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16 October 2014

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A Sunday Memory

By Gill Jones
June 2005, Caerphilly
A digital story from Breaking Barriers

"The railway was brought into our valley at the end of the last century so that they could carry away the coal from the collieries. There was also a passenger service down Caerphilly and beyond.

Although it only ran a few times a day it was so useful because the mothers with small children could take their big prams which had to travel with the conductor in the guards van at the back.

Summer Sundays were the best; there were always two special excursion trains; one which left at eleven for Porthcawl and one at one thirty straight into Barry Island.

From my bedroom window I could see the station and every Sunday I lived in hope. At ten o'clock when I saw the train move into the yard I would follow my mother into the scullery and start:

"Mam, Mam, please can we go to Porthcawl today, it's not raining."

"No," she would reply, "If I had decided we would go I would have made the sandwiches by now."

"Please Mam", and I kept on and on until I heard the whistle and then I'd dash back upstairs to watch the train pulling away without me.

All was not lost, Mam had not prepared the vegetables yet, perhaps I could try the Barry train.

"Mam, Mam, please, please can we go to Barry Island?"

"No! Don't keep on"

"Please Mam I'll make the sandwiches."

Back up the stairs I went, I could see friends and family from my street making their way down to the station carrying all their bags.

"Mam everybody's going except us, please Mam."

"Gillian, this is the last time I am going to say this. No. Now give me a hand with the potatoes"

I then knew that it was no good. I watched the train pull out. Did they know I was watching them go? Never mind, there'll always be next week."

Gill Jones

Your comments

"I am so pleased that I came across this. Thank you Ms Jones for sharing your childhood memory, it was a pleasure to read. I am visiting my mother in the US right now but planning to visit Wales when we return to the UK. If we visit Caerphilly I will think of your story." C Harvey from Oregon, USA.

"I remember the excursion trains leaving our local station, Penyrheol, on the Sengenydd branchline. Barry was the main destination, and always on a Sunday. Families, with baskets of sandwiches and flasks of tea, sand buckets and spades. Dads had their open-necked shirts and mam always seemed to have a bay on herhip, wrapped (cwtsed?) in a shawl. The train returned in the evening, spilling its tired humanity on the platform who made their bickering way home." Jim Powell from New Zealand.

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