History – Edwardian Period

As Edward VII ascended to the throne in 1901, the pace of change in rural Treoes increased. 

The landscape of the area differed so much from today that it would be barely recognisable to an inhabitant of our village a hundred years ago.  Treoes was surrounded by green fields mostly laid to pasture on which sheep, cattle and horses peacefully grazed. The villagers socialised and traded with the nearby villages of Coychurch, Llangan, and St. Mary Hill. Roads from Treoes led directly to each of these villages.  

By 1901 the census shows that the entire population of the parish of Llangan was 218, and of these 140 lived in Treoes.  Of the 44 men and boys of working age in the village, 15 worked in the Coal Mines.  The predominant language was Welsh.

Treoes had its share of the gentry in the landowning family of William Mordecai, at nearby Tyn-Y-Caeau and John Howell Mordecai of Ty-Mawr (Great House), but most of its residents were considered working class.   The Aristocracy were titled landowners whereas the Gentry were simply large landowners without titles.

  Drinking Tankard
Drinking Tankard

The Edwardian era was regarded as being immoral, with super strong beer seen as a significant factor.

It was no doubt the effect of the strong beer that resulted in  two young colliers from Treoes to cause wilful damage to the farm gates on the Treoes Road as they made their way home from Bridgend on a Saturday night in 1903. No less than 23 gates had been un-hung and some of them had been carried a considerable distance and thrown into the Ewenny river. The defendants did not appear in court and a warrant was issued for their arrest, but was not  acted on as the farmer involved told the court that the defendants had made good the damage and that he did not want the matter to be pursued further.


Transport was by bicycle, horse and pony and trap. The ladies of the day wore long skirts or dresses as it was not acceptable for women to show their legs. On a daily basis these skirts were covered by voluminous aprons. Their underwear would include lace-up corsets and knickers that ended below the knee. The men would wear trousers, waistcoat and coat, with top hats or homburgs. Their underwear would be a kind of all-in-one, stretching from the ankles to the neck and wrists, and shirts would have several collars that could be laundered separately to the shirt. Everyone had an outfit that was only worn for “best”, either to Chapel or for special occasions.

By 1906 the young children of Treoes would have been able to partake of a daily free meal at school.   In 1907 they would also have had a medical inspection at school and apart from the standard medical check the pupils’ hair would be inspected for head lice. This led to the nurse being known as the Nit Nurse.  Gifted pupils would also have the opportunity to attend the local Grammar School as such schools were now being given a grant by the Government if they gave 25% of their places to the poor. 

The houses had flag stone floors which were thoroughly swept and scrubbed.  Later on there would be coconut matting and rag mats which could be made at home and were quite pretty and practical, especially when they were made with a purpose made kit.  Lighting was by candle and Oil lamp and heating and cooking by coal or wood on open fires, which made lots of dust. Furniture needed to be dusted or polished frequently due to the dust produced by the burning of the coal or wood.

Washing was done by hand, usually on a Monday when it took all day – ironing was done with irons heated on the fire. Some women ‘took in’ washing and ironing to make money to contribute to the household budget.  Water was carried in for washing and “the whites” were boiled on the fire. After the whites were washed, the coloureds were washed in the same water. When the water was finished with, it had to be carried out of the house to be disposed of.  Washday was a full days’ work in itself. It could be said that that“women wore their lives away washing clothes in heavy iron-hooped tubs, scrubbing wood and stone, polishing furniture and fire-irons”.

 There were outdoor privies for each house and these were either connected to cesspits or emptied manually. The entire village was on cesspits until 1971,when Brookside was built and main drainage installed, indeed up to this time there were some houses in the village that were not even connected to a cesspit and the product of the outdoor toilet had to be dug into the garden . Homes had tin baths that they had to fill from water from the well, boiled on the fire. Baths would be taken usually just once weekly, in front of the fire and one would wash top half first, then bottom half. The same water, topped up with more warm water would generally be used for all members of the family, children and women first.

David Thomas who farmed at Ty-Ellis was also a Carpenter and Undertaker, when there was a death in the village he would hasten with his horse and trap to Tondu sawmills to buy the wood to make the coffin.  He would spend 5 days in his workshop, making and elaborately decorating the coffin by hand. Ironically his wife Mrs Mary Ann Thomas (pictured centre front) delivered the new arrivals in the village, the epitome of a cradle to grave service.

Back row, Mabel Llewellyn, Catherine Alice Jones, Mary Whittle, Kitty Whittle, Middle row, Mary Ann Llewellyn, Irene Lee, Mrs Thomas (Ruthin), Front row, Catherine Lee, Mary Ann Thomas, Ann Thomas

  Residents of Treoes at the turn of the Century, thanks to Gwyneth Jones for the photo
Residents of Treoes at the turn of the Century, thanks to Gwyneth Jones for the photo
%d bloggers like this: