About Bernard Ingram
I attended both the Ffaldau Infants School and Ffaldau Boys' School which I left when I was fourteen. I wasn't bright enough to try the exams to enter the school, although I had reached a high degree of mediocrity.
The first job I had when I left school was in a barber's shop in Oxford Street, Pontycymer. Here the work was easy but the hours were long; I started work at 9 am and finished at 6.30pm, with the usual hour long break at lunchtime and a half day off on Wednesday. On Saturdays, which were our busiest days, after the last customer had left I would scrub the floors of the salon and waiting room and finish up at 9.30pm. All this for the measly sum of 25 pence per week (five shillings per week).
Within a few months I left and consequently found employment at a bakery in Bridgend (John's). Here the work was arduous and dirty. Also, the heat generated by the eight large ovens was very intense and during the removal of the loaves of bread, the persons involved made frequent trips to the cold water tap which was situated by the side door, to quench their thirst.
One day, while in conversation with a neighbour of mine, Mr Don Bright, he asked me if I would like to work with him as an assistant in the stores at the Ffaldau Colliery. I accepted readily and started at my new job the following week and soon got used to the routine.
This was in the period just before the end of the second world war (1945) before the electrification of the mining industry and most of the machinery was powered by steam, such as winding engines, compressors and ventilating fans. One of my duties was to supply oil to those places which I carried out once a week and which necessitated carrying the oil in three-gallon cans. I didn't mind this job as it afforded me the chance to see the engines working and to chat with the operators. Little did we know that the days of these magnificent machines were numbered. As time went by I changed jobs quite often; I did a stint working underground but had to leave because of a serious eye defect.
Within three months of leaving I was called up for military service and served twenty-one months with the South Wales Borderers, most of these abroad. I visited places such as Port Said, Cyprus, Khartoum, and Eritrea. I was demobbed in 1950 and after a succession of jobs I finally found work with the South Wales Electricity Board until my retirement on March 31st 1992.
A few months after I was demobbed from the army I was at home one Sunday afternoon when a young lady called to see my sister and the baby she had brought back from hospital. I had never seen her before but she was on friendly terms with my sister and was quite attractive and charming. Stella would call every Sunday and after a few weeks I plucked up enough courage to ask her if she would go out with me. She accepted and so our courtship started, with the result that eighteen months later we were married. For several years we lived with my wife's family until we were allocated a prefab bungalow at Brynmenyn where we lived for nine years until we made our final move to Aberkenfig. Like most married couples we hoped to have children but we were told by a consultant that that would be out of the question. So, imagine our surprise and delight when (contrary to the prognosis of the consultant and after eighteen years of trying) my wife gave birth to a beautiful girl (Sarah Louise) who is now the mother of two children; Hannah and Sam. My daughter currently has a part-time job so my wife and I do some baby-sitting which we look forward to as they afford us a lot of pleasure and delight.
I first became involved with the South Wales Miners' Museum some twenty years ago. At that time I was employed by South Wales Electricity as a sales rep. and after attending to my last call in Port Talbot I was making my way home via Cynonville and Cymer. I had heard at some time of the existence of a mining museum in this area and lo and behold I spotted a road sign that I was approaching the Afan Argoed Country Park and Museum.
I parked my car and entered the museum. I was immediately taken up by the exhibition, the way that the mining artefacts were displayed so carefully. I wandered through the sections until I came to the final one, the Welsh Kitchen. This, I think, was the focal point of the museum, it depicted a miner, his wife and baby daughter who was sitting in a high chair. I was quite impressed with this section until I noticed a flaw in this scenario; the baby doll was wearing white sandals! Two old ladies were standing next to me and one of them exclaimed "Jawch! We didn't wear sandals like that when we were small!" I made several visits after that and got to know Mr. Glyn (Bobby) Thomas, secretary and director of the museum. He asked me if I'd like to join the museum committee and I accepted. After attending a few meetings I offered a pair of child's boots (which my own daughter had worn and I had painted black for authenticity) for the baby doll. Although the display was eventually removed due to the reconstruction of the reception centre, I am still a member of the committee and still thoroughly enjoying it.
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