VETERAN PUBLIC SERVANT.|1915-08-26|The Brecon County Times Neath Gazette and General Advertiser for the Counties of Brecon Carmarthen Radnor Monmouth Glamorgan Cardigan Montgomery Hereford - Welsh Newspapers Online
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VETERAN PUBLIC SERVANT.

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VETERAN PUBLIC SERVANT. Sixty-two Years in Office at Brynmawr. Mr John Thomas, clerk to fcha Brynmawr Council, has resigned after being in the Coun- j lil's employ, first as clerk and surveyor, end latterly as clerk exclusively, for a period of 62 years. Failure of health has foroed this step, which is much regretted in the town. Mr Thomas, who is about 85 years of ago, has lived through a most interesting period in local history and seen some startling changes. When he was a ypnng man the lot of the working c'aesfB in fhe Monmouthshire valleys was very different from what it is to day. At that time living was even more expensive than now, bread in particular being very dear, whilst the floor of which it was composed was of poor qaplity. The meat portion of the worker's diet wag composed chiefly of bacon, fresh meat was a great laxory, and milk was scarcely ever nsed as a food aud was used in tea, together with lunop sugar, only on very special cccasioriB. The men bad no "beet clotbes," and the 11 tilanket jacket" was the Snndav dresp. whilst they wore their working boots cleaned up with oil for ohfipel-going. The collier bad to work very hard for XI a week, and frequently he who was on the best terms with the weigher got the highest wages Tho method of payment, too, was very differ- ent from the present. At Nantyglo the men wers-i paid by the bitch (each batch had one of their better pdncated "batties" as a leader). Tbe money was given to one of the batch by means of notes on Mr BiiSey's bank, together with a little change. A local innkeeper used to change the notes, and received a considera- tion of 21 61 for changing each 95 note. PpJiticA in those days was an exciting topic. Mr Thomas remembers (at the age of 7) attending, with his father, a mass meeting of Cbnrtists which was addressed by Henry Vincent. Mr Crawshay Bailey rode up, but the crowd was in a threatening mood, and be did not interfere. Mr Thomas's brothers lpft home on the Sunday of the rising, hot his father stayed where he was. He remembprs some of the local adherents lo the cause of the Chattipte, and knew some who were sent to prison in connexion with the movement. One of these was a oobbler known as King Crispin," who when the moment of action came did not go 10 Newport with the others. When the constables searched bis bouse he was found at the bottom of a coffer of old boots and arrested. He was tried at Brecon and sentenced to prnal servitude. CalvBcistic Methodism was founded locally in the kitchen of Twyn Blaenant Farm, occu- pied by Mr Thomas's grandfather, and Mr Thomas has been a supporter of the cause all his life. Salem Chapel, Nantyglo, was the first bnilt, and be remembers well-known preachers officiating there, and he was present at the funeral of Morgan Howells at Wacn- goob, Bennfort, when be heard Evan Harries aod Dr Charles preach from tbe windows of the chapel to the great gathering in the churchyard. Mr Thomas, with the aid of a few friends, started the English Calvanistio Methodist cause at Brynmawr owing to the great increase in the number of English- speaking inhabitants. He holds the long- service (60 years) certificate for Sunday School teaching, and was for 52 years local secretary to the Bible Socieey. He well recol- lects the start of the temperanoe movement for Sooth Wales at Salem Chapel, Nantyglo, in 1835. He was a student at the Normal College, Swansea, in 1851, and remembers a great disestablishment meeting there, and four years later the first meeting on the subject was held at Brynmawr. He has been a member of the Liberation Society for over 40 years. Newspapers in those days possessed by no means the great circulation they have to day. One copy of the Times was shared between Brynmawr and Nantyglo and read aload in the old reading-room. The Rev Thoa. Davies (afterwards of Caerpbilly) used to be heard with interest reading Russell's letters from the Crimaen War. Mr Thomas was joint secre- tary with Mr James Phillips, J.P., Nantyglo, of the first reading-room, in the Old Market- hall, and for two winter seasons taagbt a class arithmetic. At that time a congregation minister taagbt grammar on alternate evenirgs. Education bas made great strides daring Mr Thomas's lifetime. The Brynmawr British School was boilt in 1846, bis eldest brother was the first> treasurer, and big mot her sub- scribed £10 towards the funds. The Brynmawr School Board was formed before 1870, and the debt on the British Sohool (aoot JE200) taken over and paid, one-third by Libanas Calvinistic Methodist Church, ope-third by Reboboth Congregational Cbnrcb, and one-tbird by Calvary and Tabor Baptist Cbarohes jointly. Mr Thomas served on the Llanelly (Brecon- shire) School Board in the second batch, and was one of the first selected on the Aberys- truth Sohool Board. His sister and be were present in 1837 at the opening of the Nantyglo National Scbool, where, be says, bis education was varied fre- quently by standing on a form as a punishment for not reciting the Catechism. On the formation of the Breconsbire County Council Mr Thomas was selected as the Brynmawr representative, bat retired after a few years' service. His son is Dr. J. L. Thomas, of Newport, who holds a position under the King Edward VII. Memorial scheme, and there are four daugbters-Miss Susan Thomas, Mrs Jenkins (Machynlleth), Mrs Donbleday and Mrs Millward (Abergavenny).

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VETERAN PUBLIC SERVANT.