fireplace had to be cleaned out every morning and the fire re-lit. The brickwork of the fire place was shinning black in colour and was cleaned by means of a cloth dipped in a material called black lead. All cooking of food was carried out on this fire and the most delicious toast could be made by using a three feet long toasting fork, which hung on a nail beside the fireplace.
At the front of the street there was a large cast iron container, which we called THE BIN and this was used to contain the refuse and ashes until it could be collected and disposed off. This was done by means of a horse and cart, which arrived twice a week. Its smell was most unpleasant especially in the hot summer months.
We had no telephone in the village and if an emergency arose- like a doctor was required then it meant a walk to Fochriw to use the telephone there. We did have the means of calling the Fire Service and this could be done by means of a red box on a pillar near penybanc hotel. In the box was a handle which could be pulled after smashing a small glass window and this sent a signal by wire to the fire station at Bargoed, where an alarm would sound and a number punched out on paper tape indicating which box had activated and the fire engine would be on its way. Our number was 144. Fortunately the use of that box was never needed.
The services of day to day requirements were brought to the village by various tradesmen who visited on a weekly basis and so it was not necessary to make visits to the nearest shops at Fochriw or Bargoed. A baker visited twice a week travailing from Bargoed and we gave him the nickname "Gilbert stale cakes". His bread was delicious but his cakes were not very good. IT would occasionally happened that he would be unable to deliver his bread due to the road being blocked by winter snow. He would put his bread delivery for the whole village into flour sacks and take them to the railway station at Deri where he would catch the train to Fochriw, throwing out the sacks of bread as the train passed through Penybanc. He never let us down! Other groceries were supplied from a shop in Fochriw (Morgan Hams) and each household had a " standing order", which was delivered every Friday.
Milk came from Cwm-the -Drew (Cwmllwydrew) farm delivered by 'Maggie Cwm' on her horse and cart. The milk was as it came from the cow, untreated and ladled into a jug from a large churn. The milk had a thick layer of cream on top and this was put into a large glass jar with a screw top. By shaking the bottle for ten minutes or so it turned into a lump of pure delicious butter.
Coal was delivered by horse and cart and as most households had a miner it was supplied at very low cost. It was tipped outside the front door of the house and had to be carried through the house to the coalhouse at the rear of the house, quite hard work to carry a ton of coal in buckets in this manner.
Another weekly visit was made by a haberdasher and his horse and cart, all the way from Twynyrodyn near Merthyr Tydfil. He kept us supplied with paraffin for our lamp, candles, cleaning materials etc. We called him 'Gentle Jesus' as this reflected his bearing and manner.
Any item, which he did not have on his cart, would be delivered on his visit the following week. Any clothing or shoes that were required were supplied by' Danny the Packman 'from the two suitcases which he carried and again one's requirement could be supplied by placing an order with him to be provided on his subsequent visit.
The owner of Penybanc farm was a certain Mr. Evans who I believe was an ex-school teacher and it was he who owned all the cottages that was Penybanc. It was mainly a sheep farm and the sheep were allowed to roam the hillside of the valley and were tended by a shepherd by the name of Mr. Lloyd, accompanied by his sheepdogs. It was magic to watch him controlling these dogs as they rounded up the sheep, each dog responding individually to his commands.
This puzzled me greatly and I asked him one day how he was able to control the dogs in this way. 'Well boy' he said I whistle in English to one and whistle in Welsh to the other' - so the mystery was solved, - or was it.Overlooking the village was the Brithdir Level coal mine, I would sit many hours watching the working of this mine and seeing the horses cloaked in steam from their effort in pulling the drams of shining black coal from its entrance.
There was a smithy there where the horses were shod and tools made, and sharpened for use in the mine.It was a fascination to watch the blacksmith at work, shaping a lump of red-hot metal into horse’s