Catrin Hughes and the Oldest Inhabitants of Cwmamman
Catrin Hughes c.1968
Catrin Hughes (nee Roberts), wife of Richard Hughes, Glanamman, lived to be 99 years and about 11 months old. The well known local celebrity, Ryan Davies, intended to make a T.V. program and radio show about her for her 100th birthday, but she passed away at Llangennech on 3rd December,1968, only 27 days before becoming a centenarian. Her brother, Philip Roberts, was Ryan's grandfather.
Catrin was one of 23 children (of two marriages). Her father, Rhys Roberts, was born in Pont Lassau, Llangyfelach, whilst his father, Catrin's granfather, was from Cefnblewyn, which was in the proximity of Soar Chapel in Llandyfan, Carmarthenshire. After moving to Craig-Cefn-Park, Cwm Tawe, the family eventually moved to Cwmamman in the mid 1870's.
Catrin is buried at Bethesda Cemetery on Grenig Road, Glanamman, with her husband who passed away twenty years before her.
Possibly the oldest Man to have lived in Cwmamman is buried at Christchurch in Garnant. An interview with 101 year old William Rees appeared in "The South Wales Press" on 28th May, 1896. At this time, he was living with his daughter, Mrs Bowen, who kept the Lamb and Flag Public House in Garnant.
William Rees was the eldest of 14 children; one of 10 sons and 4 daughters from the parish of Myddfai. He stated that although most of his siblings had passed away, one of his sisters, who lived at Cynghordy near Llandovery, was 91 years old and that a brother, aged 74, still kept the "Castle Hotel" at Newport. William stated that he was from an agricultural background and that he had started work at the age of 9.
To become a centenarian is an achievement even in Britain in 2008, but William Rees was also remarkable in the fact that at the age of 101, in 1896, he led a full and active life, rising early and having all of his faculties as well as being neither deaf nor blind. He was an amateur butcher, carrying out most of the Pig slaughtering in the district, even at his remarkable age. William Rees had never been a smoker nor chewed tobacco and had always been a very moderate drinker, despite having kept "The Griffin" public house in Gwynfe for 69 years. His piety was made evident when he was asked to what he attributed his longevity. He was reported as having pointed upwards and answered, "To God".
William Rees died on March 22, 1898 aged 103 years and approximately 3 months old.
Griffin House, Gwynfe - Once the Griffin Public House.
Although Cwmamman has had several centenarians, probably the oldest person to have lived in the villages of Garnant or Glanamman was Jane Lewis of Glyndreinog Farm, which is near to Old Bethel Chapel. Jane Lewis died on 16th August, 1961, aged 104 years and 5 months. The 17th August, 1961 edition of the "South Wales Guardian", reported that she was the oldest person in Wales.
Jane Lewis was born at Penlanfach in Gwynfe but her family moved to Penlan Farm on the Baran Mountain when she was aged 4. She initially attended school at Craig-Cefn-Park but later attended school at Betws, Ammanford. During the school week, Jane would stay at her aunt's house at Betws and would walk the four miles home for the weekend. She moved to Glyndreinog Farm, Garnant after her marriage and resided there for the rest of her life.
Up to the age of about 99, She was able to do all the housework as well as attending to the poultry and carrying out minor tasks around her small holding. Jane Lewis was a pious lady who was a member of Bethania Chapel in Glanamman and read her bible daily.
Jane Lewis' headstone is at Tabernacle Methodist Chapel in Glanamman and also bears the names of other members of her family, as well as that of her husband, William Lewis. He died at the relatively young age of 44, in November 1896, which meant that Jane Lewis was a widow for nearly 65 years. William Lewis was working at Garnant Colliery at the time of the colliery disaster on 16th January, 1884.
Thanks to Mike Lewis for the photograph. Thanks go to both Mike Lewis and Huw Walters for the information about Catrin Hughes. Thanks also to Glenys Morgan for allowing me to display a photograph of Griffin House. The information on William Rees was taken from an article in "The South Wales Press", extracted by Huw Walters for the Amman Valley Historical Society. Information on Jane Lewis was taken from an article in the "South Wales Guardian".