Saturday 28 November 2015

26 Dr Ernest Jones, psycho-analyst

26. Dr Ernest Jones (photos: Freud, Morfydd Owen, Ernest Jones, Grammar School) - 28/11/15

A few months ago we wrote about Morfydd Owen, the brilliant mezzo-soprano and composer who died tragically in 1918 and is buried in Oystermouth cemetery.  Today we look at the life of her husband, psychoanalyst Dr Ernest Jones.

In Gowerton a blue plaque presented by the British Psychoanalytical Society hangs above the front door of number 12 Woodlands Terrace.  On New Year’s Day 1879, when Gowerton was still known as Gower Road, that semi-detached house became the birthplace of Ernest Jones.  The son of a colliery manager, he went to Swansea Grammar School, won a scholarship to Llandovery College, and from Cardiff University went on to University College Hospital, London, qualifying as a doctor in 1900 when aged 21.  Having read of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical approach in a German psychiatric journal, Jones began to use those techniques in dealing with mental illness, although the medical establishment was wary of this emphasis on the id and the libido, and he had to resign from his post at the London hospital. 

In 1908 Ernest Jones organised the world’s first psychiatric conference at Salzburg, when he first met Sigmund Freud, whose major biography he was later to write, published between 1953 and 1957 in three volumes.  While teaching in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto from 1911 to 1913, Jones published psychoanalytical works on Hamlet and on dreams and nightmares, and coined the term ‘rationalisation’.

Jones had an apartment in London at 69 Portland Court, and purchased The Plat, a Jacobean cottage in Sussex, for a weekend retreat.  His first wife was the talented Welsh musician, composer and mezzo-soprano, Morfydd Owen from Treforest, to whom he proposed on their third meeting.  Tragically she died after an operation for appendicitis in Mumbles in 1918 aged 26.  Jones remarried the following year – he proposed to Czechoslovakian Katharina Jokl within three weeks of their meeting.  They had four children, including the writer Mervyn Jones, and a daughter Gwenith, who died aged seven. 

Jones was influenced by Melanie Klein’s series of lectures in the new field of child analysis, and he encouraged her move to London in 1926.  Her approach and the therapeutic techniques for children that she devised were very different from those of Freud’s daughter Anna, and Jones championed Klein’s approach.  This caused sharp disagreement between Jones and Freud, and members of the British Society were polarised into rival factions in what became known as the ‘Jones-Freud controversy’.  However cordial relations were later resumed between the two psychoanalysts.

For many years the Jones family had owned a holiday cottage Tŷ Gwyn, the former bakery in Llandmadoc, which on the wall had a framed map of Gower, drawn by and signed, as an eleven-year-old schoolboy ‘Ernest Jones 19/11/1890’.  Tŷ Gwyn was a welcome holiday retreat, for he loved the Gower countryside.  He was also a keen ice skater and a fine chess player, writing a psychoanalytical study of the life of an American chess genius. 

Ernest Jones was twice President of the International Psychoanalytical Association, for several years each time, and was instrumental in the British Medical Association coming to officially recognise psychoanalysis in 1929.  Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Jones bravely flew to Vienna to bring Freud and nearly fifty German and Austrian Jews away from the Nazi threat to safety in London. 

Ernest Jones died in London in 1958 aged 78, was cremated at Golders Green crematorium, with his ashes buried in Gower in Cheriton churchyard, in the grave of his young daughter Gwenith, and where his second wife was later to be buried. 

Fluent in German, the language of the early psychoanalysts, this Gowertonian became the first English-speaking psychoanalyst and its leading exponent in the English-speaking world.  His uncompleted autobiography called ‘Free Associations’ was published posthumously in 1959.             

Saturday 21 November 2015

25 Blue Plaques

25. Earlier Blue Plaques (photos: Harry Secombe, Dylan, Ernest Jones, Amy Dillwyn) - 21/11/15

The idea of placing blue plaques on buildings with connections to famous people or significant events probably originated in 1866 in London, where the scheme is now administered by English Heritage.  From that start it has spread in various forms to many cities throughout the world.  Over the last three years Swansea Council has erected twelve blue plaques to commemorate various people and places, the most recent being in Cockett to physicist Edward ‘Taffy’ Bowen.

Besides these plaques put up by the Council, Swansea has six earlier blue plaques.  One is on the promenade by the West Cross Inn, with another outside Mumbles Nursing Home.  Both of these were installed by the Amy Dillwyn Society and funded by the Llysdinam Trust, to honour the female industrialist and philanthropist Amy Dillwyn.

A third was unveiled by the Heritage Foundation in 2002 to Harry Secombe, outside St Thomas Church in Swansea’s Eastside.  It states ‘Sir Harry Secombe CBE 1921–2001 - goon, comedian and singer, who served here as a boy chorister’.  

Gowerton contains one at the birthplace in Woodlands of psychoanalyst Dr Ernest Jones, the first biographer of his mentor Sigmund Freud, and who in 1938 enabled Freud along with other Jews to escape Nazi persecution in Vienna by coming to London.  Ernest Jones also has a blue plaque in London.

Swansea’s earliest blue plaque used to be outside 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the birthplace of Dylan Thomas.  The light blue plaque that stated ‘Dylan Thomas poet 1914-1953 was born in this house’ was placed there around 1963 by TWW – Television Wales and the West, the independent television company that preceded Harlech Television (now HTV).  That plaque was replaced by a dark blue plaque with the word ‘poet’ changed to ‘a man of words’, a phrase to encompass Dylan’s short stories, film scripts and of course his play for voices ‘Under Milk Wood’.

Just as the Council’s twelve plaques have included not just people but also places like Cwmdonkin Park and St Helen’s rugby ground, so the sixth plaque is on the limekiln near the entrance to Kilvrough Manor in Gower.  This states ‘Kilvrough Home Farm - Limekiln - Early Nineteenth Century’.  The Home Farm was purchased by the agent of Kilvrough estate Tom Jenkins, grandfather of local poet the late Nigel Jenkins, when the estate was sold at auction in 1919.  

Kilvrough Manor had been purchased in 1820 by Major Thomas Penrice (no connection with the Penrice estate), who built the Gower Inn at Parkmill.   The estate passed to his nephew, also called Thomas Penrice, who built Parkmill School and leased the land that became Pennard’s golf course.  The estate passed to his elder daughter Louisa, who became Lady Lyons when her husband Admiral Algernon Lyons was knighted.  But the death in 1918 of their son, to whom they had transferred the property, made them liable to double death duties, which, along with the loss of German investments during the First World War, led to the break-up of the estate.  After use as a youth hostel for twenty years, Kilvrough Manor was acquired by Oxfordshire Education Committee as an Outdoor Pursuits centre, which has enabled young people to benefit from first-hand experience of Gower over many decades. 

That limekiln on Kilvrough Home Farm land is one of the many throughout peninsular Gower from when limestone quarrying was at its height.  A double kiln stands at High Tor on Penmaen burrows, for limestone quarried from South Gower cliffs was taken by boats across the Bristol Channel to enrich the lime-less fields of north Devon and Somerset.                               

Though it is reported that Llanelli Community Heritage Society has placed fifty blue plaques in the town, quantity is not everything, and Swansea’s more modest number commemorates a fascinating mixture of people and events connected with this area.

Saturday 14 November 2015

24 Rees Howells and the Bible College

24. The Bible College of Wales (photos: Rees Howells, Bible College x2) - 14 Nov 2015

The School of Ministry at the Bible College of Wales in Derwen Fawr has just concluded its first semester, with students from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, North America, as well as from England and Wales.

That property called Derwen Fawr used to belong to the architect Sir Charles Tamlin Ruthen, designer of Pantygwydr Baptist Church, the Mond Buildings and the former Carlton Cinema (now Waterstone’s bookshop), among other prominent Swansea buildings.  After the First World War, Ruthen served as Director General of Housing during Lloyd George’s Coalition Government.  A staunch Liberal, he developed the 17-acre Derwen Fawr estate, importing stonework from Italy for the Italian gardens, and hosting Lloyd George and other prominent Liberals at garden parties.  After Ruthen died in September 1926 his widow promised first refusal on the property to Rev. Rees Howells, who had established the Bible College at Glynderwen two years earlier. 

Born in Brynamman in 1879, the sixth of eleven children, Rees Howells had been influenced by the Welsh Religious Revival of 1904-05 to serve God with the South African General Mission.  He returned to Britain in 1920, and two years later received the vision of establishing a Bible College in Wales to train and equip those seeking to serve God in mission work.  He followed the principle of George Műller, who, in the nineteenth century by faithful prayer without the backing of any Christian denomination, had looked to God to prompt people to provide the means for the purchase and upkeep of his orphanages in Bristol.

Without making special appeals, Rees Howells and those who shared his vision prayed, and sufficient funds came in to purchase the seven-acre Glynderwen estate in Blackpill, to found the Bible College of Wales.  That site later became Emmanuel Grammar School, in recent years developed into the Bryn Newydd Estate of twenty-nine homes.

The second property purchased was Derwen Fawr, which besides the large main house comprised three cottages and 17 acres.  In the grounds a chapel was erected to seat 200, a conference hall to accommodate 400, and men’s and women’s hostels, with funds to meet the extensive financial outlay being ‘prayed in’.

In addition to the residential Bible College, on the opposite site of what was then called Derwen Fawr Lane, a third estate Sketty Isaf was purchased in 1932 as a school for the children of missionaries.  Three years later this moved to Glynderwen which became Emmanuel Grammar and Preparatory School.  In 1970 the school had 450 pupils and 27 staff, serving as a first-class provider of education in Swansea until closure in 1994.

While people were being trained to serve God in missionary work, the Bible College was used for intercessory prayer for issues further afield, particularly throughout the dark days of the Second World War.  For some people the concept of people gathering to pray for hours at a time during the war might seem an irrelevance, but others believed that those prayers contributed to the overthrow of the Nazi tyranny. 

Rees Howells died in 1950, and his life and ministry have been documented in Norman Grubb’s book Rees Howells, Intercessor, which has been translated into more than 40 languages.  His son Samuel Howells became Director, but the Bible College faced difficult times, especially during the 1990s.  It closed as a residential college and part of its land was developed as housing.  

Thankfully in recent years Derwen Fawr itself has undergone extensive renovation and refurbishment, through the impetus and generosity of Cornerstone Community Church of Singapore, which purchased the property in 2012.  It was officially re-opened in May 2015 aiming to continue and develop the vision given to Rees Howells, with a vibrant Liberty Church established on the site. 
Though the Bible College is in South Wales, the mixture of student nationalities demonstrates that the Christian gospel is for people of all nations.     

Saturday 7 November 2015

23 Sir Arthur Whitten Brown

23. Sir Arthur Whitten Brown (photos: Heathrow statue, plaque, memorial) - 7/11/15

Some achievements that seemed impossible a hundred years ago are now almost commonplace.  Visitors attain the summit of Mount Everest (albeit not always unscathed), scientists visit and work at the South Pole, and each day hundreds of people fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

Such accomplishments used to be beyond the scope of any except the most highly skilled and best equipped men and women, and one of these subsequently came to live and work in Swansea. 

The names Alcock and Brown became famous in June 1919 when they achieved the first non-stop transatlantic flight.  They flew in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber from St John’s, Newfoundland, to Ireland in sixteen hours, of which fourteen-and-a-half were over the north Atlantic.  They covered 1,890 miles at an average speed of 115 mph and encountered fog, ice, snow, and much bad visibility.  Several times Brown, who was navigator, had to climb out onto the wings to remove ice from the engine air intakes.  They landed in Connemara, County Galway, near their intended destination but in a bog, which caused some damage to the aircraft, though neither airman was injured: two memorials now mark the site.    

For achieving the first non-stop transatlantic flight they were presented by Winston Churchill with the £10,000 prize put up by the Daily Mail - and they were knighted by King George V at Windsor Castle.  

But six months later 27-year-old Lancastrian Sir John Alcock, the pilot on that epic flight, was killed when a new Vickers Viking amphibian that he was flying to the Paris air show crashed in fog near Rouen in Normandy.  For his colleague, however, there remained years of useful service ahead.

Born to American parents in Glasgow, Arthur Whitten Brown’s career was in engineering.  He took up British citizenship during the First World War when his plane was twice shot down over France; the second time resulted in him becoming a prisoner of war and interned in Switzerland.  In 1923 he was appointed chief representative for Metropolitan-Vickers (formerly British Westinghouse) in the Swansea area.  In his office at 62 Wind Street (part of present-day Ice Bar), one of the propellers from the Vickers Vimy hung on the wall for many years, before he presented it to RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. 

At the time of the 1926 General Strike, Whitten Brown served with the County Borough of Swansea Police as a special constable.  Two years later he went to Burry Port to congratulate the American Amelia Earhart, who in 1928 became the first woman to fly the Atlantic.  Although she had not been pilot or navigator on that occasion, four years later she became the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo.

He taught pilots at Fairwood Airport, for after the Air Training Corps was formed in 1941, Whitten Brown became the first Commanding Officer of 215 (City of Swansea) Squadron Air Training Corps.

During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard as a Lieutenant-Colonel, before rejoining the RAF to work in RAF Training Command dealing with navigation.  But the death in a 1944 aircraft crash in the Netherlands of his only son Arthur, while serving with the RAF, affected him deeply.  Sir Arthur Whitten Brown died in 1948 from an accidental overdose of sleeping tablets aged 62, and is buried in Buckinghamshire.

In Langland a plaque in the wall in Overland Road states that he had lived initially in Overland Court, while another plaque is placed above an entrance to Belgrave Court in the Uplands: the 1939 Register of Electors lists him and his wife Margaret at flat number 24.
At Heathrow airport a statue of Alcock and Brown was unveiled in 1954 - it now stands outside the visitor centre.