The Meaning And Derivation Of Place-Names


Many people are fascinated by the meaning and derivation of place-names – so we’ll look at the names that are local to us in this area – before moving on to look at some further afield. The obvious place to start is at our feet – here in Wenvoe. But as you’ll see, that is not as easy as it sounds.

The first part is easy enough. The name ‘Wenvoe’ is the Anglicized form of the Welsh name ‘Gwenfô’. But when we come to attempting to explain the meaning and derivation of this name, scholars have classed it as ‘obscure’. So this is a great start to our series!

The earliest documented forms of the Welsh name go back to the twelfth Century but there isn’t enough evidence to state categorically what the original meaning was. And although the first syllable -‘Gwen-‘ could well mean ‘fair’ – or could be said to be very similar to the word ‘gwaun’ (meaning ‘moorland’) – with the second element -fa- meaning ‘place’ – these interpretations can only be guesswork – and guesswork is a big no-no in the field of place-names!

Many people have asked me why the Welsh name of the village sometimes appears as Gwenfô and at other times as Wenfô. Those of you are Welsh speakers or learners will be familiar with a feature of the Welsh language known as a Mutation. A Mutation is a change in the initial consonant of a word – depending on what word precedes it. Nine consonants can soften (Soft Mutation or Lenition), six of those consonants could also become nasalifed (Nasal Mutation) and three of them could become aspirated (Aspirate Mutation). This is the bane of learners’ lives, but really, it is only the polish on the language – and not mutating a word in a sentence doesn’t usually alter the meaning of that sentence. The consonant ‘g’ is one of the nine that can undergo a Soft Mutation – and the way it does so is by dropping off completely! We see this happening on road signs which translate as ‘Welcome to Wenvoe’ – ‘Croeso i Wenfô’. The preposition ‘i’ (to) causes ‘Gwenfô’ to mutate – ‘i Wenfô’.

Next month – Bro Morgannwg / Vale of Glamorgan


Close Links To Ukraine


It may come as a surprise to many that the city of Donetsk owed its foundation, and in large part its development, to a Welsh businessman, John Hughes from Merthyr Tydfil. The Welsh link was so strong that the city was originally named Hughesovska or Yuzovka, before being renamed Stalino and now Donetsk. Its original streets were even laid out on the same pattern as Merthyr.

Donetsk today is the fifth biggest city in the Ukraine with over a million inhabitants. It has a turbulent recent history. Seized by pro Russian separatist forces in 2014, the city has of course, been a key battleground in recent years and especially so during the current conflict in the Donbas region in the east of the country. Welsh sympathies with Ukraine have been strong in recent times. Ukrainian fans spoke warmly of their welcome and messages of support when they visited Cardiff for the World Cup play off a few weeks ago and many Welsh people, including some in our own village, have stepped up during calls for taking in Ukrainians displaced from their homes.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the Welsh have a particular empathy with people from the Donbas region, especially Donetsk. The Donbas, like South Wales, was founded on heavy industry and Welsh expertise and hard work was at the centre of its development. In the 19th century the Donbas was part of Tsarist Russia. John Hughes, a Cyfarthfa-born industrialist, was in his mid 50s when he came to the notice of the Tsarist Russian government, under Emperor Alexander II. He had built his own foundry in Newport but made his name in developing armour plating for ships. The Tsar wanted his expertise for a naval fortress on the Baltic. It led to an opportunity for Hughes to develop his own works in Russia, which would include a factory for forging railway lines.

Hughes formed the ‘New Russia Company Ltd.’ to raise capital and at the age of 55, he moved to Russia. He sailed with eight ships, carrying not only all the equipment necessary to establish a metal works, but also much of the skilled labour needed. This group of about a hundred ironworkers and miners came overwhelmingly from South Wales. Hughes naturally turned to Welsh workers, who he knew possessed the skills and work ethic required for his daring industrial adventure.

Hughes started by building metal works close to the river Kalmius, at a site near the village of Alexandrovka. During the 1870s, collieries and iron ore mines were sunk, and brickworks and other facilities established to make the isolated works a self-sufficient industrial complex. It was all held under the title ‘Novorussian Society for Coal, Iron and Rails production.’ By the end of the nineteenth century, the works were the largest in the Russian Empire, producing 74% of Russian iron in 1913.

The Welsh workers and their families, despite the cold winters, hot summers and occasional cholera epidemics, settled in Hughesovska and stayed for decades. It was the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 which ended the Hughes family’s connection to the works. The Hughes brothers and almost all their foreign employees returned to Britain. The works were nationalised by the Bolsheviks in 1919 and the town of Hughesovka was renamed “Stalino” in 1924, and then the present name “Donetsk” in 1961. The works survived and prospered despite regime and socio-economic change. We can only hope that this great city will one day be able to return to peace and prosperity


Safer Vale – Fire Hydrants / Fire Incidents


A previous acquaintance of mine moved to a new home consisting of a small holding in rural Wales and a discussion led to me giving some general fire safety advice for somebody living ‘off grid’. It struck me that many of the issues covered have relevance, to varying degrees, to residents of the Vale of Glamorgan whether in the rural vale or towns and hamlets. I would like to share that information.

You may think the following to be inappropriate or unnecessary as we have a professional Fire & Rescue Service that responds to these incidents, who we can rely upon, but it is well meant and designed to provoke thought and personal preparedness.

Do you know the location / availability of the fire hydrant near to your house? They can often get covered by the grass of the road verge and general road muck so you may wish to identify where your nearest hydrant is so you can use that information in an emergency. In addition if you, or others, do not know of its location you may inadvertently park over the top of it making it inaccessible for emergency use.

Historically, though fortunately not a frequent occurrence, emergency hydrants have even had tarmac laid over them by contractors carrying out highway repairs.

There are other issues relating to ‘fire emergencies’ and you may be on the case already but if not, here goes;

Have you considered your position / action in the event of a fire at your property?

  1. How far you are from an adopted road? You should certainly identify the location of the nearest fire hydrant – usually indicated by a ‘post and plate’ indicating the size of the main and the distance of the hydrant itself from the sign.(If you ever had to call the fire service then you are in a position to let them know where it is as, whilst they should know, they could lose valuable time locating it) (Fire appliances do carry a tank of water which will deal with most smaller incidents but need hydrants to supplement supplies when dealing with larger more protracted incidents).
  2. If there is no hydrant within a reasonable distance is there any ‘open water supply’ e.g. lake, pond stream which could be used by the fire service if necessary. Also is there a suitable ‘hard standing’ adjacent to the water source that will take the weight of a fire appliance for access and pumping.
  3. If the nearest fire station to you is some distance, not so common in the Vale, but some more rural areas are covered by retained (part-time) personnel so it could take some time for the fire service to respond so have you considered your potential for first aid firefighting eg some appropriate extinguishers and a fire blanket for the home and garage including a C02 for electrical fires, (and the ability / knowledge to use them). Also the provision of a garden hose which would be long enough to give you a continuous supply to fight a fire in its early stages. (Any fire extinguishers would require adequate maintenance and servicing). Of course you must never take any unnecessary personal risk if you do not feel capable or have sufficient knowledge to tackle even small fires including the knowledge as to what extinguishing media to use on various fire types.
  1. In regard to your personal safety have you got smoke alarms and a CO alarm in the house? These are basic necessities – seriously.
  2. Of course the best cure to any of the above is prevention so an annual inspection and safety check on potential hazards eg boiler’s whether LPG, gas or oil and if not done for some years a safety inspection of your electrical wiring. Then a view on where you store any hazardous materials like LPG, fuel, fertilizers, dense vegetation close to your property in dry spring / summer months including the use of BBQ’s etc. ie anything likely to become an ignition source or support the spread of any potential fire.
  3. Also, consider your plan of action should a fire occur in your home or its outbuildings. Consider most likely occurrence eg fire in the kitchen and discuss with your family what actions you might take and yes – even rehearse those actions as you may identify potential flaws or further queries. Don’t forget to consider day and night time scenarios.
  4. Of course you will likely be aware that the Fire and Rescue Service that serves your location has a duty to make arrangements for access and water supplies in relation to firefighting but with the ever increasing pressures and reduced funding on all public services anything you can do in providing information to emergency crews on arrival or on ‘first aid’ measures with a view to protecting yours and your neighbour’s property can only help.
  5. These same principles apply in relation to the location and availability of fire hydrants and some of the other items listed above in a village, hamlet or small town.
  6. If you contact South Wales Fire & Rescue Service (Community Safety Dept.) they would be happy to give you any advice and safety leaflets that they have, on a range of potential hazards, for people like yourselves who may be slightly further away from the built up town, village or hamlet environment than many and as such may need to consider some additional ‘first aid’ measures in the event of an unlikely emergency to protect themselves.
  7. If you are an elderly or vulnerable resident of South Wales the Fire Service will carry out a free and specific ‘Home Fire Safety Check’ at your property. They will visit your home by appointment and give relevant safety advice which may include the fitting of free smoke alarms where appropriate.


N.B. Of course, in this day and age, there is always a health warning – and you should never put yourself or others at risk if you do not feel entirely confident about taking any of the above proposed actions. If in doubt call the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service for their expert advice and guidance

If you have all the above in hand great. If not, the thought process and discussion which the above is intended to encourage will enhance your personal safety relating to a scenario that we hope will never happen to us in our lifetime – a bit like a ‘pandemic’.

Retired Fire Officer & resident St Lythans



Father’s Day 19th June


Father’s Day was invented by American Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd who wanted to honour her father, a veteran who had, as a single parent, raised his six children. The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910. The first American president to support the concept of Father’s Day was President Calvin Coolidge, but it wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation that resulted in the declaration of the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.


Councillor Russell Godfrey



Firstly, I would like to thank all of you who voted for me in the recent election. I am humbled and very proud to be able to represent Wenvoe on your behalf in the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

I will ensure that Wenvoe community has a voice in the Vale of Glamorgan Council. I will also be holding monthly surgeries (details to follow).

To date, further to feedback from residents already received, I can confirm that I have written to the Officers responsible with regards to the following issues:

  1. Grass verges in Rectory Close
  2. Road surface at junction of Grange Close and junction at Walston Castle
  3. The cleaning of the drains at junction of Grange Close (Alun Cairns has also written to VOG about this)
  4. The public footpath from Quarrymen’s tribute to track to Whitehall Farm


If you have any concerns or issues you would like to discuss with regards to our community, my contact details are: Telephone:07927 588924 or Email



Jubilee Bake And Donate Competition


Saturday 4th June

Why not get your apron out and your chef’s thinking cap on and enter the Bake and Donate competition?

Bake any cake and/or biscuits you like and bring them to the small room in the Community Centre between 10.00am and 11.00am on Saturday 4th June. Last entries must be in and registered by 11.00am so that judging can commence at 11.00am. There will be jubilee themed prizes for the winning adult and child in both cake and biscuit categories. Children’s age group is up to school year 6 and adult category is school year 7 and above.

We have two seasoned bakers as judges – Candice Shibani and Sandra Jones.

All entries will be kept for visitors to the 50’s themed afternoon to sample and marvel at (hence the Bake and Donate title). Come on, have a go! Show us what you can do!



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