CLYDACH PEOPLE: PHILIP HALE (Clydach Historical Society)

Our latest issue of Clydach People, I spoke with local resident Philip Hale. Philip is well known for his involvement with the Clydach Historical Society and is currently chair of the Society

When was the first time that you set foot in Clydach?
Having been brought up in Trebanos, I became familiar with Clydach from an early age.

When did you first have an interest in Clydach?
I have always had an interest in Clydach and the surrounding area. In about 1984, having moved to Clydach a couple of years previously, I enquired about becoming a member of the recently formed Clydach Historical Society and spoke to Graham Cadwalladr who was Secretary at that time. I duly signed up as a member and have been a member ever since. Back then, the membership was 500 with a waiting list which showed the strength of feeling from people living locally and further away about wanting to discover the history of Clydach and to keep in touch with each other and share their memories of earlier years.

What is the most surprising thing that you have found about the history of Clydach?
The history of Clydach is bound up in its inhabitants past and present. On part of the land now occupied by the Mond was the Ynyspenllwch Iron Works which can trace its origins back to 1647 when two Bristol merchants leased the forge and iron mill at Ynyspenllwch. The iron works consisted of a furnace for reheating cast iron pigs, a trip hammer for beating the spongy mass from the furnace into bars and a stand of rolls for rolling the bars into plates. It progressed to a cannister works and in 1937 the Metal Box Co. acquired the site and remained there until 1952.

Clydach Historical Society

Tell us a bit about Clydach Historical Society
The Society was formed in 1983 and its first newsletter was issued in the Autumn of that year. Newsletter Number 1 opened by stating ‘A Society will not exist for long if it does not have adequate channels through which its members can communicate with each other and with the Society’s Officers. To survive, it must, also, be able to communicate effectively with the community around it and the purpose of issuing a quarterly newsletter is to provide this contact and to give members and others the opportunity to contribute to its content’. Over the years, 138 newsletters have been issued and 139 is waiting in the wings to be released.

Are there still mysteries to be solved.
Delving into historical archives brings up information which leads the investigator down many unthought of paths which, in many instances, become mysteries in themselves. I’m not able to quote a local mystery at the moment but I’m sure that readers will have a few that they would like answered. If you do let us know and we will do all that we can to find the answer. Remember to look at the exhibition in Clydach Library as this could answer and raise questions for you. The exhibition is updated from time to time.

Clydach Roots

Why is it important to understand the roots of an area?
To understand the roots of an area you have to know the inhabitants and their history and the history of those who have gone before. Becoming members of the Clydach Historical Society will bring you into contact with the area’s history and people. The Society provides a social as well as a historical function in the area and to become fully immersed in the ways of Clydach and District and to understand its progress through the years becoming a member will give great satisfaction and a sense of belonging. The Society covers Craig Cefn Parc, Glais, Ynystawe and Trebanos as well as Clydach.

What is your favourite thing about Clydach
The friendliness of its people. The welcome received in the various shops and businesses. The location so near to Swansea. The M4 and the public transport system. They are all plus points making Clydach an ideal place in which to live.

Provided the health regulations allow, the next meeting of the Society will be in Clydach Community Hall at 7 pm on Friday, 17th September when local historian Jeff Childs will give a talk on ‘The Farms of Pontardawe, Trebanos and Clydach’. Doors open at 6.30 pm and early attendance is advised.