LDJ Williams - known as Bobs
Lewis David John Williams or, as he was always known as, 'Bobs' was a keen photographer in the early 1900s. He would take photographs of all village life, e.g. events that occurred in the village, dedication of the Well, the building of new churches, baptism in the Twrch, operettas which were often performed in the Temperance Hall and also his prized flowers and vegetables as he was a keen gardener. Many of his photographs were made into postcards which were sold in his Newsagent shop. There are a few of these postcards still around.
His short notice obituary in The Voice newspaper of 6th April 1967 provides a good introduction:-
DEATH: LEWIS DAVID JOHN WILLIAMS
The death occurred at Morriston Hospital on Thursday of Mr Lewis D J Williams, 20 Tai Gwalia Upper Cwmtwrch at the age of 84.
Mr Williams had enjoyed remarkably good health for his age until taken ill a few weeks ago.
At Ebenezer Chapel he was the precentor, elder deacon and a Sunday school teacher for many years. He had been employed in the mines but spent most of his lifetime in business as a newsagent and barber.
Known to his many friends as "Bobs", Mr Williams will be remembered as a keen photographer, horticulturalist and gardener.
Since the death of his wife, he lived with his married daughter, Mrs Sally Lewis and family.
Interment took place at Cwmllynfell Cemetery on Monday.
Lewis Williams, aged 18.
LDJ Williams at 80 years old
Lewis Williams presenting Coal Magazine to James Griffiths, M.P. for Llanelli, sometime president of the South Wales Miners' Federation, J.P. for Breconshire, and first Secretary of State for Wales in October 1964.
2nd March 1883 - 3rd April 1967
In its edition of 15th March 1963, The Voice newspaper carried a full length feature of L.D.J. Williams on the occasion of his 80th birthday, written by J.D. Maunder:-
THE FULL AND ACTIVE LIFE OF 80 YEAR OLD "BOBS" WILLIAMS
No man can have lived a fuller, more varied, or a more interesting life than 80 years old Mr Lewis David John (Bobs) Williams of 22 Tai Gwalia Upper Cwmtwrch.
A widower, his wife having died a year ago, Mr Williams has six children: Messrs Horace, James and Evan Williams and Mesdames Gwyneth Evans, Sally Lewis and Betty White.
"Bobs" as he is known to all his acquaintances started work when he was 12, at the Black mountain Coal and Lime Works, at a wage of 10d per day. When he was 13, he started work underground at Brynhenllys Colliery Cwmllynfell, at a wage of 1sh, per day.
For 10 years Mr Williams was out of the mines, through illness. In that period he opened a newsagent and barber's shop in Cwmtwrch, deliveries being about a dozen, a shave cost 1 and a half penny and a haircut 3d.
With his eyes sparkling, like those of a mischievous school boy, Mr Williams recalled the exciting days when his barber's shop was the open forum of political and religious discussion, the debates going on very often into the early hours of the morning.
On regaining his health, Mr Williams returned to the mining industry with a job as electric haulier driver at the Cwmllynfell Colliery. During his mining career he served for many years on lodge committees of the national Union of Mineworkers and on production committees.
Asked about his hobbies, Mr Williams smilingly and proudly started off describing how he succeeded in gaining the amateur photography championship of Great Britain as well as numerous prizes in national and local competitions. "I still take a great interest in this hobby", he said.
Quite as proudly, Mr Williams went onto speak of his interest and success in the musical field. He studied music under two notable musicians, the late Mr Daniel and Mr Lewes Owen. Under their tuition, Mr Williams became a successful competitor at Eisteddfodau, his most memorable success being when he conducted at the 1934 Welsh National Eisteddfod in Neath, where they won second place. Another notable success was the winning of a prize at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Gwauncaegurwen, where he conducted two choirs.
A dramatist and historian of note, he is keenly interested in sport and seldom misses a rugby international in Wales, in his youth he played soccer for Cwmtwrch.
Politically, Mr Williams is an ardent socialist and was one of the first converts of Keir Hardie and a founder member of the Independent Labour Party in the Swansea Valley. He recalled the evening when Keir Hardie spoke to a packed audience at the Central Hall Ystalyfera, on the text: "Jesus the Carpenter of Nazareth". Other Labour leaders who influenced Mr Williams were Philip Snowdon, Ramsay MacDonald and George Lansbury.
But Mr Williams was not merely interested in music, sport and politics. He was also a keen and successful gardener and a former secretary of the local horticultural society.
For years his garden produce was regularly exhibited at horticultural shows and at Llanelly where he had 24 entries, he won 19 first prizes, 2 second and 3 third prizes.
Success in this field led to his being becoming much in demand as a judge at such shows.
Mr Williams was also an adjudicator of note at eisteddfodau and a conductor at singing festivals.
An active chapel man, he is precentor and deacon at Ebenezer Chapel Cwmtwrch.
Asked who had created the greatest impression on his mind, Mr Williams said: "It's difficult to say, but one of them was the owner of a woollen factory Y Felin Fach in Upper Cwmtwrch.
"About 9 of us used to meet regularly at the factory when we were quite young. We listened to the wisdom of the factory owner who taught us mechanics, carpentry and other subjects which fascinated us."
When I expressed amazement at his youthful looks and spirit, Mr Williams said there were a number of factors which had been responsible.
"When I was a boy", he said, "the village schoolmaster, the late Mr Thomas R Thomas, impressed upon me the advantage of studying physiology, I did so and have benefited as a result."
Another factor which had contributed to his longevity and youthfulness, said Mr Williams, was the fact that he had plenty of fresh air, a clean life and the eating of as much fruit as possible.
We wish this remarkable man many more years of enjoyment with his hobbies.
LDJ Williams' son Jimmy (James) and daughter Gwyneth with a snowman in c1916
Family photograph of LDJ Williams
Family photograph of LDJ Williams in his garden
The photograph that accompanied the newspaper story on LDJ Williams' 80th birthday
LDJ Williams' daughter Gwyneth as Sleeping Beauty in one of the operettas which were performed in the Temperance Hall. The Street behind is Pentre-Ty-Gwyn where LDJ Williams lived and had a Newsagents shop.
His daughter Gwyneth delivering newspapers
The Life of LDJ Williams, aka 'Bobs'
Lewis David John Williams, sometimes called Lewis or, as he was always known as, Bobs, was a keen photographer in the early 1900s. He would take photographs of all village life, e.g. events that occurred in the village, dedication of the Well, the building of new churches, baptism in the Twrch, operettas which were often performed in the Temperance Hall and also his prized flowers and vegetables as he was a keen gardener. Many of his photographs were made into postcards which were sold in his Newsagent shop. There are a few of these postcards still around.
The Newspaper shop was on a Street called Pentre-Ty- Gwyn which was demolished when the road was widened and he moved into the newly built houses in Tai Gwalia where he lived until his death. He went back to the mines but continued with his photography till the end of his life, giving talks and showing his photographs to Clubs and Societies etc. Later in life his daughter persuaded him to get one of these modern automatic cameras, more convenient as it was much smaller, producing colour slides that he could show using a projector. After he retired from Cwmllynfell Colliery he became the caretaker in the Welfare Hall and stayed very active till the end of his life.
The Newsagents shop was the centre of the community for all ages. A barbers shop and a billiard hall were on the same premises; men could have a hair cut or shave and younger boys would gather to play billiards. He himself said "that the shop was the open forum for political and religious discussions and debates going on very often into the early hours of the morning". It was also a place where villagers from Rhiwfawr would change their walking boots for smart shoes before taking the train from Gwys Station for a night out in Ystalyfera. They would call on the way back, which could be quite late to change their shoes before walking back to Rhiwfawr via the Wembley steps. So it was open all hours.
The shop sold newspapers, postcards and confectionary and also made and sold ice-cream which my mother as a young girl had to churn for hours.
Sometime after my grandfather's death, the houses in Tai Gwalia were being renovated and my Aunt found boxes of the old glass negatives in the attic. My mother had 8 of these copied into modern negatives and had them printed.
Thank you to Catherine Howells, grand-daughter of LDJ Williams for the above information
The photographs below have been newly printed from the glass negatives of LDJ Williams
Upper Cwmtwrch, the Tredegar Arms and Saint Peter's Church
The platform of Gwys Station, Upper Cwmywrch. This is one of LDJ Williams' most well-known photographs, and was made into a postcard, often sold in his shop.
Upper Cwmtwrch before 1911 when the wooden bridge was swept away by floods, showing Bryn Morgan mine on the left