Old Newspapers unearthed at Maesteg Town Hall
TWO old newspapers dated 50 years apart have been uncovered by contractors working on the redevelopment of Maesteg Town Hall.
The Grade II listed building, in the heart of the Llynfi Valley, is currently undergoing an £8.2m repair, restoration and extension, due for completion in 2022.
The earliest newspaper – the remnants of the South Wales Echo from 1st May 1931 – was found behind the decorative cornice in the main hall.
The second newspaper – a more intact copy of The Sun from 6th April 1981 – was found above the ceiling of the former market hall. It has been signed by Paul James, Wally Joseph and Ken Evans (caretaker).
Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, the registered charity which is undertaking the redevelopment in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council, said:
“We understand it is quite common for tradespeople to leave something like this in areas they are working, for future generations to discover, although it is still a bit of a mystery how the Echo ended up in its location, given that the last major redevelopment of the Hall took place in 1914.
“We are planning to bury a time capsule of our own, as part of this building work, and will be looking for ideas from the local community and school children on what items we should include to represent the proud history and heritage of their hometown.”
Councillor Dhanisha Patel, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, said: “The ongoing transformation of Maesteg Town Hall is unlocking all sorts of secrets as workers set about helping it to become a modern community facility fit for the 21st century, and the planned time capsule is going to be an excellent way of marking this latest stage in the building’s long life.”
On 1st May 1931, the UK Prime Minister was Ramsay MacDonald. On this date, the US President Herbert Hoover officially opened the Empire State Building in New York City.
On 6th April 1981, the front page news reports union leaders’ plans to stop Tony Benn from becoming deputy leader of the Labour Party, when he stood against Denis Healey.
Together with Awen Cultural Trust and Bridgend County Borough Council, the redevelopment of Maesteg Town Hall is supported by Welsh Government’s Building for the Future Programme, Communities Facilities Programme, Valleys Task Force and the European Regional Development Fund; National Lottery Heritage Fund; Garfield Weston Foundation; Maesteg Town Council; Pilgrim Trust; and the Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Trust.
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In response to this story we received a poem from Jude Brigley entitled “Time Capsule”
‘Two old newspapers dated 50 years apart have been uncovered by contractors working on the redevelopment of Maesteg Town Hall’
Refurbishing Maesteg Town Hall,
behind the walls, they found pasted
newspapers torn and yellow, the words
like black tadpoles, swimming in
the brown waters of papyrus.
My grandmother wheeled her pram
past the Town Hall steps dreaming
of the Empire state, past the hidden
Echo of 1931, never imagining
that her family would one day
stand breathless on its top rung.
In the forties, my mother danced
in a blue dress, stitched by her grandmother’s
love, past the hall’s decorative cornice,
oblivious to the pasted, printed paper
behind the stuccoed walls. In the eighties
my niece danced on stage while my
my nephew thrilled at the audience
roar at his comic antics. They understood
like miner, steel man, shopgirl, solicitor
and clerk the power of voices echoing
into space, transported by costume
or pan stick to become cowboy, admiral
or showgirl just for the night,
forgetting the valley’s turmoil.
Dispatches from another time, pasted
in a walled tomb while outside horses,
cars and trains, babies, marriages,
deaths trundled on while news outlasted
the living, capsuled from air and change.