History – the 1920s and 1930s

After the First World War ended in 1918 many things had changed – not least that women had been entrusted with men’s work and had proved themselves capable. Also the gap between the rich and poor had diminished significantly due to the minimum wage legislation and full employment

Drunkenness was still seen as a significant cause of the moral squalor ,so public house hours were cut from 19 and a ½ hours a day to 5 and a ½ hours a day, and the super strong beer disappeared. The crackdown worked and the number of arrests for Drunk and Disorderly decreased.

The school leaving age was raised to 14 and there were more opportunities for all children to go to Grammar Schools.

Some residents had accumulated wealth, for instance,  Mr Howells of the Star Inn purchased a freehold pasture and accommodation field near the Star Inn, with a freehold cottage and garden, two freehold two-roomed cottages with small gardens in front, and a freehold cottage and garden, for four hundred and fifty pounds.

However, it was not all peace and tranquillity, as the following story taken from the Llantrisant Observer of the 10th January 1919 illustrates:

On Christmas day in the morning… there was little good will and certainly no peace between two fair ladies of the generally peaceful hamlet of Treoes, viz., Mrs M wife of Mr M and Mrs B wife of Mr B. The parties were neighbours, and had fallen out over the pigs in the sty, and the trough out of which the swine (when so minded) absorb nutriment. Each lady blamed the other, and naturally it was a case of a summons taken out on one day by Mrs B …and on the next day by Mrs M who swore that in the affray (after she had been feeding the pigs) the other lady sprang at her throat and scratched her fair and bare arms!. …  The Chairman said it was unfortunate, and to be regretted, that the parties, having been for years on good terms, should have covered themselves with disgrace.  Both summonses would be dismissed, and he added, by way of salutary warning: “If you had ever been here before we should have fined you”. Both the ladies smiled and left the Court apparently good friends again, although neither could claim to have won advantage from the Christmas Morning idyll at Treoes that began in the pig’s trough and ended in a draw.

The 1920s and 30s were generally years of hardship and mass unemployment, particularly for urban dwellers. In Treoes, they were a little more fortunate than those living in mining villages, since most residents remained in gainful employment and had vegetable gardens,a pigsty and possibly a few chickens.  The village was a close community and neighbours would help each other.

Women’s clothing changed because of the austerity, it became acceptable to wear knee length clothing whilst for the same reason men’s clothing also changed and the young men of the village wore short pants, sleeveless vests, casual trousers and pullovers instead of waistcoats.

This era saw the introduction of the Widows pension and a change in the Old Age pensions now available for men at age 65 years, and women at age 60 years.

The Miners’ Strike of 1926 affected several households in the village. Whilst they were out of work the young men would sit on the stiles and offer their services to the village ladies – they would carry water from the wells for ½ pence a bucket. 

 

Although this was a tough decade because of mass unemployment those that were in work saw their lives become more comfortable because of falling prices of food and rent.

New industries were emerging such as aircraft manufacture, car manufacture and electronics some of which would affect Treoes in the future. Transportation was changing and Ford had already produced their first mass produced car. 

In 1928 Poplar Fach (now re-named Kilmore) was purchased by David Llewellyn and his widowed mother Hannah from Mary Ann Jones of Llandre, Cardigan. It was once a traditional rural dwelling of one up- one down. Hannah was the daughter of Thomas Howell Landlord of the Star at the beginning of the century, and sister to Maggie Jones (Malt House) and William Howells who succeeded his father as Landlord of the Star. The one living room had a big baking oven in the front corner next to the fireplace, whilst on the opposite side of the fireplace was a cupboard which when opened revealed a ladder which was used to ascend to the upper floor, which by that time was divided into two bedrooms. 

In 1958 Kilmore was completely refurbished by David Llewellyn. He incorporated the cowshed into the building and created the house as we see it today. During this refurbishment a One Penny coin dated 1788 was found when an old fireplace was removed, supporting the belief that the house has stood there for several centuries. This coin is in fact an Anglesey Parys Mines Druid Penny, a token which was readily accepted by traders.  All coins of this genre were called Condor Tokens (named after an early collector called James Condor).  Concerned about the growing proliferation of these tokens, in 1797 the Government made the production and issuance of them illegal.

David Llewellyn also erected a small wooden structure on the land where he and his wife would live, this was later sold and Holmwood now stands where this used to be.

As with other similar communities at that time many of the villagers were related.  There had been families of considerable size born in the community in the previous generation, often ten or more children, more of whom survived than in previous centuries.  People didn’t travel far in their leisure time and would often marry a close neighbour and settle in the same village. You would find several households having the same surname living near to each other. This caused much confusion as there seemed to be a limited number of popular forenames and there would often be two or three people of the same name in the same vicinity – giving rise to the typically Welsh habit of adding a separate word to an individual name. In the case of Treoes some examples would be “Maggie (Jones) Malt House” “Maggie Moor Mill” and “Dai (Llewellyn) Bwt”, because they were either living in, or had lived in the properties named. To add to the confusion there does not appear to have been any control as to the naming of property, so it was commonplace to have more than one house in the vicinity with the same name. In Treoes in the early 19 hundreds there were two houses called The Poplars, Molchenydd in the village and Molchenydd just outside the village and Great House also had cottages for their agricultural workers bearing only the name of Great House.  Letters addressed to one of these houses would be delivered correctly providing the occupiers of the houses had different surnames, as the Postman would generally know most of the people on his round.  If confusion arose because of the name similarity or the lack of local knowledge of a new Postman then the letter would simply be re-delivered by the person who wrongly received it in the first instance.  The Postman until 1916 was Mr John Phillips who also delivered to Coychurch and Coed-y-Mwystr.

It was considered disrespectful for children to call their elders by their Christian names, so all the ladies were either Aunty, Miss or Mrs, and all the men were either Uncle or Mister, but mainly Aunty or Uncle

Despite the fact that women had worked in the war, few married women in Treoes went out to work. Without the use of modern day machines just keeping house and cooking for the family was sufficient. Those married women who did work would have done so only if absolutely necessary. Some widows would seek work to eke out their widows pensions and of these most would have been domestic servants.

One of the major lifestyle changes which had affected more urban areas and completely bypassed Treoes was the use of Gas and Gas Stoves in the early part of the century. Apart from their convenience they also affected the way people lived in their homes. Some homes had two rooms downstairs one being the kitchen and one the front room: the kitchen would have a range or fireplace which would heat the room and facilitate cooking. The family would all gather in the kitchen and the front room would be kept for “best’ and visitors. With the installation of a gas cooker which made cooking easier and cleaner but did not heat the room, the family started living in the front room, which they then called the living room.  Gas was not available in Treoes until 1988, indeed it was 1951 before Treoes had Electricity.

Maggie Jones, the widow of John Jones who died in 1918, had inherited the Star from her father Thomas Howell, she also owned the Malt House.  Walter Jones, Maggie’s son, lived in the Malt House with his mother and sister Dolly, he had two petrol pumps across the road behind Treoes Farm.  Dolly and Maggie ran the Post Office, later Maggie would be helped by her sister Liza, and they lived there together until Maggie died aged 80 years in 1957.   The Telephone Kiosk was in the Garden and the Post Box was on the outer wall.  

In 1933, the Lee family of Eston (Esty) and Doll, with their two daughters Gwyneth and Betty, moved to Parc Newydd.  Esty had lost his job at Ewenny Quarry as a result of an accident in which he had injured his leg leaving him unable to work there any longer.  Parc Newydd was rented from the Mordecai family for five shillings a week and the family had enough land to enable them to keep livestock, so that all the family could help to earn a living.  The house was large and had five bedrooms but had been empty for some time and was in need of complete re-decoration.  Fortunately both Mr. and Mrs. Lee had close family in the village, with Mr. Lee’s brother living in Ty-Phillip and Mrs. Lee’s sister living in Pen-yr-Heol help was readily available.  As in most of the homes in the village the floor was of flagstones, there was a black-lead grate and a big oven built into the wall.  There was a very large pantry and one of the upstairs rooms did not have a ceiling and one could see the rafters.  With the help given this was soon made comfortable with wallpaper on the walls, coconut mats on the floor and carpet mats in the front parlour.

 Gwyneth Lee and her Father each had a horse, Esty rode frequently because walking was difficult , and later when she was older, Gwyneth would ride bare back down to Lako in the morning before going to school, to get the cows in for milking.

There were not many horses in the village now, most of the villagers rode bikes, with the exception of Ernie James who needed a car to get about as he had had an accident, and Mr Thomas, of Treoes Farm who had a Van. Master Henry Mordecai however was often seen in the village when he would ride down from Llangan to visit.” He had the most handsome horse and the men would ‘doff their caps to him.” said Gwyneth

 In 1933 bus services were nationalised and now Treoes would have a reasonable mode of Transport.

In 1936, a main water supply was brought to the village although not every house was connected to the supply and it would be fair to say that the life of a housewife in Treoes up to this time would have been significantly different and more arduous than in less rural areas.  Prior to 1936 water was drawn from wells. One on the common and one in Parc Newydd called Shwill, there was also one in Malt House.

 It was common practise for villagers who lived in rented houses to move about by simply swapping houses as it suited them – supposedly the Landlord didn’t worry much about who the tenant was as long as the rent was paid. 

A Sunday School outing circa 1933/34..Back row from left Cassie Llewellyn, unknown, Mr Humphreys ( Rector) Jane Paynter, Mrs Diamond with baby, Miss Battrick, Kath Davies, Miss Battrick, Kath Davies, Miss Battrick, Mrs Emma Jenkins, Mrs Lucas, Mary Ann LLewellyn, Doll Lee, Mrs Frederick (LLangan) Mr Eston (Esty) Lee. 

Front, from left: ? Diamond, Gwyn Thomas,? Diamond, Betty Lee,  Gwyneth Lee wearing her navy nap coat and white panama hat, Betty Vaughan, Sid Jenkins, Mattie Llewellyn,(just behind) Cyril Way and Matt Lucas.

A Mr Harry was the Landlord of the Star after Mr Howells and the Mari LLwyd used to take place there around Christmas time each year. Ned Lee who lived in Ty-Phillip owned the costume of the horse figure, so he would take the part of the Mari Llwydd. Ned with his followers would rap on the door of the Star, and begin the ancient ritual, asking for permission to enter. They would sing and challenge the occupants of the Star to a verbal contest. The contest would follow between a member of the Mari Llwyd and an opponent in the Star, and usually amounted to leg-pulling and mocking of each other’s singing, drunkenness and various other abilities of the two contestants. Victory in the debate would entitle the Mari Llwydd to access the house and partake of the ale and maybe even a gift of money.

 In 1935 the Chard family with their daughter Nancy (now Davidge) moved to Tynewydd in nearby Llangan. Tynewydd had earlier been the home of the Basset family. The family had a horse and trap and Mrs Chard was frequently seen passing through the village on her way to Bridgend to do her shopping. Nancy describes her father as having beautiful golden coloured hair which he always wore long and loose.

 Mr Chard was a wheelwright who served the local farmers until his services were no longer needed. Nancy tells of her father also repairing the wheels of the carts belonging to the Gypsy community when they camped locally, particularly during the time of St. Mary Hill fair.  Aged 10 years, Nancy arrived in Llangan from London where she had lived with her family after they had moved from her birthplace in Trehafod, Rhondda. She says of her days in Llangan School                 ,( extracted from the Gem where it was printed as examples of the work of present pupils of the school on its centenary in 2011) “When I arrived at the school in 1935 I thought how small it was compared to the very big schools I had attended in London”. Much has been written by other former pupils of how harsh a few of the teachers were. The cane was used if the children misbehaved. 

 

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