Daniel James

Daniel James
Composer of the lyrics to Calon Lan

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Connected Communities Come Together

As part of Swansea University's Research Week, an event was held yesterday afternoon to celebrate the continued development of local community-based research through the Connected Communities project.  Professor Huw Bowen who leads the project spoke of how the research will help to shape the future development of the Swansea Valley which includes the regeneration of the Hafod and Morfa Copperworks.

Each of the local community projects which secured Heritage Lottery Funding gave a brief talk about how their research and activities were progressing and our representative for The Daniel James Project was Ivor Williams.  Teresa, Catrin and myself were in the audience lending moral support!

It was a great event which allows the different groups to interact and share ideas in a positive environment.  Each group has a very different research goal but we all share a combined passion - a love of local history and a recognition that memories need to be preserved.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Animation Progress

We met with Nick and the animation team at Mynyddbach Chapel on Friday.  Despite bone chilling temperatures, we soon had the chapel warm and welcoming and the meeting went really well.

The Daniel James Project team spent an enjoyable two hours chatting through Daniel's life to enable the animation team to put together a storyboard for the film.  Although we can't get every piece of research into the animation (that would take many many hours of viewing!!!), we have all highlighted the important aspects that should be covered and which will be really interesting to watch.

Visit to Mountain Ash

Teresa and myself took a trip out to Mountain Ash on Wednesday to visit the town where Daniel James lived sometime after 1895, and before his final residence in Morriston in 1916. 


After losing his job in the mining industry at Blaengarw,  Daniel was befriended by his admirer Thomas Glyndwr Richards, who found him employment at Mountain Ash Colliery, where he worked for twenty years - fifteen years in Nixon’s colliery.
   Richards was a conductor of the famous Mountain Ash Royal Male Voice Choir, which toured America at the close of the 19th century.

We were very excited to see that both of the properties where he lodged during his time at Mountain Ash are still standing - one at Richmond Street and the other at Aberffrwd Road.  
Daniel left the colliery when failing health became a problem. He took a job as a cemetery caretaker. It was interesting to note that a cemetery lay within a few hundred yards of Aberffrwd Road - perhaps this was the one he looked after. Further research continues!




View from the top of Richmond Street - Bev Rogers

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Oral History Interviews

Bev and I have started our oral history interviews and last Wednesday 13 February, we spent a delightful afternoon in the company of Miriam Evans.  Miriam was born in Treboeth and has lived there all her life and before she retired she was the Headteacher of Gwyrosydd Infants School.  This interview was very special for me as Miriam was my Headteacher when I was an infant!

Miriam recalled a variety of memories about the Treboeth area from her life as a child and up to more recent years.  Areas that were covered included:
  • the role that the Chapel in Welsh life and Welsh culture
  • living conditions - including memories of the thatched cottage that Daniel James lived in
  • the geography of the local area in times gone by
  • education of children
  • warm memories of her father and grandfather
Her grandfather was an acquaintance of Daniel James and she explained that Gwyrosydd had written a poem about her father, entitled Y Baban ar fin y Dibyn (which roughly translates as 'The child on the edge of a precipice') which relates to a time when her father would have been playing in a quarry area just behind Miriam's house.  This is a very personal memory and a direct link to Daniel James!

Over the coming weeks we have a more oral histories lined up  - so watch this space!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Cymanfa Ganu - a night to remember!

The Cymanfa Ganu was a roaring success!  The pews of the chapel were full and the congregation was in good voice, led by Huw Rees who proved to be an entertaining conductor!  A fitting tribute to Daniel James and the Mynyddbach Chapel was given by Huw Tregelles Williams.  The chapel organ, played by organist Reverend Grenville Fisher, and accompanied by Adam Croucher,  was rousing in the amazing acoustics of the room and the vocal contribution of Gwyrosydd School and Bryn Tawe School was beautiful.

Teresa and myself gave a small speech outlining the project's aims, research and future plans.




Having never been to a Cymanfa Ganu before, I was uncertain what to expect.  What I did discover  was that of a truly beautiful experience.  To be part of such a celebration of song where the whole congregation came together in a relaxed and fun way was a pleasure to be involved with.  Thank you to all that attended!

Reverend Grenville Fisher, Huw Tregelles Williams, Huw Rees, Teresa Hillier, Bev Rogers & Kate Spiller 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Cymanfa Ganu this Wednesday!

Just a reminder...!

The rescheduled Cymanfa Ganu for Daniel James is to be this Wednesday - 6th February - at 7pm.

It is to be at Mynyddbach Chapel and leading the programme of events is will be Mr Huw Tregelles Williams, OBE, DL, MA, B. Mus, FRCO, FKWCMD.  The conductor is Mr Huw Rees, LRAM, ARCM, LLCM, FLCM and the organist is the Reverend Grenville Fisher.

Gwyrosydd's Chair



Teresa and Ivor giving a perspective on
 the height of Gwyrosydd's chair
One of Daniel James’s favourite haunts was the King’s Head Public House in Treboeth where he composed his poems in exchange for pints.  It is said that whilst there he sat in a particularly unusual high chair.  One can imagine the Bard Gwyrosydd reciting his poetry from this commanding position with friends and acquaintances looking on.
 
The chair is still intact and can now be found in Mynyddbach Chapel.  It would be fascinating to find out more about who made the chair and was it made for Daniel James or for some other purpose!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Gwyrosydd's Grave

Our visit to Mynyddbach Chapel a few weeks ago would not have been complete without paying our respects at Daniel James' grave.

Sign boards pointed the way to the resting place of Gwyrosydd and we braved the abundant mud made by the heavy rain of recent days to reach the spot.








It was quite a poignant experience standing there in the weak sunshine within the quiet of the graveyard looking down upon the spot where Daniel lies together with his wife Ann, his son William James and his daughter Mary.


The grave inscription is in Welsh.  
A translation is:

In memory of Ann, beloved wife of
Daniel James, Treboeth,
who died on December 24th, 1887,
38 years old.
See the grave of a Dear one who was pure sunshine, undefiled to her family.
Also William James, his son
20 years old.
Also the above Daniel James (Gwyrosydd) who died March 16 1920
73 years old.
Pure heart so full of goodness.
Also the daughter of the above, Mary, who died June 28 1941,
68 years old.
Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.


Note how the date of Daniel's death carved on the gravestone is 16 March 1920, yet he actually died on 11 March!