THE Now and Then photos of the Ebbw Bridge brought back many memories of growing up in Park Drive as a child into adulthood.

The river near the bridge was a playground, a place to fear and also, at times of need, a saviour.

The river was black with coal dust rushing down from the Valleys. The depth of the river was unknown and in winter the flooded river was certain death if entered.

On a number of occasions in the 1950s when, either through burning a lot of coal or a shortage of money, I accompanied my father to the banks of the river and I helped him fill sacks with the coal dust. They were taken home on the cross bar of his bike.

When home the wet coal dust was formed into balls and dried and it was these that helped keep our home warm in winter.

Then the Cardiff Road used to flood, along with Tredegar Park and the Lighthouse Road, and adjoining fields.

This drew all the youths and children from the Gaer and Maesglas areas, who asked lorry drivers for a lift through the flood to the other side; to find another lorry driver to take you back and so it went on all evening.

I remember, on one occasion in the summer, I followed my sister and her friends down to Tredegar Park. They were much older than myself and on two-wheeler bikes and myself on a three-wheeler.

Going across the Ebbw Bridge and ready to turn into the park, the girls on the opposite side of the road started shouting and pointing at the park entrance. Because I was so small my view was blocked because of the high wall and, as I turned the corner, I went under the front wheel of a bus, which had just stopped to check the traffic before pulling out. Fortunately I was uninjured and nether was my bike damaged, but I think the driver and conductress were shocked.

Many hours were spent over many years playing in the blackened river in summertime with small boats, skimming stones or travelling back and forth under the arches that now no water flowed through.

I also remember on another occasion, after getting off the school bus at the gate of Tredegar Park with some school friends, that for some reason I threw my school satchel at one of them. He ducked and my satchel went past him and over the bridge parapet into the river, which was in flood.

Racing across the Cardiff Road and down to the river bank near the Baptist church, and with the aid of a long stick, I managed to retrieve the satchel. I have many more memories, too many to write here, and won't mention jumping off the top of the bridge into the coal dust on the river bed.

Shaun McGuire

I THINK the Now and Then picture of Ebbw Bridge is near Tredegar Park and Maesglas. Not far away is the Ebbw Bridge Club; a fish and chip shop and a row of other shops. Further down the road towards Cardiff you will see Lord Tredegar’s House, which now holds functions, displays etc.

Mrs Malbina Reardon