Pont-y-lot-hyn; The poor man’s bridge.

One village of one valley's edge.

Now a different place to its root.

Ten arches counted in its viaduct.

Years have passed like so many trains,

Loaded with coal and iron over the rails.

Once a crossing point, a ford for a few,

The place where poor Welsh have passed to and fro.

Here remains little of an undistinguished past.

You will find indifference amongst fewer stores,

Now the community’s heart has been removed.


They came to Wales for the coal.

Immigrants! Irish, English and Scots.

Wages were low and the work hard,

Some would say dangerous, others not so.


The Romans saw fit to build a fort

On the hills overlooking this wooded ford.

The tribes who wandered or crossed this river

Took care to arrive quietly and swiftly depart.


In the valleys of  Wales the forests were thick.

Pathways were narrow and rivers a risk.

Tolls may have applied to cross the King’s Road,

But those who knew where, bypassed the tax load.


A settlement formed to guard the gate,

The ford across the Rhymni’s spate.

The shipbuilders came and cut down the trees,

Leaving the hills bare and free.


The fuel of so many rains formed

The black rock like gold on the ground.

The open cast workings soon exposed

The supply of coal dwindled and miners were found.


Men would burrow and dig deep down

To work in the dark in tunnels dust bound.

The profit of sweat and blood given no measure

By the landowners who merely increased their treasure.


The hills were soon gutted and valleys cut deep.

By the workings and shafts that the Barons saw fit

To convert a land of beauty and once sleek

To be broken and maligned by the mines and the pits.


Iron and revolution brought its industry,

Converted serfs and farmers to its misery.

Railways and steam engines came in the wake

Of  progress forward on the backs of the ingrate.


Education was set at a price far above

The level of ability and earnings of those who should gain.

The knowledge of ignorance lost in lives and in pain,

Broken bones, broken minds and with broken bodies spilt blood.


There are fewer Chapels and fewer pubs.

Those that were prominent, Bethlehem, Zoar, Zion and Nazareth now gone.

The pubs lost, the Picton, the Railway Inn... the Shanty and the Legion.

Those that remain are not as well patronized as they once were.


The Blast Furnace, The Empire Club, The Lord Nelson Hotel.

Each contend for its clientele against the home invasion of alcohol,

the panacea sold by the Off-License and the grocery store.

Entertainment and food the variety that draws for some of them.


Landlords of either sex are responsible for the warmth of reception.

Good food is important as is the presentation.

The attentiveness of those who serve must be absolute.

There is no excuse for shoddiness or dirty cutlery or dishes.


Catering is the pandering to those who will part with their cash.

Hard earned remuneration exists on both sides of the transaction.

The gratuity may translate to more than a mere thank you,

given without grudge or with it for the sake of keeping face.


There are many elsewhere who will entice the local patron.

Hospitality is known to be a key to sales and repeat business.

Will those who are unprepared recognize how much they lose?

When the door closes there will be another opened most willingly.


The Church remains upon its foundation. Anglican, considered by some to be High.

Are the doors always open and are the pews full?

Ceremony can be onerous and beyond the need of the observer.

Will the outer appearance cloth the nakedness of a man's soul?


Will this village like its counterparts grow again?

How does one give sense and purpose to those participating in its life?

The coal has no grip on the reality it once held.

Perhaps a day will come when history will bring rebirth!


Will George © Jan 8th, 2004


Will George Poet