St Luke’s Church Flower Festival was held in 2009 with the theme ‘Visions & Reflections’. The theme gave us the opportunity to explore the vision of the church since 1889 and to reflect over those years as both church and community have grown together.
1. Porch – Saint Luke the Evangelist
St Luke, to whom the church is dedicated, is the writer of the Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles, and is referred to by St. Paul as “Luke, the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but it is believed that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Luke’s inspiration and information for his Gospel and Acts came from his close association with Paul whom he journeyed with to Troas at about the year 51. The stained glass window above the main entrance into St Luke’s depicts this journey. Tradition has it that Luke was also a painter. Several images of Mary appeared in later centuries claiming him as the painter, and because of this tradition, Luke is considered a patron of painters of pictures and is often portrayed as painting pictures of Mary. He is also the patron of physicians and surgeons.
2. The Font – Reborn by water and the Holy Spirit
With the sacrament of Baptism, hundreds of local children and adults have started their Christian journey at this font during the last 120 years. By water and the Holy Spirit we are reborn the children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. All who are baptized into Christ are members of the Church, the Body of Christ, where we grow in grace and daily increase in faith, love and obedience to the will of God. St Luke’s is also one of only a few Swansea churches to have a baptistery. The Christening robes on display were provided by Janice and David Salter whose children Leigh and Gail were baptized here in these robes some 40 years ago.
3. Welsh Dragon – Steel Company of Wales
For many years the Welsh Dragon has been the logo representing the Steel Company of Wales. The Steel Company of Wales was a United Kingdom steel and tinplate producer. It was formed in 1947 and absorbed into British Steel in 1967. The business now forms part of Corus, a subsidiary of Tata Steel. The company led the restructuring of the steel and tinplate industries around Swansea and Llanelli, building the Abbey Steelworks at Margam and new tinplate works at Trostre and Velindre. Trostre came into production in 1951 and Velindre in 1956. The Steel Company of Wales employed many people from the Cwmbwrla and the surrounding area. Their offices were where the Friends of the Young Disabled Centre are now on Carmarthen Road. The metal sculpture on display is by David Griffiths.
4 The Blacksmith
In the 1930’s and 40’s, Cwmbwrla boasted its own blacksmith. Bill Davies lived at the bottom end of Caebricks Road, roughly between the Clinic and the Chemist sites of today. He was a burly man with big arms, always in a flat cap when working at his forge. The forge was situated to the right of Gorse Mission in Gors Road or Heol y Gors. Children would spend many hours watching his hammering, heating and shoeing horses, totally oblivious of the acrid smell of scorching hooves. He had a thriving business as in those days we had the brewers drays, coal merchants carts pulled by Shires, and a variety of working horses for the milkman, greengrocer, oil man etc. Bill Davies took care of all of these.
5. John Charles – The Gentle Giant / King John
One of Wales’ greatest sons was born here in Cwmbwrla during late 1931. William John Charles CBE, would play football as a child, with younger brother Mel, who also went on to become a professional, later playing alongside each other for the Welsh national team. While playing for Gendros Youth Club, he was scouted by Leeds United and given a trial in September 1948. He impressed and duly signed for them at the age of 17, relocating to Yorkshire. John made his league debut against Blackburn Rovers in April 1949, and went on to score 150 league goals in eight years for Leeds, including 42 goals in the 1953-54 season. During his National Service between 1950 and 1952 John played for the Army. In 1957 he joined the Italian club Juventus for a then British record £65,000 transfer fee. In his five years at Juventus he scored 93 goals in 155 matches, winning the Scudetto (Italian League Championship) three times, and the Italian Cup twice. Following his time at Juventus, he returned to Leeds United, but after five years in Italy he found it difficult to adjust to life back in England. He returned to Italy to play for A.S. Roma, initially with success. However, he began to suffer from injuries and left A.S. Roma to join Cardiff City where he was to finish his league career. He was never cautioned or sent off during his entire career, due to his philosophy of never kicking or intentionally hurting opposing players. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, he was nicknamed Il Gigante Buono – The Gentle Giant. In the foreword for Charles’ autobiography ‘King John’, Sir Bobby Robson described him as “incomparable” and classed him among the all-time footballing greats such as Pelé, Diego Maradona and George Best. He also notes that Charles is the only footballing great to be world class in two very different positions. Jimmy Greaves once stated that “if I were picking my all-time great British team, or even a world eleven, John Charles would be in it”. John’s accomplishments with Juventus led to him being voted ‘the greatest foreign player ever in Serie A’, ahead of Maradona, Michel Platini, Marco Van Basten and Zinedine Zidane – this in 1997, 34 years after his last appearance in the league. Not bad for the boy from Cwmbwrla!
6. The Lady Chapel – Mothers’ Union
7. Chancel and Sanctuary – Praise and Worship
8. Pulpit – Celebration of Marriage
9. Rainbows, Brownies and Guides
10. The Doubler – Cwmfelin Tinplate Works
Bar iron / steel arrived at the tinworks in lengths of approximately 16 foot long and 9 inches wide. The bars varied between half an inch and an inch thick. They would be cut into smaller lengths – average size 20 inches. The Hot Mill was where the bar was rolled into thin sheets or plates. Between 30 or 40 bars at a time would be placed in the bar furnace and passed through the roughing rolls, squeezing the bars into sheets called “singles”, now about 30 inches long. They were then placed in the sheet furnace to be heated before rolling in the finishing rolls.
The Mill Team were:
Furnaceman: Heated the sheets.
Rollerman: The Team Captain who inserted the sheets into the rolls.
Behinder: Passed the sheets back to the Rollerman over the top roll.
Doubler: Doubled the sheets and placed them in the squeezer.
The single sheet would by now have become about 60 inches long before doubling. It was heated and folded by the doubler into 8 sheets in a pack. The metal sculpture on display is by David Griffiths.
11. The Tinplate Worker’s Kitchen
This relief by David Griffiths shows us a typical Tinplate Worker’s Kitchen in Victorian times. There would be no bathroom and no hot water so the tin bath was brought in from its hanging place on the outside wall of the cottage. Apparently, most kitchen roofs were galvanised iron and the steam condensed on the roof sand then dripped back icy cold on the bather in the bath! However, built-in fireplaces incorporating hob and over, pulley operated clothes-airers and ceiling-hooks, water closets that flushed, flagstone floors (instead of earthen), water on tap (instead from a pump, well or stream) and gas lighting (instead of candles or oil-lamps). It was new life in Tin Town. The saucepan was always on the fire – full of cawl.
12. Cwmbwrla Primary School
13. Poppy Window – Memorial to World Wars
14. Saying ‘thank you’ in a Songs of Praise service
Special thanks went to Mrs Ethne Phillips (pictured) who had been the inspiration behind the festival. Also to Mr David Griffiths for the loan of his fine steel sculptures; to Pat, Josie, Helen, Anne and Delyth for their expertise in flower arranging; to Audrey, Joanne, Maureen, Diane, Janice and Iris for their contribution; and to all church members and friends who helped to put the festival together.