How the Val­leys marked the fes­tive sea­son 100 years ago

Tom Houghton looks at how Christ­mas was cel­e­brated in the Val­leys 100 years ago this month, as well as some of the most eye­catch­ing lo­cal news sto­ries of the 1917 fes­tive sea­son...

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS -

THE spirit of Christ­mas has al­ways been clear to see in the South Wales Val­leys, but there are some no­table dif­fer­ences be­tween cel­e­bra­tions in the cur­rent era and 100 years ago – the days of the First World War.

As times have changed, kind deeds for the less for­tu­nate have re­mained.

The Rhondda Leader re­ported on De­cem­ber 29 that in spite of the war and eco­nomic con­di­tions, the Guardians of Pon­typridd Union gave the wounded sol­diers and pa­tients at Ll­wynypia Homes the “usual Christ­mas treat” in the form of a din­ner of roast beef and pork, pota­toes and parsnips and plum pud­ding.

Each pa­tient at the hos­pi­tal was also given ap­ples, sweets and to­bacco.

“The cor­ri­dors and wards at the In­fir­mary had all been gaily dec­o­rated with ev­er­greens, mot­toes and suit­able greet­ings,” the re­port read.

The wounded he­roes in res­i­dence there were “roy­ally en­ter­tained”, it added.

One of the Rhondda’s main Christ­mas events of that year was the Can­tata – a choir event – that took place in Tonyre­fail.

The event happened on De­cem­ber 22, and de­spite the ab­sence of the “un­miss­able” Guardian Davies, who had been in an ac­ci­dent earlier that day, it “sur­passed it­self”.

De­spite the fes­tiv­i­ties, it was not all good Christ­mas news in the Rhondda Leader that year.

Among the re­ports of crime in the pa­per dated De­cem­ber 29 in­clude a Christ­mas Eve bur­glary in Tre­orchy.

The re­port read: “A dar­ing bur­glary oc­curred at the house of Miss Mary Davies, Col­lena Street, on Christ­mas Eve. “It ap­pears that in the af­ter­noon Miss Davies had raised a cer­tain sum of her Post Of­fice sav­ings and de­posited it in a chest of draw­ers in her bed­room.”

The story re­ported that evening, she left the house hav­ing se­cured the doors, but when she re­turned, the premises had been en­tered from the rear.

The bur­glars had searched her prop­erty, and £6 10s of her money, as well as a “quan­tity of cigars” had gone miss­ing.

The re­port added: “A poker was found on the bed, sug­gest­ing that the un­wel­come vis­i­tor must have been armed, and there were foot­prints on a couch, which fur­ther sug­gested that it had been used to ex­pe­dite an exit through the kitchen win­dow. The po­lice are mak­ing in­quiries.”

The Aber­dare Leader’s opin­ion­ated Lo­cal Chat­ter sec­tion on De­cem­ber 29 said con­di­tions of war at the time made it dif­fi­cult to ob­serve Christ­mas Day in “the old fash­ioned way”, but that “on the whole the spirit of Christ­mas per­vaded most homes, es­pe­cially our hos­pi­tals and cot­tage homes and other pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions”.

On Christ­mas Day and Box­ing Day in the town, the an­nual grand con­cert was held at Siloa Cong Chapel, as well as an or­gan recital at Ynys­ll­wyd B Chapel.

On Box­ing Day, the well-known or­gan­ist David Clegg paid his third visit to Bethel Con­gre­ga­tion Chapel in Tre­cynon, while there was also a com­pet­i­tive con­cert at Heol y Felin Chapel, and a “great mu­si­cal event” at Cw­ma­man on Christ­mas Day.

But there was also plenty of petty crime.

In Aber­dare, that in­cluded one by green­gro­cer and gen­eral dealer, Bert Short, re­ported in the Aber­dare Leader on De­cem­ber 22.

Short, of 209 Cardiff Road, Abera­man, was sum­moned to Aber­dare Dis­trict Coun­cil af­ter he failed to ex­hibit a list of prices of but­ter at his shop.

PC Ben­nett told the court in con­se­quence of a com­plaint, he vis­ited the shop and saw a boy named Clif­ford Jones be­ing served with a pound of but­ter at 2s 4d.

The of­fi­cer told Short he had re­ceived a com­plaint, and asked him where his price-list was, to which the de­fen­dant replied “that he only had a lit­tle but­ter to sell”.

Short, who pleaded guilty, said a price list had now been put up, and was fined 40s.

Else­where, a name­call­ing row be­tween two women went all the way to court.

In an ar­ti­cle head­lined “Abera­man women’s squab­bles”, it was re­vealed that El­iz­a­beth Ber­ry­man had been sum­moned by Gertrude Chiplin for in­de­cent lan­guage.

The pair lived in Mar­garet Street in Abera­man, and a lawyer de­fend­ing Ms Chiplin said the lan­guage used had been “dis­grace­ful, and he hoped the bench would do their ut­most to dis­cour­age such con­duct”.

The story ran that on De­cem­ber 11, she went to the de­fen­dant’s door, where her chil­dren were on the pave­ment out­side.

She said Ber­ry­man used the lan­guage, be­fore a wit­ness an­swered and told her not to call her “rot­ten”, be­cause “she was as clean as her”.

Ber­ry­man was fined 10s, with the par­ties bound over to keep the peace for six months.

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