History of Kenfig Hill in the 1970s
Kenfig Hill has changed a lot over the past 25 years.
I have asked my mother and other members of my family to recall some important events that have taken place over the years.
The main event my mother recalls is the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977. All of Kenfig hill was decorated and each street had their own street party. My mother lived at home with my grandparents then and she remembers that it was a very hot summer and having to dress up in fancy dress costume along with all the neighbours and having a huge street party. My mother lived on Waunbant Road in Kenfig Hill and she said that the streets were decorated with streamers, balloons and long tables were set up along the road and everyone brought some food and drink. The party went on until the early hours of the morning!
She also recalls the Summer Carnivals when there would be lots of floats coming up the main street of Kenfig Hill from Pyle Cross up to the Top Cross in Kenfig hill. The jazz band would be leading the procession and there would be an annual Beauty Queen. All members of the local rugby teams would have their own floats and would dress up in fancy dress costume while parading through the streets.
My mother and father remembers the fire in Mynydd Cynffig Junior School and recalls that the children had to be relocated to Cynffig Comprehensive school for quite a long time before the school was renovated and was safe for the children to return. They remember someone saying that once the children had been evacuated from the school they were singing ‘London’s Burning’ whilst the fire officers tried to put out the flames.
My grandmother has lived in Kenfig hill for all her married life. She recalls that during the war and particularly during the Blitz when the ‘Ton’ was bombed by German airplanes and part of St Theodores Church was destroyed.
So far as entertainment was concerned there wasn’t really that much to do. The Pyle Life Centre (formally known as the welfare) housed the local cinema which was great as every Saturday morning the children from the local villages would all congregate outside the Welfare for the morning performance followed by some chips from “Matthews” chip shop.
The youngsters would attend youth club which is held in Cynffig comprehensive as it is now and they would hold discos every Friday night my mother was a regular attendee!!!!
There were loads more shops in Kenfig Hill than there are now .There was at one time 6 shoe shops in the village-there are none now. The Spar supermarket on the corner of Bridge street/Waunbant road was once the Co-operative store. It was a large department store selling furniture upstairs along with clothing/shoes etc. and down stairs was the food hall. It was a fabulous old building with a wooden staircase and solid wood banisters-it was very impressive.
There were about 4 butchers in the village at one time and several fruit and vegetable shops.
My mother’s favourite shop however was situated on the corner of Pwllygarth Street. It was called ‘Jack the Moderns’. Jack sold sweets in old fashioned jars and the counter was so high that he would have to give the children a box to stand on so they could pick the sweets they wanted. My mother used to say that her Nan would give her a thru’ penny bit so she could buy some sweets after school!!!
At the top cross (where the Chinese restaurant and the antiques shop are now) was the Top Café. Here the teenagers would gather after school or sometimes during their lunch breaks and meet up to play snooker. They also had a juke box that played the latest chart hits!
Everybody knew everybody else in Kenfig hill in the 1970s and it was a very close knit community, Now though there are more and more people living in the village who are not born and bred here but I have relocated to Kenfig hill for work. In that sense I suppose that things haven’t changed THAT much as my great grandfather did exactly the same thing in the 1920s by moving his family from Blaengarw down to Kenfig hill as he was working in the coal mine in Aberbaiden.