This was great fun until the fixings securing one leg of the sling gave way when the sling was extended to its maximum. The loose side of the sling came towards us at a great speed only to catch one of the lads leg and break it. That was the end of that.
Dens in the earth, ferns and trees.
Local gang rivalry was from the boys from Deri and we became skilful at constructing well camouflaged dens in the branches of trees, beech trees being the favourite, digging into the earth and in the vast acreage of very high ferns which grew in abundance on the side of the valley.
As always, the source of nearly all our materials was the colliery tip.
Coal from the tip
Most employment was in the mines but there were a few people who were unemployed or on a pension and one of the most unliked tasks was when we were requested, or told would be a better word, to go to the tip and collect a few buckets of coal.
This was possible, although highly illegal, since the screening process was not very refined and some coal inevitably found its way in with the waste and thus was tipped.
A favourite pastime was the construction of go-carts from odd pieces of wood and old pram wheels.
Depending on our resourcefulness and materials available, these were either single or double occupancy units. The steering was by means of the front axle which was fixed to the rest of the cart by a nut and bolt which allowed it to turn, and braking was by shoes.
The route was usually a long pull up to Pentwyn and then a good, if somewhat precarious, ride down to Ogilvie Colliery pithead baths in Deri should the momentum be sustained, a distance of about 1.5 miles. Fortunately there was not much traffic on the roads in those days.
A fall in the cutting
My cousin Pearl had a scooter and, on one occasion, I used it to go from her house near the chapel to my other cousin’s house in Stoney Houses, a distance of only a few hundred yards but via a steep and rough road downhill, through a cutting and under a railway bridge.
All was well until I was partway down the hill when I found, to my horror, that the brake did not work and I landed head over heels, in a pile and in the wet, underneath the railway bridge. And guess what? My glasses were broken.
In those days, many people kept mountain ponies and, for most of the year, these were left to roam the valley. On one occasion we were wandering around the site of the old Brithdir Level, which was located on the eastern side of the valley opposite Penybanc, when a number of these ponies appeared.
These ponies were semi domesticated and we took it upon ourselves to catch one and ride it.
We were successful in the catching bit and one of my best friends from Llwynhelig House (the butchers) in Station Terrace, Fochriw, decided to ride it. He mounted it but then the horse took off. He tried to hold onto its main but without success, in that he slid around the horse’s neck and landed up suspended underneath its chest. It was a small pony.