Wales – 1869

A few generations earlier, Edward Jones (my Great Great Grandad) was a subsistence farmer in Aberdare, South Wales. The emerging coal and iron ore industry attracted poorly paid workers on the land to move to industrial towns, seeking a better life. Edward’s son Thomas left to earn a living as a Pit Sinker in the coal mines. In 1869, at twenty-one years of age, Thomas (Tommy) Jones married Mary Anne Evans, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Meredith Evans, Coalminer. Both signed the wedding certificate with their mark – X.

At that time, Tommy lived at the Gloster Arms, Aberdare and Mary lived on Gadlys Street. For a while they lived in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, where he then worked as an Iron Puddler in the Dowlais Ironworks. This backbreaking work involved stirring the molten iron and drawing off the slag.

‘Champagne Charlie’ 1869
Champagne Charlie is my name
Champagne Charlie is my name
Good for any game at night there is
Who’ll come join me in a spree?

 

When the industry went into decline, many workers emigrated but some, including Tommy and Mary, headed north to the thriving steel works of the    North East of Yorkshire. After Ironstone was discovered in the Cleveland Hills in 1850, Middlesbrough became one of the largest iron and steel producers in the world.  At that time Tommy and Mary had four children: Henry 1872, Sarah 1876, David 1879, and John 1881.

Middlesbrough was known worldwide. In fact, an iron ore town in Kentucky was named after it.  Middlesboro is located one mile west of the Cumberland Gap and is the largest city in south-eastern Kentucky. It is located between Pine Mountain and the Cumberland Mountains in the Middlesboro Basin. Lonnie Donegan sang about it in 1958

Lonnie Donegan – ‘Cumberland Gap’  1958
Cumberland Gap ain’t nowhere
Fifteen miles from Middlesboro

 

Having skills as an Iron Puddler, Tommy soon found work in the steel works. Thomas (my granddad) was born in October 1884 when they lived at 14 Wren Street, Stockton. The family moved to 77 Nelson Street Middlesbrough, and on Christmas Eve 1906 Thomas, then 22, married seventeen-yearold Annie Eliza Tyerman Clark, daughter of George Clark who lived across the road at number 68. The young couple eventually moved to 93 Marsh Road to be close to Tom’s latest job on the docks.

Popular Music Hall Songs – ‘The Honeysuckle and the Bee’  1920
You are my honey, honeysuckle
I am the bee
I’d like to sip the honey sweet
From those red lips, you see
I love you dearly, dearly
And I want you to love me
You are my honey, honeysuckle
I am the bee

 

The effects of World War 2 could still be felt well into the late 50’s and Mam and Dad often told us about their experiences. I think I can remember various incidents, but that may be because I was told about them so many times and my imagination takes over. All true but not necessarily my truth.

Next: PART 2 – WARTIME

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