Cwmbran Historical Society

TWO LOCKS ROAD OLD CWMBRAN My Granny Esther Waters lived at 59 Two Locks Road with her large family. She also brought up my Mother Doris Waters and her Brother Percy when their Mother Ethel Waters died at the age of 24 years of renal failure. Their Father Percy Waters was a runner for Newport Harriers and also served in the trenches in the First World War. My Granny later turned the front room of the house into a small shop. I was born on 31/10.1949 at Llanfrecfa Grange which used as a maternity hospital after the war, and as my Gran died two days before I was born my Mother named me after her. I was brought home to 59 Two Locks Road and had to sleep in a big drawer as cots were hard to get after the war. Later we moved to number 49 a few doors down the road. A man called Teddy Thompson lived a few doors down and he made me a wooden dolls house for Christmas and I watched my first television programme in his house. The old row of terraced houses that was Two Locks Road were very small with a tiny front room a kitchen with a range and a back scullery, a narrow stairs and two tiny bedrooms. We had a bath in an old tin bath in front of the fire and this was kept out in the small back yard on a nail. At the end of the small garden was the Dowlais Brook where all the local kids fished for crayfish and minnows. Also I remember geese chasing us up the garden path and my Mother shooing them off with a broom. Most people kept a few chickens which were killed at Christmas, when I was three years old I got stuck in the chicken coop with the chickens flapping around me. Across the brook was the brickworks, the wire works was down Llandowlais street, I can still remember the hooters which went off several times a day to call the men to work in the different industries. As I got older my Mother worried that the road outside our house was a bit dangerous although we didn’t see many cars, Lorries with fruit and vegetables used to go to the shop and the Newport bus went past. I was enrolled in the nursery opposite my house at the age of two and a half and the very first day I stuck my head through thee railings and screamed. I eventually settled in and remember the toys that we played on positioned outside. We had a little sleep in the afternoons on small beds; my best friends were Beryl Cooper from Ton Road and Jean Powell from Hill Top. One Christmas I was chosen to be ‘Mary’ in the Christmas Nativity and the photo appeared in the South Wales Argus. When my Gran died my Uncle George Waters had taken over the shop and he also opened a small butchers shop on the old bridge over the canal near Ebenezer Chapel, he also had a cold store underneath on the canal path. I can remember going to the cold storage in Newport with Uncle George to collect some meat, the smell was awful especially in the hot weather. I still have memories of the heavy industries all around the Two Locks area and can still remember the whistles and hooters that marked the working day. I also remember the old iron engine and trucks that crossed the old bridge over the canal near the old cottages and then across the road near the Railway Inn in Llandowlais Street to the Wire Works – all long gone now. As kids we would play a daring game by standing on the tracks of the old iron bridge until we heard the engine and trucks trundling along and then jump off at the last moment laughing at the engine driver when he shook his fist at us. We would then run as fast as we could down the canal bank, the canal was a great source of pleasure to the people of Two Locks. We would fish in it in Summer, skate on it on our way to St.Dials school in Winter; go for long walks in Autumn gathering nuts and blackberries. Sometimes my Mother would take me across ‘the chems’ to Old Cwmbran where most of the shops were. I was scared of ‘the chems’ as my Dad warned us once to be on the look out for adders, I was always afraid one would jump out and get us. It was quite a long walk with very rough ground and lots of ferns, it was situated where the Stadium is now. Then we would walk up Abbey Road and I would watch the trains and trucks on the lines opposite, I can remember the screeching noises they made. When I left nursery at the age of four we moved to a newly built council house at Glyntirion just up the road from Two Locks Road, they were still building the houses opposite. Our new house was so big and modern compared to the little old terrace house we had left behind but I was still drawn to Two Locks road as my Aunt Elsie lived there over the shop. I still fished in Dowlais brook for newts, minnows and sticklebacks with my cousins, we would get our feet wet in the brook then sneak over the brickworks opposite to dry our socks on the hot kilns. If our parents knew the half of what we got up to they would not have let us out! In fact it was a dangerous place to live for children and I can remember a few fatalities when kids drowned etc. These are my fond memories of Two Locks the area where I grew up and I would not change them for the world. I feel privileged to have lived among so many colourful characters and in a wonderful place full of history. 

Story by Esther Penn - Cwmbran resident.