Caban y Rhondda

Ym mis Rhagfyr 1915 cyhoeddodd y Rhondda Leader yr apêl ganlynol:

The YMCA and the Troops

By kind permission of the Rhondda Council the school-children throughout the district are this week selling stamps for the YMCA. It is hoped that by their efforts the sum of £300 will be made up for the purpose of purchasing a YMCA Hut, to be known as the “Rhondda hut”. The YMCA deserve very support. They have over 1000 centres with the troops. The YMCA spend over £1,000 weekly for free stationery for the boys in khaki, and the daily cost of carrying on the work is over £500. The Rhondda people will doubtless support the YMCA in the same generous spirit that they always patronise deserving causes. This will be the Rhondda children’s gift to our brave boys in khaki [Rhondda Leader, 4 Rhag 1915].

Yn ystod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, ymgymerodd yr YMCA ag amrywiaeth o waith i gefnogi’r rhyfel. Un o gyfraniadau mwyaf llwyddiannus a mwyaf adnabyddus y Gymdeithas oedd darparu Cabanau YMCA ym Mhrydain yn gyntaf ac yn agos at y rheng flaen yn Ffrainc a Gwlad Belg wrth i’r rhyfel symud yn ei flaen. Darparodd y Cabanau loches ar gyfer milwyr ac roedd cyfle iddynt gael diodydd poeth, bwyd, papurau newydd a deunyddiau ysgrifennu. Ym Mhrydain, gellid dod o hyd i’r Cabanau mewn dinasoedd mawr, yn agos at orsafoedd trenau yn aml, i’r milwyr eu defnyddio wrth iddynt deithio ar draws y wlad. Roedd hyn yn cynnwys llety dros nos mewn rhai canolfannau. Yn Ffrainc a Gwlad Belg, roedd y Cabanau wedi eu lleoli’r tu ôl i’r rheng flaen fel y gallai milwyr a oedd yn symud oddi wrth y rheng flaen gael seibiant byr o’r ymladd.

Roedd Caban y Rhondda i gael ei leoli yn y brif orsaf yng Nghaerdydd i ddarparu bwyd ar gyfer y miloedd o filwyr yn mynd trwy’r ddinas. Nid oedd yn hawdd codi arian ar gyfer y Caban. Roedd apêl gyntaf yr YMCA ym 1915 ond cymerodd 18 mis pellach i sicrhau’r arian ac i agor y Caban. Ni chafodd yr ymgyrch ddechrau addawol iawn. Mewn cyfarfod ym mis Tachwedd 1915 gwrthododd Cyngor Dosbarth Trefol y Rhondda awgrym yr YMCA i’r Cyngor ofyn i ysgolion godi arian ar gyfer y Caban. Roedd yn amlwg bod pobl yn teimlo bod gormod o faich ar athrawon a disgyblion gyda chodi arian ar gyfer achosion da. Ond i gyfaddawdu penderfynwyd yn y pen draw y câi’r mater ei gyfeirio at aelodau ward ac athrawon [Rhondda Leader, 20 Tach 1915].

Gwelwn o’r uchod yn y Rhondda Leader ar 4 Rhagfyr rydym yn gwybod, fel y digwyddodd dro ar ôl tro yn ystod y rhyfel, fod ysgolion yn y Rhondda ymgymryd â’r her o godi arian ar gyfer y rhyfel. Adroddodd Prifathro Ysgol Fechgyn Ton, dim ond pedwar diwrnod ar ôl i’r erthygl ymddangos yn y Leader:

ER36_2 p481

A cheque for £7.10.0d was sent to the Secretary of the YMCA at Cardiff, this sum having been collected by the boys and girls of Ton Schools towards the erection of a ‘Rhondda Hut’ for our Soldiers at the Front [Ysgol Frutanaidd y Bechgyn Ton, llyfr log, 8 Rhag 1915, ER36/2 t.481].

Ddeufis yn ddiweddarach ysgrifennodd Frank Higman, ysgrifennydd cyffredinol yr YMCA yng Nghaerdydd i Bwyllgor Addysg y Rhondda:

Will you kindly convey to Mr Berry and the head teachers and the staffs our warmest thanks for their splendid co-operation in securing such a substantial sum towards the cost of a hut which we shall have pleasure in christening the “Rhondda Hut” [Rhondda Leader, 12 Chwe 1916].

Mewn llai na 2 fis, roedd ysgolion y Rhondda wedi codi £150 gyda £50 pellach yn mynd i’r YMCA. Ond nid oedd yr ysgolion wedi cyfrannu digon er mwyn cyrraedd y £300 gofynnol a fyddai’n talu am y costau cyfan. Roedd 15 mis ychwanegol cyn i Gaban y Rhondda agor o’r diwedd ar 5 Mai 1917. Rhoddwyd adroddiad llawn o’r agoriad yn y Rhondda Leader:

On Saturday afternoon the 5th inst, the YMCA Rhondda Hut for Soldiers which has been erected opposite No 1 Platform of the Great Western Railway Station Cardiff was opened. Mr H E Maltby, chairman of the Rhondda Urban District Council presided….

The premises occupy a peculiarly convenient position for the purposes they are intended to serve. There is a spacious central hall for light refreshments, furnished with a piano, a billiard table and various other forms of games and replete with facilities for reading and writing. The room is brightly decorated. In a building immediately adjoining there is sleeping accommodation for about 80 men, with bathing facilities. The institution will be kept open day and night until the end of the war. The hut owes its establishment to the generosity of the inhabitants of the Rhondda, who have raised a sum of £1,160 for helping on the war work of the YMCA. It is gratifying to note that with the exception of about £250 the whole of the money has been subscribed by the working class portion of the community [Rhondda Leader, 12 Mai 1917].

Er bod y Caban ar agor roedd angen o hyd ar gyfer mwy o arian i dalu am gostau rhedeg.

Unwaith eto rhoddodd ysgolion y Rhondda eu hunain i godi arian:

For the purpose of aiding the funds of the Rhondda Hut of the YMCA and the Auxiliary Military Hospital, Llwynypia, a successful miscellaneous concert was given by the pupils of the Pentre Secondary School at the Park and Dare Hall, Treorchy, on Friday evening, the 18th inst. The performers who acquitted themselves remarkably well were under the direction of Mr W A Morris, LCP [Rhondda Leader, 26 Mai 1917].

Helpodd ysgolion eraill gan gynnwys Mardy a Threalaw:

ER23_5 p125

Other recent “War Activities” in which the teachers were the principle workers, were the YMCA Hut Campaign, held in March, and the Russian Flag Day, held in April. The results were – YMCA £85.4.9d, Russian Flag Day £23.4.7d [Ysgol Bechgyn Maerdy, llyfr log, 20 Meh 1917, ER23/5 t.125]

ER41_2 p279

The collection towards the YMCA Huts amounted to over £20 – collected by H T Staff & a few helpers [Ysgol Bechgyn Trealaw, llyfr log, Chwe 1917, ER41/2 t.279]

Ym mis Tachwedd 1919, blwyddyn ar ôl arwyddo’r Cadoediad, pwysleisiodd erthygl yn y Rhondda Leader pa mor dda y cafodd y Caban ei ddefnyddio mewn difrif:

This Hut in connection with the YMCA was opened in May 1917, opposite the Great Western Approach, Cardiff and was christened the “Rhondda Hut” because a large proportion of the money necessary for it came from the Rhondda district.

Our readers may be interested to know that nearly 400,000 travelling troops have been entertained free….In addition, 55,897 have been provided with sleeping accommodation during that period.

These figures have justified the erection and maintenance of the Hut, and through the kindness of the Rhondda people much comfort has been given to the men who serve in the Forces and have had to use the Cardiff Station as an important junction [Rhondda Leader, 1 Tach 1919].

Nid oes llawer i ddweud wrthym am pam trodd yr YMCA at y Rhondda i gael arian ar gyfer y Caban yn y lle cyntaf. Mae’n bosibl, gan fod y Caban yn cael ei ddarparu yn bennaf ar gyfer y lluoedd arfog wrth iddynt symud trwy Gaerdydd, y byddai llawer o filwyr a llongwyr wedi dod o gymoedd De Cymru. Byddai’r achos, felly, wedi taro tant benodol â chymunedau yn yr ardaloedd hynny. Ond gwnaeth Syr John Courtis sylw diddorol wrth i’r Caban gael ei agor ym 1917 a adroddwyd yn y Western Mail:

Although splendid work for soldiers had been done by another agency in the city there was ample scope for supplementation [Western Mail, 7 Mai 1917].

Mae’n debyg mai cyfeiriad at y Cardiff Soldiers’ a’r Sailors’ Rest oedd hyn. Roedd hwn yn gyfleuster pwysig ac mae’r Western Mail yn adrodd y rhaglen a ddarparwyd yn y Rest ar Ddydd Nadolig 1917:

Every effort was made at the Cardiff Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Rest, St Mary Street, to give men of the Army and Navy a good time. Between 10am and 7am on Sunday night and Monday morning over 800 men were entertained at the Rest. On Christmas day tea was served and afterwards Mr F E Andrew lent the Central Cinema, the Hayes, for a private exhibition of pictures free of charge to all men in uniform. In the evening there was an entertainment at the Rest [Western Mail, 26 Rhag 1917].

Mae’n bosibl, felly, y bu rhywfaint o amheuaeth, mewn rhai cylchoedd yng Nghaerdydd, o ran yr angen am ganolfan arall yn unol â’r hyn a gynigiwyd gan yr YMCA. Ond wrth i 800 gael eu diddanu yn y Rest, nododd y Western Mail fod …200 o ddynion, gan gynnwys grŵp o ddynion Americanaidd yn cael te gwych ar yr un pryd yn agos, yng Nghaban y Rhondda. Mae’r ffaith bod dros 400,000 ddefnyddio Caban y Rhondda mewn ychydig dros ddwy flynedd yn awgrymu bod yr YMCA yn gywir wrth amcangyfrif y byddai angen canolfan arall.

Yn sicr roedd llawer o filwyr a llongwyr blinedig â rheswm da dros ddiolch i bobl y Rhondda ac, yn enwedig i blant ysgolion y Rhondda, am y bwyd, y cysuron a’r croeso mawr a gawsant yng Nghaban y Rhondda wrth deithio trwy Gaerdydd.

Tony Peters, Gwirfoddolydd Archifau Morgannwg

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