Llantrisant has produced some immortal characters during its many hundreds of years as a thriving town.

Many would consider some of their behaviour eccentric at best, for there’s no doubt that characters of Llantrisant have a certain quirky edge to their persona.

They are much loved, fondly remembered and all play a role in rich tapestry of the social history of the town.

As the years pass Llantrisant still doesn’t fail to continually produce them, those incredibly characters whose comic or even outlandish behaviour and quirks endear them to others.

To know Llantirsant is to know its people. 


 

Leo Ward 
1923-1982

Born in Sunnybank, Leo was serving in the Royal Artillery during World War II when he was captured by the Japanese while fighting in the Far East. 

For the next four years he survived the horrors of a prisoner of war camp in Sumatra along with gruelling work on the Burma Railway and the bridge over the Kwai river. Months went by before his parents were informed that the teenager had been taken captive, and not been killed as originally believed. 

He later worked as a conductor on Rhondda Transport although ill health, due to the war years, plagued him for the rest of his life. He married Margaret Hughes of Treherbert and the couple settled in Dan Caerlan where they raised a son, Terrence.

Mary Morgan
1924-2015

Born in 1924 at Bull Ring Farm to William (“Billy Siams”) and Anne Jayne, Mary worked for the Inland Revenue at Pontypridd and while supporting the town’s rugby team, met and married one of the players, Tom Williams, in 1950.

Tom from Ynysybwl, was a former Wales International Rugby Schoolboy rugby international, before joining the navy during the Second World War. On his return he worked in the legal department of Glamorgan County Council. 

The couple settled in Talbot Green where Mary was later made the Lady Captain of Llantrisant & Pontyclun Golf Club.

William Eason 
1919-2004

Born in Tynant in 1919 he was one of four children of William and Elizabeth Eason. His father, who originated from Somerset, was one of the first to sink the Cwm Colliery in Beddau. 

In 1923 the family moved to Heol Las and following school Bill became a collier at the Ynysmaerdy Colliery. Renowned for its dreadful working conditions, he decided to become a volunteer in the Royal Navy, serving on board navy destroyers HMS Centurion and HMS Bullfinch during the Second World War. 

Less than a year after leaving the colliery some workmates were killed in an explosion which led to the closure of the pit. After the war Bill played for Llantrisant RFC and in 1947 he married Gladys Allan (1917-1998) from Tonypandy. 

The couple moved to Ruperra Street and Heol Las before settling in Dancaerlan in 1950. They had two sons called Kelvin, born in 1949 and Bryan, born in 1953. 

Jack Morris
1899-1959

John Morris grew up next to the butcher's shop which was directly opposite the Cross Keys public house on High Street.

The building was divided into three with the May family in the first home and Jack (John) Morris and his mother, Catherine Ginny Morris in the second one.

Jack's story was a tragic one in the modern history of Llantrisant. He was a much loved member of the community who worked as a night watchman in a warehouse on Newport Road, Cardiff.

When two armed robbers broke into the building on 28 April 1959 Jack attempted to stop them. Sadly he was attacked and died of his injuries. The funeral of Jack Morris at Llantrisant parish church was one of the largest in the history of the town.

Sadie Williams 
1911-1985

Sadie was the only daughter of George and Alice Williams. The couple also had six sons named George, Harold, Charlie, Len, John and Edward ("Pongo") and the family settled in Ruperra Street. 

The family was well-known for their singing prowess and on occasions clog dancing on the Bull Ring.  Sadie married childhood sweetheart Richard Owen Williams who worked at Hensol Hospital and later Cwm Colliery. He was better known as "Dicky North" because his parents came from North Wales. The couple had three children named Edwyn, Raymond and Merle and raised a niece called Myra. 

Sadie worked for the local railway during the Second World War before becoming a domestic in East Glamorgan Hospital.  One of life’s great characters, she was involved in so many aspects of the community. Whether organising weekend trips to Blackpool or singing every Sunday evening in the Cross Keys, she was loved by everyone in the town.

David John Griffiths 
1911- 2002

David Griffiths was a well-known stonemason who lived his entire life in Llantrisant.

He was born in 1911, one of 11 children of Isaiah and Jenny Griffiths of the fish and chip shop on Newbridge Road and, like five of his brothers, served in the armed forces, in his case the Royal Artillery. 

He became a Freeman in May 1934 and was known locally as “Dai Fat”.

David was a gifted stonemason who worked on the renovation of the Billy Wynt in the 1960s. His last major undertaking was building the large wall to the rear of The Cross Keys public house.

Ena Evans
1935-2014

Born in Newbridge Road in 1935, Ena was one of six children of Gwen (from the Francis family) and Evan Rees. 

The family moved to Dancaerlan in February 1948. Ena later worked in the Planet Glove Making factory on the Bull Ring and spent twenty two years as an assistant nurse at Hensol Hospital. 

In 1962 she married Elfed Evans, better known as "Tex", because his father's name was Tecwyn. The couple had four children.

Gwyneth Morgan 
1914-1999

As the first child of farmer William Morgan of Bull Ring Farm, she was better known as Gwyneth “Siams”. 

A local celebrity due to her beautiful singing voice, she was often heard throughout the town while milking the cows during the early mornings. After receiving some formal vocal training, she became a much-sought after soloist, accompanied by pianist Lottie Williams. 

During World War II they often performed for the injured troops being treated at Miskin Manor. Gwyneth later married Edward Cornelius and continued singing in public well into her later years. Her younger sister was Mary Morgan (later Williams).

Marlene Williams 
1938-2015

Born on Yr Allt in 1938, Marlene’s parents were Edith and Charlie "Rockman" Williams. She attended the local school before working in the Planets Glove Making Factory. She trained as a seamstress at Alexon House in Treforest and worked in the Sherman's Pools Office in St Mary's Street in Cardiff. 

At the age of 18 Marlene she moved to London to live with an aunt and worked in a dye factory alongside Bill Owen, who later found fame in Last of the Summer Wine. 

She returned to Llantrisant and married train driver Reg and the couple had three children named Cheryl, Tracey and Gareth, (Jay). Her grandson, Bradley Davies, became a Welsh International Rugby Player.

William Wild
1858-1934

Four times a year, travellers would visit Llantrisant Fair and it was his job as drover to take the tethered horses to Commercial Street and trot them along the road to examine their level of fitness. 

He also worked as a farmhand, digging ditches and cutting hedges in return for a hearty meal. 

A well-known character of the town who lived on Heol Las, he was certainly no stranger to the local public houses. He was buried in Llantrisant churchyard on 11 December 1934, aged 76. 

Gordon Miles 
1934-2002

Born in Talbot Green, the son of Ethel and John Miles, he studied at Cowbridge Grammar School and owned Cowbridge Travel Agents. 

A devoted chorister at Llantrisant Parish Church, which he joined at the age of seven, he was a Sunday school superintendent from 1952 to 1964 and licensed by the Bishop of Llandaff to administer the sacrament in 1964. He met his future wife, Yvonne in Sunday school. 

He became a member of the Parochial Church Council and later a Justice of the Peace.  Gordon was the choirmaster of the church and a dedicated life member of Llantrisant Male Voice Choir, serving as treasurer for 26 years. 

Gordon worked for the British Red Cross for more than 20 years and was the director for Mid Glamorgan. He was awarded the Red Cross Badge of Honour and Life Membership. 

His list of other local organisations included the Parish Council, Town Trust, Community Health Council and the Association of Voluntary Organisations.

Tudor John
1908-2001

Born in the Pwysty, George Street, he was the son of stonemason William (1874-1956) and Amy John and was brought up in Castle House, Church Street. 

Educated at Pontypridd Grammar School he studied chemistry at the University of Wales, Cardiff and graduated with an M.Sc. before joining the navy. 

A severe illness brought the young sailor home and eventually he joined his father as a stonemason, becoming responsible for building many of the modern properties along Church Street. 

An elected member of Llantrisant & District Rural Council he remained firmly based in the town where he raised his five children. He served on Taff Ely Borough Council as a local representative and later Mid Glamorgan County Council.

He also represented the Cambrian Archaeological Society on Llantrisant Town Trust.

Enid Lewis
1915-2002

Born in 1915 to William Griffiths (1887-1972) and Elizabeth Ann Griffiths (1891-1985), her sister was Betty (Green). 

Miss Griffiths received piano tuition from Danny Francis of Pontyclun and achieved both the Associate of London College of Music and the Licentiate of the London College of Music. 

She was married in 1948 to Eric Lewis and the couple settled in High Street. For more than 60 years she taught piano lessons to local children and was organist at Llantrisant Parish Church for 50 dedicated years. In 2000, she received the MBE for her services to the community.

Hopkin Hopkins

llantrisant

 

Hopkin Hopkins of Llantrisant was allegedly the world’s smallest man.

The second son of dwarf Lewis Hopkins, he was baptized on 29 January 1736 and spent most of his life exhibited in carnivals throughout the country.

Lewis Hopkin exerted the greatest influence on the literary life of Glamorgan in that period. He was also the bardic teacher of Edward Evan and Iolo Morganwg admits that Hopkin taught him.

He was a well-read and cultured man; it is claimed that he was well-acquainted with English literature of the 18th cent.; he had Latin and French books in his library. He was buried at Llandyfodwg Church; Iolo Morganwg published an elegy to him in 1772 under the title of Dagrau yr Awen.

Originally from Caercyrlais near Tonyrefail, his son Hopkin Hopkins suffered from Progeria, a childhood disorder characterised by dwarfism and premature senility.

His physical appearance became a source of income for his family. It may seem repugnant to us today, but at the age of 14 he was taken to London by his parents and shown publically for money. Billed as “the wonderful and surprising Little Welchman”, his perceived ‘freakishness’ was a source of entertainment in polite society.

He visited London in 1751, staying for the winter season, and visiting the nobility and gentry. He was introduced to Princess Dowager of Wales and the Prince of Wales who gave him a gold watch, an annual pension and ten guineas for each appearance he made at Court.

In the same year, he was also ‘on display’ in Bristol. This vivid account of the visit is taken from a letter sent by John Browning in September 1751:

"I am just returned from Bristol where I have seen an extraordinary young man, whose case is very surprising; he is shewn publicly for money, and therefore I send you the printed bill, which is given about to bring company… I went myself to view and examine this extraordinary, and surprising but melancholy subject; a lad entering the 15th year of his age, whose stature is no more than 2 feet and 7 inches, and weight 13 pound, labouring under all the miserable and calamities of old age, being weak and emaciated, his eyes dim, his hearing very bad, his countenance fallen, his voice very low and hollow; his head hanging down before, so that his chin touches his breast, consequently his shoulders are raised and his back rounded not unlike a hump-back, he is weak that he cannot stand without support." (Letter from John Browning to Henry Baker, 12 September 1751. Quoted in Sem Phillips, The History of the Borough of Llantrisant, 1866.)

He was exhibited in London and Gentleman's Magazine ran an account of him in 1754. At the time of his death later that year he weighed just 13lbs and was 2ft 7ins tall.