An enthusiastic audience greets Pauline Rowson in South Wales

My recent book tour of talks in South Wales on the publication in the UK of the tenth in the DI Andy Horton crime series, Death Surge, kicked off in Abertridwr Library. 

Pauline Rowson outside Abertridwr Library before her talk

Abertridwr is a village in the borough of Caerphilly, Wales in the Aber Valley.  The English translation is ‘The Meeting Place of Three Streams’ one of which my husband and I took a walk along before I gave my talk to very enthusiastic audience. 

Pauline Rowson explaining how she writes her crime novels

Abertridwr is the birth place of ‘Sion Cent’ in the 14th Century, one of the foremost Welsh poets of his era, a distinguished theologian and scholar but also reputedly a sorcerer and a wizard. The area, like many villages and towns in South Wales, though is best known for its more recent history that of a thriving coal mining community within the South Wales coalfield, now long since vanished. 

The Windsor Colliery in Abertridwr once provided work for hundreds of people but with its closure and those in neighbouring villages, and the subsequent economic decline, the area has suffered considerably, not unlike where my father's family come from, Six Bells, Abertillery in the Ebbw Fach Valley.

Now, above this rich resource of coal in Abertridwr, is a new housing development.  Great efforts are being made to regenerate the area of  Abertridwr and neighbouring Senghenydd, the latter of which suffered major pit disasters in 1901 and 1913 when respectively 81 and 440 men lost their lives and devastated the lives of many families. The Senghenydd explosion is the worse disaster in the history of British coal mining.  My grandfather's pit, Six Bells, also experienced a disaster in 1960 when an explosion claimed the lives of 45 miners including that of my uncle.

What was once the railway track serving the pits and taking the coal to the docks in Cardiff and Newport is now a delightful walk and cycle route. And of course there are the mountains to climb. If I'd had more time I would liked to have visited the  Heritage Museum at Senghenydd, which although largely devoted to commemorating the Senghenydd explosions also documents the wider history of the Valley, including the Windsor Colliery, the sporting achievements of local residents, the old shops and buildings, memories of community events and the community’s involvement in the World Wars.

Lawrence and the ladies of Abertridwr Library

Abertridwr is set in between rolling hills - or should that be mountains - and the spirit  of the residents remains undaunted despite difficult times. It was a delight to be on the receiving end of some great Welsh hospitality and humour and to visit a lovely library with friendly, dedicated staff.

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