My First Trip Across Crumlin Viaduct.
In 1955 I went on a trip with my mother and father to see my aunty in Newcastle under Lyme, so this meant travelling to Stoke on Trent, a massive journey for a 7 year old boy interested in railways.
It was very exciting as we caught a train at Mountain Ash (Cardiff Road), I had only ever been on a train on the ex TVR line (Mountain Ash Oxford Street). As was usual for me I stood up, but this was more exciting as I had never been on a corridor coach. As the journey was progressing I was happily marching up and down the corridor making sure I did not miss anything. However on approaching what appeared to be a large bridge I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by a stern command from my mother to come and sit down and not to move as I might cause the coach to wobble, obviously we were going over the long span of the viaduct. This is perfectly true as my mother, who is now nearly 86, can still remember it very well.
Over the years I travelled over the viaduct a number of times when I used to go train spotting to Pontypool Road and was always awed by the magnificent structure which now sadly is only a memory.
Keith Jones, Mountain Ash, May 2002.
The Girl Next Door.
Although I was born and bred in South Dorset, my mother's family is from Wales and lived in Crumlin. My grandfather worked at the Navigation and my uncles at other collieries in the area.
When I was a kid in the 50s and early 60s, we used to come away from the seaside every year to visit Crumlin for our summer holidays - how many people can say that! I used to absolutely love it. I suppose I didn't really appreciate how tough mining was in the earlier days, but I just loved the atmosphere and the vitality of the place, as well as most of all, the warmth of the people.
It was an all day trip, a bus from Portland and then by train from Weymouth, with changes at Bristol and Newport. We therefore travelled from Portland famous for it's stone quarries, to South Wales obviously famous for it's coal. From white dust to black dust you could say. The big thrill for me at the end of the long journey, was always the first sight of the viaduct as we came up the valley.
I used to stay at 5 Gladstone Road (although it seems to be referred to as Gladstone Terrace on some of the photos?), which many will know backs onto the land near the east of the viaduct. A quick walk out of the back garden and up the hill took me to the spare ground near the beginning of the viaduct. I often used to play there with my cousin and some of the local kids. I was also a great railway fanatic as was my dad.
Naturally my parents warned me on no account to go onto the bridge, however inevitably one day some of us did. I don't have much of a head for heights and I remember being pretty nervous on the walkway underneath the bridge. I probably got about a third of the way across before my nerve failed me and I turned back.
I remember arriving in Crumlin one year as a teenager when my aunt, who has a pretty good sense of humour, produced a photo who she said was the girl who had just moved in next door. The "girl" was very simply dressed but absolutely stunning. It was several minutes before the penny dropped - it was Sophia Loren. I was certainly fooled at first and you can probably imagine the impact on a young man of about 16 - talk about gobsmacked! Needless to say she wasn't the next door neighbour. My aunt had been doing some temporary work with the catering when she took the photo. I think I may have that photo somewhere.
Coincidentally I suddenly found myself standing next to Sophia at Heathrow airport about four years ago at the baggage reclaim area. I have to say she still looked pretty damn good. Maybe I should have introduced myself and asked if she remembered Crumlin?
I still visit relatives in Pentwyn occasionally and I realise how much the area has changed, which I won't dwell on. It's easy to be nostalgic I know but this site has brought back so many wonderful memories.
Richard Peterson, October 2004.