Dinas Powys and St. Andrew's Major in old picture postcards

Dinas Powys and St. Andrew's Major in old picture postcards

Auteur
:   Dr. Chrystal Davies
Gemeente
:  
Provincie
:   Glamorgan, South
Land
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-2463-8
Pagina's
:   80
Prijs
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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INTRODUCTION

In 1894 the Victorian inventions of photography and the pre-paid post came together in an art form new to Britain - the picture viewcard. By 1899, after negotiations between publishers and Post Office, the picture postcard had assumed the shape and size with which we are familiar to-day, with the view occupying the who1e of one side, and message and address on the reverse.

German photo-litho techniques dominated the market, so that the earliest colour cards of Dinas Powys were commissioned from Germany by the Iocal postmaster. Their fresh, bright colours give a special charm to village scenes. Later, the major British publishing firms extended their activities to the smallest villages. Dinas Powys scenes - the parish church, Norman castle, mediaeval water-mill and Victorian schoolroom - appeared in colour, sepia, and black and white, cu1minating in the set of twe1ve beautifully shaded colour cards published circa 1930. A whole era of village life had been recorded on the picture postcard.

In 1880 Dinas Powys was a village typical of many in the Vale of G1amorgan, relying upon agricu1ture for a prosperity which made it 1arger and a little richer than its neighbours. The development of docks at Penarth and Barry, and in 1888 the opening of the Barry Railway, brought many changes. There was an influx of population - railwaymen, dockers, and those employed in the 10ca1 brickworks. Eastbrook

was developed as a railway suburb, and around the mediaeval village large mansions were erected for shipping magnates and coal-owners and the new class of professional men who worked in Cardiff and the surrounding towns.

The population of the parish of St. Andrew's Major (which included Dinas Powys but not Michaelston-IePit) was only 576 at the census of 1881. It had doubled dramatically within ten years to 1,149 in 1891, and it continued to rise, reaching 2,529 in 1921. By 1930 the local industries were in decline but Dinas Powys continued to attract those who worked in the towns and preferred to live in the country. To-day it has a population of 9,600.

These changes are reflected in the picture postcards. The face Dinas Powys presented to the wor1d was p1easantly sunny, the streets bare of traffic except for the occasiona1 horse and cart and, later the rare motor car. Until 1888 most men worked close to their homes at the country tasks of sowing and harvesting, herding, milking and shearing, upon which the village economy depended. Their sports, too, were those of the country - the otter hunt and the rook shoot. The outer wor1d had begun to break by 1896 when an earnest group of estate workers took an outing to the Cardiff Exhibition. Cricket, tennis and bowls, soccer and rugby football would be the diversions of the future, and the postcards recorded the new pavilions and other sporting amenities.

By 1930, trains and buses transported the majority of workers, bath men and wamen, to places of work outside the village. Even the children, who had once spent the whole of their school-life in the village, now began to travel to grammar schools in the towns. Improved communications had been the catalyst of this change.

Most photographers tended to concentrate on the centre of the village and on picturesque scenes like the thatched cottages or the waterfall at the Mill. Sites of historical importance, apart from the parish church and the castle, were unknown or their significance was ignored. Many of the ancient farms disappeared without photographic record, though the gentry houses - Cwrt-yr-ala, the Mount, Bryneithen and Merevale - aften attracted the photographer. The postcard record, then, is an uneven one, and it has been supplemented in this volume by a few old photographs of groups and events that bring to vivid life the sleepy, empty streets. Many of the fields and farms have gone, but the older roads are still recognisable. If we mentally remove the traffic, the telephone wires and the television aeriels, it is easy to imagine ourselves back in the picture postcard world of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As Frank Staff wrote in his Hlstory of the Picture Postcard:

"I'o-day, when an Edwardian picture postcard is held in the hand, time for the moment is captured; for the picture is not just a reproduetion ... but it is an actual

representation of that time, and is something belonging to those years.'

These early postcards of Dinas Powys capture the magie of just such a moment in time.

The author wishes to thank the following for their assistance in the compilation of this baak and for their permission to repro duce postcards, sketches and photographs. Mrs. June Allansen for No. 17; Mrs. C. Ashmore for Nos. 57 and 76; John Byrne for Nos. 53, 59 and 68; Rhodri M. Davies for No. 13; John DoreDennis for No. 47; The Editor of the South Wales Echo for Nos. 11 and 41; Mrs. R. Hewins for items from the scrapbook of the late Vivian S. Hewins, Nos. 8,15, 18, 19,22,38,48,49,51,56,61,62 and 71; Mrs. Hilary Jones for No. 40; J.W. Hopkins for No. 35; Canon J.G. Keane, Rector of St. Andrew's Major, for Nos. 41 and 70; H.E. Lyons for No. 5; G.B. Lloyd for No. 10; Angela M. Mason (Mrs. M.A. Porter) for No. 13; Hugh Matthews for Nos. 25,26 and 73; Mrs. Eileen Orpin for Nos. 1,2,9,21,44,47,63,67,69 and 75; Miss Gwen Randen for Nos. 4, 6, 12,23,24, 28, 31, 39, 42, 43, 45, 50, 58,60, and 74; Roland Randen and Canon Keane for items from the P.G. Randen Collection, Nos. 3, 14,27,30,33,34,46,54, 55, 64, 65 and 66; Mrs. Olive Wiggnis for No. 72; Terry Williams for No. 20; A.C. Williams for Nos. 7, 11, 16, 29, 32, 35, 36, 37, 52 and for his invaluable identification of people and places in these pictures.

1. 'Dinas Powys,' wrote the first village schoolmaster, 'is the picture of a country village ... Peace and happiness reign here, and its dwellers appear to be satisfied with the world.' He described the children dancing on the village green or Twyn, where in 1741 Charles Wesley preached to a dronken crowd at the annual mabsant. In 1891 the grassy triangle was enclosed and planted with lime trees and red may. This is a 'divided back' card authorised in 1902, with space on the right for address and stamp and on the left the words 'For Inland Postage this Space may now be used for Communication. For Foreign Postage the Back only,' though the back is, in fact, occupied by this scene which is a good introduetion to Dinas Powys at the opening of the twentieth century.

2. Frank John, the village postrnaster, commissioned this set of colour cards (Nos, 2, 4, 28, 38, 39) from Germany. To the left of his post office was a thatched cottage with the village oven for communal baking, and the old house and Star Hotel which incorporate mediaeval features - pointed doorways, ingle nook and spiral stair. This card is postmarked 1906, after the extension of the Star over the space once occupied by a smithy and a carpenter's shop. In the middie distance are the Wesleyan Methodist Church and manse, and on the Ieft the side of the Steam Bakery which superseded the parish oven. On the extreme Ieft behind the tree are two cottages used at different times as dame school, butchery, court-house and village loek-up.

3. Once again a high, elegant Edwardian perambulator figures in this view, taken from the opposite direction with the post office on the left. Until this gas lamp was installed in 1901 the only public lightlag (apart from the moon, familiarly known as 'the parish lantern') was one paraffin lamp hung out by a kindly shopkeeper on moonless nights. In the background are a pair of cottages built of granite ballast off-loaded from coal ships at Penarth Doek. They are unusual in a village built mainly of locallirnestone.

4. Dated and postmarked 1906, this card shows on the left the drinking fountain and horse trough erected two years after the Parish Meeting of 1888 sold to Barry Docks & Railway Co. the piece of commonland needed for their eutting, and decided to use the money to improve the village centre. Beside the Twyn, on the corner of Britway Road, stands the National School, erected in 1858. On the opposite corner is the Emporium, an imposing name for the general store kept by Susie Evans, The children used to say 'You can get anything at Susie's', The Emporium became a cobbler's shop and is now a private house. The school was demolished in 1971 and replaced by Britway Court, a development of modern flats designed with gab les that reeall the old school and the school house beside it.

5. A precious moment of Edwardian childhood is captured in the faces of these children from the National School with their teachers, Mrs. Lyons (right) and Miss Jennie Jones (left). These wonderful toys were kept in the glass museum cupboard in the schoolroom and only the infants were allowed to play with them, The pride of the colleetien was the magnificent horse in the centre, with its soft hide and flowing mane and tail. The National School was taught by a master (then Robert Howell Jones), with severallady assistants, and was administered by a Board of Managers headed by the Rector and the Lord of the Manor, who of ten visited the school to inspeet the work, award prizes, and exhort the children to greater efforts. The date is 1907ยท1908.

6. Dinas Powys Silver Band leads a procession of friendly societies (probably the Oddfellows) up Parish (now Highwalls) Road. Behind the marshal with his long baton, two members bear a banner framed with flowers and greenery. The lady on the right with the baby stands by the pillared entrance to the Iron Church, built in 1882 as a chapel of ease to St. Andrew's Parish Church. The proeession stretches back to Station Road where a group of three shops has been built beside the loek-up cottages sinee picture 2 was taken.

HIGHWALLS ROAO OINAS POWIS.

7. This ear1y black and white postcard is postmarked 1908. At this point Highwalls Raad, its surface rough and urunetalled, took a sharp tum in front of Ebenezer Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. The sign on the 1eft, 'Perth Dye Works', marks the small grocery shop kept by the wife of Bill Howells, the lamplighter.

8. Postmarked 1904, this black and white postcard shows on the left the Lee Room, erected by General Lee, Lord of the Manor, for the recreation of the villagers. Later he closed it when rumours reached him that this 'recreation' consisted of playing cards for money! Next to it is Brecon House, the telephone exchange, and beyond that Ty Eglwys, originally the manse for Ebenezer, at the turn of the road, On the extreme right are the granite cottages shown in picture 3, and behind them is Church Terraee, a row of tiny cottages and shops built between 1844 and 1850 by Edward John, the Lee Estate mason who contructed the wall around the Twyn, The gas lamp and telegraph pole have pride of place in the centre of the picture.

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