My name is Pamela Partridge and I was born in Bedwas in 1946. I was actually born in the front room of my grandparents’ home, my paternal grandparents. I grew up in Bedwas. I attended Bedwas School. My maternal grandparents lived in Trethomas and so to visit them meant many many walks from the one village to the other, from Bedwas to Trethomas. During the course of those walks one could see the Workmen’s Hall. It was an imposing building; three, four stories high. We hadn’t seen anything of the like at all. To actually go into the Workmen’s Hall and to look down from the windows was very very impressive.
My grandfather was actually a local councillor and was a man of some repute. He was actually a councillor for 40 years and was very involved with the building of the Workmen’s Hall. The main feature of the Workmen’s Hall was the cinema and my earliest memory was actually my mother and father taking me to the cinema. My memory of the cinema was that it was always packed. It was always full. Everyone in the vicinity went to the cinema. It was really our only entertainment in the absence of televisions. It was a priority with regards to the community and social interaction within the area. My uncle Reg, he was always in the Workmen’s Hall, running around, making sure the staff were there, if any of the staff were sick it was his responsibility to get staff in.
I know that on the ground floor which I didn’t really visit very much, there was a billiard room, there was a dance hall, which closed in the 50s and then became a meeting chamber and was used for other uses. The cinema was the place that they would go to hear up-to-date news and, I believe, especially during the wartime as well, which was before my birth. During the 50s I went to the cinema with my parents. I went with my grandmother who went quite regularly.
When I got older, I was fifteen, sixteen, I met my boyfriend, who’s now my husband. I actually had my first date with him and we went to the cinema and we were shown to our seats by an usherette, which was the usual thing as there was no lighting on the steps. To my horror, some weeks or months later, I realised that the lady that was showing me to my seat was actually my future mother-in-law. I was absolutely horrified. Anyway we courted for five years, we got engaged after three years and we got married five years later.
I still go into the Workmen’s Hall and various venues. They still have pantomimes etc. But the changes to the building have been very distressing and I do wonder what my grandfather, my uncle and even my mother-in-law would think if they saw it now. It’s got graffiti all over it. It’s got smashed windows, but it is still the same imposing building that it always was. I hope that they will be able to restore it to just even some of the splendour that we had in previous years and I hope that the youth of today will actually get the same pleasure and regard for the building that we have and what memories it gave us in our youth.