Fred Hando

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Frederick James Hando
Born (1888-03-23)23 March 1888
Maindee, Newport, Monmouthshire
Died 17 February 1970(1970-02-17) (aged 81)
St. Joseph's Nursing Home, Newport, Monmouthshire
Nationality British
Other names Fred
Education Maindee
  • Headteacher
  • Writer
  • Artist
Known for Monmouthshire historian

Frederick James "Fred" Hando MBE (23 March 1888 – 17 February 1970) was a Welsh writer, artist and schoolteacher from Newport who chronicled the history, character and folklore of Monmouthshire (which he also called Gwent), in a series of over 800 articles and several books published between the 1920s and 1960s.


Hando was born in Maindee, Newport, the son of a postmaster Alfred and his wife Miriam, and attended school there.[1] He had two younger brothers, Frank and Harry. He trained at Borough Road College, London, before returning to Newport as a teacher.[2] In the First World War he served as a gunnery officer in the Royal Engineers.[1][3]

Hando married Alice Stanton, the daughter of a Newport builder, and the couple had two children – Margaret and John. Alice died while still young. After a number of years, Hando married again to Daisy, a staff member at his school. The couple soon had a son, Robert.[1]

His interest in local history was given an impetus when he was asked to provide sketches to illustrate Sir Joseph Bradney's multi-volume History of Monmouthshire,[4] and his first articles about Monmouthshire were published in the South Wales Argus in 1922.[5] In total, he contributed 795 articles to the newspaper between then and 13 February 1970, a few days before his death.[5] Many of his articles and drawings were republished in anthologies of his work.[1] In his early writings, Hando was particularly interested in ley lines and the alignment of the sun with stone circles. He said that he wanted to add to what was already on the map and that by studying leys he could reach back in history far beyond Roman Britain.[6]

In 1925 he was appointed as the first headmaster of Hatherleigh Road school in Newport, where one of his pupils was Johnny Morris, later a noted radio and television presenter. Hando adopted an open and progressive teaching style and was described by a Miriam Andrews, a former teacher at the school, as "a wonderful headmaster and he made the children very proud of Hatherleigh." Recalling his time at Hatherleigh, Morris wrote, in 1987:

"Fred Hando unlocked our prison and set free what talents that I am sure would have remained locked in us for ever. Fred was a most talented man. He proved to us that all things were possible... We all of us come to a crossroads in our lives. I can only hope that at every crossroads there will be a smiling Fred Hando pointing the way and saying "This is the most pleasant and interesting way"."[1]

Hando was also organist and choirmaster at Summerhill Baptist Church for many years.[1] In 1953 he was awarded the MBE for services to education and to Monmouthshire.[1]

Hando died on 17 February 1970, at St. Joseph's Nursing Home, at the age of 81. His last article, on District and Street Names, appeared in the South Wales Argus just four days before he died.[5]


After his death the Monmouthshire Local History Council set up several "Hando seats" at viewpoints in the county that he had considered to be particularly fine.[1] Funded by public subscription, the seats were located in Dixton churchyard; at Llandegfedd Reservoir; on Lawrence Hill, Newport; at the top of the Wyndcliff, St. Arvans; and near Keeper's Pond on the Blorenge near Blaenavon.[7][8]


His daughter, Margaret, was born in April 1916. She graduated from St Anne's College, Oxford, and later married Charles Smith, later Delacourt-Smith, in 1939. Her husband became a Labour MP in 1945 and later a Government minister, and was ennobled in 1967. She was a councillor and Justice of the Peace in Windsor in the 1960s.[9] After her husband's death, she was herself raised to the peerage in 1974 as Baroness Margaret Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn. She remarried in 1978[9] and died in 2010 at the age of 94.[10] Margaret's brother, from Hando's first marriage, to Alice, was John.

Hando also had a son, Robert, from his second marriage.[11]


(all published by R. H. Johns, Newport, except where noted)

  • Rambles in Gwent (1924)
  • The Pleasant Land of Gwent (1944) (including limited Deluxe Edition of 220 copies, signed by the author)
  • Journeys in Gwent (1951) (including limited Deluxe Edition of 350 copies, signed by the author)
  • Pictorial Guide to the Wye Valley and the Royal Forest of Dean (1952, Ernest Joyce, Stoker)
  • Monmouthshire Sketch Book (1954)
  • Out and About in Monmouthshire (1958)
  • Monmouth Town (1964)
  • Here and There in Monmouthshire (1964)


Collections and appreciations[edit]

Collections of Hando's articles, edited by Chris Barber:[14]

An appreciation of Hando's work, Fred J Hando, A Proud Son of Gwent, including some of his writings and drawings, was published by his relative David Hando in 2014.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Introduction, in Chris Barber (ed.), Hando's Gwent: a centenary tribute, Blorenge Books, 1987, ISBN 0-9510444-5-1, pp.7–11
  2. ^ W.J. Townsend Collins, Monmouthshire Writers, R.H. Johns Ltd., Newport, 1945, pp.118–120
  3. ^ The Hando family came from North Curry in Somerset. In the 18th century part of the family emigrated to Australia. The parents died en route, however, and their two five-year-old sons arrived in Australia as orphans. There are hundreds of their descendants in Australia today (see Barber, 1987).
  4. ^ Memories of Fred Hando, in Barber (ed.), pp.189–193
  5. ^ a b c Newport Local History Society: List of articles by Fred Hando published in the South Wales Argus. Accessed 9 February 2012
  6. ^ Stout, Alan (2008). Creating prehistory: Druids, ley hunters and archaeologists in pre-war Britain p.211. John Wiley & Sons. p. 318. 
  7. ^ Gwent Local History, No.53, Autumn 1982, p.2
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b Margaret Rosalind Hando at Accessed 10 February 2012
  10. ^ South Wales Argus, Tributes paid to Newport-born Baroness, 21 June 2010. Accessed 10 February 2012
  11. ^ a b "Hando's Gwent". Blorenge Books. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Fred Hando at Accessed 9 February 2012
  13. ^ "Books About Monmouthshire: Llyfrau Sir Fynwy" at
  14. ^ "The Writers of Wales Database – BARBER, CHRIS". Literature Wales. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  15. ^ "Nephew’s book reveals life of Gwent historian and Argus columnist, Fred Hando", South Wales Argus, 11 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014

External links[edit]