The last Saturday in November saw the Women’s History Roadshow in Carmarthen at St
Peter’s Civic Hall with an exciting array of new and local specialists; Conway Davies
from Trinity College and Ann Dorsett from Carmarthen Museum, adding their expertise
to the event.
The Roadshow was run with the support of Carmarthenshire County Council and Carmarthen
Town Council. The large Hall was awash with a variety of interesting displays for
attendees to see, including, The Soroptomists, Carmarthen Museum, Library and Archive
Service, Carmarthen Federation of the WI, Trinity College, Carol Byrne Jones’ excellent
Allen Raine Exhibition and Joyce Mollett’s poster boards about celebrated women in
Llanelli. All the exhibits added greatly to the feeling of celebration that the day
offered. The opening was handled by a triumvirate of successful Carmarthenshire women,
Elin Cullen from the local authority who in 2006 won a Leading Wales Award, the eminent
poet, Menna Elfyn and her singer/songwriter/academician daughter Fflur Dafydd. It
was salient to be reminded from Menna and Fflur that women present their histories
in many ways. Menna, in her opening remarks really endorsed the work of WAW and
showed her support by making a very welcomed deposit to WAW. As part of her opening
welcome she read a poem, Handkerchief Kiss from her latest anthology, Perfect Blemish.
Fflur performed two of her own compositions one of which she wrote during her period
as Artist in Residence at Bardsey Island.
This form of opening was a departure from what we have previously experienced and,
as the organiser, I felt the variety was most-welcomed and gave the event a very
positive and uplifting atmosphere. Menna and Fflur’s support is very much appreciated.
We were very fortunate to have the Curator of Carmarthen Museum, Ann Dorsett, who
gave a very well received talk entitled, Leaving Traces, The History of Women in
Carmarthenshire. As ever, as the person overseeing this event I did not have the
time to listen to Ann but I do know that those who did go along found it well-researched
and very interesting.
Apart from those mentioned above, other specialists included WAW’s own Jenny Sabine,
Avril Rolph and Helen Thomas with Terry Wells for Carmarthen Archive Service handled
deposits. Pamela Small from the National Library once again did an admirable job
giving advice on the best way to preserve documents at home. Culturenet Cymru provided
technical support in their usual professional and efficient manner. Paulette Pelosi
and Annest Wiliam provided an excellent greeting service ensuring that each new arrival
filled in the forms correctly and knew ‘what to do next’. In cases where attendees
needed to wait to see specialist the WAW DVD was running in the tea and coffee area
and refreshments were efficiently offered by members of Merched Y Wawr.
Gail Allen and Cheryl Law performed a grand job in staffing the HONNO bookstall and,
as ever, Angela’s Christmas Stall proved to be a great success.
The specialists saw a range of interesting items with 5 deposits being made including,
a somewhat timely photograph, dated 1950s, of staff outside the now –closed branch
of Woolworth’s in Vaughan Street, Llanelli. Also deposited were 4 account books,
dated 1958-1982, relating to Pen-y-back Farm in Llanddowror kept by Margaret Phillips
who moved to Red Roses on her marriage at the age of 30 to become a farmer’s wife.
Other highlights amongst the material brought by members of the public include:
Collection of nursing memorabilia-relating to Stella Treharne’s work as a midwife
including; Gladstone Bag from 1900, kit for home births, breast pump, steriliser
with burner, weighing bag, capsule kit that could be carried in a handbag and a pelvimieter.
Greenham memorabilia relating to Helen Thomas who was killed during an accident at
Greenham Peace camp 1989 including, a mourning book for Helen also poems by Helen
Thomas and pamphlet “How to resist the military”.
Photos and donors book at the Official Opening of Greenhill House, Greenhill Close,
Penlan Road, Carmarthen, 1955. Greenhill Housing Association formed by Soroptomists
to offer a home for women who needed help with housing. House was funded by donations
as per donors book.
Collection of photos presented by Elin Cullen relating to her grandmother, Jennie
Jones (nee Gower) including photo of her working as housemaid to a Doctor in New
Road, Llanelli. Also a Will dated 1833 of Sarah Jones, 4x Great Grandmother of Elin
Cullen’s husband. A Deed of Admnistration, dated 22nd Feb.1788 granting administration
of an estate ‘greater than £20’ to Catherine James in the Parish of Penybryn.
Stella Treharne and a few pieces from her midwifery collection.
Carmarthen Deputy Town Mayor, Ken Lloyd, chats to WAW’s Gail Allen and Cheryl Law.
Project Development Worker
All photographs re-printed by kind permission of Paulette Pelosi.