Cholera in Brynmawr and Nantyglo & Blaina, 165 years ago

Posted on by emyr

News of the spread of the dreaded Ebola virus through West Africa in recent weeks has echoes of events that were experienced in heads of the valleys communities 165 years ago. With no known, effective cure and high mortality rate, Ebola is rightly feared.

In Victorian Britain in 1849, a disease then with no known cure nor knowledge of its means of  spread and, a high mortality rate to boot, was the dreaded Asiatic Cholera! After raging through Merthyr and district during June and July 1849, Cholera appeared in the upper Ebbw Fach valley by the end of July with the first known case of a Cholera victim being buried at St.Peter’s Church in Blaina on 2 August.

On the 11 August 1849, the Monmouthshire Merlin published details of the continued spread of ‘Cholera Morbus’ – between 31 July and 7 August 1849, 39 recorded deaths had occurred due to Cholera in Brynmawr and Nantyglo areas alone.

On this day 165 years ago, 11 August 1849, 13 Cholera victims were buried in St.Peter’s graveyard in Blaina, the largest number in a single day up to then.

The images below include a section from the Monmouthshire Merlin for 11 August 1849 together with a page from the parish burial register – you may notice a letter written on the left hand side of each burial denoting that the deceased was a victim of Cholera – no prizes for guessing what the letter may be though!

 

Cholera burials in Blaina

Cholera burials in Blaina

 

Cholera burials in Blaina - St Peter's Church register

Cholera burials in Blaina – St Peter’s Church register


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Blaenau Gwent Access to Heritage Project

The Blaenau Gwent area has a wealth of local history and heritage.  Across the County Borough, groups of dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to preserve and enhance the history and heritage of their local communities. The Blaenau Gwent Access to Heritage Project aims to make this rich local heritage accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.  Thanks to a £250,000 funding package from the Heritage Lottery Fund, CyMAL (the museum, archives and libraries division of the Welsh Government) and Blaenau Gwent Council, the project is now up and running.
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