Memories of The Rhiw.

The Rhiw during the 1960s.

Recently I have been given a some memories of our town that were written during 1984. 
I am sharing them with you as it makes quite interesting reading.

As my mind wanders back over the years, many odd things stir to life. Where Board's Garage now stands, I remember Walter Powell's, the fruiterers, and 'Nones - Flannel'. Walter Powell's fruit stall was in the coach house of the big house, last occupied by the Board family, which was formerly known as 'Price the Tanyard's House'. The tannery once stood on the site below the house, where later stood the Victoria Laundry and today, the multi-storey car park.

Passing through the quaint railings at the top of The Rhiw, one walked  down a flagged pathway, flanked by cobble-stones on each side. Half way down The Rhiw, on the right hand side, was a house in which Jack Atkins, the butcher, lived with his family. Jack always wore rather tight-legged 'drainpipe' trousers. Next to his house was a fairly large yard, in which stood a large wooden shed, on brick foundations, with three steps for entry into the carpenter's shop. Three men were busily employed there, including the owner, Alf Jones. The last I remember of Alf Jones was that he moved to the region of Pandy Farm, near Craig-y-Parc.

Opposite Jack Atkins, the butcher's house, was a lodging house, and below this, a row of about eight cottages. The last cottage had a shop-window and a doorway bordering the lane leading to the Victoria Laundry and some stables. Here lived an old lady named Mrs. Nolan, who was very stout, and had a boxer's broken nose. She had a barrel organ and also a small stock of second-hand shoes for sale. The rod sign on Mrs. Nolan's shop was interesting for its spelling - 'THE RHIEW'. Often, on hot summers days, Mrs. Nolan would visit 'Ye Olde Spirit Vaults', at the bottom of the Rhiw and borrow a couple of hefty lads to help her pull her barrel organ outside her shop. Squatting on a chair, she would turn the handle round and round to the end of the tune. She would then move a small lever from No.1 to No. 2 and continue until she had played the whole repertoire of about six tunes. I do not remember Mrs.Nolan begging for money as she played - she merely churned the music out for everyone's benefit. Sometimes music would slow down and stop because Mrs. Nolan had dropped off to sleep. It was not for long.  There were an awful set of youngsters living near, and a paper bag blown up and burst, would soon bring the organ and its player back to life. I spent a lot of time, from the age of eight, in and around The Rhiw and its forge and many times watched the barrel organ being played.

Walter H. E. Redwood.  

(Source: BLHS)

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