Some Captured History of Glanamman and Garnant

Unknown House at Garnant c.1907

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The above image was taken from a postcard which was posted from Garnant in 1907. The house and occupants have not been identified. The card was sent to "Jolly Lane, Garnant". The brief note on the reverse asks, "How are you all down there" and was signed "M.A.D."

In many ways with it's facade of shaped red sandstone, it is typical of the houses prevalent in Cwmamman. Later, houses were more often constructed as single fronted semi-detached or terraced dwellings, with red and/or yellow bricks forming the arches over the door and also forming a decorative border around the windows. The pine ends were often constructed of general building stone and red brick, where the latter was used to construct the chimney parts of the wall. Many of Cwmamman's houses now have concrete rendered pine ends, though most owners have opted to retain the character of their houses by preserving the original stonework at the front and sometimes rear of the building.

The boundary walls of Cwmamman's houses were typically constructed of general building stone and often surmounted with coping stones and iron railings as in the above image. Gateposts could have been either of shaped stone or brick, with a decorative shaped coping stone added as a finishing touch. In the house illustrated above, plant pots add an extra adornment. It is interesting to note that many of the houses forfeited their iron railings during the second world war to help with the war effort.

It is not certain where the building stone for Cwmamman's houses was obtained, though an 1891 map of the area shows a disused quarry some distance South of Brynlloi, Glanamman and two other quarries some distance North East of Gellyceidrim Uchaf, Garnant. Another map dated 1905 however, shows only one of these quarries as active. Another disused quarry is also shown South of the River Amman near Tir Sir Walter at Garnant on the 1905 map.

It is possible that the stone was obtained from one of the quarries in the Llandyfan or Carreg-y-Dwfn area of the Black Mountain. Although there were several limestone quarries on the Black Mountain, there are also outcrops of red sandstone including millstone grit. Even the Farewell Rock (see Geology Overview page on this site) outcrops at some parts.

A local brickworks was operating at Glanamman at one time and this is shown on a map dated 1891. The location of "Cwmamman Brickworks" was between the main road and the railway, South of where the Council Depot is now based at Ffordd Swn y Nant.

Sash windows, with weights suspended on ropes within the wooden frames for ease of opening, were the norm in the days before "R & E", "Unique" and "Sapphire Windows" provided the community with modern double glazed plastic framed alternatives. A simple turning lever screwed into the top of the bottom half of the sash windows were the standard deterrent to burglars in the early part of the 20th century.

The above house contrasts with its later counterparts in that its window and door arches were constructed of shaped stone. Another striking difference to many other Cwmamman houses is the size of the downstairs windows. Most other double fronted houses in Cwmamman have downstairs windows of similar dimensions to the upstairs windows at the main facade.

Cwmamman's houses in the early 20th century had floors of stone slabs. With a fireplace in each room to provide heat, hearthstones would have also been used in the bedrooms. Water was often obtained from stand pipes in the street, lighting was provided by candles, and later by gaslight before domestic electricity was eventually provided. A fire, fuelled by the wonderful anthracite coal of the area, would have been an essential asset and used for heating water and for cooking before coal and wood burning cookers were introduced.

A small pantry was found in each house, where a cold slab would have been used to keep dairy products and meat in a cooled environment. In the main living area of the house, clothes airers would have been found suspended from the ceiling.

Any land connected to the property was used for growing vegetables, with the local people purchasing fertiliser from the colliery managers in the form of horse manure. This was of course produced by the pit ponies. It was also commonplace to use slabs or ashes to make garden paths and the use of red ashes from the Gellyceidrim coal tip was at one time fashionable in the village.

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