I’m not entirely sure when I became interested in history; it certainly wasn’t in school, the subject was dull, boringly presented by our teacher who droned on incessantly about Kings and Queens, or worse, about the Stone or Bronze age and then there were dates, always loads and loads of dates; I could never remember any of them, except of course 1066, but then everyone knows that one!

I guess the turning point came when my father came home from the shop one day with a poster and two free tickets for a Steam Rally to be held on Leckwith Moors in Cardiff; it was 1972 and the poster was so enticing I just couldn’t wait for the day when the show would be open. I have to admit the show really wasn’t up to the quality of its advertising, but it did stir up a little bit of interest in old things, particularly the traction engines and vintage machinery.

Since then, of course, I haven’t looked back and the 1970s and 80s saw me acquiring all sorts of vintage miscellania including stationary engines, tractors, a fire engine, narrow gauge railway locomotives, autotrucks and loads and loads of other minor items including a huge collection of enamel advertising signs and latterly a large collection of named bricks..

Obviously, I’m also very interested in the history of buildings and like to see what can be discovered in our own back yard, so to speak!

As part of the possible project I may be undertaking I have started to take a peek behind the scenes of the house I mentioned yesterday. Many interesting artefacts were stripped out in the 1970s including a coal-fired cooking range but the house does still retain two of its original cast iron fireplaces. These have been boarded over or built into cupboards so I couldn’t resist opening one of these up to take a closer look.

As cast iron fireplaces go, this is obviously an economy model as it is very basic. My mother can recall fires being lit here, but only when someone was unwell and confined to bed. Certainly the grate area is very small and I guess only the tiniest of fires could be lit in this fireplace. I remember in the latter days of my grandparents occupation a small gas fire had been installed in this grate. The other fireplace in the house is in a cupboard and is a little larger with more detail; that’s for another day though!

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