Monday, 14 November 2016

Pont y Mynachlawg

Cwmcarn had a handful of small shops that we would visit twice a week. We would walk down the lane almost as far as the station, then turn left over the River Ebbw at Chapel Bridge. The bridge was once called Pont y Mynachlawg (Monastery Bridge) and it was thought that a monastery lay to the north, on the site of Chapel Farm. There could once be seen the remains of a chapel: an echo of the quiet days before the revolutions of church, state and industry tore the old world apart.

The paper shop was near the top of Chapel Farm Terrace, a long, cobbled street. When it was raining the cobbled gleamed, the street seemed endless and you were always soaked before you got to the end. Then it was up over the black, unmoving canal and another short terrace to the corner shop on the main street. There I could get a copy of ‘The Eagle’ which met with parental approval, or ‘The Beano’ which did not. 
The main road stretched down towards Risca and Newport one way, and up towards Newbridge and Crumlin the other. It was flanked by seemingly endless rows of identical terrace houses, only occasionally breached by the dark, secret doors of a billiard hall or a public house. The most common sound was the wild shriek of a steam engine’s whistle on one of the three lines up the valley, just occasionally challenged by the irreverent hooting of a Western Welsh bus. Somehow it felt safer on the other side of the valley, protected by the coal-black river and the ghosts of the monks.

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