My Early Years in Fochriw
by Ifor Coggan
I was born in 1944 at 3, Williams Row, Fochriw.
3, Williams Row, which comprised one large ground floor room and two upstairs rooms, was part of a quarry stoned row of 8 which was built sometime between 1871 and 1881. The back door of the house opened onto a small grass verge on top of which was a track which bounded the southern side of the Welfare Ground.
The front door of the house opened onto a narrow rough flagstone pavement, the far side of which met with a raised quarry stone and flagstone topped wall which served as a work surface. Through this wall was accessed the garden, about 50 feet in length, at the bottom of which was the outside toilet and coal cwtch.
My first memories of life at Williams Row are during the winter of 1947 as the photos opposite illustrate. Note the short trousers which all the boys wore in all weathers, until they were 11 or 12 years old and transferred to secondary school.
At the time that the photographs were taken I was about three and a half years old and my mother was carrying my brother Phillip who was born in my maternal grandparent’s house, at nearby 13 Martin Street, on 23 January 1948.
I recall that my grandfather had converted one of the front rooms into a bedroom where my mother had her confinement, and he had set up a ‘pear switch’ by her bed which operated a bell in the back kitchen.
The second photograph was taken in February 1947in the snow to the right of the garden path.
In those days the roads were not surfaced and I recall a short time later, when the snows had cleared, that surfacing work was being carried out and a proper steam roller was employed to undertake the work.
Not long after the birth of my brother, we moved into 5 Martin Street, which again had one large ground floor living room, with a bosh located to the right hand side of the front door, and a much smaller ‘utility’ room located at the rear which housed the coal cwtch. Upstairs had 2 bedrooms and access to the second was through the first.