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Monday, 30 March 2009


For more MY TOWN MONDAY posts head over to Travis's blog.

Gilfach Goch, the name translates as red valley or red river valley, some say, Red Nook. The name comes from the preponderance of red heather that dots the mountain side.

Writer Richard Llewellyn spent long summers in the village with his grandfather and years later based his bestselling novel, How Green was my Valley in a fictional version of the town. The book was filmed by the great John Ford but the Hollywood version of the coal mining town was far from the reality. In the 1970's the BBC filmed the book as a mini series and much of the location work was done in Gilfach Goch.

In the early days the working hours of the coal miners were long and arduous and miners often made it a practice to attend funerals in order to get some paid leave from work. One story is documented in Katie Pritchard's History of Gilfach Goch in which a miner slipping out from work was confronted by his manager.

MANAGER - Where are you gong?
MINER - To a funeral.
MANAGER - Whose funeral?
MINER- Whoever's dead.

Gilfach Goch's William Williams goes West
These days all signs of the coal mining past has gone away and the hills are once again green but if a person looks closely enough the signs are still there of the black past when all the hills were turned into blackened heaps and men toiled long and hard beneath the ground to earn a wage that was barely enough to raise their families.


pattinase (abbott) said...

My great grandather died of black lung disease working in a Welsh coal mine. But is sure is pretty. I visited Wales twice and liked it very much. We went to that great music and dance festival-I can't remember the name of the town but it was great fun.

Clare2e said...

It's a sobering history, but I love the joke! Black (lung) humor.

Charles Gramlich said...

Red River Valley! What an appropriate place for a western writer to hail from.

In my home state they didn't do the underground mining but they did strip mining and you can still see many of the scars from that. Some have been filled in though.

Barbara Martin said...

A beautiful setting in the hills of Wales with an eye to the future.

Travis Erwin said...

Welcome to the MTM gang. I'm gonna use the funeral bit to get out of work early sometime.


Thanks guys - I enjoyed being part of the MMM gang as it gives me a chance to do a post that would not usually appear on the Tainted Archive. I'll be back again next week for another.



debra said...

My mother-in-law was born and raised 5 miles from the Welsh border in Chester. She has many stories of life there.

Lana Gramlich said...

I've always been fascinated with Wales (although I've never really known why.) I'd even started learning the language via book & tape (before realizing that an actual teacher is really required.) Thanks for sharing your info about Gilfach Goch!