The project first began in summer 2013 when a group of people began meeting on a Saturday afternoon to gather evidence and share stories. This resulted in a file of papers and photographs relating to the estate and the Threepenny Bit Community Centre.
One of our community researchers, Val Sinderby kindly went through this information and put together a timeline of the Threepenny Bit for us. We also gathered information from local newspaper articles, books and magazines to put together a picture of what life has been like on the Byways estate over the past 50 years.
Val Sinderby and Richard Davies
Cwmbran New Town
Cwmbran was the only town in Wales to be included in the Government’s New Towns programme. In the space of a few years Cwmbran went from being a small village to a bustling town. A number of large housing estates were built in the late 50s early 60s to house the influx of newcomers who came from all over the United Kingdom to live and work in the New Town. Many large companies such as Girlings and ICI had been attracted to Cwmbran and lots of jobs were on offer.
Local people sorting through photographs
The Byways Estate was built in the early 1960s complete with its own shop and purpose built Community Centre, The Threepenny Bit. The properties were built in a style typical of 1960s urban housing estates, square buildings with flat roofs. It became nicknamed ‘Little Jerusalem’ for this reason. The houses went up very quickly to satisfy the demand for low cost family accommodation.
An early picture of Byways – ‘Little Jerusalem’
The community centre on the estate was named the Threepenny Bit because its shape resembled the old pre-decimal coin – a fact which is somewhat lost on today’s generation who don’t remember the old coin! The centre quickly became a vital hub for the community and hosted such things as a playgroup, keep fit class, Saturday morning film shows and youth club. It was also a favourite venue for birthday parties and wedding receptions. The hall was originally run by a management committee, the chairwoman being Gwyneth Jenkins. Gwyneth dedicated many hours to running activities at the hall for the local community and you can read more about her in the ‘Stories from the Community’ Section.
This project has brought together many members of the community who have enjoyed meeting up and sharing memories. Many people have moved on over the years and the estate has a high turnover of tenants but the general feeling is that it was a great place to grow up and the community spirit was strong. We interviewed people who have lived on the estate and recorded their stories. We would like to thank everyone who has participated and given us their photographs.
Special thanks go to Richard Davies, Val Sinderby and Beverley Huish for their work on this project.