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16 October 2014

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My Street Bryntaf

By Fred Payne
September 2006, Aberfan
A digital story from Capture Wales

The Best in the Borough

Fred Payne takes us down his street Bryntaf with stories that few remember, giving future generations a glimpse of community life as it was back then.

"Empty of cars but full of people - the best street in the Borough it was called. It's where I've always lived.

Before I was even born the street was well known for its jazz band. They won numerous cups and shields and we became world champions at Crystal Palace in 1937. They even built and arena in the Quarry in the street to practise in. You can imagine the drums echoing and the kazoos playing. You could hear them from far away.

After the War, when I was young, my father would take me to some of the competitions and if they won they would march through the streets, sometime late at night, with their trophies. You knew they were coming by the sound of the drums.

Generations of families lived in the street. Committees were formed to raise money for all the different activities that everyone in the street joined in. I can remember early carnivals and as children we also went to Barry Island. The first trip had 23 buses lined up and ready to go and we were given pocket money and squash. Outsiders had to pay of course!

It continued when I had children of my own. We still had carnivals, sports, days, Easter bonnets. Father Christmas came through the street every year. Sorry Bryn, all the children knew who you were.

Myself and my children used to take part. I won first prize one year and no, I'm not the dog. Later on, my daughter became carnival queen for the village.

It's all changed now. Not many of the old faces are left and I miss all the things we used to do together. No room for buses now - it's a job to park there are so many cars.

I'd rather see the street empty of cars but full of people, as it was."

Fred Payne

Please tell us about yourself.
I was a miner for 27 years until the colliery closed. Then I worked in factories until I retired. I have nine grandchildren and four boys and a girl of my own. I am a member of St. John Ambulance, running a division of my own. I enjoy rugby and football, walking and swimming. My hobbies include painting and going to art classes.

What's your story about?
It's a street where I live and was brought up in and the things that made it to be the best street around.
I felt it was a story that needed to be told because of all the things that happened when I was a child and the people who made it happen.

What did you find the most rewarding about the workshop?
I really enjoyed the week I spent making my digital story and the friends I made. I would recommend anyone to take part if asked to do so.

Your comments

"I enjoyed reading this story, it brought back many happy memories of visiting my Aunty Vin Bendall who lived in Bryntaf. Her husband Wybert was in the Jazz band (unfortunately he passed away before I was born) I have seen a photograph of him in the Jazz band on the Old Merthyr website. I remember the Carnivals of Bryntaf they were very good, I have some photos of them. My mother (Lucy Barton) was born in 1909 in Bryntaf. I still visit my cousin in Bryntaf when I visit Wales. Thank you for the memories and greetings to all in Bryntaf!" Vin Wigmore Nee Harvey born in Newport.

"I loved this! Sadly Carmarthen stopped its annual carnival years ago due to drunkenness and fights. However there is hope! Johnstown, just outside Carm, have for the last three years run a peaceful, and well run family carnival! Maybe community spirit will prevail after all Fred!" Ness from Carmarthen.

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