A community in the Bush


… is worth two in Malvern. Or some other bad variation on the saying – any better suggestions?

This is the second article featuring the ‘street’ known as Bush Houses, this time trying to give an idea of how it featured in the the lives of the families who had moved from south Somerset to the south Wales valleys of the Rhondda. See the previous post for the physical history of the place.

While some of the men had previously been working in the mines in the Radstock area (and for the Cornish connections, down the tin mines), the main contingent had been on the land around Crewkerne or doing odd jobs there. For instance (great great grandfather) William Osborne is variously recorded as a weaver linen web, lime burner and labourer – and then in 1878, birth year of great grandmother Amelia and just before the final move to Clydach Vale, a general labourer presumably helping build the expanding seaside resort of Bournemouth. The Rhondda coal mines would have paid better and been more reliable work, but being out of daylight most of the day surely had a profound impact. Writing in beautiful sunshine in a tranquil part of Malvern, this strains the imagination somewhat (although I have been down the Llechwedd Slate Caverns of Blaenau Ffestiniog).

The Bush Houses families from Somerset, and Cornwall, seem to have stuck together, inter-marrying a lot for the first generation or two, although there are some English/Welsh marriages. Key surnames are Osborne, Sibley, Gregory, Glewis/Gluyes, and also Herbert – see the Osborne/Scott page for the relationships.

This was undoubtedly a close-knit community, separated by a railway and stream from the rest of Clydach Vale, with both a church and chapel for this crowded couple of rows of houses. A company store of some sort seems likely.

You can can get an idea of the number of occupants for the small terraced properties in the section below. Surely some at least must have been more than two up two down, given the number of lodgers shown in 1891? (UPDATE: Feeling Bushed has a couple of distant/sketchy views of the place, and a map plan, but clearer recent and older photos are on Bush Houses viewpoints.)

Also see: Moving for Work on the Tonypandy page.

Osborne at Bush Houses

A round-up of Osborne connections in Bush Houses starting with the 1881 census. (They were built in the 1860s.) Great great grandfather William Osborne must have arrived in 1880 or early 1881, as daughter Ellen was born in Bournemouth in late 1879/early 1880.

As well as the name for Bush Houses evolving over time (Cwmclydach Cottages/Street, Bush, Bush Houses), there seems to have been a difference of opinion of whether it was part of Clydach Vale, Cwmclydach or Blaenclydach. On the other hand, the first two of those are just English and Welsh variations, and ‘blaen’ (front?) only indicates a more precise part of the valley (cwm).

At 1881 Census

Recorded as Cwm Clydach Street.

23 John Glewis (Gluyes) age 40 born Wendrock, Cornwall, and wife Ann age 35 born same, with 6 children.

24 Philip Rayson age 37 born Somerton, Somerset, wife Amelia age 33 born same, with 6 children.

33 William Osborne age 39 born Somerset (actually age 32), wife Mary Ann Osborne age 29 born Somerset, with 4 children (all girls).

33 George Osborne age 20 born Somerset (actually age 30, William’s brother) and wife Elizabeth (previously Gluyes, daughter of John and Ann) age 18 born Cornwall.

At 1891 Census

Recorded as ‘Bush’.

4 Eli Sibley (brother of Mary Ann Osborne) age 26 born Somerset Misterton, wife Susan age 24 born same (sister of William Osborne), 3 children and mother-in-law Mary Osborne.

4 George Osborne age 40 born Somerset Crewkerne (brother of William), wife Elizabeth age 29 born Cornwall, with 4 children, 2 lodgers.

5 Charles Osborne age 38 born Somerset Misterton (cousin of William), wife Emily age 36 born Dorset Pilsdon (nee Clarke), with 5 children, 4 lodgers (from Somerset/Dorset).

13 Picton family.

25 William Osborne age 43 born Somerset, Crockerne (Crewkerne), wife Mary Ann (nee Sibley) age 39 born same, with 7 children, 1 lodger.

26 Lewis family. Wife Amelia age 33 from “Somerset, Crockerne” (Crewkerne). Update: this appears to be Amelia Sibley, sister to Mary Ann.

27 Amelia Osborne (dau of William), servant to Bryant family.

29 Geo Wilkins age 27 born Barrow, Somerset, wife Amy (born Glos?).

35 Levi Osborne age 30 born Somerset (brother of William), wife Elizabeth age 33 born Somerset (nee Larkham/Larcombe).

At 1901 Census

Recorded as Bush Houses.

5 George Osborne age 50 born Somerset, wife Elizabeth age 40 born Cornwall,  with 8 children, 1 lodger (Daniel Osborne ? age 15).

11 Levi Osborne age 40 born Crewkerne and wife Elizabeth age 43 born Somerset, Misterton, with 7 children.

11 Joseph Edward Pearce age 19 born Somerset, Holcombe and wife Rebecca Maud (dau of Levi Osborne) age 19 born Somerset Misterned (Misterton).

12 Albert James Gregory age 27 born Somerset, Radstock, wife Rosina (dau of William Osborne) age 25 born Bournemouth, with 4 children.

35? Picton

At 1911 Census

Location individually recorded – as Bush Houses unless otherwise said {with further place info}.

9 Ernest Osborne age 22 born Crewkerne Somerset (son of Levi), wife Gwenllian age 18 (nee Herbert).

10 Picton family including Sophia age 11 – she marries Albert James Gregory junior in 1920.

11 Levi and Elizabeth Osborne, with 3 children and Maud Pearce – says niece but is granddaughter? {Blaenclydach, Glamorgan}

12 Albert and Rose (Rosina) Gregory, with 7 children. {Clydach Vale, Rhondda}

50 Herbert family – Naomi age 10, marries William Robert Gregory in 1920. {Cwmclydach}

Also see: a full transcription of 1911 censuses (Excel spreadsheet) for Bush Houses is available in  A Snapshot of Bush Houses, with several more Osborne connections.

Later dates

1968 – headstone on grave of Naomi Gregory (nee Herbert) gives 43 Bush Houses, Blaenclydach as address. One of the last occupants, as they were demolished 1969?

Notes

There are other Cutlock & Co articles about Bush Houses. Comments welcome on any of them.

 

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