MUSEUM NEWS

MAY  2022

1) Since the last update, several more artefacts have been donated.  Should anyone wish to see any acquisitions which are not on display an appointment can be made to view.

2) ON 2ND JUNE A TEMPORARY DISPLAY IS BEING MOUNTED IN THE GROUND FLOOR EXHIBITION ROOM TO CELEBRATE THE QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE.  THE DISPLAY WILL FEATURE A REPLICA CORONATION DRESS DESIGNED AND MADE BY MRS. VAL BUSH FOR THE TOWN’S CELEBRATION OF THE SILVER JUBILEE IN 1977, AS WELL AS VARIOUS OTHER ITEMS THE MUSEUM HAS IN STORE RELATING TO THE SILVER JUBILEE AND THE CORONATION. 

3) A Researcher working with Ludlow Museum is to visit the Museum on 27th May.  He is researching the role of Arthur Reynolds – the furniture designer who followed Paul Matt at the Brynmawr Furniture factory. Arthur Reynolds left Brynmawr when the factory closed in 1939.  He re-located to Ludlow and established his own business “Reynolds of Ludlow” woodware company.  Arthur Reynolds’ son Garth is assisting the researcher on the project. 

 

Garth visited the Museum some years ago when the fountain from the former   swimming pool site was re-located to the Welfare.  Following the visit, he donated a small chair made for him by his father when he was a child and when    the family lived in Brynmawr. The chair is located in the furniture display on the first floor of the Museum with a photograph of Garth as a child. 

Garth’s son and grandson also visited the Museum in 2018.

APRIL  2022 

The “Weatherman Walking” Brynmawr to Abergavenny episode was broadcast by BBC1 on 8th April.  The interview with Frank on the Quaker initiative which resulted in the famous “Brynmawr Experiment” was well reported.  The visit filmed in the Museum showing the furniture display of the now collectable Brynmawr Furniture which was made in the factory set up by the Quakers in the 1930’s was excellent. The programme has resulted in several visits to see the furniture – the most notable visitor being Mrs. A. Griffiths (neé Matt) who is the niece of Paul Matt, the designer of the Brynmawr Furniture.

The Society’s AGM was held on Monday 25th April.  This was the first since 2019.  Normally, between twenty and thirty members attend an AGM when they take advantage at the end of the evening to socialise and chat. However, on this occasion we were fortunate to have a quorum of ten to allow the meeting to proceed.  Apologies for absence were received from thirty-seven of our eighty-seven Members.  Many were either suffering from COVID or recovering from the infection and others were understandably still cautious of being in crowded rooms.

The longest serving Directors who were required to submit their resignations were Ann Axford;

John Davies; and Vivienne Williams. Their resignations were received. Pursuant to Paragraph 12.8 of the Company’s Articles of Associations, they had indicated that should no other nominations be received they were willing to be re-appointed.  No other nominations were received and it was therefore resolved that Ann Axford; John Davies; and Vivienne Williams be re-appointed for the year 2022/23.

The Chairman (John Davies); the Secretary (Vivienne Williams) and the Treasurer (John Hill), were all reappointed to serve for the 2022/23 year

Although the Museum had been closed from March 2020 to July 2021 due to national lockdown, and again from December 2021 to March 2022 due to the ceiling falling in the large ground floor exhibition room, donations of artefacts continued to be made: 37 in 2020, 27 in 2021 and already 3 in the current year.

Thursday Coffee Mornings continue to be popular when our “regulars” and other visitors are now able to meet face to face again.

MARCH  2022

FOLLOWING THE DISASTER OF THE CEILING FALLING IN THE LARGE GROUND FLOOR EXHIBITION ROOM - DISCOVERED ON 1ST DECEMBER 2021, AND AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS OF CLOSURE, WE FINALLY RE-OPENED ON THURSDAY 10TH MARCH.,

 

We have to thank Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council for its incredible support in employing a builder who has done a fantastic job in installing a new ceiling.   Work started on 16th February and was finally completed on 2nd March when the heavy Brynmawr Furniture was moved back into the room.  S.R.P. Cleaning Services were employed to deep clean the whole building in readiness for re-opening.  They, too, did a tremendous job and the building is now sparkling

We owe a big “Thank You” to our Treasurer, John Hill, for liaison with the County Borough Council and the cleaning company, for overseeing the work, and looking after the building whilst it was closed. 

Also, a huge  “Thank You” to our supportive team of volunteers who first moved the models and smaller display items and furniture from the room on 1st December and cleared the rubble away from the disaster area. Then, again, moving them back into the room on Friday 4th March in readiness for re-opening.

Again a terrific  “Thank You” to our loyal Members who have been interested in progress with the repair work and looking forward to the re-opening.

THE BUILDING WAS FINALLY READY FOR RE-OPENING, WITH OUR FIRST THURSDAY COFFEE MORNING OF 2022, ON 10TH MARCH WHEN WE WELCOMED OVER 5O MEMBERS AND VISITORS.  ALL WERE PLEASED TO AGAIN MEET EACH OTHER FACE-TO-FACE FOR A GOOD “CATCH UP”.

We can now look forward to seeing Derek Brockway’s  “Weatherman Walking” show to be broadcast by the B.B.C. later in the year and which will include a film made in the Museum on 21st July 2021.

We are now more than pleased to again welcome our regular patrons and visitors.

DECEMBER 2021

 On Wednesday 1st December it was found that disaster had struck!!  The ceiling in the large exhibition room on the ground floor had fallen.  Luckily no damage had occurred to the cabinets or furniture.  The Council was informed and an inspection was made later in the morning.  They advised that the cabinets needed to be boarded before any work was done to the ceiling.  They were unsure what would be the next step forward although the cabinets would have to be protected before any repairs were undertaken.  The options were (a) the ceiling would have to be completely replaced; or (b) a false ceiling could be installed.  In any event, nothing could be done before Christmas.  Watch this space!

Despite the Museum being closed, arrangements were made for Eifion to welcome two visitors on Thursday, 9th December.  Although it was impossible to view the ground floor rooms, the first floor was safe.  The visitors were Owen Smith (former MP for Pontypridd) and his friend, Baron Michael Levy, a labour peer who sits in the House of Lords and is chairman of a finance company.  He wished to visit because his mother was born at No. 62 Bailey Street, and lived there until she moved to London when she was in her 20’s.  He was interested in the Jewish community in Brynmawr, and Eifion gave him some museum literature about the Jewish riots and Brynmawr’s retaliation.  After the visit they intended to go to the Jewish Cemetery where Michael thought family members may be buried.

 

SEPTEMBER 2021

The Museum re-opened on Thursday 1st July.

The building was well prepared for the re-opening.  New vertical blinds were fitted to all the ground floor windows and two were replaced on the first floor.

Aquarius Cleaning Services thoroughly deep-cleaned the carpets throughout the building.

All the windows were cleaned (inside and outside) by our regular window cleaner “Mr. Bit”

The cleaning store and the cloakroom were both cleaned and re-painted.

Coffee mornings re-started on 1st July and have proved to be as popular as ever.

We have been pleased to again greet visitors.  As well as the usual local visitors we welcomed:

 

  1. The great-granddaughter of Fesemeyer, the Jewish clock/watchmaker who had a business in Brynmawr in the early twentieth century. She was thrilled to see the clock he made in 1906 for presentation to the then Carnegie Library by A.J. Markall of a well-known business family in the town.  The clock is in our small exhibition room on the ground floor and is in working order.

   2. Natasha Asghar, the South-east Wales MS, her agent, Lucy Field, and her press officer, came to Coffee 

   Morning on 19th August.  They were well impressed with the Museum and Coffee Morning attendance.

  3. A party of from Nepal, Kenya, and the Thames Valley, hosted by the Brynmawr Rotary Club, visited the   

      Museum on Saturday 21st August with representatives of the Rotary Club.

  4. The Granddaughter of Abe Brest visited on Friday, 27th August and was thrilled to talk to the volunteers on duty who remembered her family who had a business in the town.

 

The BBC’s Derek Brockway walked from Brynmawr to Abergavenny. The walk started on the Market Square and was filmed between 28th and 30th July.  The BBC wished to visit the Museum to talk to someone about the Brynmawr Quakers and to film the furniture.  The visit was filmed on 21st July, prior to the walk.  Frank met the BBC representative presenter to talk about the Brynmawr Experiment.  The Museum film is to be included in the Weatherman Walking programme which is scheduled to be broadcast in 2022.

MAY 2021

The Directors finally met on Monday 17th May - for the first time since 7th September 2020!!

One of the most important decisions made was to increase the number of Directors/Trustees from nine to ten Members.  It was resolved that Efion Lloyd Davies, Secretary of the Brynmawr Historical Society and local historian be invited to become the tenth Member.

 We are pleased to report that Efion has been contacted and has accepted the invitation.

Since, due to COVID, no AGM was held in April 2021, the three longest serving Directors due to retire in April - Nicholas Beswick; Sandra Plaister; and Alan Williams, agreed to serve for the 2021/22 financial year.

Amongst other decisions made it was agreed to have the vertical blinds on the ground floor replaced  by A1 Blinds; also that Aquarius Cleaning Services be requested to professionally clean the carpets throughout the building.  All in readiness to re-open the Museum.

 

The Directors agreed to circulate the Secretary’s Report for the year 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021 to all Members so that they were aware of the situation throughout the year.

The Museum is very fortunate in having 90 Members (37 Vice Presidents and 53 Patrons) all of whom have been morally and financially supportive during this very difficult period since the Museum’s closure in March 2020.  Many have kept in touch with each via telephone and all have been anxious to meet again when the Museum re-opens.

THEIR PATIENCE IS TO BE REWARDED WHEN THE MUSEUM RE-OPENS ON THURSDAY, 1ST JULY – ALL BEING WELL.

SEPTEMBER 2020

The Directors met on Monday 7th September for first time since February.

 Arrangements for re-opening the Museum were discussed. However, it was considered that to open before Christmas would be extremely difficult given the need to introduce social distancing measures in the building.

 It was agreed that the Directors would meet next on Monday 1st February to discuss future arrangements again when it was hoped that the situation with Covid would have improved.

 The passing of our much respected Director, Ernie Cusack, was also discussed.  Consideration was given to appointing a new Director. Following a short discussion, it was resolved that Mrs. Judy Beswick be appointed.

MAY 2020 

Sadly, whilst the country has been in lock-down, Ernie Cusack passed away.  Ernie was a valued and respected Director, as well as being an enthusiastic and reliable Volunteer.  On Thursday mornings, Ernie could be found using the vacuum cleaner after the coffee morning patrons had left.  Unfortunately, he had an accident towards the end of 2018 and never properly recovered.  Ernie will be very much missed by us all.

 JANUARY  2020

The volunteers, having much appreciated their well earned Christmas/New Year break, the Museum re-opened on Thursday 9th January. However, the Thursday morning “regulars” were more than pleased that the Museum had re-opened for tea/coffee and toast!!

Frank Olding’s new Course of Lectures “The History of Wales part two – from the Tudors to the 19th Centre” started at 10.00 a.m. on 10th January.      Forty-six signed up for the course – a number that exceeded expectations.  It was decided that because about thirty could best be accommodated, a second session to start at 1.00 p.m. could in future accommodate the “overflow”.

SEPTEMBER  2019

The hanging baskets were removed at the end of September and in November the two Christmas lights were installed in readiness for the town’s “Switching On” evening.  They, too, have now been removed.

The new hanging “Museum” sign has been installed on the corner of the building

 A Macmilllan Coffee Morning was held in the Museum on Friday, 27th September                  

The Coffee Morning was a great success                                                                                                                                Thank you to everyone who contributed lovely cakes and raffle prizes and a big thank you to those who came  along despite the bad weather.

 A total of £241.45 was raised. and the Museum has received a "Thank You" from the

Macmillan Coffee Morning Team.

JULY 2019

The annual “Open Evening” for Members and guests was held on Friday 12th July 2019.

Again, it was a great success with Members from the surrounding area attending as well as those who travelled from further afield (Notably from Kinver, West Midlands, and Pontypool).  All who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Huge thanks to the volunteers (Marjorie, Sandra and Merryl) who looked after the guests – and June and Carol who did a sterling job selling raffle tickets.  The raffle raised £100 and, with the sale of wine not used on the evening, a profit of £59.65 on the event was made.

Louise Garrett of “Visit Wales” (VAQAS)”  inspected the Museum on Thursday 11th July2019.

On Friday 12th she emailed to say that she was pleased to confirm that the Brynmawr & District Museum continued to meet all the requirements of the Visit Wales “VAQAS”  accreditation scheme.

She says she is now in the process of putting our assessment report together which should be with us within the next week or so.

Four hanging baskets have been planted and are now in place – all looking good.

A new Museum hanging sign has been ordered and will be located on the corner of the building.

APRIL 2019

The Society’s Sixteenth AGM was held in the Museum on Monday 29th April 2019.

Twenty three of the Society’s 101 Members attended and apologies for absence were received from 32 Members.

As required by the Company’s Articles of Association, the three longest serving Directors and Trustees:  Merryl Caleb; John Davies; and Vivienne Williams, submitted their resignations but had previously indicated they were willing to be re-elected should no other nominations be received.  This was the case and the three were, therefore, unanimously re-elected.

For the year 2019/2020, John Davies was appointed Chairman; John Hill was appointed Treasurer; and Vivienne Williams was re-appointed Secretary.

Tea, coffee and Welsh cakes were served at the conclusion of the meeting when Members were able to chat and catch up on local news.

JANUARY 2019

After a well earned  Christmas/New Year holiday for the Volunteers the Museum will re-open on Thursday, 10th January, 2019.

Friday 11th January will see the start of Frank Olding’s  12 week lecture course entitled “The History of the Archaeology of Wales”.

Many of the displays in the first floor exhibition room have been changed and new ones added.  

The most significant new display is that of the Brynmawr Town Cricket Club.  Sadly, the Club, which was established in 1872 was dissolved in 2017.  Many of its trophies and other memorabilia are now in the keeping of the Museum.