“It was an agreeable and easy-going life, but after a few months I realised that I was being starved of experience … it became obvious that if I wanted to better myself, I should have to find a post where there was more to do.” (p14, The Surgery at Aberffrwd)
In 1908, a young doctor named Francis Maylett Smith gave up a post in an English country practice to work in a colliery town in the heart of the South Wales coalfield. He spent several years at a busy practice in the town, a time recounted in the book, The Surgery at Aberffrwd, edited by his nephew, Denis Hayes Crofton, and which was published in 1981 by Volturna Press.
Mr Crofton places the location of Aberffrwd – which is not the name of the actual town – “somewhere in the triangle between Hirwaun, Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil.” Names of individuals have also been changed.
Reading the book with a local eye, it is evident to me that the colliery town of “Aberffrwd” is Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley. I have collated some census and other evidence relating to the surgery during the time of Dr Smith’s memoir that helps to identify the town and some of the individuals mentioned. I shall use the “Aberffrwd” names for the purpose of considering the book, with the actual names, and supporting documentation, at the end of this post. Continue reading