Feeling Bushed

Please see the full version of this article on the current Cutlock and Co website. There are also further items, including Bush Houses viewpoints and No beating about the Bush, plus the chance to add comments and get in touch.

It is a couple of years since I first stumbled across Bush Houses as the place where my coal mining ancestors lived on moving to the Welsh valleys. I can still remember the confusion of trying to work out quite where Bush Houses was (were?). From the 1891 census for the Osborne family I could track down the ‘hamlet’ of Clydach, recorded here as part of Ystradfodwg parish in the Rhondda. But where was ‘Bush’ –  seemingly havig no road name? The only place which came up in a map search was Bush Hotel. Surely the whole family couldn’t have been living in one hotel room? (And of course the Bush Hotel on Clydach Road was undoubtedly more of a pub.) Later I found what must obviously be the same place in the 1901 census shown as ‘Bush Houses’, and I have since been told that Cwm Clydach Street in the 1881 census again refers to the same place. And now, having tracked down old maps on the People’s Collection Wales, I can see them shown as Cwm Clydach Cottages (Ordnance Survey series 1868 to 1892). My initial confusion can be forgiven, perhaps.

Living close to coal

This image {1} clearly shows Bush Houses’ position adjacent to the working area of Blaenclydach Colliery, and proximity to the railway with coal wagons to the front of picture.

Blaenclydach Colliery and Gorki Drift, 1915

I am indebted to my second cousin (twice removed) John Osborne, living in Clydach, who has provided more background to life here, specific details and a photo.  During our visit he talked about how people living in Bush Houses referred to the rest of Clydach (on the northern side of the brook) as ‘over’ (as in ‘over there’?), and the walk ‘over’ would cut through woods and past the old coke ovens. You can see from the map extract below, as well as the photo above,  that the Bush remained isolated from other housing. It is difficult to imagine the lives of my ancestors in such small houses with many children, coal dirt all around, back-breaking, dangerous work and how they felt coming from rural south Somerset. At least the immediate Osborne and Scott families appear to have been lucky in not having strings of child deaths, unlike cousins and other relations.

“In memory of the seven miners who died in the Gorki Drift Disaster … 1941” Plaque outside the council offices.

Church and chapel

The full version of Feeling Bushed continues on the current Cutlock & Co website, with comments and more.

The rest

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