Myrtle Cullington

Growing up in the Swansea Valley

I was born in Ystalyfera and my earliest memory was of going to the Waen Infant School. In those days, children walked there on their own. I have been told I was left on a wall by older children (I wonder what I had done!) and also being sent home for putting a bead in my nostril.

As a family, we attended the English Congregational Church. It was the only non-conformist church in the village where there were about eight Welsh chapels. Life revolved round the church. There was always the Christmas party. I cannot look at Madeira cake without remembering the "teas", and in the summer we had our annual outing to the seaside, either to Caswell or Porthcawl.

In the 1930s, the River Tawe burst its banks and the whole road was flooded. What a mess! The water reached up as far as the policemen's cloaks.

Every March and September the fair arrived - oh what fun we had! Besides the actual fair the road was filled with stalis selling china and all manner of goodies. We thought the cara vans owned by the fair people were wonderful and the owner, a Mrs Stud, was envied be cause of the large amount of jewellery she wore.

When I was about eight, I joined the Brownies. Of course, in those days nearly all the Brown Owls and Guide Captains were ladies whose families were quite wealthy. Our Brown Owi, a Miss Stuck, was the daughter of the owner of the Gurnos Tinplate Works, and money was no object. We had a hut in the grounds of a very large house.

As the saying goes, to be born Welsh is to be born privileged, not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but music in your blood and poetry in your soul.


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