Monthly Archives: July 2012

I Remember Him ‘Cos…

He Gave Me Thruppence!

I attended Dynevor Grammar School in Swansea from 1949 – 1954.

Most days I would travel to and fro on the Mumbles Railway – the oldest passenger-carrying train in the U.K.

I would leave school at 4pm, run down through the old bombed-out Swansea Market to Rutland Street, which was the terminus for the trains, and catch the 4.15pm train to Mumbles. Then transfer to the Caswell Bay bus for the onward journey to Newton. Nearly all the Mumbles and Newton kids would catch the same train which would be quite full of us kids!

One day, I must have committed some unpardonable sin in school, as I was ‘sentenced’ to an hour’s detention!

After serving my sentence, I ran to Rutland Street and caught the next train. Alas! It was turned 5 o’clock and there were no kids on it at all! It was just full of ‘workmen’ (as we used to call workers!!). Most of them were somewhat dirty as they did manual jobs.

So, instead of going ‘upstairs’ where ALL decent and normal kids go, I sat at the bench style seat next to the folding doors of the train. And there I sat for the entire journey – satchel on my lap, looking very sorry for myself. Because I knew that I was going to be very, very late for my paper-round! The people of St.Peter’s Road and Caswell Avenue would never forgive me. My mother would know that something had gone wrong, so I was probably in for a right rollicking there too! And I would then be too late to go and ‘play’ with the boys as they would have already gone off in search of treasure today’s playground!

So, I just sat there! All the way until the train stopped at West Cross. West Cross was a council-house area, built of steel-houses after the war. Riff-raff lived there, of course!! Or, were they?

One of the workmen got off the train. I shall never forget him. He would have been about 40-ish; slim build; dirty, once-white but now grimy grey mac; the seemingly mandatory features of flat-cap and ex-army haversack which would have carried his lunch; and the solemn, dirty face of a tired man! He had been sat opposite me and must have seen my woeful face because, after he got off the train, he reached back inside, and stuffed a thruppeny bit into my hand! He quickly turned away and hurried up the slipway to the Mumbles Road leading onto the council estate. And I never saw him again.

Which is a great pity because, I have often wondered whether he ever knew just what that gesture meant to me – and still does!

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Ol’ Pals!

Recent visitors to our new Village Hall included quite a lot of ol’ pals, many of whom I have not seen for about 60 years.

Amongst them were two real old pals:-

Betty Sivertsen
(nee Evans).

Akela

Betty, when I was a lad, was Akela. (In Cub Scout packs, Akela is a symbol of wisdom, authority, and leadership.) We had really wonderful evenings at her Wolf Cub events and I remember them with much happiness. She did a wonderful job of entertaining and controlling us despite most of us being utter toe-rags! Her late husband was one-time Lord Mayor of Swansea. As a girl, she lived with her parents in Newton Road, together with her two brothers, Brian and Eric, both of whom died very young. (In their 20s or 30s!) The family were all known to locals as the ‘Stirling Evans’!

Annie Woollacott

Annie was the daughter of Dick Woollacott, our local farmer. Their farm was at the top of our little road, and they actually lived next door but one from our cottage. During, and just after, the war, Annie or her mother, May, would deliver our milk, pouring it, steaming, from the can into our jug. There was always ‘extra, for the children’!! We would be huddled in our tiny cottage, listening to the wireless – sorry, now called the ‘radio’, powered by the ‘accumulator’, which had to be taken to Mumbles every Saturday to be ‘charged-up’! All of us kids spent much time on Dick’s farm – no such thing as ‘Health and Safety’ then! We would ride his shires – we called them ‘carthorses’ as well as riding in the ‘cart’. Great fun indeed. We also learnt to milk the cows, though I must confess that I was no good at it and hated it. Why? Well, actually, because I couldn’t stand the ‘feel’ of it! Uck! Annie and I used to have wrestling contests when we happened to be in the same field together. She couldn’t fight!!!

Dick’s farm. Cowstalls on left foreground of pic


Happy Days indeed. We were very, very lucky,partly due to people like these.

Re-produced from Dickiebo.

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