Chapter 5:

           The newly reformed committee had made their mark on the village with the success of the Concert held in March, and this was to pave the way for several other events to be planned during the coming year, but first was to come their 1st Annual General Meeting, which was held at 5.00 p.m. on Saturday April 26th. 1951, at the Carmel Vestry.

          Things don't appear to have changed much over the years, because to quote from the minutes of this meeting, "The Chairman made a short statement, expressing his dissapointment at the small attendance. Here was the chance for everybody to get to know what was being done and what could and could not be done".

          At this meeting was also discussed the possible involvement in the 'Festival of Britain' celebrations. It was suggested that Llwchwr Urban District Council be asked for their co-operation in converting the cross-roads corner, in front of the hall site, into a lawn with seats as a permanent memorial to the Festival. The following meetings were to see discussions on the committee's contribution, should they plant a decorative hedge or build a wall. Estimates were submitted and it was finally decided that a commemorative wall be built, the committee hiring the equipment, and as much work as possible being done by the committee members themselves. A builder would be hired for the actual construction of the wall and an inscribed stone to mark the occasion was also to be included in the wall.

          As recorded, "In the month of August, six committee members dug, two members sent substitutes to dig and prepare the trench for the foundation. These too brought stones from the Common". Difficulty was experienced however when it came to the hiring of the cement mixer and bulldozer, Llwchwr Urban District Council would not allow their use unless they were operated by a council employee.

          The official unveiling ceremony was set to take place on Saturday October 26th, and was to be a grand affair with several local dignitaries being invited to attend. Special programmes were printed and a full report of the days proceedings appeared in the Llwchwr Gazette on Friday November 2nd. The final cost of the wall was 167/12/6d plus 4/5/0d for the inscribed stone and 10 for the hire of a bulldozer.

          While all this activity was taking place on the wall a full calender of social and fund-raising events was also under way elsewhere. On Sunday June 24th, an evening of Community singing took place at Carmel Chapel, this was pronounced a great success even though the cost of the 'Order of Service' leaflets was 2/10/0d and the proceeds of the evening raised only 2/9/6d. On Wednesday June 27th, The Kings' Concert Party performed at the School hall, and on Saturday July 14th, The Civic Players staged a drama, also at the School. Yet another concert was held on November 9th which raised 17/1/0d. Several Whist Drives had also been held during the year and it is recorded "that the ladies who carried on these functions in aid of the hall were to be commended for their high sense of civic duty".

          It was now also ten years since the hall had been requisitioned, during which time it could neither be used nor moved to the committee's land, nor could the committee even contemplate building a new hall until the fate of the old one was decided, and even if they wanted to build, the government's building restrictions would render the prospect impossible, but at the committee meeting of June 13th 1951 there was a ray of hope in the receipt of the following report, "It was observed that the Swansea Education Committee had closed the Cooking Depot, the workers had been transferred to Gendros. No official information had yet been received from the director". Could this mean that the village would soon be getting its hall back again?

          In January of 1952, although the hall was still in the hands of Swansea Corporation and the committee had heard nothing about the de-requisitioning of the hall, a letter was received from the Clerk of Glamorgan County Council, 'seeking re-assurance of the committees compliance with the County Council's conditions on the purchase of the old School as a Village Hall'. A little ironic really, considering that the committee had had no say in the matter for the past eleven years.

          It was then decided that moves should be made to find out the prospects of releasing the hall, or at least releasing the chairs. It seemed ridiculous having to transport chairs from Penllergaer every time they were needed, when the committee had 300 of their own just a short distance away. This process was not to be an easy one, Swansea Corporation were very reluctant to enter into any sort of discussion on the matter, and it was to take up a great deal of the committee's time and effort before the matter was finally resolved.

          1952 was again a very busy year socially. The first event of the year being a performance of 'The Cat and the Canary' by the Civic Players at the School Hall on Saturday January 26th. The report of the event reads: "The Civic Players gave a good performance of The Cat and the Canary, but the audience barely filled the School hall due to a violent snowstorm". Even allowing for the snowstorm this concert raised 11/12/0d for hall funds.

          But by far the biggest event of the year was to be another 'first' for Pontlliw, the first Pontlliw Carnival, which was to be held in July. And like the Pontlliw Agricultural Show, at the turn of the century, which preceeded the Pontardulais Show, so it was with the Pontlliw Carnival, preceeding its neighbour by at least 20 years.

          This was to be an impressive event. The Chairman of the Llwchwr Urban District Council was to declare the Carnival officially open. There were to be amongst other things, Raffles, a Book stall, a Bucket & Coin stall and a Palmist, and the Procession would be led by the Pontardulais Band. A buffet tea was to be served by the ladies, and later, in the evening, a bonfire had been arranged. The Concert for the choosing of the Queens was organised by the Youth of the village, of which there was a strong contingency at this time, a regular youth club being held in the school. Admission to the School yard was 6d. The total proceeds from this first Carnival amounted to 62/19/5d, in addition the proceeds of the Youth concert totalled 7/5/0d.

          This was also a landmark year for the committee, because for the first time ladies were allowed to attend committee meetings. Up until now committee meetings had been a gentlemen only province, all decisions being made by the men without any consultation with the ladies, although ladies had been involved in the background for several years, organising Whist Drives, providing Teas, etc, now they could take their place on the committee itself. A sub-committee was formed for entertainments and fund-raising and the very first two ladies to be elected were a Mrs Powell and a Mrs Myra Thomas, the latter still serving on the committee as Treasurer, 41 years on from her first meeting.

          As well as the decision to allow ladies onto the committee, it is interesting to observe how the committee of the day dealt with the other important, and not so important, issues that came their way, for example, at one meeting the committee passed the motion 'that the Secretary should write to the Manager of Graig Merthyr Colliery asking permission for leave for the Treasurer, to attend the Annual General Meeting', and at another the proposal that 'committee members who fail to attend two out of four meetings without reasonable excuse should lose their membership'. Also, regarding the drama productions and concerts, 'stewards at the door be given the power to use their discretion about those who state they had lost their tickets'. And it is obvious that no stone was left unturned in their search for additional revenue, as can be seen from the following report, 'Following an inspection, it has been decided that the grass on the hall site is not good enough to be offered for sale to a farmer, it would not pay for it's harvesting'.

          The committee were not unduly concerned about finances, having almost 600 in hand by this time, but it is obvious that every penny that could be earned, would be earned. However, there was a more pressing matter to be resolved, that of the reclaiming of the Village Hall. But this was to take far more time and effort than anyone bargained for before a satisfactory conclusion was to be reached.

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Pontlliw Village Hall  (The Story of a Dream Come True)
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Norman Smith / Pontlliw Village Hall 1993 - 2009