Colliery Wheels, Rhymney
Rhymney is a town and civil community in north-west Monmouthshire. Along with the villages of Pontlottyn, Fochriw, Abertysswg, Deri and New Tredegar, Rhymney is designated as the 'Upper Rhymney Valley' by the local council. The civil community extends into both Glamorgan and Brecknockshire including the town of Rhymney, Pontlottyn (Glam.), Abertysswg, Butetown (Glam.) and Llechryd (Breck.). Where Carno Street crosses the Rhymney River is found the westernmost point of Monmouthshire. Rhymney is known to many as a result of the song "The Bells of Rhymney", a musical adaptation of a poem by Idris Davies.
The town was founded with the establishment of the Union ironworks in 1801, with the Rhymney Iron Company later being founded from a merger between the Bute and Union Ironworks in 1837. The ironworks used local coking coal, iron ore and limestone. From the mid-19th century, steam coal pits were sunk to the south of the town. The ironworks closed in 1891 and by the early 20th century the town's collieries employed nearly the entire local population.
The history of Rhymney is described in Rhymney Memories, a book by Dr Thomas Jones. Jones was born in the town and his daughter, the Labour Party politician Eirene White, was later granted the title Baroness White of Rhymney.
Education and transport
The town's secondary school, Rhymney Comprehensive, serves a catchment area that includes Fochriw, Pontlottyn and New Tredegar. There is also a Welsh-language primary school in Rhymney.
In 1999 Ystrad Mynach College launched its sister campus in Rhymney to serve the top end of the Rhymney Valley under the name The College Rhymney. The College Rhymey has undergone rapid growth since its opening with over 700 students enrolled on various courses in the academic year 2007-2008.
Rhymney railway station is on the Rhymney Line.
Notable people and organisations
The celebrated Welsh poet, Idris Davies (1905–1953), was born in Rhymney. After leaving school at the age of 14 he worked as a miner in the nearby Abertysswg and Rhymney Mardy Pits. After participating in the failed General Strike of 1926, Davies moved to London where he worked as a teacher at various schools. Four volumes of his poetry were published during his lifetime: Gwalia Deserta (1938), The Angry Summer: A Poem of 1926 (1943), Tonypandy and other poems (1945), and Selected Poems (1953). He returned to Rhymney in 1947 and died of cancer on 6 April 1953.
The professor, civil servant, administrator, and author, Dr Thomas Jones CH (1870–1955), was also born in Rhymney. After leaving school at 14 he became a clerk at the Rhymney Iron and Steel Works. He was admitted to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1890 and later migrated to Glasgow University in 1890. Between 1904 to 1905 he lectured in Ireland and upon returning to Wales in 1910 became Secretary of the Welsh National Campaign against Tuberculosis. He was appointed Secretary of the National Health Insurance Commission (Wales) in 1912 and transferred to London in 1916 as Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, eventually becoming Deputy Secretary. He suffered a serious fall indoors at his home in Kent in June 1955 and died in a private nursing home on October 15, 1955.
The town is also home to the Rhymney Silurian Male Choir, which was formed in 1951 to renew the tradition of male-voice singing in Rhymney. During its history, the choir has won four National Eisteddfod titles and raised money for a number of charities. Other notable people born in Rhymney include the Major League Baseball Athletic trainer|trainer, John D. Reese, and Wales international rugby union Wing Tom James.
The most prolific writer about the history of Rhymney and its surrounding villages is local historian Marion Evans who has produced five volumes of her series A Portrait of Rhymney with cameos of Pontlottyn, Tafarnaubach, Princetown, Abertysswg and Fochriw. Evans has also written The History of Andrew Buchan's Rhymney Brewery. Further booklets and articles have included The Story of our Village, Rhymney, A Portrait of the Bent Iron, Gelligaer Common, Clay Pipes, and A Portrait of Idris Davies
One of the largest employers in Rhymney is Williams Medical Supplies Ltd.
Thomas Clifford Peters MBE, known as "Cliff" was born in Rhymney in 1919. His autobiographical tales contained in the self-published "Taffy, Twist and Tanners" recalls his childhood in the 1920s. Local landmarks, characters and events are recorded in humorous prose. After serving in the RAF during the Second World War, Cliff settled in Bristol becoming a schoolteacher and Chairman of Kingswood Borough Council. He was made an MBE for his services to the community in 1981. Cliff remained in the North Bristol area with his family until his death in 2002.
The Bells of Rhymney
Rhymney is known to many due to folk singer Pete Seeger's song "The Bells of Rhymney". The lyrics to the song are drawn from a poem by Idris Davies who was born in Rhymney in 1905. The poem was first published in Davies' 1938 anthology Gwalia Deserta. The poem was inspired by the failure of the 1926 General Strike and by the Marine Colliery disaster of 1 March 1927. In addition to Rhymney, the poem also refers to the bells of Merthyr, Rhondda, Blaina, Caerphilly, Neath, Brecon, Swansea, Newport, Cardiff and the Wye Valley.
The song has been covered by a number of acts over the years, including Judy Collins, Cher, The Alarm, The Ian Campbell Folk Group, John Denver, Robyn Hitchcock, Oysterband and Ralph McTell. Arguably the most widely known rendition of the song, however, was that recorded by the American band The Byrds for their 1965 album Mr. Tambourine Man (album)|Mr. Tambourine Man.
- Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 9780708319536.
- Evans, Marion. (1994). A Portrait of Rhymney: Volume 1. Old Bakehouse Publications. ISBN 1-874538-40-9.
- Evans, Marion. (1995). A Portrait of Rhymney: Volume 2. Old Bakehouse Publications. ISBN 1-874538-70-0.
- Evans, Marion. (1996). A Portrait of Rhymney: Volume 3. Old Bakehouse Publications. ISBN 1-874538-41-7.
- Evans, Marion. (1998). A Portrait of Rhymney: Volume 4. Old Bakehouse Publications. ISBN 1-874538-02-6.
- Evans, Marion. (2009). A Portrait of Rhymney: Volume 5. Old Bakehouse Publications. ISBN 978-1-905967-20-9.
- Evans, Marion. (2007). The History of Andrew Buchan's Rhymney Brewery. Old Bakehouse Publications. ISBN 978-1-905967-07-0.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. ISBN 0-95295-401-X.
- Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 755. ISBN 9780708319536.
- "Davies, Idris (1905 - 1953) Biography". Welsh_Biography_Online#Welsh_Biography_Online. http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s2-DAVI-IDR-1905.html. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Jones, Thomas (1870-1955) Biography". Welsh_Biography_Online#Welsh_Biography_Online. http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s2-JONE-THO-1870.html. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Rhymney Silurian Male Choir: History". Rhymney Silurian Male Choir website. http://www.rhymney-silurian-male-choir.org/page3.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Rhymney Silurian Male Choir overview". Rhymney Silurian Male Choir website. http://www.rhymney-silurian-male-choir.org. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "The Bells of Rhymney". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/sites/caerphilly/pages/bellsofrhymney.shtml. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1996). Mr. Tambourine Man (1996 CD liner notes).
- "The Bells of Rhymney Lyrics". Pete Seeger Appreciation Page. http://www.peteseeger.net/BellsofR.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "The Bells of Rhymney cover versions". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/search/track/The+Bells+Of+Rhymney/order:default-asc. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Bells of Rhymney cover versions". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/search/track/Bells+Of+Rhymney/order:default-asc. Retrieved 2009-12-01.