Until the enclosures and the industrial revolution full took effect, most villagers earned their income in the parish or within walking distance. As the 18th century gave way to the 19th, manufacturing industry provided more and more jobs within walking distance, notably in Redbrook and Whitebrook. The coming of the railway made embryo commuting possible and added to the variety of occupations available.
The Post Office Directory of 1871 does little to indicate these changes but does provide an interesting snapshot of the principal occupations in Penallt, limited however, to those likely to receive mail. Fifteen farmers are listed.
George Griffiths (Frost Lane)
George Gunter (Llananant)
James Gunter (The Limekilns)
John Gunter (Argoed)
Mrs Mary Herbert (Upper Glyn)
Thomas Hill (Sunnybank)
John James (Tregagle)
Endell Keddle (Penny garden)
William Meredith (Whitehall)
Charles Pritchard (The Meend)
Mrs Julia Roberts (Hoop Inn)
William Roberts (Ty-Mawr)
George Thomas (Tregagle)
Herbert Williams (New Mills)
John Williams (The Farm)
In addition there is Robert Panting, a market gardener of Lone Lane.
There are four inn-keepers – Thomas Gleed at the Bush, Mrs Mary Williams at the Boat, Mrs Julia Roberts (Hoop Inn) and James Jones (Wheatsheaf Inn, the Washings). The vicar (Rev. Wm. Oakley of Snakescroft – now Moorcroft) and Mrs Adams of Ty-Mawr head the list with the schoolmistress, Mrs Thomas of Pentwyn. Others listed are:
|On the Land||Water transport (Monmouth & Redbook)||Metal Industries (chiefly Redbrook)||Paper manufacture|
|Agricultural labourer||Bargeman||Blacksmith||Paper maker|
|Farm Bailiff||Barge owner||Brightsmith||Paper manufacturer|
|Cottage farmer||Master mariner||Forgeman||Stoker at paper mills|
|Drainer||Ship carpenter||Furnaceman||Wool sorter|
|Farm Servant||Purser||Sorter in tin works||Other trades &
|Grafter||Tin manufacturer||Coach maker|
|Keeper of entire horses||Building trades||Tinplate box maker||Coal miner|
|Mole catcher||Builder||Tinplate maker||Collier|
|Waggoner||Block layer||Tinplate salter||Cordwainer|
|Horse breaker||Gas fitter||Tinplate shearer||Fisherman|
|Timber trades||Mason||Tin scaler||Labourer|
|Cabinet maker||Plate layer||Tin worker||Nailer|
|Hoop maker||Stone cutter||Bell-hanger||Sexton|
|Hoop shaver||Stone mason||Brewer||Shoemaker|
|Lath cleaver||Banker||Coachman||Woollen manufacturer|
|Timber agent||Excise officer||Miller|
|Wood cutter||Major in Army||Postillion|
|Woodman||Master in Navy||Postman|
|Retailers||Officer in Army||Servant|
Covering over a century, these lists show that by the end of the 19th century, agriculture and the timber trades shared pride of place with paper manufacture and metal working. The long-established occupations (quarrying, stone-working and localised work such as tanning, boot-making, weaving and brewing) are still there, with the professions and the service industries adding new variety as the years went by.
Only one occupation is obscure – that of ruff-rider – it could possibly be a mistake for rough-rider – that is, a horse-breaker, although that description is also listed. Perhaps the ruff-rider took on the horses the horse breaker could not handle.
With such a wide variety of “work experience” as we now expected call it, there can have been no shortage of tales to tell over the evening’s pint of local cider and most of them home-grown.
[from: Penallt Revisited]