1922 - 1991


 1922 - 2012



This page is dedicated to my parents David & Marion Richards, mother, grandmother and great grandmother to many. If you have any photos or memories relating to either David or Marion please share them with us.






MEMORIES OF MUM - This page was initially created after the passing of Marion in 2012 so the majority of stories etc are of her. Stories and photos etc of Dad I'll try to add as I come across them. 

Please scroll down for these and also for other family information.................. 


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DAVID RICHARDS (SON) - As a child the main thing I remember about Mum is that she was always there when you needed her when I'd wake up after knocking myself unconscious after falling over the upstairs banister, while I was having stitches put in my foot without anaesthetic after a piano fell on it, she was by my side. When I came running home from school in tears she'd always be there, a safe pair of arms for me to run into. Growing up as an angry teenager I believed that I didn't need any support but there was one constant, she was always in the background when I needed her. As an adult, when my children came along she'd always help out when she could. Life dealt Mum a cruel blow when it robbed her of Dad, they were a couple and did most things together, he left a void in her life that nothing else could fill. Towards the end we grew closer Mum and I and she remained a constant support whenever I needed it even as she was reaching her 90s. She was a great Mum.

Illustrated left: top - my earliest photo with Mum on Aberavon Beach, Barbara & Dad to the left, middle - looks like my 2nd birthday with Mum and Dad in the back garden of Orchid Close. Bottom - last photo with Mum at Joanne & Martin's wedding 2011


82-simon.jpg (43153 bytes) SIMON THOMAS (GRANDSON) - My funniest memory of Grandmum was the time I arrived in Leonard St and she was upstairs changing. I shouted up to let her know I was there and she shouted back.

"I can't come down because I am totally and utterly in the nude"

 Love you Grandmum - Simon




DALE THOMAS (GRANDSON) - My earliest and strongest memories of grandmum are when we went up to her  house to visit her, she nearly always had fresh berries and veg picked from her garden, one thing that will always bring the memories back are when i have peas in a pod especially when i come across the sweet ones.

And then there was her blackberry crumble, nothing so far has compared to grandmum,s crumble, but whenever i take a bite of any crumble, it will always bring back those memories.


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LAURIE RICHARDS (GRANDDAUGHTER) - I used to enjoy going shopping with Grandmum on a Friday afternoon and she used to buy me a little treat as a thank-you. And her legacy of Grandmum's pie will always live on.

Love you always - Laurie



VICTORIA RICHARDS - (GRANDDAUGHTER) - My earliest memories of Grandmum are of hanging out in Leonard St , playing in the lane and learning in the house. From a very early age Grandmum taught me a lot of things a young girl should know - you must always say grace before a meal, you must always wash your hands in the morning as ‘you never know where they’ve been’, you must never tell fibs or break wind in public and you must ALWAYS keep your elbows off the table.

Granddad, Laurie, Victoria & Grandmum

On the more practical and entertaining sides of things, Grandmum really knew how to bring out the old lady in me - together we would do puzzles, play scrabble and crossword, collect stamps, learn about reflexology, sew and make pompoms. At a young age it was always great to be able to help out in the garden and I soon learnt that nuisances such as cats and footballs were not to be tolerated! Being at Grandmum’s I very much enjoyed and looked forward to being spoilt with loganberries, apple and rhubarb crumbles, peas in a pod, green beans from the garden and of course Grandmum’s pies and rice puddings!

Visiting Grandmum as a young adult I loved how pleased she was to see me and that she always took a keen interest in my life - real estate (having a photo - see below) on the mantelpiece was a major motivator for my achieving a degree! I’d enjoy sharing long chats, discussing how we were each getting on in life, and as a parting gift I’d always be told ‘not to do anything that she wouldn’t do’, before being waved off enthusiastically down the street. Well I can’t promise you that Grandmum, but I shall do my best to keep making you proud J. All my love -  XXX

'real estate' on the mantelpiece



The words about they ring so true

For someone so lovely and thoughtful as you  

But these my darling are mine alone

Thank you for being my wife for forty years and more I pray

Thank you for being the mother of our daughters and son

Thank you for being the Grandmum of those special five

Thank you for being YOU.

David Richards (senior) 15/2/87




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THE TABLE - Grandmum's table was a legend - it arrived just before I was born (in 1960) and was rumoured (Grandmum was chief rumourmonger) to be state of the art 'G Plan' furniture. I'm pretty sure that the 4 chairs that always accompanied it were part of a set as well. WOE BETIDE anyone putting a hot drink, cold glass or anything whatsoever on the table without putting a tablemat down first. More of the tablemats later........... The table had two fold out flaps, for most of the time as I was growing up it would be set up with one flap down and one flap up, ideal for seating 3 but for special occasions when there were 4 or more at the table both flaps would be up. When we were eating the table always had a tablecloth - the working table cloth was a plastic affair with blue and red spots but I can't remember exactly what pattern it had because it disappeared (probably thrown) around the early to mid 1970s. The tablecloth in the photos I always remember as being Sunday best.  



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THE TABLEMATS - Of all the family traditions the securing of one's own tablemat at meal time is probably the most memorable. The tablemats were handcrafted by Dad out of hardboard during the 1960s and there were only 6 of them, they've always been around as far as I can tell. I think originally they were blue and were recovered in orange by Dad in the late 1970s or 1980s. I can't remember who first wrote on the back, I think it was Barbara. Originally there were only 5 of us so the first names on the mats were David Senior, Marion, Anne, Barbara & David Junior, then when the grandchildren came along they wrote over our names and then once the 7th grandchild (Dale) things got complicated. if you look closely enough though the original names can be seen but they are very feint now !!!! It was always important to have your own mat when eating, especially underneath a plate of steaming hot Grandmum's pie. 




  • Eat your food before it gets cold !

  • Warm the plates in the oven first !

  • Always eat the peas and carrots first because they get cold quickest !

  • Your not allowed to drink before you've finished your food, you'll be too full to eat ! 

  • Don't talk with your mouth full !

  • Chew your food 40 times !




Above the table in Leonard Street was a photo montage put together by Dad, central in the montage were individual photos of Mam and Dad. The montage was put together around 1986/7 so any grand & great grandchildren from Victoria onwards missed out. Please click on a photo in the montage for a close up of the photo................





Margaret Marion Francis-Rees was born on 9th June 1922 in Eva Street, Melyn, Neath to James Francis-Rees & Gertrude Mabel (Gertie) Rees, nee Snow. Her earliest memories were of drinking lemon-barley squash in Windsor Rd and walking to school via the Old Road. She could also remember playing tennis in Garthmoor, the Snow's sports centre just above the hospital. She was the second youngest of 6 children, Vida, Olga, Phyllis, Harold, & Maldwyn were here siblings. 







The children of James & Gertie Francis-Rees circa 1926

Vida, Olga, Phyllis, Harold, Marion & Maldwyn 

This is the earliest known photo of Mum, in the background is what looks to be the WWI tank that used to reside in Victoria Gardens. 


One of her first jobs was in the Metal Box in the Melyn and during World War II she joined the Women's Land Army, stationed near Exmouth (she said in later years that she was billeted in Exwick House). The details of how she met Dad are a bit sketchy, I think he may have been friends with Harold, her elder brother but during the war they started to correspond. Mum always maintained that she was engaged to someone else and dad wooed her with his letters. Dad wrote a little about this in later life when he put together a 'Desert Island Discs' type tape and accompanying notes, one of his songs is 'Yours' by Vera Lynn, I'll let him take up the story ......................

"The reason why I chose 'Yours' is for the words. Marion my wife although we were not married at the time I am going to refer to. Used to write to me regularly when I was abroad and sometimes she used to write the lyrics of the latest tunes in this country. 'Yours' was one of them. 'You went away and my heart went with you' was another". 

Sadly all Mum's letters to Dad were lost when a merchant ship carrying his kit was sunk in 1942.

Marion & David were married on 15th February 1947 and they honeymooned in 'The Park Hotel' Cardiff. Their first child 'Anne' was born 12 months later. 


They lived at first with her parents in Eva St before moving to a pre-fabricated house in Moorland Rd, Sandfields, Port Talbot to be closer to Dad's job, he had started work in the 'Steel Company of Wales' steel works in Port Talbot soon after the war. 

In 1951 Barbara was born................

...................and in 1959 they moved into a brand new council home in Orchid Close, Sandfields. David came along in 1960. 


The family lived at Orchid Close and then first Anne (nursing) and Barbara (London) left for the big wide world, Mum worked part time in Dennis' the butchers. In 1971 Marion & David bought their first house in Tyn-y-Twr, Baglan and Buster the dog joined the family. Their first grandchild Adrian was born in 1972..............

 ................closely followed by Andrea. David took redundancy from the steelworkers in around 1977 and worked part time at the Mile End Petrol Station in the Melyn and the Esso garage on the dual carriageway at Baglan. David Jnr moved out in 1981 and then there were two (+ Buster). In the early 1980s David retired and in 1983 they moved to Leonard Street in Neath only 10 doors down from where David grew up. 

The 1980s were a good time for Marion and David as more grandchildren (Katie, Joanne, Laurie & Victoria) arrived and they settled into retirement with a busy schedule of choir practice, church, badminton & other activities. David was also heavily involved in the charity Arthritis Care as well as being a Town Councillor. Marion meanwhile knitted for Wales, took music lessons and they both spent time visiting their children and grandchildren.

Granddad (David) passed away suddenly on 15th September 1991 and things were never same for Grandmum (Marion). Although she put a brave face on she had lost her partner, the love of her life. With the support of family and friends she kept up church and choir appearances and kept that brave face. She was regular in town and the speed with which she travelled to town, her trolley trailing in her wake was legendary, the scorch marks can still be seen on Gnoll Park Rd. 

Grandmum suffered her first mini-stroke in 2007 and her health gradually deteriorated from there. She still maintained a positive outlook on life even through ill health, she passed away on 20th July 2012. As she slipped into her final sleep her parting words were

"Tell everyone that I love them"

Mum, Grandmum, Great-Grandmum - "We loved you too"


at a wedding in 1985



Discovered after Mum passed away in the draw next to the fireplace are Dad's Desert Island discs. He has chosen 8 songs to take with him on a Desert island, these were all contained on a cassette tape. I'll leave him take up the story....................   



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Pant - y - Fedwyn - I would like to share with you, some of the music that brings back many happy memories. Perhaps some sad ones too, because some of the music reminds me of the war. Some of the lads I met while on active service never made it home. Some made it home but wish they hadn't with the wounds and injuries they sustained.
(Anyway), enough of that. The music is not in chronological order. I jump about a bit and I don't suppose I have one particular favourite. It's that they remind me of someone or sometime of my life that's made an impression on me. The first is the Welsh Pant yr Fedwyn. Why? Well in 1983 I sang with the Skewen choir in the Albert Hall, London. This was the first time I had been inside the Albert Hall let alone singing from the enormous stage. 
I don't know how many of you have been to the Albert Hall, but it literally takes your breath away, when you first walk on that stage and see the vastness of the place somehow you are held in awe.
My wife and myself were there, she had been before but she had succeeded by 1983 of dragging me into the choir. We needed an uplift that weekend. We were having our house renovated, new roof, windows, floors etc. Scaffolding was outside our living room and dining room so we were glad to get away for a break. 
We left the Black Hole of Calcutta to the builders. But singing Pant yr Fedwyn alone without the songs and hymns, was enough to wash the dreariness away. 



2 Lili Marlene is the next piece of music that I like. It take me back to my days in North Africa as a member of Combined Operations, 51 Mobile Squadron. It is played by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, with whom we in Combined Operations had a lot to do with, at least we had a lot to do with Scotsmen. 51 Mobile did work for the 51st Highland Division, The Black Watch, as we did for many other units of the British 8th Army. I joined the RAF in April 1941, in December '41 volunteered for C Ops. It was a mixture of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel. After training in Isle of White (Wight) and Scotland we embarked for the middle East in February 1942. I wasn't to see the shores of Britain for 3 years 8 months I arrived home in October 1945. 



3 Yours sang by Vera Lynn, the forces sweetheart - I have never been a great lover of Vera Lynn, in fact, I didn't know she existed until 1945. 
I was never keen on listening to the wireless, not the BBC anyway. I had to listen to our headquarters on my C.O.(Commanding Officer) on the headset I sometime wore. The female singer I remember most was a Dorothy Carlos who sang with Geraldo and his band. 
The reason why I chose Yours if for the words. Marion my wife although we were not married at the time I am going to refer to, used to write to me regularly when I was abroad, and sometimes she used to write the lyrics of the latest tunes in this country. Yours was one of them, you went away and my heart went with you was another. Sadly all my letters were lost up to December 1942 that is. On the 16th December 1942, my unit left Bengasi for Malta. We sailed in two destroyers, The Nubian and Javelin, 17 in each destroyer, our C.O flew across. I sailed in the Nubian, but our kit and supplies, Jeeps etc travelled in a Merchant Ship. I'm afraid that was sunk by Jerry who was still active at that time. So as my letters were in one of my kit bags along with other personnel things. They were never seen again. After that I didn't see the point of keeping them, I'm sorry now.



4 The Old Rugged Cross - Another Hymn tune now. But a very special one for me. The Old Rugged Cross. My mother's favourite. I was born in no 18 Zoar Row and we lived in Zoar Row until I was about 13 and a half, We moved then to Leonard Street but while we lived in the Zoar my mother used to play the piano every Sunday and she'd be singing Hymns and we would all join in, and her favourite was this one. Amazing really I suppose, when you come to think of it, she never had a music lesson, and yet she could play all the Hymns and many other tunes as well. (note underneath) dark hair when I went away white when I came home. (this refers to Nana's hair which turned white with worry while dad was in the War)



5 Love Came To Me - New Moon - When I'm Calling You - I play this tune to a work friend of mine he's dead a number of years now but some of you might remember him through being in the Melyn Amateurs or going to hear them. His name was Eric Rees, Eric had a lovely Tenor voice, although in the latter part of his life he had had a few heart attacks and lost quite a lot of time from work. He was always come bouncing back, Eric was an assistant shift manager with us, quite a responsible job. Now the job I had at that time called for me to carry a walkie talkie with me everywhere I went. 
I didn't really get a meal break although I an assistant in my job. When I was eating my sandwiches, Sid my assistant was controlling so if there was trouble in any other part of the department I had to see to it, no matter what I was doing. Anyway back to Eric, if he wished to speak to me over the walkie talkie, sometimes I would hear him call, Dave Richards when I'm calling you as he did when taking part in Rose-Marie.


6 Some Day My Heart Will Awake - I would like you to come back to 1951 now. This was the year of the Festival of Britain, in August of that year. We were spending 2 weeks with my sister - in - law Phyllis in South Hampton. My second daughter Barbara was only 6 weeks old so we couldn't stop in a hotel or boarding house, couldn't afford it anyway. 
During the 2nd week I travelled up to London to see the Festival. It described the history of Britain especially the mechanical side which I was interested in. The first Jet Engine, The Blue Bird racing car and many other achievements. 
While in London I took the opportunity to go and see Ivor Novello's "King's Rapsody", being an Ivor Novello fan I couldn't miss the chance. It was the year Ivor Novello died. I would like to play you a tune from the show "Someday my heart will awake"



7 What a Wonderful World" (no explanation with this one)



8 If I can Help Somebody (no explanation with this one)






Dad was always having a go at various forms of art, on the way to Brecon to visit my grandparents we would stop on the Beacons and our would come his sketch book, he'd tear a sheet of paper off for me and I'd join him for about 30 seconds sketching, then run around outside for the rest of the time. he did embroidery, tapestry, metal work and he'd write letters and stories.............  
79.jpg (165640 bytes) This painting, possibly oil, I believe was over the fireplace or in the alcove in the living room in Orchid Street. 
78.jpg (384990 bytes) sketch book pencil on paper, the lower illustration is the Brecon Beacons
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76.jpg (293309 bytes) Spanish flamenco dancers, again I remember these in Orchid Street, possibly in the hallway.



Glen Rees, Leonard Snow, Majorie, Maldwyn, Marion, unknown, possibly Phyllis Majorie, Olga, Marion and unknown in the front, possibly Margaret Mason who's father (Albert Mason) was killed in a car crash so she spent a lot of time with the family !


Marion in No 15 Eva St,  the photo was taken here and not in No 13 because the garden was too untidy. The cat had to go because Anne was born and they didn't want the cat smothering the baby. Marion & Betty Tallamy (Betty lived up the hill from George St in Neath) in Exeter with 2 sisters originally from Neath but then living in Exeter. Because the girl in front had married a butcher Marion and Betty went for Sunday lunch every week to their house. Lunches were good !


Peggy, Olga & Marion



Marion in a land Army march near Exeter Cathedral just after it had been bombed. There were 52 in her company, all sorts of girls, Scottish, Londoners, the well spoken type & cockneys, Yorkshire lasses, Trixie, you can just see part of her head just behind Marion had a twin sister. Exwick House is the place where they stayed. Mum's one abiding memory of the war is working in the fields during D Day. She's says looking up at the sky 'it was black, all you could see were planes'. Watching television programmes nowadays on things like the holocaust, dam-busters raids and general war programmes, she comments 'we had no idea what was going on, nobody did, we just got on with our jobs the best we could' I suppose that must have been the case for 99.9% of the population.  


Grandmum's certificate of appreciation and her Land Army medal - she was very proud of this and it held centre stage in her best cabinet




This is without doubt my favourite story, the family holiday........... the family used to load the garden shed onto the back of Granddad Jim's lorry, strap it down and take it to Newton in Porthcawl and live in it for the summer ! that smells like incredible fun !

Granddad Jim had a haulage business - Mum said he was useless at book keeping etc and he sent her out to collect money owed from his customers, he eventually went out of business because as Mum said 'he was too soft'




Marion passed away on 20th July 2012. The funeral service was held as the Chapel of Rest in Cadoxton with the cremation at Margam on the 26th July. We would like to thank all the family and friends for their support, cards and condolences during our time of sorrow. Below are some excerpts from cards and the condolences book..................

Auntie Marion was a very special person, always lovely and very perceptive with people and situations. What I shall always remember was the look on her face when I, as a nine-year-old, walked through the back door of our house in Norfolk Rd, Southampton having run away from boarding school ninety miles away in the East End of London. She was totally shocked but offered me egg and chips. My Mum (Auntie Phyllis) was out for the night and she (Auntie Marion) was baby-sitting Linden. That she took it in her stride is testament to a resilient temperament. She should have been cross but was very kind. I was sent back to boarding school the next day ! It was October 1951. She also took good care of us on our return from honeymoon and surprised her again. I shall miss her a lot. - Neilson & Eileen


Always pleasant memories of Auntie Marion and Uncle David with warm welcome. When visiting the house in Sandfields would always be attacked by Buster the dog and be jealous of the guinea pigs living in the bedroom, because Dad had given ours away to the hospital. Later when we used to go to Leonard St I will always remember the knitting machine. Auntie Marion did try to teach me but gave it up as a bad job. Will always miss her. - Mark, Suzanne & Boys


We were neighbours for over 30 years - very fond memories - Ruth & Jeff


Marion - We have so many memories of you, how good you were to Ryland's mother (Auntie Vida). We have lots and lots of memories going back a long way. Ros & Ryland


Whenever I was in the company of your Mum, she always had a smile on her face. A lovely lady always. kindest regards Barbara & Denzil


Fond memories of a Sister-in-Law and Auntie from Peggy, Daphne, Alan & Mark


picture drawn by Aimee for the 'Condolences Book' 


Love you Grandmum - all the grandchildren 


What can I say, only that I hope that I can follow in your Mum's footsteps and live my life as strong and healthy until I reach 91 yr of age. She was such a special person and we will all miss her. love to you all Lynnette, David & family 


"From pre-David we have memories (i.e. Neilson & me) - oh - and pre-Alicia of staying in the pre-fab, camping and caravanning - mid you, you (David) & Alicia did feature pretty prominently when you (David) came along. But why didn't you have to do the washing up ? Auntie Marion was, and will remain, a very special person in our lives. I believe she and our Mum (Phyllis) shared a certain special bond". - Linden 

"Marion was such a lovely lady and will be missed" - Diane & Howard - Free Mission

"I first met Marion when I joined Skewen Music Lovers Choir in 1985. We were a large choir in those days - about 80+ in all and Michael Williams was our conductor. I sat very near Marion in the soprano section and later on when the choir was much smaller I sat next to her. In the late 80s she told me that she had started music lessons with Ruth Tucker and she persuaded me to join the small class of 4 or 5 people. We progressed slowly but over the next 4 or 5 years passed our exams and were thrilled to get our certificates at a special evening & even take part in the concerts. Gradually Marion's health started to deteriorate and she was no longer able to attend our choir rehearsals but it was always good to see her in the audience of many concerts." - Eirion (& Grenfell) Rees
















This page is dedicated to my parents David & Marion Richards, mother, grandmother and great grandmother to many. If you have any photos or memories relating to either David or Marion please share them with us.