2/7/2014 saw the 6th A.G.M. of our society, and as our membersare often asked what we do apart from collect old photos and memorabilia, here is a summary of the year’s more interesting events and projects we were involved with.
We started our year in July 2013 with making plans for the WW1 exhibitions to be held over the centenary period, and then putting out a Summer newsletter.
August’s Carnival at Blaengarw went very well, we were very pleased when our ‘carnivals of the past’ idea was adopted as the theme. We visited the Glamorgan Archives in Cardiff as a group and were given the full ‘Cooks tour’, a great place for anyone looking into their own families’ past.
September saw the now annual Calon Lan walk for the Open Doors organisation, one of our more successful attempts to bring tourism into the area.
We decided to put together a grant request from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help us with the WW1 centenary project.
October: We answered a request from the Glamorgan Gazette for articles and photos from our archives, for an article. We travelled to Gilfach Goch for the inauguration of their heritage group, and when we were there we had the idea of printing our own ‘War in the Garw’ booklet. It was decided to try and update and include the WW1 Roll of Honour for the whole valley, for this we needed to meet with the British Legion representatives in the Garw to get their blessing for our R.O.H. project. This was done and we got straight down to the task of researching their list of 84 names.
November: A group visit to the Ogmore Vale Local History Society book launch stirred our efforts to produce a quality product ourselves. We joined the Bridgend (County) Heritage new digital signposting project, designing apps and supplying heritage feedback, increasing our workload, but worthwhile for future tourism.
December: we were contacted by the National Library of Wales to register with them all future publications by us. Our sister heritage group The Railway Society included us in a lottery fund grant request, to enable a joint Heritage hub for the Valley.
January: Wonderful news! We have got the H.L.F grant, well, not quite all, but enough to enable us to begin the booklet in earnest and buy the equipment needed for the exhibitions. We make the decision to try and keep it ‘local’ as much as possible,
so start by using Karen Cowell, a designer of artwork. She advised and guided us through the intricacies of publishing.
February: R.O.H. research is continuing by going through official records and reading through back copies of the Glamorgan Gazette for 1914 – 1919 for names and local stories. The bankruptcy of Creation and the closure of Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall was a setback to us, but we are assured of this venue for the 2014 Exhibition by the newly formed Steering committee.
March: We have outgrown the office facility we have been lent by the BAVO branch in Pontycymmer and lack of storage space becoming a real problem. Bridgend Digital Project is well under way and our input and commitment is regarded as ‘pure gold,’ by the organisors. Venues for the WW1 exhibitions have now been selected and booked. Bettws, Bryngarw, Braichycymmer, Pontycymmer, Llangeinor, Blaengarw.
April: Our booklet is now printed and includes over 200 men on it, and we now have the task of distribution. Copies are sent out to local worthies who have helped us get this up and running, Our first exhibition in Bettws (Life Centre) was a success, and very much appreciated by the local schoolchildren who were brought to visit. Our particular brand of ‘hands on heritage’ seemed to suit them. We had an impromptu visit by Huw Irranca – Davies M.P. who tweeted his enjoyment of our efforts to the world.
May: At the Bridgend (County) Annual Heritage conference, held at Bryngarw House, the G.V.H.S. were asked to give a keynote speech about publishing.
Our second Exhibition saw us at Bryngarw, but this time in the Education suite at the park itself. Overall a great success. Our research into the Garw fallen continues, despite the names published in the booklet, we do come across more.
June: Our third exhibition was held at the Braichycymmer Inn, a brilliant venue with bags of room for display. Although not as well attended as we would have liked, it gave us a chance to ‘catch our breath’ and develop our exhibition skills for future events.
Huw Irranca-Davies MP gave a speech in the House of Commons on the WW1 commemorations this year and drew on our resources (as well as those of Ogmore and Maesteg) for his information on these Valley soldiers, so we now have a degree of fame! Unfortunately the Railway Society had received the news that their grant application was not successful, so we must wait a little longer for a permanent home for our Society.
Overall the view is that for such a small group we have done very well this year in promoting our society and the Garw Valley’s heritage. We have done things we never thought we would be capable of; embraced new technology without a second thought and seen those thoughts and ideas transferred to print and sent out into a wider world.