Powell’s Tillery Institute Gymnastics Teams.
The Powell’s Tillery team was known as such but also reported as being the Tillery team, Powell’s Gymnastics team, the Tilleryites and also the Tilleryans. There was no right or wrong way to refer to the squad, it was just the preference of the individual reporters who wrote their stories. It may look confusing to see the various names of the same team on different reports but I have kept it as genuine as possible, as it was written at the time.
On Wednesday 11th of March 1903, the first gymnastics display took place at the Powell’s Tillery Institute by members of the Powell’s Tillery Collieries Gymnastic Class at the Gymnasium Hall. Dr Powell of Guildford the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Powell’s Tillery Company was on the platform supported by Mr and Mrs Stewart J.P. The gymnastics team were accompanied by the Tillery Band and the Abertillery Mozart Glee Society under the leadership of Mr Tom Stephens. The display was performed by the senior and junior teams, the seniors with a pyramids exercise and the juniors did an exhibition on the dumb-bells. The Gwent Choir sang “We will never bow down” a rendition of which they had previously won a medal for at London. Mr Powell said it had been a real pleasure to have witnessed their first display and that was the reason they had the institute built. He also stated he was the president of the Guildford team. He hoped that the team would go onto great success.
The Tillery team did actually go onto great achievement and many team and individual successes followed. Cwmtillery formed a team and practiced at the Colliers Hall, Cwmtillery. At Abertillery, a ladies team was formed in about 1911 and took part in many competitions throughout the years, they also won a few major competitions. Following is a brief timeline of the individual team’s formations, members and their many achievements.
In April 1904 the gymnastics team consisted of the following members – Mr G. Wheeler; Mr T. Hill; Mr H. Gill; Mr W. Conley; Mr W. Cowhig; Mr A. Hawkins; Mr H. Bird; Mr W. Moore; Mr W. Baker; Mr L. Parsons; Mr C. Jones; Mr J. Mayled; Mr C. Dean; Mr H. Thomas; Mr A. Bryant; Mr E. Watkins; Mr W. Talbot; Mr S. Jones; Mr G. Mead; Mr A. Williams; Mr O. Curley; Mr H. Carter; Mr A. Coles; Mr G. Howells; Mr A. Britton; Mr E. Gill; Mr H. Gill; Mr J. Court; Mr G. Jones and Mr J. Rich: they were under the supervision of the instructor Mr C. W. Spalding with Mr G. Hoskins the accompanist on the piano.
The Powell’s Tillery Gymnastics Team – First Competition.
On Saturday 3rd of December 1904, the Powell’s Tillery Institute team took part in their first ever competition when they entertained the St Marks team from Newport. The team consisted of – Mr H. Gill; Mr W. Conley; Mr E. Watkins; Mr G. Wheeler; Mr W. Moore; Mr G. Howells; Mr W. Chapman (Captain); Mr H. Bird (Vice Captain): The disciplines were as follows – Indian Club Swinging, Rope Climbing, Horizontal Bars and High-Jump. Abertillery won 185 and a quarter points to Newport’s 170 and three quarter points…. Mr Bird of Abertillery had the highest jump recorded at 4′ foot 10 inches.
On Saturday 10th of March 1906, the final of the Welsh Amateur Gymnastics Shield took place at the Powell’s Tillery Institute. The Tilleryites, reported as being a comparatively young side and in only their second year in competitions took on the shield holders St Saviours of Cardiff. The Tillery team members were as follows – Mr W. Talbot; Mr T. Hill; Mr E. L. Watkins; Mr W. Moore; Mr G. Mead; Mr G. Howells; Mr H. Gill (Captain) and Mr W. Cowhig (Vice Captain): The disciplines were as follows – Indian Club Swinging, Rope Climbing, Horizontal Bars and High-Jump. The Powells Tillery Institute gymnastics team won 412 points to 402 and a half. The teams were given tea before the contest and after at Messrs Buckley’s Temperance Hotel, Oak Street, Abertillery. The Cardiffians were escorted to the train station for their journey home by a group of over 80 supporters. It was later reported that it was hoped the Tilleryites could enter into the Adams Shield next year, the winners of this competition were deemed to be the champions of Great Britain.
On Saturday 24th of March 1906, Mr G. Howells; Mr G. Mead and Mr William Cowhig, three members of the Tillery team that recently won the Welsh Championship, took part in a trial tournament at Newport on Saturday which took the form of an individual championship competition. Messrs Howells and Mead’s scores secured places in the Welsh team to meet Ireland at Dublin on April 14th in an international competition while Mr William Cowhig’s performance got him a place in the reserves.
Colliers Hall, Cwmtillery.
On Monday 15th of October 1906, a gymnasium was opened at Cwmtillery at the Colliers Hall. The need for such a building for the Cwmtillery area had been discussed and the Colliers Hall had been considered. Alterations were done for the installation of the apparatus for a gymnasium, the building was completely renovated and a new floor put down. There were also two dressing rooms provided. To celebrate the opening of the Cwmtillery Colliers Hall Gymnasium the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastics team gave a display and a capital programme was arranged. The senior Abertillery team that attended were Mr H. Gill (Captain); Mr W. Cowhig (Vice Captain); Mr W. Moore; Mr W. Talbot; Mr W. Conley; Mr A. Hawkins; Mr H. Bryant; Mr P. Howells; Mr D. Corbett; Mr H. Palmer and Mr E. Corburn: The juniors who appeared were – Masters C. Evans; J. Williams; P. Winmill; J. Llewellyn; A. Davies; E. Auckland; M. Yeates; A. Davies and F. Hudd.
The chairman was Mr George Purnell J.P. Councillor Mr William Barrow Harrison J.P. was also present at the official opening.
On Saturday 3rd of November 1906, the Tillery Institute team visited Abercarn where they performed a gymnastics display in the Abercarn Public Hall. The performers were as follows – Senior team Mr H. Gill (Captain); Mr W. Cowhig (Vice Captain); Mr W. Moore; Mr W. Talbot; Mr G. Howells; Mr G. Watkins; Mr G. Mead; Mr G. Wheeler; Mr W. Baker; Mr W. Conley; Mr A. Chaplin Mr A. Hawkins; Mr H. Bryant; Mr J. Palmer; Mr P. Howells and Mr D. Corbett: Juniors Masters P. G. Winmill; E. Auckland; J. Williams; W. Llewellyn; A. Davies; S. Davies; F. Hudd and C. Evans; they were under the supervision of the instructor Mr C. W. Spalding with Miss Gladys Harpur and Mr G. Hoskins the accompanists on the piano.
On Saturday 2nd of February 1907, a competition was held at the Newport Athletic Club between the teams of the Athletic Club of Newport, St Saviours of Cardiff and the Powell’s Tillery, Abertillery for the purpose of deciding which team would represent Wales against Scotland at Leith in the semi-final of the Adams Shield. The disciplines were – Horizontal and Parallel Bars, Dumb-Bells, Rope Climbing and the High-Jump. The Tillery team members were as follows – Mr W. Talbot; Mr E. L. Watkins; Mr W. Moore; Mr A. Hawkins; Mr G. Howells; and Mr G. Mead: The Powell’s Tillery team won with 110 points. Newport came second with 105 points and Cardiff third with 97 points.
On Monday 25th of February 1907, the Powell’s Tillery Institute hosted the Athletic Club of Newport in the semi-final of the Welsh Amateur Championships. Three weeks later the Tilleryites lost in Scotland, they put in a poor first performance though came back strongly to beat Newport 511 and a half points to Newport’s 506 points. The Tillery team members were as follows – Mr W. Talbot; Mr A. E. Hawkins; Mr E. L. Watkins; Mr W. Moore; Mr G. Mead; Mr G. Howells; Mr H. Gill (Captain) and Mr W. Cowhig (Vice Captain):
On Saturday 2nd March 1907 the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastics team travelled to Scotland to represent Wales against Scotland in the semi-final of the Adams Shield. The Tilleryites were captained by Mr William Cowhig, instructed by Mr Spalding and accompanied on the piano by Mr G. Hoskins. The team left Abertillery on the Thursday and the competition was held on the Saturday. The Tillery team fell short and the Scottish champions won by 374 and a half points to 305 and a half points.
The Welsh Amateur Gymnastics Shield.
On Saturday 6th of April 1907, the final of the Welsh Amateur Gymnastics Shield, the 50 guinea challenge shield and medals, contested between Cardiff and Powell’s Tillery Institute took place at the University Settlement Hall, Cardiff. The Tilleryites were the holders having won the contest last year. The Tillery team members were as follows – Mr W. Talbot; Mr A. Hawkins; Mr E. L. Watkins; Mr W. Moore; Mr G. Mead; Mr G. Howells; Mr H. Gill (Captain) and Mr W. Cowhig (Vice Captain): The disciplines were as follows – Squad Drill, Rope Climbing, Dumb-Bell Drill, Horizontal and Parallel Bars and High-Jump. The Powell’s Tillery team won 519 points to 511 and a half. The Lord Mayor of Cardiff Mr W. S. Crossman presided over the competition.
The news report stated that the home team, Cardiff, were well supported and cheered at every event, Abertillery having no-one to support them gained strength and ignored the crowd to outclass their rivals. The reporter also intimated that the Abertillery team did much better than the score card showed, he said the referee (from Newport) seemed to favour the Cardiff team whilst awarding the points. It was also stated at this competition that in the event of Dumb-Bell Drill, Abertillery had no rival in the country!
On Friday 12th of April 1907, a gymnastics competition for medals valued at £3. 10s. 0d. was held at the Colliers Hall, Cwmtillery. The senior competitors listed in the place they finished – Mr Thomas Atkins (1st); Mr Lloyd Evans (2nd); Mr Sidney Higgins (3rd); Mr F. Hurley (4th); Mr A. Edwards (5th) and Mr W. Hopkins (6th); Juniors in order, Masters A. Howells (1st); B. Cecil (2nd) and A. Purnell (3rd): Instructor Mr H. Gill.
International Gymnastics Team Championships.
On Saturday 20th of April 1907, the International Gymnastics Team Championships were held at the Athletic Institute, Birmingham. England won for the second successive year with 307 and one sixth points, Scotland second with 280 and one sixth points and Wales third with 280 and one third points. The Powell’s Tillery Institute Gymnastics team had the honour to have 3 men in the Welsh team – Mr G. G. Howells; Mr G. Mead and Mr W. Cowhig: It was reported that the fact that the local Tillery team had three men in the Welsh squad speaks volumes for the young team and their instructor Mr C. W. Spalding.
The Adams Shield.
On Saturday 1st of February 1908, the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastic team travelled to Cardiff to contest the Adams Shield and the winners will again represent Wales against Ireland for the International Shield. The Tillery team members were as follows – Mr A. Hawkins; Mr E. L. Watkins; Mr W. Moore; Mr G. Mead; Mr G. Howells and Mr W. Cowhig: The disciplines had changed and were as follows – Pommel Horse, Flying Rings, Horizontal and Parallel Bars, Rope Climbing and High-Jump, the latter two being optional. The Powell’s Tillery team won 446 and a half points to 445 and a half.
On Monday 17th of February 1908, a Gymnastics Competition was held at Cwmtillery between Cwmtillery Colliers Hall and St Mary’s Gymnastic Club, Victoria. Mr C. W. Spalding (Judge); Mr W. Cowhig (Timekeeper) and Mr G. Purnell (Chairman): The Cwmtillery team consisted of the following – Mr W. Atkins; Mr H. Dixon; Mr R. Sheen; Mr J. Jones; Mr L. Evans; Mr A. Edwards; Mr S. Higgins; Mr T. Atkins (Captain): Cwmtillery won 683 points to Victoria’s 604 points.
The Welsh Juvenile Gymnastics Championships.
On Monday 2nd of March 1908, Powell’s Tillery youngsters met the Colliers Hall Cwmtillery boys in the Welsh Juvenile Gymnastics Championships held at the Abertillery Institute. The teams in this contest had to be under 13 years of age and they met in the first round of the competition. The teams were as follows – Cwmtillery – Masters B. Hammond; F. Urch; B. Smith; W. Davies; W. Howells; D. Meredith; A. Howells and C. Richards: Powell’s Tillery – Masters J. Hale; E Ackland; A. Davies; W. Conley; F. Hudd; W. Powell; P. Winmill and T. Brickell: Powell’s Tillery team won 343 and a half points to Cwmtillery’s 338 and a half points. The following week the Cwmtillery boys beat Ebbw Vale in the second round 363 points to Ebbw Vale’s 335 points.
The Olympic Games – London 1908.
On Friday 24th of July 1908, it was announced that the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastics team were honoured by the inclusion of three of its athletes into the Olympic Games contest at London. The gentlemen were Mr Edgar Watkins; Mr William Cowhig; and Mr A. Hawkins, Mr G. Mead also took part and all four were included in the list of stewards for the Olympic Games contest.
Welsh Juvenile Gymnastics Championships.
On Wednesday 3rd of March 1909, the Colliers Hall, Cwmtillery Juniors hosted the Powell’s Tillery Juniors in the first round of the Welsh Juvenile Gymnastics Championships. The team members were as follows – Cwmtillery, Masters B. Davies; R. Rogers; F. Mock; B. Hammond; W. Davies; B. Smith; W. Howells and C. Richards: Abertillery, Masters J. Morris; A. Morgan; A. Davies; G. Turner; J. Horler; A. Carter; B. Meredith and T. Brittle: The Powell’s Tillery Team won 318 points to Cwmtillery’s 314 points.
The Adams Shield Competition.
On Saturday 6th March 1909 Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastic team hosted the St Saviours team of Cardiff in the Adams Shield Competition. At this years contest the number of competitors in each team was raised from six members to eight. Abertillery introduced new gymnasts, being Mr Pryce Howells; Mr Sam Horler and Harry Bryant: The team members were as follows – Mr H. Bryant; Mr P. Howells; Mr G. Howells; Mr S. Horler; Mr G. Mead; Mr E. L. Watkins; Mr W. Cowhig and Mr A. Hawkins (Captain); Powell’s Tillery won 520 points to Cardiff’s 516 and a half points.
The 50 Guinea Welsh Championship Shield.
On Saturday 17th of April 1909, the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastic team once again met St Saviours Club Cardiff, at Cardiff, this time in the final of the 50 Guinea Welsh Championship Shield. The two clubs had met in March in the Adams Shield when Abertillery won the contest, though this time Cardiff were the victors winning by just 3 points. Scores were Cardiff 487 points to Abertillery’s 484 points. After the competition the Welsh Gymnastics Committee selected the Welsh team for the forthcoming International against England and Scotland which will take place at the Powell’s Institute Gymnasium, Abertillery a week Saturday. Mr William Cowhig was chosen from the Powell’s Tillery team.
The Welsh Juniors Championships at Cwmtillery.
On Wednesday 28th of April 1909, at the Colliers Hall, the Cwmtillery junior team took on St Saviours Club, Cardiff in the final of the Welsh Juniors Championships. The disciplines were Horizontal Bar, Bar Bells, Rings, Rope Climb and High Jump. The Cwmtillery team members were as follows – Masters, A. Howells; W. Atkins; L. Evans; A. Edwards; R. Sheen; H. Dixon; J. Jones and T. Atkins: The Colliers Hall Juniors won 350 points to Cardiff’s 318 and a half points. On May 1st, 1909, a special display was held at the Powell’s Tillery Gymnasium Hall.
The Mr P. K. Stothert Bowl.
On Wednesday 26th of May 1909, a gymnastics event took place at the Powell’s Tillery Institute Gymnasium. It was for the Abertillery individual contest for the Mr P. K. Stothert Bowl and many gold medals were to be issued. Mr Stothert was the landowner of the Powell’s Tillery Collieries. Messrs A. E. Hawkins (Captain); William Cowhig (Vice Captain) and G. Mead in order of achievements on the day won the senior gold medals. Mr G. Mead and Mr W. Cowhig contested the Stothert Bowl and Mr Cowhig being victorious. In the junior contest Masters P. Winmill; W. Edwards and A. Davies in order of achievements won the competition. Records were broken in both juniors and seniors contest with Junior Master A. Davies clearing the High-Jump at 4′ feet 5″ inches, which was very commendable considering he was only 14 years of age and Senior Mr G. Mead climbing to a height of 16 and a half yards.
The International Gymnastics Tournament – Abertillery.
On Saturday 1st of May 1909, for the first time in history, the International Gymnastics Tournament was held at Powell’s Tillery Gymnasium, Abertillery. The contest was between England, Scotland and Wales. Mr C. V. Sederman (Wales) cleared the highest jump of the contest by clearing 5′ feet 2″ inches. The highest rope climb was by Mr W. Fergus (Scotland) at 18 yards. England won the competition easily with a score of 282 points, Scotland second with 253 and one sixth points, Wales third with 214 points.
The Welsh Juvenile Competition.
On Saturday 25th of March 1911, the Colliers Hall Cwmtillery Juniors hosted Penarth Juvenile Club for the Welsh Juvenile Competition. The Cwmtillery team members were as follows – Masters T. Rogers; E. Jarrett; A. Hammond; B. Hammond; B, Davies; W. Davies; C. Richards; W. Howells and T. Urch: The chairman was Mr B. T. Williams. The judges were Mr T. White and Mr J. R. Lloyd of Newport. The Colliers Hall boys won 434 points to Penarth’s 409 points.
The Welsh Individual Competition.
On Wednesday 29th of March 1911, a Welsh Individual Competition was held at Powell’s Tillery Gymnasium in connection with the Welsh Amateur Gymnastic, Boxing and Wrestling Association. Gymnasts came from Newport, Cardiff and Abertillery. At this contest Indian Club Swinging was featured along with Parallel Bars, Rope, High Jump, Rings, Pommel Horse and Horizontal Bars. Mr C. V. Sederman (Cardiff) and Mr C. W. Spalding (Abertillery) were the Judges. Mr William Cowhig (Abertillery) took the contest, Mr Pryce Howells (Abertillery) came second with Mr A. E. Hawkins (Abertillery) coming third. Mr H. Bryant (Abertillery) came fifth and secured a place in the Welsh International squad, his inclusion insured Abertillery had 4 gymnasts in the Welsh International Team.
On Saturday 1st of April 1911, the Colliers Hall, Cwmtillery Juniors hosted Barry Juniors Gymnastic Club, Glamorgan in the final of the Juvenile Competition. A few new members had joined – Masters A. Coombstock and A. Paul and they put in a good performance though Colliers Hall boys lost with 451 points to Barry’s 462 points.
The Ladies Gymnastics Team.
On Tuesday 11th of April 1911, the Powell’s Tillery Institute held a home championship and display with the Abertillery Individual Gymnastic Competition and the same 3 men winning the contest with Mr William Cowhig retaining the Stothert Bowl. It was at this competition that the ladies team performed in a sequence called the “Running Maze”. The juniors did a Pyramid and French Exercise display.
The Welsh Amateur Association Junior Championships.
On Saturday 2nd of March 1912, the Welsh Amateur Association Junior Championships took place at the Powell’s Tillery Institute. The Powell’s Tillery Juniors met Penarth Gymnastic Club Juniors. For the Tilleryites, A. Davies excelled in the High-Jump and cleared 5′ feet 4″ inches, E. Horler did well in the Rope Climb and A. Edwards gave an excellent show on the Parallel Bars. Powell’s Tillery Club won with 373 points to Penarth’s 365 points.
The Olympic Games – Stockholm, Sweden.
On Saturday 16th of March 1912, a National Competition was held at the German Gymnasium, London. The contest was to choose the gymnast and team to represent Great Britain in the Olympic Games to be held in Stockholm, Sweden. The Powell’s Tillery gymnast Mr William Cowhig came sixth and secured a place in the team, Mr Pryce Howells another member of the Tillery team came eleventh and just missed out on a place to travel to Stockholm.
On Friday 2nd of May 1912, the final of the Juvenile Gymnastics was held at the Powell’s Tillery Gymnastics Hall. Powell’s Tillery Institute met Colliers Hall, Cwmtillery. Mr C. W. Spalding was the instructor for the Tilleryites and Mr H. Gill was the instructor for the Cwmtillerians. The Abertillery boys won 342 points to 333 points.
The South Wales Juvenile Championships.
On Wednesday 15th of May 1912, the Colliers Hall, Cwmtillery Juniors hosted Barry, Glamorgan Club and Pontypridd Y.M.C.A. Club in the final of the South Wales Juvenile Championships. The judges were Mr P. Baker (Cardiff) and Mr C. W. Spalding (Abertillery). The Colliers Hall Boys were as follows – Masters, A. Phillips; B. Cullis; E. Jarrett; A. Hammond; B. Davies; B. Hammond; C. Richards and W. Howells: The Colliers Hall team won with 402 points, Barry came second with 362 and a quarter points and Pontypridd coming third on 326 points.
On Thursday 20th of March 1913, the Powell’s Tillery Gymnasium juniors hosted and entertained the Colliers Hall Juniors, Cwmtillery in the Welsh Junior Championships and Medals Competition. The Powell’s Tillery team were as follows – Masters L. Fry; Alban Davies; R. Powell; S. Hatton; D. Meredith; C. Evans; A. Conley and F. Davies: Colliers Hall, Masters A. Purnell; B. Davies; R. Squires; W. Davies; F. Bryant; W. Howells; A. Paul and C. Richards: The judges were Mr F. Jeans and Mr P. Baker of Cardiff. During this competition Master Alban Davies set a new Welsh jumping record, he started off with a height of 4′ feet 9″ inches and went on to jump 5′ feet 6″ inches, with roars of encouragement from the many friends and spectators he asked for the lath to be raised to 5′ feet 7″ inches, he set off on the run and cleared it by a clear 2″ inches setting a new Welsh Amateur Record. (This early type of high-jump method was achieved by running straight towards the lath, taking off from the frontwards run and landing back on your feet) a totally different technique from the method used by the athletes of today.
The Welsh Amateur Gymnastics 50 Guinea Shield.
On Saturday 29th of March 1913, the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnasts were home to Newport in the final of the Welsh Amateur Gymnastics 50 Guinea Shield. At this contest a new discipline, the “Vaulting Horse” was added. There was no additions to the Tillery team and the Tilleryites won yet again with 474 and a third points to Newport’s 420 and a half points.
The Ladies at the Welsh Amateur Gymnastic Association Final.
On Wednesday 7th of May 1913, the Powell’s Tillery Institute ladies gymnastic team travelled to the Y.M.C.A. Gymnasium Hall at Barry and challenged the Barry ladies team in the Welsh Amateur Gymnastic Association Final. The chairman was Mr Vivian Rees; Mr F. Jeans (Cardiff) and Mr H. Gill (Abertillery) were the judges. Mr C. W. Spalding was the instructor with Miss Olive Brown on the piano. The disciplines were Tableaux, Indian Club Swinging and Squad Drill. The Powell’s Tillery ladies team won 401 points to Barry’s 388 and a half points.
Mr and Mrs C. W. Spalding.
In October 1913 Mr and Mrs C. W. Spalding were congratulated upon their recent marriage by the members of the Abertillery Co-operative Society and they were the recipients of two chairs and a marble clock, Mr Spalding was also commended for his outstanding contribution to gymnastics in the area and his many successes while instructing the Powell’s Tillery team.
On Wednesday 29th of April 1914, the Powell’s Tillery Institute juniors team visited St Saviours Club, Cardiff in the final of the Welsh Junior Gymnastics Competition. A few new boys joined the club and the team members were as follows – Masters H. James; J. Hoskins; G. Weeks; J. Short; E. Lloyd; L. Lewis; G. Turner and T. Brickell: The Cardiff team won with 397 and a half points to Powell’s Tillery’s 346 and a half points.
The Welsh Amateur Gymnastics 50 Guinea Shield.
On Wednesday 6th of May 1914, the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastics team visited St Saviours Club, Cardiff in the final of the Welsh Amateur Gymnastics 50 Guinea Shield and were once again victorious winning with 525 points to Cardiff’s 492 points.
The War Years.
During the great war period 1914 – 1918 gymnastics practically came to a standstill and it took a while after to get back to the glory days prior to the conflict. I also believe the Powell’s Tillery ladies team disbanded during this time.
Mr William Cowhig.
In 1920 Mr William Cowhig (Abertillery) was chosen to represent Great Britain at the Antwerp Olympia 1920. At this time Mr Cowhig had moved to Cwmfelinfach and had joined their gymnastic squad.
On Tuesday 4th of May 1920, the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastics team met Cwmfelinfach in the final of the Welsh Amateur Gymnastics Association Shield held at Abertillery. Mr Henry Gill who had been previously in the Powell’s Tillery team in the early days had left to train the Colliers Hall Team though came back and captained the Tilleryites in this year taking over from Mr Cowhig. The Powell’s Tillery team beat Cwmfelinfach with 423 points to Cwmfelinfach’s 361 points.
The Abertillery gymnasts’ successful days seemed to be on the wane, there wasn’t a great deal of reporting on the teams in the early 1920’s. There was an article on the members of the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastics team entering into the Cricket League and there was a new list of team members. The new squad members were as follows – Mr J. Jones; Mr G. Pittaway; Mr W. Davies; Mr W. Harvey; Mr P. Jones; Mr G. Coles; Mr H. Jenkins; Mr J. Jones; Mr D. Page; Mr H. Thomas and Mr S. Cook:
The Powell’s Tillery ladies gymnastics team reformed at this time.
The Powell’s Tillery Ladies Gymnastics Team.
On Saturday 4th of March 1922, the Powell’s Tillery Institute ladies gymnastics team took part in their first contest since their reformation.
On Saturday 4th of March 1922, the Powell’s Tillery ladies team took on Swansea Y.M.C.A. at the Powell’s Tillery Institute, Abertillery. The disciplines in the ladies contest were – Free Exercises, Vaulting Horse, Front Vault (left), Front Vault (right), Front Leap kneel on – jump off. Single Wolf Vault (left), Single Wolf Vault (right), Upward Jump off Horse to ground, Pyramids (1 & 2) Voluntary Drill and Handkerchief Game. The Powell’s Tillery ladies team members were as follows – Miss H. Norris; Miss A. M. Bath; Miss M. M. Berryman? Miss D. M. Lamb; Miss G. M. Pollard; Miss G. M. Padfield; Miss S. A. Rogers and Miss E. M. Norris: Instructor Mr Harry Gill. The judges were Mr W. Cowhig (Cwmfelinfach) and Mr W. Waite (Tredegar). The Powell’s ladies team won with 363 points to Swansea’s 263 and a half points.
On Thursday 27th of April 1922, displays were given by the Powell’s Tillery Institute gymnastics teams of both sexes. The ladies team displaying their skills with the Indian Club Drill.
The Welsh Amateur Gymnastics – Ladies Winners.
On Wednesday 9th of May 1923, at the Powell’s Tillery Institute the ladies team competed against St Saviours Club, Cardiff for the Welsh Amateur Gymnastics Association. The disciplines in this contest were Calisthenic Rings, Vaulting Horse, Pyramids, Indian Clubs and Relay Race. The Powell’s Ladies team members were as follows – Miss E. M. Norris; Miss D. M. Lamb (Captain); Miss G. M. Padfield; Miss G. M. Pollard; Miss M. M. Berryman; Miss L. M. Berryman and Miss L. M. Rees: The instructor was Mr H. Gill and the accompanist Mr W. Hurling on the piano. Mr H. A. Oberholzer M.B.A.P.T. was the judge. The Powell’s Tillery Institute ladies won with 483 and a quarter points to Cardiff’s 479 and a quarter points.
In 1922 the gymnastics situation at Abertillery was as follows – The senior team was undefeated and cup and shield holders (as no other team had contested them). The junior team were Welsh Amateur Champions. Mr H. Gill was secretary to the Powell’s Tillery Institute and instructor of the senior teams. Mr Wyndham Edwards was the instructor of the junior team at this time.
In March 1928 the Powell’s Tillery Institute ladies team were in the semi-final of the Welsh Amateur Gymnastics Association held at Ebbw Vale. They were competing against the Ebbw Vale. The Powell’s Tillery ladies team members were as follows – Miss L. M. Berryman (Captain); Miss B. Price; Miss D. Curthoys; Miss E. Reed; Miss E. Powell; Miss F. L. Stephens; Miss L. M. Reed and Miss D. M. Seabourn: The Powell’s Tillery Ladies won and will meet the St Saviours Club Ladies in the final.
In the final held at the Powell’s Tillery Institute on Wednesday 2nd of May 1928, Abertillery lost to St Saviours 575 to 567 and a half.
The Powell’s Tillery Ladies – Welsh Champions.
In May 1929 the Powell’s Tillery Institute ladies became Welsh Champions. The Tillery ladies team competed against the Ebbw Vale Club in the first round of the competition and then against the Trafalgar Hall, Barry in the final in the Tillery Institute on Saturday …… The Powell’s Tillery Institute ladies team members were as follows – Miss J. Catley; Miss G. E. Jenkins; Miss K. F. Vines; Miss L. M. Berryman (Captain); Miss E. Powell; Miss H. Jones; Miss F. L. Stephens; Miss L. M. Reed: also holds the individual Club Swinging Championship through the success of Miss Ethel Sutton. The instructors were Mr H. Gill and Mr W. Edwards.
Mr Harry Gill and the Letter to the Commissioner.
In a report dated June 1934 made by Mr Harry Gill the secretary of the Abertillery Gymnastic Club to the Commissioner, Mr Gill wrote – “The Powell’s Tillery Gymnastics Club was recognised as one of the leading gymnastics clubs in Great Britain. Their record would show that the teams were composed wholly of coal miners and had held all Welsh Championships from 1905 up to the War. From 1932 there had been a gradual falling off in the standard of pupils attending the classes. During the war I had been physical instructor to the locally raised battalion and can definitely say that the physical condition of Abertillery today is much inferior to the men who served in the war. During the past two years I had under observation for physical training the boys attending the junior instruction centre and hundreds of boys had passed through my centre. I have no hesitation in saying that not more than 30 per cent of the boys would compare physically with the boys in the preceding years of 1920. The same condition applies to the Powell’s Swimming Club, 30 per cent of the members were miners or belonged to miners’ families, they trained good swimmers but very few had the stamina to play a hard game of Water Polo. The institute is attended by thousands of unemployed and it’s easy to see that the morale and standard is not the same as formerly”.
The gymnastics teams disbanded and the once mighty Abertillery gymnasts and gymnastics teams who performed with much pride were no more. Though snooker and billiards, along with swimming and other water sports remained popular and the institute stayed very busy.
The Later Years.
The Powell’s Tillery Institute building burned down on April 16th, 1951 and was later rebuilt. The opening ceremony of the new re-built institute took place on the 27th of August 1955. The new Miners Institute was later used by the miners of the Cwmtillery, Rose Heyworth and Six Bells Collieries and has the headquarters of the latter 2 collieries during the Miners Strike of 1985-85. It was in constant use at that time as a Soup Kitchen and Food Distribution Centre for the miners.
The institute’s popularity began to wane, the number of people attending decreased and in about 2013 the institute sadly closed. The building was kept open as a headquarters for the contractors building the multi storey car park at Abertillery but has since fell into disrepair. A few years later a group called “S.O.S”-“Save Our Stute”, was formed to raise money to renovate and repair the institute, the project is ongoing.
(More information to come).
London Olympia 1908 – Mr Edgar Watkins; Mr William Cowhig; Mr A. Hawkins and Mr G. Mead:
Mr William Cowhig, (his parents lived at 27 Glandwr Street, Abertillery).