I was born in 1898 in 175 Abercynon Road.
We moved to Nash Street in Carnetown around 1900 and lived in the corner house.
There was no shop there at this time as I well remember the shop being built. Mr & Mrs Jones were the first owners opening the well-stocked shop and Sub Post Office.
As there were no schools in Carnetown at that time then I had to walk to Navigation (Clock) Infants School. I can also remember the party at the school to celebrate the coronation of King Edward I 1902.
Carnetown Infants School was opened at the top of Cardiff Road and I was there from the start.
I attended on the first day in 1904 and was in the first class. My teacher’s name was Miss Fisher and there was also a young teacher about 17 years of age named Miss Agnes Hughes (later Mrs Hedly Dennis) and the governess was a lady called Miss Grant who came from Mountain Ash. We all liked her very much.
If we attended school every day then Miss Grant would present us with a card signed card on a Friday. I was only in that school for one year as it was back to Abercynon school to attend Standard One. We used to run down Stoney Hill, in those days there was an opening Where the Ex Servicmen’s Club is now. Before it became the club, it was the Palace Cinema which was built in that opening. There was also an opening across the road which was the Co-Op, Now recently closed (Now the Spar Shop) large grocery shop and butchers shop next door.
The governess of Navigation (Clock)School was named Miss Tite. The Teachers I remember were Miss Cannings, Miss Cheen and Miss S A Thomas.The School was not a mixed school, boys were on one side and girls on the other.
They had their own masters and teachers.
I can remember the Post Office being in the front room of the fourth house from the Library in Ynysmeurig Road. (in those days it was Station Road)
There was only waste ground where the Social Hall and Empress (now the car park opposite the Post Office) now stand and once we had a circus came to Abercynon on that land and you could have a ride on an elephant for one penny.
People we used to call “Cheap Jacks” would put up rough stalls and sell clothes china and and bedding.
Sometimes a marquee with a stage was put up and anyone who wanted to sing or take part in any way we asked up on the stage.
I can remember one man called Mr Pugh, he had one arm and he always sang. He had a Very good voice. His son and daughters still live in Abercynon. (at the time that this was written)
In 1909 Carnetown junior School was opened and once again I attended the first day. It opened this time to take up to Standard Four.
The head teacher was Mr wigley and I quite well remember the here men teachers were from Ynysybwl. Mr tom Hughes, Mr Sam Jones and Mr Rogers (who was killed in the first World War) and I can only remember one lady teacher, Miss Owen, she later became Mrs Jones and her husband was a painter who kept a shop in Station Road (the first shop next to Navigation school. They later emigrated to Califonia.
By now we had moved from Nash Street to Belmont Terrace (no Aberdare Road) one family who lived near us named Mr & Mrs Evans moved, I think to Bassett Street but were always known as Evans Belmont and that name stuck to them.
We used to look up at the bright sky in the evenings and the whole of Carnetown’s sky woulkd be bright red from the Merthyr Iron Works.
Carnetown had two bake houses, on was behind Mr Madox’s Grocers Shop at the bottom of Elizabeth Street. (Mr Madox is the Grandfather of singer Ceris Mathews ) The bake house was kept by Mr Jobe Morgan who was the brother of Mrs Madox.
The other Bake house was at the corner of Taff View behind Mr Tom Jones Grocery Shop and were both owned by Mr Jones. I later years they closed and were reopened as a glove factory and now sells plaster mouldings.
There was a Butchers Shop at the top of Park street kept by Mr & Mrs H Jones.
In the first house in New street a shop sold men’s underwear and Mrs Brown had a similar shop in 44 Park Street. Mr And Mrs Vincent kept a Coblers (Shoe Repairs) Shop in No 48 Park Street. Their Great Grandson is Philip Jones who kept the Ladies Hairdressers in Margaret Street before closing around 2010. Old Mrs Bethel also kept a shop in her parlour three quarters of the way down on the right side of Park Street. There was a Barber’s Shop next door.
One shop that visibly stands out in my memory is Mr & Mrs Howes shop in Cardiff Road opposite the school. You could buy home made Loaf Cake by the half Pound and take you own container and buy tree penny worth of home-made pickles (onions, cabbage or beetroot) What a difference from the supermarkets of today.
We never bought pop. It was always home-made from nettles, dandylions and other plants and we would take a container to old Mrs Evans “Frondeg” New Street to buy three penny’s worth of balm which made the liquid from boiled herbs fizzy . This would be added and put in bottles and we called it “Small Beer”.
We had no toys like the children of today but we quite content with skipping ropes and hop scotch marked out on the road (no traffic then). The Boys had marbles and bowleys.
Of course it was safe to play on the roads in those days as there were no cars of busses. In the winter on dark night we used to wait for Mr Harding from Abercynon Road to come along with his long pole and light the gas lamps in the streets. I can remember Salisbury Road being built and I believe it was trhe first row of house to be built with bathrooms.
I will never forget Pen Park wood when the bluebells were out. From the top of Aberdare Road to Pen Park Farm they were like a blue carpet and in the autumn the blackberries and hazelnuts were everywhere.
I well remember whole families coming down from Ynysboeth with clothes baskets and going home with these full of blackberries. Perhaps they were going to sell them.
One day when I was out picking blackberries I found a nest full of eggs underneath the bushes. They were all fresh and I did not know whose chicken had laid them so I was not long running home with them. I have often wondered since, was I a thief in not finding out who they belonged to?
I was the oldest of a family of nine children so I had to leave school at 13 and I used to do jobs like scrubbing floors or looking after children for two shilling a week.
My father worked on the railway and his name was Mr Tom Hamlet and he was killed by a train a few yards from Abercynon station in 1914. My father used to collect a few coppers from the men working on the Taff vale Railway to pay Dr Morris in the days before the National Health Service.
We were brought up to attend chapel. Three times on a Sunday and Band of Hope and Christian Endeavour in the weeknights. Then we had Boys Brigade that was held in our chapel, the English Congregational now called the United Reform Church. I remember when the chapel used to be full of people on a Sunday with special services such as Harvest and Sunday school Anniversaries. On these occasions they would have to put chairs in the isles to pack everyone in. For many years Mr Harold Battram was the choirmaster and at one time his wife was the organist also his daughter Mrs McEwan. He had two brothers in the choir Mr e Battram 7 Mr J Battram and his father and father in law were founder members of the church. He also had two brothers in law. Mr E Carslake and Mr T Jones who were deacons of the chapel. The Minister was Rev Morgan Jenkins who was with us for 43 years. My father was Secretary at that time.
Another family closely connected with the chapel was the Hopkins Family who lived up the top of Abercynon Road. Old Mr Hopkins was a Deacon and later on one of his sons the late Charlie Hopkins became a Deacon one son a Minister was drowned.
Mr Lewis Hopkins, another son, lived in Mountain Ash Road and there were two daughters Mrs miles Gwilim and Mrs Jake Parry. When my brothers and sisters were small and the Hopkins family had grown up they gave us their magic lantern and slides that we thought were wonderful. We used to put a sheet over the pantry door put the oil lamp out and look at the pictures. Little did I think that the time would come when you could sit in the comfort of your own room and switch on your television and watch what is going on all parts of the world- such is progress.
I have lived in the Glancynon side of Abercynon since 1927 but from the top of my garden in 29 Fife Street I can look right across the valley and see the Carnetown woods of my happy childhood and think of all my old school friends, most of whom have passed on but I remember them with love.