WENVOE… A GLIMPSE FROM THE PAST. (PART II)
There was not a lot of entertainment the village, but we made our own fun, and everybody knew everybody, which is not the case today. When I go to the village, if I know two or three people to speak to, I am lucky. We had a dance in the old school about once a month. That was an event and great fun, and always a good night. Another big event was the fete at the Castle. Stalls of all kinds would be put up, and myself and friends, would have baskets with button holes of roses to sell, and we would have to dress for the part. The evening was the highlight – dancing on the green, in the moonlight till midnight.
It was then that all the gardeners were in demand, and we all looked forward to this. Lady Jenner had a cousin who was known to be a little bit eccentric, and she lived in Ty Pica Farm. She dressed like a gypsy, and all the school children were scared of her. Lady Jenner disowned her. Near the pub was a big pond, which is all filled in now, and has nice seats there, but a lot of watercress used to grow there, and Old Julia, as we all called her, would be there cutting the watercress and filling her basket and selling it. The children would shout over the wall "Old Julia" and she would chase them with her knife. We were really scared of her.
The milkman used to come every morning, milk straight from the Garn Farm. It would still be warm when he called. He would ladle it into your jug out of the churn. Quite a lot of people kept their own chickens and pigs. We were no exception, and always had a pig in the sty and bacon hung in the pantry. The pantry is still there and so are the hooks in the ceiling where the bacon used to be hung, but I'm afraid the pig sty was knocked down when my daughter and her husband built their house where it stood.
Trains used to be three up and three down a day. We would have to walk to Wenvoe Station to get a train to Barry and change at Cadoxton, if we were going to Cardiff. I used to work in Canton. I would cycle to Dinas Powys, get the train to Cardiff and then a tram to Canton. I would leave home on a Saturday at 8 o'clock in the morning and catch the 10 o'clock train home at night. My father would meet me at Dinas Powys and many a time he had to carry me on his back through flood waters and we would arrive home at quarter past eleven.
That was a normal Saturday's work. Often on a Christmas Eve, I have been serving a customer at half past one in the morning, and it was heaven help you if you let that customer go without buying something. It would be your cards for you, but through it all, as I say, we were happy.
One of my big enjoyments as a child was to help my brother, who worked on the Burdens Hill Farm. I loved the harvest time. I would ride on top of the loads of hay, and then ride up to the farm on the old horse's back, when the days toil was over, then I would go on the dray to Ely and get the grains for the animals. That was all great fun to me. The dray was a big old horse drawn cart and was the main means of transport in those days in the village of Wenvoe.
The little shop in the village was kept by a Mrs. Thomas and her two daughters, and she was a little bit on the mean side. I have seen her break a sweet in half to make the weight right. The Post Office was kept by a Mrs. Morgan and her daughter. The old lady lived to over 90 and the week before she died, she was delivering telegrams, which again had to be delivered by hand. The old lady was part of Wenvoe. This would be her
attire: man's cap, mans boot's, shawl, long black skirt and canvas apron. If wet, she would have a long gent's mackintosh on. The Post Office was the place to go for all the gossip of the village which was about in those days.
Walston, I remember, to be made up of little cottages, stone floors and stone staircases. These have now long since been knocked down and replaced by far more modern houses.
Once a year Wenvoe would hold a live stock show and ploughing match, for which the farm hands would enter the competition, and it would be the one with the straightest furrow would get the prize. They would then all gather in the Wenvoe Arms that night and beer would flow like water. We once found one of the competitors had slept in our out-house for the night. He thought he was home, so you can tell how many he had had. Toilets in the olden days were always a brick building at the bottom of the garden, and one dark winter's morning, no electric lights then, my mother went to pay a visit to the toilet, and sat down on a gypsy, who had gone in there to shelter from the rain and had fallen asleep. Imagine the fright my mother had.
Another treat for us children would be our yearly trip to Barry Island. Once again, we would travel in a horse drawn brake. We would all be given a bag of sweets, orange and a few nuts, and we would go down on the sands and the mothers would have got togethe r a picnic for us.
As I have said, my family' were not well off, but I don't think I missed out on many pleasures, and I am happy living in one of the last remaining houses of old Venvoe, which means so much to me and my family, and in the knowledge that Holton Way Cottage will not suffer the same fete as the cottages in Walston. Well, I think that is about all I can remember that took place, so I hope I have given you a little insite as to what Wenvoe was like in my childhood days.