As a teenager, I used to love visiting my great-aunt Aileen to listen to stories about her life’s adventures – from growing up in our small village of Nefyn to her big trip across the globe to Hong Kong in the 70s to visit her brother whilst he was working abroad.
These hours spent drinking orange squash and munching on KitKats led to us working together to build our family tree. The process of noting important information from Aileen’s stories to researching in the library and then reporting back my findings to her was a very rewarding, exciting and enjoyable experience. It created a space for us to share our common interest in family history and it sparked my interest in local history as well.
Since the days of sitting in Aileen’s front roo
m, I have volunteered at the Llŷn Maritime Museum, been a research assistant for a biographical project on Edwardian inscriptions in books at Cardiff University, a census proofreader for FreeGEN, and subsequently a volunteer with JHASW!
I have been working on the Cardiff Historical Trails (virtually) alongside Mike and Krista for the past month or so, using Slack to communicate and update each other on our progress. My main tasks have been centered around translating and proofreading for the Welsh version of the trail and ensuring that the information corresponds with the English version; as well as adding the Welsh content to the relevant sections along the trail.
With a keen interest in translation, this has been a great opportunity for me to develop my translation skills whilst learning about Jewish history in Cardiff too. The three trails which we have been adding to the w
ebsite will be great for all users to discover hidden history throughout Cardiff – even in places that you might walk, cycle, run or drive past every day! When I walk around Cardiff now – on my post-work outing past the Tidemark Seatwall in the Bay or wandering past Chapter whilst heading for a socially distanced coffee with a friend – I have a much greater appreciation for the history that surrounds me in my capital city.
I really enjoy working as part of a team at JHASW and any question – big or small – is always answered quickly and in full. The time you dedicate to the project can also be built around your working week and it’s possible to arrange discussions with other members of the team outside of the 9 –5.
It’s great to feel part of a community that shares a common interest in local history as well as one that offers great support for its volunteers and such a variety of skills and opportunities through volunteering.
I would urge anyone who loves a bit of research and is looking to learn more about Cardiff and the Jewish community in south Wales to get in touch and see what projects await you!
Written by Llio Owen, JHASW Volunteer.
This seatwall is is one of the few public examples in Cardiff of written Hebrew. The seatwall stretches alongside the Cardiff Bay Trail from the World Harmony Peace Statue of Sri Chinmoy, down to the Norwegian Church.
Commissioned by the Cardiff Bay Arts Trust, it was sculpted by Meic Watts in 1992. Fossil-like marks, in sandstone dock coping stones, reflect the passage of time. These marks are now wearing away. By the Norwegian Church there is a verse written in seventeen different languages, including Hebrew, that were spoken in the area:
"Sing with me on the quayside, sing by the light of the moon. Dance through a carpet of coal dust, torn from mother earth's womb."
Tidemark Seatwall, 2020. Image credit JHASW.
Chapter Arts Centre is at the centre of Cardiff’s creative community. Opened in 1971, Chapter was the first multipurpose arts venue of its kind in Wales. Located inside Chapter are the Seligman Theatre and the Stiwdio Seligman, named after David and Phillipa Seligman, local Jewish philanthropists, who made significant financial contributions to Chapter and other arts venues in the city.
Chapter, 2020. Image credit JHASW.