with so many soldiers and sailors serving overseas, separated from families and home comforts.

School log books record the charity fundraising efforts of the pupils.  At Gellidawel School in Tonyrefail in October 1914, the Headteacher recorded sending a  £1 postal order to HRH Princess Mary for her fund to provide Christmas gifts for servicemen.  The teachers had provided the prizes and there was a prize draw amongst the children, who paid a penny for each ticket [ELL26/2].

One Headteacher in Pen-y-bont School, Bridgend [EM10/11] wrote wearily in October 1914 that, due to the war and the many calls …it has entailed upon the pockets of the people…, he had not had …the face this year to beg for subscriptions… to the Christmas Prize Fund. However, funds were raised for servicemen and a sizeable sum of over £7 was sent to the Prince of Wales Fund.  It was used to purchase cigarettes, woollen mufflers and chocolates and sent to Old Boys stationed in Scotland.  He records having received a thank you from Sergeant Major Miles thanking the boys for …their Happy Christmas Box [EM10/11].


Refugees from Belgium were not forgotten at Christmas. The Headteacher of Dyffryn Mixed School in Ferndale, recorded that money had been raised for the refugees by pupils collecting on Christmas Day in 1916 [ER15/1].  The minute book of the Rest Convalescent Home in Porthcawl also records help given to Belgian refugees;  …that the matter of providing extra diet etc. for the refugees and staff at xmas be left to matrons and chairman… [DXEL/3/5].

Concerts were arranged to raise funds.  Mr Leon Vint applied for a licence from Barry Council to open ‘Vint’s Place’, Thompson Street in Barry on Christmas Day in 1914 and 1915, with performance profits to go to the Barry Red Cross Hospital.  Romilly Hall was also to be allowed to open on Christmas Day for the same purpose [BB/C/1/20,21].  As well as raising funds, the opening of venues on Christmas Day meant that servicemen could be entertained.  Cardiff Borough Council gave permission for the Central Cinema, The Hayes, to be used on Christmas Day between 5.30 and 8pm for the …purpose of free entertainment for servicemen [BC/C/6/54].  Mountain Ash Urban District Council proposed a Sunday Concert at Abercynon Palace on 29 November 1914, …the proceeds to be devoted to the making of, and sending a huge Christmas box of cigarettes, tobacco, socks etc to the soldiers at the front [UDMA/C/4/12].

In 1916 The Daily Telegraph and Daily News were entrusted by the War Office to raise funds for providing Christmas puddings for soldiers at the front, and local councils raised funds to send to the charity. Porthcawl Urban District Council sent over £7 to the ‘pudding fund’ in 1916 [UDPC/C/1/10].

Local parish councils, churches, chapels and other organisations also sent morale boosting Christmas parcels to local men serving abroad.



Amongst the records of the Cardiff University Settlement are letters of thanks from soldiers for parcels received at Christmas. On 19 December 1916, Gunner C Upcott writes to Edward Lewis, I beg to thank you and all the members of the University Settlement for their kindness in sending me the parcel and I do not know how much to thank you for your kindness.  It is something terrible out here with the rain and one thing and another but I hope the end won’t be long so as we can all meet once again (DCE/1/64).


Private William Slocombe of Cardiff, who was awarded the Military Medal during the War, wrote to his mother, from the front, on 9 December 1916.  He asks her to buy him a …soldier’s diary… which has …a lot of useful military information and a small French dictionary at the beginning… I should like you to send me one if possible. It does not cost more than a couple of shillings at most.  He is also thinking of Christmas gifts for his family at home and sends a postal order for 10 shillings; It is for the kids and yourself… If you can get some chocolates for the girls so much the better.  I should like to give Pa some tobacco too’  Poignantly he writes …the circumstances are very different to last year aren’t they?  Your affectionate Son… [D895/1/3].

These records, and many more relating to the First World War, are available to consult at Glamorgan Archives.

New Digital Education Resources at Glamorgan Archives

Glamorgan Archives provides a variety of services to the schools, colleges and universities – and their students and teachers – within the local authority areas we serve.

We welcome visits from school groups of all ages.  School visits are free of charge and last up to two hours. We can accommodate a maximum of 30 children in one visit.

Visits can be self-guided, with teachers leading their students through research using primary resources from the Glamorgan Archives collection, with advice from professional archivists.  Structured workshops are also offered at the Archives.  Delivered by our staff they can be tailored to the locality of the school visiting.

To date, workshops have only been delivered onsite at Glamorgan Archives.  But, thanks to grant funding from the Welsh Government distributed through the Archives and Records Council Wales, our workshops are now available to download from our website for use in the classroom.

Each workshop includes a series of images of digitised documents from the Glamorgan Archives collection, with accompanying teacher notes.  The resources are aimed at Key Stage 2 but can be adapted for use at any level.

The topics featured are:

World War II


Find out about the impact the Second World War had on Cardiff and south Wales.  Discover how schools were affected; learn about air raids and air raid precautions; find out more about evacuees; explore how the war was fought on the Home Front through Dig for Victory and Make Do and Mend; see how rationing had an impact on everyday people in south Wales.

Sources used include school log books, maps, photographs, letters and much more.

Rich and Poor in Victorian Times


Find out how rich people in south Wales lived in Victorian times; and discover how the poor Victorian people of south Wales led their lives.  Learn what was it like to go to school in Victorian times; explore the working lives of people in south Wales; discover more about the houses Victorian people lived in and the furniture and appliances they owned.

Sources used include census returns, maps, photographs, school log books, diaries and much more.

From the Collieries to Cardiff Docks: Industry and Shipping in South Wales


Discover more about coal: where did it come from? How was it used? Where did it go? Learn how Welsh coal powered the world and explore how it was exported via Cardiff Docks.

Sources used include: maps, photographs, census returns, trade directories, shipping records and much more.

The First World War


Discover more about the impact of the First World War on the people and communities of south Wales.  Learn about life at the front, about the people from south Wales who served in the war, and the care provided for injured soldiers; discover how the War affected life at home and in school; and explore the changing role of women during the war.

Sources used include school log books, photographs, letters, diaries and much more.

Shopping in the Past


Learn about how the way we shop has changed over time.  Explore the changing face of the local high street and Cardiff city centre; discover more about the development of home delivery; find out about food rationing during difficult times; and learn about the treats on offer at cafes in the past.

Sources used include photographs, trade directories, building plans, census returns and much more.

The resources are available to download from the Glamorgan Archives website http://glamarchives.gov.uk/workshops/



The Battle of Mametz Wood

Mametz Wood was the objective of the 38th (Welsh) Division during the First Battle of the Somme. The attack occurred between the 7th and 12th July 1916.  On the 7th July the men were halted by machine gun fire before they reached the wood.  Further attacks on the 8th July failed to improve the position.

The attack on the 10th July was on a larger scale than had been previously attempted and despite heavy casualties, the fringe of the wood was soon reached; some bayonet fighting took place before the wood was entered and a number of German machine gun positions silenced. Fighting in the wood was fierce with the Germans giving ground stubbornly.

By the 12th July, the wood was effectively cleared of the enemy, but the Welsh Division had lost about 4,000 men, killed or wounded. The Division would not be used in a massed attack again until 31st July 1917.

Today the wood still stands, surrounded by farmland, and overgrown shell craters and trenches can still be made out.

To commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Mametz Wood, I researched the men whose names are recorded as having served at Mametz within the Cardiff City Corporation Roll of Honour held at Glamorgan Archives.

The roll of honour records the name, address, age, rank and regiment of these soldiers, which meant that I had a starting point for the research which appears in my booklet. Some of the names have revealed an interesting hidden history of information, whereas other names did not reveal very much at all.

This is the first of two documents researching Mametz Wood. This one details the names within the Roll of Honour and part two will commemorate members of 16th (Cardiff City) Battalion, Welsh Regiment who also met their end at Mametz.  It is available to read on the Glamorgan Archives website at:


We would love to hear from members of the public who may recognise the names of possible ancestors, and be happy to come forward with information additional to that found within the records.

Rosemary Nicholson, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer


Glamorgan Archives holds the formal roll of honour of Cardiff Corporation employees killed in action during the First World War, along with application forms for inclusion of servicemen in the roll.

The forms were completed by individuals applying for the inclusion of their relatives, both living and dead, in the roll of honour. These were people employed by the City Corporation at the time of their enlistment.  The forms typically contain the name of the serviceman along with his place and date-of-birth, address at time of enlistment, and length of his residence in Cardiff.  A note is often made of the school he attended.  His occupation within the Council is noted, as is his marital status, and the regiment he joined.  Date and place of death are included where relevant, as are any medals or other distinctions awarded and the date on which they were bestowed.  The name and address of the servicemen’s parents is often listed.  Families were asked to send a photograph of their relative, although not all survive; many were returned to the applicants on their request, possibly as this was the only photograph they had of their loved one.

The files are arranged by the department in which the serviceman worked at the time of his enlistment. Files are held for the City Treasurer and Controller’s Department; the City Engineer’s Public Works Department; the Street Cleansing and Street Lighting Departments; Heating and Ventilating Staff; the Tramways Section;the Property and Markets Section; the Waterworks Department; the Medical Officer of Health’s Department; the Sanatorium; the Parks Department and the Cemetery Section.

Amongst the hundreds of application forms we find George Tucker of Arabella Street, Roath.

George Tucker

He was born in Stour Provost in Dorset in 1879, the son of William and Emily Tucker.  He received his education at the village school.  George married Mary Harriet Preece at Branksome Park, Dorset, in 1903.  They moved to Cardiff in 1907 and lived at Wyndham Street in Canton before moving to Roath.  They had a young son, Leonard.  George worked as a lamplighter for Cardiff Corporation.  He enlisted on 5 November 1915, joining the 15th Welsh Regiment as a Private.  He was killed in action at the Battle of Mametz Wood on 11 July 1916, aged 37.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

George Tucker letter

Arthur Thomas of Forrest Street, Grangetown, worked as a warehouseman before gaining employment as a tram conductor with Cardiff Corporation.

Arthur Thomas

Born in 1891, he had lived in Cardiff all his life, and attended Grangetown Board School.  In 1911 he was living with his mother, Sarah, his sister, Mary Jane, and his grandfather, Edwin.  He joined the 16th Welsh (Cardiff City) Regiment in November 1914 as a Private, and was later promoted to Lance Corporal.  He died at the Battle of Mametz Wood on 7 July 1916.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Samuel Jenkins was born in Caerphilly on 25th February 1889, the son of Morgan Jenkins, a blacksmith of Caerphilly, and his wife Jane who came from Somerset.

By 1891 the family were living at 21 Market Road in Canton, Cardiff. Samuel attended Radnor Road School and worked as a mason’s labourer before gaining employment with Cardiff Corporation’s Public Works Department as a sewerman.

Samuel enlisted at Cardiff on 15th February 1915 as a private in the 16th Welsh Regiment.  He embarked to France on 4th December 1915.  He was killed in action, at Mametz, on 7 July 1916.  His mother, Jane, received a £5 10s war gratuity.  Samuel was awarded the 1915 Star and the British War and Victory Medals and is recorded on the memorial at Thiepval.

Samuel Jenkins letter 2

Samuel’s brother, Edward, was five years older than him and born in Sheffield, before the family returned to Wales. He worked as a labourer before he too joined the Public Works Department of Cardiff Corporation as a timekeeper.  Edward enlisted in the East Surrey Regiment and died in France on 2 June 1918.  He was awarded the 1915 Star and the British War and Victory Medals.  Edward’s grave is in the Warley-Baillon Communal Cemetery at Somme, France.

Samuel and Edward’s younger brother, Evan (below), worked as a blacksmith and wheelwright with the Corporation. He served with the Army Service Corps and survived the War.

Evan Jenkins

George Henry Tarr was born on 20th December 1887 in Canton, Cardiff.  He was the son of William Henry Tarr, a labourer from Devon, and his wife, Eliza, from Somerset.  He was the eldest of 8 children, 6 of whom survived childhood.  George followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a road labourer with Cardiff Corporation’s Highways Department.  In 1911 he was living with his family at 28 Glynne Street, Canton.

George enlisted at Cardiff, becoming a private in the 16th Welsh Regiment.  He was killed in action at Mametz on 7 July 2016.

George Tarr letter

George’s younger brothers – Charles, Fred and Albert – also served in the War.

Charles was born in 1892. He enlisted as a private in the Devonshire Regiment and embarked from Marseilles on 13th November 1915, disembarking at Salonika on the 23rd November.  He was wounded in action on 24 April 1917, receiving a gunshot wound to the thigh.  He transferred to the 819 Employment Company of the Labour Corps on 4 October 1917.  Charles survived the war and returned to Cardiff where he married Flora M Geet during the summer of 1920.  He died in Cardiff in September 1972.

Fred was born in Cardiff in 1898. He was married to Lilian Mary King of 7 Lyndhurst Street, Cardiff.  Fred enlisted at Great Yarmouth, in the Royal Garrison Artillery, on 12th November 1915.  He was awarded the 1914-15 Start, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He was discharged on 26 June 1919 aged 24, and died at Southampton in June 1947.

Albert was born in Cardiff in 1901. He served with the 20th Middlesex Regiment, the 5th Lancers and the Hussars.  He survived the war and received his discharge on 30 January 1919.  He returned to Cardiff and in 1927 married Elizabeth M Lewis.  He died in Cardiff in June 1931.

These are just a few of the stories relating to the employees of Cardiff Corporation who served in the First World War.

The Aberdare Cottage Homes Memorial Roll

To commemorate the anniversary of the First World War, I researched the men whose names appear on the Aberdare Cottage Homes Memorial Roll held at the Glamorgan Archives.

Aberdare Roll of Honour compressed

There are a total of 83 names on the roll, some with more information than others, and upon undertaking initial research it seemed that they all attended the Industrial School at Trecynon, Aberdare.

According to Kelly’s Directory of 1910:

The Industrial School of Merthyr Tydfil Union, Trecynon, to give it its correct title, was built in 1871 by the Guardians, originally used as an Infirmary, and in 1877 converted to its present use. There is a new receiving home, also 2 Cottage Homes; the School is intended to separate pauper children from the influence of the adults, and gives a training to the children in different trades and occupations, and there is an industrial trainer for each department. The institution holds 200 children, with Thomas J Owen as Superintendent.

My research was undertaken in two ways; primary sources using documents held at the Glamorgan Archives and secondary sources online via Ancestry, Find My Past, Forces War Records and the Aberdare Leader newspaper website.

Whilst attending the Archives, I started by searching their online catalogue in order to access documents held there. These included records of the industrial school and cottage homes; Aberdare Boys School register; the Board of Guardians minute books and the admission and discharge registers of the Merthyr Union workhouse.

I spent several months reading through these documents looking for the names on the roll; sometimes the names jumped out at me, other times I could only find family members mentioned. Gradually I built up their early lives.  Alongside this I went online trying to trace birth details along with census entries and military history.  This allowed me to build up the men’s stories leading up to and including the First World War.

Within each personal record, I have used a colour code when documenting the research – black for the information found in documents in the Archives, green for general information found online and red for military information found online.

Some of the names revealed an interesting hidden history of information, whereas other names, due to lack of initial information did not reveal very much at all. Among them there are four servicemen who won the Military Medal (MM), one who received the Distinguish Conduct Medal (DCM) and nine are recorded as casualties.

Among the servicemen on the roll are John and Kenneth Aubrey. I found both boys in the records of the Industrial School where they were admitted in October 1900, and then in the 1901 census attending at St Fagan.  John was admitted to the Training School on 1st September 1902, whereas Kenneth was admitted on 29th August 1904.  There is no mention of parents that I can find, nor where or why Kenneth was admitted two years later.  Both boys went to live with their aunt in December 1906, but were brought back to the school in June 1907.  John was put into service to Mr Peter Pugh in July 1907 and Mr Pugh later applied for custody of Kenneth in October 1908.  Both boys can be found in the 1911 census as ‘Adopted Sons’ to Mr and Mrs Pugh.  In 1912, John leaves for Australia, arriving in Brisbane, Queensland on 26th December that year.  He enlists in the Australian Imperial Force on 11th March 1916, is wounded around September 1917, but goes on to survive the war and return to Australia.  Kenneth enlists in the Welsh Regiment and is reported missing in the Dardanelles in 1915.  News eventually reached Mr and Mrs Pugh in December 1916 that Kenneth was officially reported missing on 17th August 1915.

For another soldier, Stephen Lucy, born around 1891, the only record I could confirm was that he left the Industrial School in 1907 and joined The Buffs (East Kent) Regiment as a Bandsman aged 16. He is recorded as having achieved the rank of Lance Corporal and gained the DCM for distinguished conduct as a stretcher bearer by June 1915.  Unfortunately he is wounded in the right arm and is discharged as medically unfit.  However he is given the opportunity to return to work at the Children’s Home, eventually becoming Bandmaster in 1917.  He goes on to marry and have two children.

Alexander McCarthy was admitted to the Industrial School in 1900. By 1907 he had made sufficient progress to enable him to enter for examination as a Pupil Teacher.  Although unsuccessful at that time, he went on to attend the Aberdare County School and was eventually apprenticed in 1908 as a Pupil Teacher.  In the 1911 census he is recorded as an Elementary School Teacher and in 1915 he attended St Mary’s College in Hammersmith, becoming Senior Prefect.  Later in 1915 he joined the Royal Fusiliers and in July 1916 saw action in the Battle of the Somme.  He was recommended for a Commission, due to excellent field service, as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers, but was killed in action on 23rd August 1918.

The full text of the roll of honour research is accessible on the First World War pages of the Glamorgan Archives website:


Although I have found as much information as it is possible at this time, the research is far from complete. If anyone recognises a possible ancestor amongst the names on the roll of honour and is able to fill in any missing details, please contact the Glamorgan Archives as we would love to hear from you.

Rosemary Nicholson