Talking about energy in Ynysybwl

Near Blaenserchan Colliery, Pontypool. Credit Walt Jabsco

Near Blaenserchan Colliery, Pontypool. Credit Walt Jabsco

Last week, David and I visited Ynysybwl a couple of times to go and talk to two groups of members of the older generation who meet on a regular basis. The idea was to introduce the project and explain a little bit what we mean about energy and see whether people would be interested in the topic and be happy to have a chat with us about it. It was a fantastic experience. People were very welcoming and listened attentively whilst we showed them a couple of slides about the project. We’d brought with us some old fashioned, incandescent bulbs and some of the new energy saving ones and that really got the conversation going, with memories of switching from those

incandescent light bulb  to those energy saving bulb and how that might have played a part in people’s daily lives. It was quite a lighthearted start but we then delved deeper into people’s memories of using and producing energy with a range of pictures of Ynysybwl’s energy infrastructures (like a gas holder and the local coal mine), images showing evolving modes of heating (coal fires, paraffin heaters, electric fires)…

coal fire electric fire

… and saving heat.

draft excluder

Some people missed coal fires, others were glad for gas central heating. Nobody missed having to find their way in the dark at night to go to the toilet though, which it seemed people attempted to heat with paraffin heaters. Scenes of daily life were intersperse with poignant memories of major events such as Cambrian colliery 1965 disaster.

People had so many stories to tell about energy and how that tied in with their daily lives that on each occasion, we could have stayed for hours. Alas, this was only an introduction to the project, oral history and what we would like to do with them. We’re hoping to go back soon to do some actual one-to-one interviews so watch this space!


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