The Hafod Woman

Narrated by Sandy John 
 
I am a woman of the Hafod.  It is 1850. 
 
I started working in the copper works wheeling coal and ashes when I was 10. The work was hard and I used to get very tired, but I couldn’t afford to be sick. I went to school sometimes, unless I was needed at home. I was brought up speaking Welsh, but in school it was all English and hard at first.  I learned to make my own clothes, and when I grew up, I married a smelter from the next street.

I look older than your mother, thinner than your wife, more careworn than your sister, and harder than your daughter. I always eat after my husband and children.  I never have time to see the doctor, and I always struggle to get back to normal after childbirth. Some of my children didn’t live to see their fifth birthday.

I go to chapel and my neighbours are my friends. I care about keeping the range hot, my family fed, the house clean and the rent paid.

Look at me. My reflection shows a child, a young girl, a wife and mother, and if God spares me, an old woman looked after by my girls.  If not I might end my days in the workhouse.

I am everywhere in the Hafod and nowhere in the history books.

A composite life story drawn from multiple sources by Dr Lesley Hulonce of Swansea University

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