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Bridgend Places


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After their marriage at St Andrews Church, Rowbarton,  Taunton, Somerset, in 1902, Alfred James and Mary Elizabeth Haynes (nee Easton) Parkhouse moved to Aberkenfig near Bridgend, Glamorgan.

A pay slip dated 23 August 1913 reveals that Alfred James worked at Tytalwyn Colliery.  When a few months later he died, in January 1914, his death certificate describes his occupation as Colliery Pumpman. The cause of death was stated to be "influenza, acute meningitis, and exhaustion". He was tragically young at the age of 39. They were living at the time at 22 Dunraven Street, Aberkenfig.

His wife was left to care for their six children, all under 11 years old,  in conditions of extreme poverty. However, Mary Elizabeth (Polly) although worn out, judging from her later photos, did raise them all before she died at the early age of 56 on 7 Sep 1933 at 1a Quarella Road, Bridgend, Glamorgan, which appears to have been the Workhouse/Infirmary.


Even before his marriage, Alfred James had, like very many others, crossed the Bristol Channel to South Wales. This is confirmed by his address on the back of a photograph of him, taken about the date of his 21st birthday (1892), : "No 3 Oxford Place, Tynewydd, Ogmore Vale".  [Of course, the address may be later than the date of the photograph, which was taken in Bridgwater].

1892 is the same year that the Park Slip disaster occurred, on 26 August, which killed 112 men. But since Ogmore Vale is some 7 miles NNE of Aberkenfig, the location of Park Slip, he was unlikely to have been directly affected, but must have been aware of the dangers.

There were dozens of mines (pits, slants and slips) in the area at the time but nothing is known of his working life: what jobs he undertook and where he worked other than that his last job was as a Colliery Pumpman in Tytalwyn colliery just above Aberkenfig, north of Cefn Cribbwr. Family lore indicated that he had been injured in a mine. Perhaps that is why his job was as Colliery Pumpman. There is no mention of injury on his death certificate.

Now that mining in this area has ceased, it's possible to walk in the Parc Slip Nature Reserve, and if you have Google Earth installed, you can see how green the area around Aberkenfig is today, apart from some open-cast mining of some sort to the West, North of Cefn Cribwr.

1 Mount Pleasant, Aberkenfig, near Bridgend, Glamorgan. The Parkhouse home c1910-1933 - click for larger image

1 Mount Pleasant, Aberkenfig, which was one of the former Parkhouse homes sometime between 1910 and 1933.


A postcard showing  Tytalwyn colliery in 1910 and (right) one of Alfred James Parkhouse's last pay packets, dated 23 August 1913.


Note how little pay he received for 6 days work! It appears the basic rate  was 40d (old pence) a day, with a supplement of some sort, presumably related to the quality of the coal, bringing the total weekly pay to 1.14.8d. But then there were deductions: 3d to Dr Davies, 2d levy for some unknown reason, and finally what I take to be an Industrial Injury Insurance contribution of 4d, making a total deduction of 9d. His wife "Polly" would have been handed the unopened pay packet containing 1.13.11d  (1.70 in modern money) to feed, clothe, and house the family, which in Alfred James's case was himself, wife and five children with one "on the way". [30 years before, the average collier's weekly wage was 12/6d (62 new pence) at Cefn Slip, a nearby colliery].

Note also the "get-out" clause written on the left of the packet: "Proceedings for the Recovery under the Compensation Act 1906, shall not be maintainable unless notice of the Accident has been given as soon as practicable after the happening thereof, and before the workman has left the Colliery."

Just by the way, the other doctor named on the packet is the much respected and generous Dr Twist of Cefn Cribwr who had only recently married, for the first time, at the age of almost 50, on 28 February 1912. He died in Bristol on 5 January 1922 after 30 years in the area.  

The Tytalwyn slant, associated with Ton Phillip colliery, had been opened around 1900 by the Ton Phillip Rhondda Colliery Company. When the Company got into difficulties around 1913, Tytalwyn was one of the collieries taken over by Baldwin's. It was nationalised in 1947 and closed in 1959.

The term "slant" is assumed to be synonymous with "drift" in that the mine was driven into the side of a hill where the coal outcrops.

Sources: "Cefn Cribwr, Chronicle of a Village"  by Neville Granville  published 1980 Stewart Williams, Barry. ISBN 0900807393

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