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Gwent local history

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48 Spring 1980

Village life in Llanvihangel Crucorney

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Village Life in Llanvihangel
Crucorney (3)
by Stanley J. Bayley
The village possessed a shop (still there near the church) Post Office,
Blacksmiths, two inns (Skirrid Inn and Sun Inn, the latter only a beer
house )-lower down but in the now separate parish of Pandy were two
more inns (The Lancaster Arms and Pandy Inn).
In Llanvihangel there were two maiden ladies who did dressmaking;
a stone mason, carpenter, and a shoemaker. The shoemaker (Edwin
Thomas) lived and had his workshop on the Llanthony road, called
Rhydd-y-felyn. He was a great character and on Saturday mornings, you
were always sure to find a few lads sitting on the bench inside, a small
tortoise stove burning, and listening to Edwin Thomas telling wonderful
stories, true, imaginative, and fairy. He had a large family (four girls and
six boys) the youngest boy, John, another great friend of mine. Several
of the boys did remarkably well in life. In Llanvihangel, the boys used
to congregate outside the Skirrid Inn in the evenings and direct our
games from there. One of the highlights was standing in the blacksmith's
prentice', the roofed but open area in front of the blacksmith's shop,
and where the horses used to be tethered for shoeing, and on special
occasions Alfred Watkins (the blacksmith) would allow us inside to
watch more closely his work on the anvil. One trick of his was to spit
upon the white-hot iron he was fashioning, and when he struck the iron
it would send out a great shower of sparks and frighten us. He had an
assistant (George Walton) who later married his daughter, and she and
her mother Mrs. W. used to run the Post Office. In addition to the assist-
ant blacksmith, there was an apprentice (Freddy) and whilst not work-
ing in the blacksmith's shop, used to deliver telegrams on horseback.
Weeks before Bonfire Night we used to collect wood and leaves, put
them into the paddock at the back of the blacksmith's shop, and then on
the great night Alfred Watkins would hang great naptha lights on the
clothesline, light the fire, and out of his own pocket, supply us with fire-
works. He was said to be the first man in the village up each morning
and that if he got up later than 4 a.m. he considered himself late. All
his spare time was spent in his garden. It was said that many years ago
he had had a difference with the publican next door (Charles Powell)
and vowed never to enter the inn again, and this vow he maintained,
but that did not prevent him from sending his apprentice, Freddy, in for
jugs of beer all day long.
How lovely it was to stand in the evenings, or on Saturdays, and watch
all the farm horses being shod-and the pungent smell that came from
the red-hot shoes being put on the horses's hooves. All along the wall
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