Ystalyfera

History and Heritage

People of Pantteg Chapel, 20th Century

Secretary For Over 20 Years
Ben T. Jones, former Headmaster of Ystalyfera County School retired as Secretary of Pantteg Chapel, Ystalyfera in 1958 after serving in that role for more than 20 years. The following article from the Llais, Friday 5th December 1958, gives a detailed portrait of his tenure:-

A special service was held at Pantteg Independent Church recently to mark the retirement of Mr Ben T Jones MA, who had been the church secretary for over 20 years. Mr Jones has done much to foster the church of which he has been Deacon for 32 years. He has also done good work in putting Ystalyfera on the map.
He was born in Lampeter and after studying at Cardiff University he came to Ystalyfera Grammar School in 1906 as a pupil teacher. Then in 1913 he was transferred to the school staff. In 1945 he retired from the school as headmaster.
Among those he taught were Sir D Emrys Evans ex-principal of Bangor College; Dr Henry Lewis formerly of University College Swansea; Professor Tom Jones now Professor of Welsh at Aberystwyth University and Professor R I Aaron Professor of Philosophy at Aberystwyth.
He also taught Professor J E Caerwyn Williams Professor of Welsh at Bangor University College.
A keen sportsman Mr Jones played rugby, tennis and hockey for the Ystalyfera Clubs and for Cardiff University XV he still follows the "Swans" and has a season-ticket.
His wife is the ex-sub postmistress at Ystalyfera. The daughter now holds this position. Their son Alun is a bank cashier.
The Minister of Pantteg Chapel, the Rev Iorwerth Jones BA said Mr Jones was an outstanding church secretary. He was very reliable and painstaking and has given a great service to the church. We were very fortunate in having a man of his calibre.
The new secretary and Mr D Aneurin Griffiths BA

Long service clearly was a trait of Ben T Jones and his wife. As well as being a long-term Master of Ystalyfera County School, and latterly briefly Headmaster there between 1943 and 1945, Ben T Jones' wife, Mrs Hannah Jones, served as Postmistress at Ystalyfera for 52 years. The following article from the South Wales Voice of Friday 29th January 1954 records her retirement:-

MRS HANNAH JONES
POSTMISTRESS AFTER 52 YEARS RETIRES

With the wonderful record of 59 years continuous service with the GPO, 52 of them as postmistress of Ystalyfera, plus a previous term of seven years as clerk at Pontardawe and St Helen's Swansea post offices, Mrs Hannah Jones retires this weekend through ill-health.
She will be succeeded on Monday 1st February, by the youngest ever two daughters Miss M L Jones.
In charge, the post office at Wern Road has been administered with efficiency, devotion to duty, loyalty and zeal, which on several occasions has been highly commended by the highest authorities of the GPO.
Among many incidents in her long career, Mrs Jones remembers vividly the excitement of the first day old age pensions were paid and recalls that a Mrs Davies of Graig y Merched received the first payment and curtsied twice in thankfulness, once to Mrs Jones and once for Lloyd George, the initiator of the OAP scheme.
At that time, many old people did not recollect the date of their birth, which, after some guidance from Mrs Jones, was usually established in connection with local incidents such as: a big fire, or a religious revival or some explosion or accident in collieries and ironworks etc.
Mrs Jones was also the first official to take charge of the local Labour Exchange in 1918 at Wern Chapel Vestry. She recalls that the first person to receive unemployment pay was the late Mr Element of Wind Road and that the present manager of the Ystalyfera Labour Exchange, Mr Shadrach, was her head clerk.
A faithful member of Pantteg Chapel, of which her husband, Mr Ben Jones MA is the secretary; Mrs Jones has taken great interest in social activities and at one time was a member of the Ddraig goch Society.
She organised many campaigns on behalf of Dr Barnardo's Homes and the NSPCC and has also been associated with the Cancer Campaign of which Mrs Milton Davies is the energetic local secretary.
Throughout her life however, Mrs Jones's main concern has been the poverty which at one time existed here. Very many grateful recipients of her generosity testify to her warm hearted acts of kindness since she came to Ystalyfera in 1902.
Relatives and dependents of HM Forces during the 1914-18 and 1939-49 wars also receive the utmost consideration from her in various ways which at times demanded much sacrifice on her part.
She is the eldest of three surviving daughters of the late Mr James Evans, a well known local bard and Mrs Evans Pontardawe. Her sisters are: Mrs Evans wife of Mr William Evans Alltygrug retired school master and Miss Gladys Evans also of Alltygrug, retired school mistress.
Mrs Jones' only son, Alun Nisien, was taken prisoner in the Middle E is joined the last war and is now in a bank at Pontardawe.
Readers and the public of Ystalyfera will join us in extending to Mrs Jones best wishes for a long and happy retirement.

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