Buses and trains: the stuff of memories for these Port Talbot pensioners
Bus and train services are of course vital for those of us who use them for our daily commute to work or to get in the weekly shopping. But for many of the older people attending the Age Cymru Afan Nedd centre in Port Talbot, their memories of bus and train journeys reveal exciting times spent with friends, families, and neighbours.
The smells and sounds of the seaside and countryside filled their memories as they told us their stories as part of a community arts project featuring Age Cymru and the travel information company Traveline Cymru.
Although each story was unique many of them had common themes running through them. They tended to travel in large numbers often involving whole streets or chapel congregations, while the conductor or driver was usually a family friend.
Most of the pensioners said they were fuelled by a heady mix of jam sandwiches and pop, which was useful as they played exhausting games that went on for hours. Falling asleep on the way home seemed to be a regular feature, as was getting lost. But what was most surprising to us was that it never rained during a Welsh summer!
Here's a selection of some of stories told to us during our visit to Age Cymru Afan Nedd
"I used to take the train from Port Talbot to Barry Island in the summer; one time my sister took too long to get ready and missed the train, leaving us to look after all the children! We think she took too long on purpose, so she could take her time getting ready and put on her make up in peace. (Audrey, 83)
"We used to take the train to Aberdare Park and enjoy the open air swimming pool. We used to make our own sherbet pop with sherbet from Woolworths, mixed with water. It was wonderfully sticky and sweet!' (Anon)
"My most favourite trip was an anniversary surprise to Llandudno that my husband organised. He's arranged for my daughter to be there as a surprise. It was a beautiful day!" (Anon)
"I remember travelling on a double decker bus at the height of summer with the windows open; we were travelling down a narrow lane past farms and fields of hay – a huge gust of wind blew down the lane and across the fields and covered all the passengers head to toe in hay and dust! I was only about 7 or 8! (Anon)
"I remember the helpful guards at Cardiff train station. They helped me when I got off the train thinking I needed to change trains to get to Portsmouth. They quickly put me right and told me I needed to stay on the same train. I'm one of 11 children so used to following my older brothers! I was travelling on my own to Portsmouth.' Joan
"I used to travel on a bus from Cascade in the Rhymney Valley to Barry Island and would love to wonder around the cafes under the arches overlooking the beach. Just use my mobility scooter to get about these days." (Yvonne)
"My father was a miner and when he was unemployed and times were tough, the local welfare committee would take all eight of us kids for a trip to Port Eynon with pop and sandwiches as a treat." (Joan 88)
"We often went to Baglan Bay by train and my father would ask the Guard to make a special stop on the Halt by the beech so we didn't have to walk far. I think he knew the guard well as I don't think he was supposed to stop there!" (Anon)
"We used to catch a bus from Margam to Port Talbot. Only cost a penny!" (Rita 88)
If you would like to plan your next journey on a bus or train call the Traveline Cymru freephone helpline on 0800 4640000.
Our age friendly Wales campaign calls for sufficient integrated public and community transport throughout Wales to ensure older people can access communities and services.