What was in PenCambria: Issue 40 Spring 2019

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 40 Spring 2019 

Dear PenCambrians

Do you ever feel that some divine harvest is being gathered? Firstly, two friends and a close family member, yes the Celtic triplet, all intimately associated with PenCambria, have departed this life in the last half year. Diana Brown left us last August, Jim French slipped quietly away in the New Year and Pedro, the dog whose exploits were integral to the life of the retired lady and gentleman from Llawr-y-glyn in the long running series Put Out To Grass also hung up his lead earlier this year.  Added to these, one of our greatest supporters Lady Shirley Hooson passed away just under a year ago and two of us said good bye to our husbands in the past four months: another Celtic trio, this time of our supporters. Empty, shell-shocked, these hardly describe feeling at the moment. However, in the general run of things, nature abhors a vacuum, so when a space becomes vacant, we can usually hope for it to be filled sooner or later and, while this issue is full of familiar faces, there are glimmers on the horizon of new writers, and hence new and different interests to come. Tributes to both Jim and Pedro appear in the pages of this issue.

In the meantime, we begin this edition with the first part of a biographical sketch of the First Lord Davies of Llandinam. This is part of the booklet A Biographical Sketch of David Davies (Topsawyer) 1818-1890 and his Grandson David Davies (1st Baron Davies) 1880–1944 by Peter Lewis, part one of which detailing the life of David Davies, Top Sawyer, appeared in the last edition of PenCambria.

Building on the initiative by the RCAHMW and Jim French’s article in the last PenCambria, Norma Allen has been investigating place names in the Llandinam area. This is project in which we could all take part, so if you feel like finding out about the place names and history or any stories behind them, do please get in touch and let us know what you have found. The RCAHMW are also very keen to know what has been found in you area too, so if you want to get in touch with them, contact details can be found further on in this magazine.

Brian Poole has been tackling the Caersws Smithfield and has come up with some very interesting information as well as some wonderful archive photographs. Andrew Dakin describes the long march of his family back to Llanidloes. Lawrence Johnson is back on the uplands of Plylumon among the remnants of lost communities there.

Glove making was one of those essential trades in centuries gone by that, apart from gardening gloves and woolly mitts for the winter, we scarcely consider these days. Jim French’s final article, which amazingly he made sure he completed before his death, is a search for the glove makers of Llanidloes and fascinating reading it makes too. Bruce Mawdesley in one of his exquisitely written pen portraits, remembers Old Morty. Her memory jogged by the tribute to her friend Lady Shirley Hooson, Gwyneth Garner relates a few of her own war-time memories, hopefully the first of many such recollections. In Andrew Dakin’s article Tales From the Footplate: Tylwch in PC37, he mentioned a tragic accident that happened in 1883. Derek Savage sent me the newspaper article detailing this accident, which I have reprinted here and I do hope you will forgive me including the gory details.

Wales is above all a land of thwarted ambitions and especially so after the death of Llywelyn ab Gruffudd, the only native Welsh declared Prince Of Wales, who was assassinated in 1282. Two other princes followed in his footsteps in the following century: Owain Glyndwr at the end of the 14th century but 30 years before that came Owain of Wales, also known as Owain Lawgoch, and it is his story, facts, myths and legends that I have included in this issue.

Michael Apichela, as part of his love affair with Wales provides an insight into the mining connections between Wales and Pennsylvania.

The renovation of the barn in Wales Arts starts the year with a new, more intimate space for exhibition, workshops and performances. Last year the RCAHMW highlighted a monument on Moel y Golfa in north Montgomeryshire, commemorating the Romani Chell, or leader, Ernest Burton, and there is also an update on their project regarding the place names in Wales.

Lots of goodies in the Dragon’s Crypt. Diana Ashworth turns her talent to fiction this time with a tale all about the dangers of tunnelling, with enchanting illustration by Wendy Wigley; Julia R Francis has a poem all about the first day; Norma Allen whets our appetite with Apple Crumble and Custard and Chris Barrett, also in a lighter frame of mind, has some entertaining thoughts on  life in general. Good Reading to you all  Gay Roberts.

CONTENTS OF PENCAMBRIA 40

First Lord Davies of Llandinam, Part one Peter Lewis

Musings on some Welsh Place Names in the Llandinam Area Norma Allen

The Caersws Smithfield Brian Poole

Tumbled Worlds Lawrence Johnson

A Long March Home Andrew Dakin

Was there ever a Glove Making Industry in Llanidloes? Jim French

Old Morty Bruce Mawdesley

Accident at Tylwch – report from the Montgomeryshire Express

The Prince of Wales over the Water Gay Roberts

Love in Wales Michael Apichela

The Master of his Fate – Jim French 1946-2019 Gay Roberts

R.I.P. Pedro Diana Ashworth

Mid Wales Arts – news

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales – updates

In the Dragons Crypt

Where The Wild Garlic Grows Diana Ashworth

Day One – poem by Julia R. Francis

Apple Crumble and Custard Norma Allen

Comedies : some reflections on life Chris Barrett

Time is Running Out for the Pangolin Zoe Spencer

SELECTED ARTICLE:

MUSINGS ON SOME WELSH PLACE NAMES IN THE LLANDINAM AREA by Norma Allen

Although I was born and brought up in Wales, I am not a Welsh speaker and I take note of the warning published by the Ordnance Survey in their ‘Welsh Origins of Place Names in Britain’:-

            ‘There are many pitfalls for the unwary, attempting to understand place names and indulging in the indiscriminate, uninformed and naïve interpretation of elements on the basis of the place names as they appear today.’

Therefore, I apologise in advance for any inaccuracies that have come about in my attempt to understand and to reflect on some of the place names in the area.

Many towns and villages in Wales with names beginning with ‘Llan’ are named after the patron saint who founded them –– Llan is generally accepted as meaning church, or the area around the church –– although other interpretations suggest it might mean an enclosure, settlement or even village green. The Llan is followed by the saint’s name, for example, Llanidloes after Saint Idloes and Llangurig after Saint Curig. This is by no means always the case though; Llandrindod Wells, for example, is named after the Trinity (Y Drindod in Welsh). Other towns beginning with Llan have no church connections. Llandaff, despite its cathedral, is named after the River Taff.

Llandinam is also one of the exceptions. The settlement is said to have been founded by the sixth century Saint Llonio, with the parish church being named after him. One might therefore expect the village to be called Llanllonio rather than Llandinam. ‘Dinam’ is often interpreted as meaning ‘without a fault’ but B Bennet Rowlands believes that it more likely to mean ‘the church of the fortress’ as it was partly built of stone obtained from the ruins of the ancient city of Caersws and could be the old name of the iron age hill fort Cefn Carnedd (‘Cefn’, ridge, ‘Carnedd’, heap of stones), the remains of which are found on a hill on the western edge of the village.  He cites the Rev C.K. Hartshorne who stated that in his opinion Cefn Carnedd could well have been the true position of Caractacus’ final battle.

B Bennett Rowlands, who was born in 1836 at Pwllan Farm, Llandinam, recollects that the land by the church tower was raised well above the adjoining ground, suggesting traces of what might have been a fortified camp. Adding weight to the argument are the ruins of a dwelling on a hilltop on the opposite side of the village –– ‘The Gaer’, (a mutation of the word Caer meaning stronghold or fort).

When the present church was substantially re-built in 1865 by Edward Jones of Llanidloes, he discovered two cartloads of human bones that give rise to the conjecture that they were the result of a bloody battle on that spot at sometime in the past. Whatever the truth of the matter, St Llonio’s is built on a hill in a commanding position overlooking the village and surrounding countryside –– access these days is up a steep slope that often causes parishioners to arrive at the church gasping for breath!

Place and house names in most areas are named after the surrounding landscape. My home, Troedyrhiw, is aptly named as it is tucked into the surrounding landscape with a hill rising above it. The literal translation is foot (troed) of the (yr) hill (rhiw) or bottom of the slope.  The houses of Aelybryn are set in a row along the edge (Ael) of a hill (bryn) and in this hilly area there are many houses with ‘Bryn’ in their names.

The Italianate-style mansion, Broneirion, was built on the site of Broneirion Farm for David Davies (Top Sawyer) in 1864. It stands on the side of a steep, wooded valley, with stunning views over the river Severn valley and the village. It is now the home of Girl Guiding Cymru and a Conference Centre.

Finding out the possible meaning of the name Broneirion has proved difficult. ‘Bron’ is breast (of the hill) and it has been suggested that ‘eirion’ may be ‘jewel’ thus making ‘jewel on the breast of the hill’, which would fit well now. However, this theory seems doubtful since Broneirion Farm would probably have been a much more humble dwelling than the present magnificent building. Further down the road are the farms: Lower, Middle and Upper Gwernerin. Does eirion come from erin? Gwern is alder, or place of the alder, eirin in Welsh is plum or berries. Broneirion had an apple orchard on its slopes. Whether this had anything to do with the name is pure conjecture.

One other puzzling name is that of Caetwp Farm. Literally translated Cae is ‘field’ and ‘twp’ is stupid or silly. One wonders how a field could be thought of as stupid. Was it stony, boggy, an awkward shape or did twp mean something different in days gone by? As with all of the above we can only surmise and use what evidence has been found to try to work out the meanings of these Welsh names today.

References:

 ‘Llandinam A Glimpse of the Past’  Jeremy Pryce, Cambrian Press 2002

‘A History of Llandinam and Parish’  B. Bennett Rowlands 1836 -1915 Published by Jeremy Pryce, The Forge, Llandinam SY17 5BY 2011

‘Llandinam Meandering Byways & Pathways to the Past’ Publisher Jeremy Pryce (as above) 2008.

Ordnance Survey Limited (GB) www. ordnancesurvey.co.uk ‘Glossary of Welsh Origins of Place Names in Britain

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 39 Winter 2018

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 39 Winter 2018 

Dear PenCambrians

Well I hope you have all managed to cool down after the hottest summer since 1976. I certainly never thought that I would have to be carrying drinking water to the house again, especially for so long. Luckily there is a laundrette in Llanidloes now so I didn’t have to go and stand in the river to do the laundry like I did then.

We have had a sad loss to the PenCambria team this month:  Diana Brown, who was a stalwart of our local history and heritage articles, died quite suddenly in August. We will miss her greatly and you will find an appreciation of her beginning this month’s issue. We have had glimpses of the illustrious career another colleague; Reginald Massey, and earlier this year he received another accolade, the P.D. James Award, for which he receives our hearty congratulations. For centuries, leather and leather goods manufacturing were one of the staple means of income in Llanidloes. Alas most of that has now gone and Diana Ashworth has been talking Llanidloes leatherman, Len Davis, who is the last of his kind, and what an extraordinary career he had, too. Shivering around the coke stove, far from the heat of this summer, Norma Allen remembers her school days in Llandrindod Wells.

Ivor Davies has had a book on 18th century veterinary practices in his family’s possession for many generations and he and Brian Poole have written an article integrating a commentary on that and bilingualism in Aberhafesb over the centuries. The Davies family of Llandinam are well known for their philanthropic support for so many projects in mid Wales especially in the fields of culture and the arts. Their wealth came originally from David Davies’s enterprises in the south Wales coal fields and Barry docks. Peter wrote a biographical sketch chronicling the lives of David Davies and his grandson David Davies, the 1st Baron Davies, and this is will be serialised in the next few editions of PenCambria. This month’s chapter is all about the first David Davies, or Top Sawyer, as he was known.

Trust between man and bird, and a butterfly are the subjects of Bruce Mawdesley’s exquisite little pieces this  month.Richard Meredith is in pursuit of the Manuels whose name he bears.

After Chris Barrett’s introduction to megaliths in mid Wales, Lawrence Johnson has been on a strenuous hunt for a stone circle high in the moorlands behind Carno. Michael Apichela, on the other hand, shows us the delights lower down in the seaside town that is Aberystwyth. Michael  has a love of all things Aberystwyth and he just cannot keep his feelings in check with both a piece of prose and a poem celebrating this seaside resort and its traditions and introducing us to one of its artists, Karen Pearce.

In 2014 we began our commemoration of the centenary of the First Word War with Brian Lawrence’s account of the Home Front in Rhayader with a compilation of reports from the newspaper, council and other groups. This year sees the centenary of the end of this dreadful conflict and the documentary section of this magazine ends with his compilation of accounts relating to 1918 up to the armistice in November of that year.

Last year the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments in Wales began a project on place names in Wales. The history of Mid Wales, more so than north or south, can be said to be revealed in our place names so I have suggested to our writers that we could do something similar here. Jim French has started the ball rolling. If any of you would like to send me information about place names in your area I should be delighted to hear from you and perhaps we can add it to what we already have.

In the Dragon’s Crypt, thrills and chills for Hallowe’en from Norma Allen, Michael Apichela’s Ode to Aberystwyth and two beautiful poetic meditations on birth and death at the turn of the year from Paul Hodgon.

CONTENTS OF PENCAMBRIA 39

Diana Brown, 14th August 1932-13th August 2018, an appreciation compiled by Gay Robert

Reginald Massey awarded P.D. James Award

The PenCambria Quiz number 2

Last Leatherman in Llanidloes Diana Ashworth

Veterinary Practice and Bilingualism in 19th Century Aberhafesb Brian Poole

David Davies(Top Sawyer) 1818-1890 – a biographical sketch  Peter Lewis

Walking the Old Ways of Radnorshire: book review Lawrence Johnson

What’s in a Name? Richard Meredith

The Butterfly Bruce Mawdesley

Will the Circle be Unbroken? Lawrence Johnson 

Karen Pearce : a Welsh Artist of Many Hues Michael Apichela

From Coke Stoves to Computers Norma Allen

In Praise of Old Aberystwyth Michael Apichela

The End of the Great War – Rhayader 1918 Brian Lawrence

Fields and ‘Edges Jim French

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales – Latest Research into Abermagwr

 AS USUAL THE EDITOR HAS CHOSEN ONE ARTICLE TO PUBLISH ON THE WEBSITE IN FULL

 LAST LEATHERMAN IN LLANIDLOES by Diana Ashworth 

In the 1549 record of the Court of Great Sessions there is a reference to Stryd Gwyr y Gloferiaid (Street of Glovers) suggesting a flourishing glove making trade in the town of Llanidloes. Leather working would seem to have been an obvious enterprise for a town like Llanidloes – an economy being an industrial ecology system with inter-dependant enterprises fuelling each other’s success. Leather working certainly fitted snuggly with all the other enterprise in the town and there was much enterprise during the industrial heyday of the town. A leather industry needs hides in plenty (a by-product of the meat produced from cows and sheep by local farms), bark for tanning from the oak trees felled for building and for pit props for mining. The hills around Llanidloes had been mined for lead since Roman times.  Lead was mined at Bryntail from 1708 and the ore shipped down the Severn to the sea in small boats.  A rich lead seam was discovered in the Van in 1865 and it became the boom industry – in 1876 it produced 6,840 tons of lead, more than the total production of the rest of Britain and supported hundreds of workers.  A new light railway was built to link the mine with the rail network at Caersws. Oak bark was also a by-product of charcoal burning and charcoal was also important, before coke, to fuel the blast furnaces used to smelt the lead ore.  The remains of blast furnaces can still be found along the footpath on the north bank of the Clywedog River as it enters the town.

For almost any industry you need power – it is no accident that the wool processing factories in Llanidloes were called mills – mills originally powered by water.  Water crashed down over the paddles of the great water wheels that powered local industry before the extravagant days of steam.  Even in the little settlement of Llawr-y-glyn the gardens of the present houses are criss-crossed by the earthworks of ancient mill leats. Water was needed for tanning and dyeing and to carry away the chemical effluent from the factories.  Tanning continued in other places after it ceased in Llanidloes so there are still some people who can remember how every few days their river would run a different colour, according to the colour of leather in production that particular week!

There are three other things you need for a buoyant industry – investment, transport links and a skilled work force.  With the success of the mines, the flannel mills, farming and the iron foundries (which grew up to support the mining and the railways and really took off in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century) the town was prosperous and there was no lack of investment.  With plentiful work and railway links to the rest of Britain, the town grew and with a strong tradition of religious non-conformity there was a lively Welsh culture and a relatively sober, educated workforce with a strong work ethic. So Llanidloes was perfectly situated to have a thriving leather industry.

In 1878 there were three tanneries listed in the town: Thomas and Edward Davies, skinners, of Short Bridge Street of Crybine and Phoenix-stream mills; Robert T Foulkes of The Nant and David Swancott of Great Oak Street. Later in the century there were skinyards on Lower Green in Cwmdu and later still, Spring Mill flannel mill, over the Short Bridge, was bought by Edward Hamer and converted into a skinyard and tannery by his son T Pryce Hamer.  When he was killed in the First World War the business was taken over by his brother George F. Hamer.  In 1931 George Hamer acquired another defunct flannel mill, the Cambrian flannel mill, which he converted to a leather factory which he ran in conjunction with Spring Mill.  These premises were large, impressive industrial buildings.  The Cambrian Flannel Mill had two large three story blocks with an oblique chimney that voided the smoke from the steam boiler at a distance from the factory so that soot did not get deposited on the acres of flannel that used to be pegged, with tenter hooks, on frames on the nearby hillside to dry.  These great mills and the foundry must have dominated the town landscape in a way that is hard to believe today.

By the second World War these works, now producing fine leather, employed more than 100 people, a quarter of them women.  Rough hides were processed at Spring Mill, cleaned and de-greased and turned into leather which then went to the Cambrian  Leather Works to by dyed and softened – a process known as finishing.  There are still people who remember the drying rooms, where hides were pegged to dry on frames that slid into drying cabinets heated artificially.  These were up on the hill, above Spring Mill and behind what until recently was Shirley Houson’s house. Gloves continued to be made in the town up until the Second World War and at that time there was still a tannery on the river at the rear of Victoria Avenue. Sandringham Leather Goods Ltd occupied the first floor of the Cambrian Works from 1939 making belts, wallets etc before moving to new premises in 1953.  In that year there was a major fire at the Cambrian Leather Works but the factory was rebuilt and continued until the 1960’s although latterly, I am told, the premises were leased and run by at least one other leather producer before being sold to BSK who ran it as an engineering workshop. By 1970 leather production in the town had ceased.  However there remained in the town many skilled leather workers, men who could handle and match hides by second nature and skilled machinists.  One man who had been born in the town recognised this.

Enter Len Davies who was born in Cae Gwyn, Llanidloes, and left school in 1955 and went to work at Titley Evans in Cambrian Place.  The company had been general dealers for over 100 years, buying goods and selling direct to the public.  They had two salesmen — one for south and one for north Wales.  They went from door to door and took orders from housewives (who were at home in those days), posted them back to Llanidloes where Edward Williams, the manager of the business and uncle of the two young women who had inherited it, ably assisted by Len, would make up the orders and deliver them.  Len was interested in the fabrics and haberdashery and he was paid £2 per week.   But those were the days when you could have a night out in Newtown, by train (cinema with friends and a bag of chips) for two shillings and six pence (2/6) — that’s 13p in today’s money! Len was born at just the right time; he missed the last call-up for National Service by a matter of weeks.  Many of his friends from the new Llani High School, opened in 1951, had gone that year into the Welsh Guards who always recruited in Llanidloes.  Len was ambitious and when, one day, he was stopped in Newtown by a man from the Youth Employment Department he was interested in the opportunities that were on offer.  Before he knew it he had applied for a job at a famous department store on London’s Buckingham Palace Road.  This was Gorringe’s, opened by Frederick Gorringe in 1858 though later taken over by Selfridges. This was a very exclusive emporium with several royal warrants – they were silk mercers to the Queen Mother and hatters to the Queen! To complete his application Len had to enclose a photograph of himself.  That was a problem — these were the days before digital photography.  One or two people might have a Kodak box camera with which they took tiny black and white snaps on holiday which took a couple of weeks to get developed, or you might have a studio photograph taken by a professional photographer in the nearest big town at great expense.  There was a photographer in Llanidloes who took pictures at weddings, Len sought him out and explained his quandary – “I’m doing a wedding on Saturday – meet me outside the church and I’ll see what I can do.”  Len got himself all dressed up in his Sunday best and was outside the church the following Saturday and a very respectable photograph was produced and duly sent off.  Len got the job and off he went to London.

He presented himself at Gorringe’s  — a very grand place indeed in a building not unlike the present Harrods building but just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, opposite the Royal Mews.  He wore his new brown suit, a cream shirt, a splendid tie and new ox-blood shoes, of which he was very proud.  “Oh dear! You won’t do at all,” said the floor manager at Gorringe’s shaking his head – there was a strict dress code for employees.  They wore smart black or navy suits, black shoes and socks and the house tie.   However they were accommodating to this innocent from the Welsh hills; they dressed him appropriately (deducting 2s 6d from his weekly pay for the hire of the suit while his own was made which in the end he got for free.  They adjusted the way he spoke (I always wondered what had befallen his Welsh accent!)  He lived in the staff hostel and was payed 24s 6d per week (£1.22½p in new money!)  In London he earned a lot less than he had in Wales but they sent him to the College of Distributive Trades in Charring Cross Road in the evenings where he got a good sound grounding in retail and business (including window dressing) and was teased by the snooty young women who worked at Gorringe’s, Harrod’s, DH Evan’s, Derry and Tom’s and the like.  These were young Mrs Slocombes and this time of his life was like finding himself in a scene from “Are You Being Served?” But if he felt homesick he could stand on the steps of Gorringe’s and watch the men of the Welsh Guards, stationed at Chelsea Barracks, marching past with their band and nod at 2 or 3 lads from home who he recognised as they went to change the guard at Buckingham Palace! He certainly cut a suave figure when he returned for his holidays to Llanidloes and from these sound foundations his career in the fashion industry blossomed.  He trained as a buyer for Freeman’s, the mail order people. – travelling all over the world, to Paris, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona and Portugal – buying for the catalogue and spotting the latest trends at fashion shows and in the expensive shops all over Europe that could be copied and sold through Freeman’s catalogue – it was a fabulous job!

They were building a factory in Ireland but had to sell their product outside Ireland.  Len went to work for Peter and learned the arts of selling.  Later Len decided he would like to be involved with manufacturing leather clothing and where better to do this than in his own home town where as we have seen, the leather industry had run its course but where there remained so many skilled machinists and leather workers. In 1970 Len rented the old Cambrian Mill for £5 per week and set up Cambrian Fashions Ltd, manufacturing leather clothing, producing up to 1000 jackets per week and the Phil Read range of motor cycle racing leathers (Phil Read was the Grand Prix motor cycle  road racer, World Champion and TT winner!)  But he could turn their hands to other things – fulfilling one order for 24,000 pairs of pyjamas!  At that time there was also a leather coat factory at the old station building.

The 70’s was a challenging time for business in Britain –it was the decade of high inflation, tight fiscal control, poor industrial relations, political instability, the three-day week with the downfall of Edward Heath’s government, the return of a Labour government with Harold Wilson succeeded by James Callaghan  and in 1979, the winter of  discontent with widespread industrial action.  At the end of the decade Mrs Thatcher came to power and took on the power of the unions about which passions in Wales still run high.  Whatever your politics it was undoubtedly a difficult decade!  It proved the downfall of many businesses and heard the death knell of much manufacturing in Britain and many enterprising men and women found themselves in unenviable positions due to circumstances way out of their control. Leather clothes are no longer made in Llanidloes.

In 1975, 76 and 77 the workers at Cambrian Fashions Ltd took to the streets in paramilitary uniforms – not to protest — it was carnival!  Llanidloes Carnival was in its heyday and Len and all the girls (for they were mainly girls at the factory) threw themselves wholeheartedly into the spirit of the thing.  They were clothes manufacturers after all and their machines hummed with enterprise, making white trousers with black stripes down the sides and smart burgundy jackets with brass buttons, epaulets and gold lanyards.  Hats were made –peeked flower pots with crossed sword cap badges. Brian Crisp was drum major and the girls were taught to march.  Brian in his blue suit with white accessories wielded a baton made from the missing snooker cue to which an equally illicit knob had been fixed and sprayed with gold paint.  The company flag was born by the factory manager and protected by armed guards with cardboard rifles and ammunition.  There were 60 in the band – playing kazoos, disguised as bugles and with the boss playing the drum. They practised their music and their marching and on the day they went down a storm, marching out of the old Cambrian Mill, playing and twirling as they went through the town, passing all the crowds waiting for the floats, up to the station where they joined the back of the parade to do another whole circuit of the town – the Cambrian Fashions Marching Band!

Thanks are due to Len Davies for sharing some of his memories and acknowledgement to E. Ronald Morris, whose book Llanidloes Town and Parish – An Illustrated Account proved so fascinating and helpful in preparing this article.

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 35 Summer 2017

INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 35

Dear PenCambrians,

50 years ago we were going through momentous changes in so many ways, especially socially and politically. In America the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Here in Britain the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was thriving after the Cuban Missile crisis; Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister of the first Labour government since Clement Atlee’s government, which through housing, education and especially the National Health Service had improved the lives of the vast majority of the people in Britain, had been defeated in 1951, the contraceptive pill, the decriminalisation of abortion and the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality were transforming the lives of so many people and the alternative lifestyle known as the Hippie movement, or Flower Power was beginning to bloom. In the forefront of this were the Beatles, who released their ground breaking LP Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Make Love, Not War was the slogan from John Lennon and this all began to culminate in the Summer of 1967 which was known as the Summer of Love. What was happening in Mid Wales and what were the experiences of Mid Walians during this year? You can read about that later on in this issue.

100 years before 1967, the world was also undergoing profound changes. Electricity was beginning to transform society and the USA was in the full throes of expansion and consolidation. In 1867 the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was pivotal in the events that led to the First World War, was formed, and Pierre Michaux developed the fist mass-produced bicycle. In Britain the vote was given to all male ratepayers in the borough constituencies, Karl Marx published Das Kapital and Queen Victoria turned down plans for a channel tunnel. You can read about these and so much more in Jim French’s look at the year 1867.

We have lost 2 invaluable local historians this year David Pugh of Newtown and E. Ronald Morris of Llanidloes. Tributes to both these men can be found in this issue.

Brian Poole discovers just how much of a retail innovator was Newtown’s Pryce Jones.

Andrew Dakin provides a very entertaining account of his family history researches is amazing what you can dig up if you go that extra mile. Lawrence Johnson can always be relied on to go that extra mile and this time he is exploring the lake district of the Leri Valley and the upper Rheidol valley, inland from Ponterwyd, surveying all from the Great Watchtower. There can’t be many families with so many talented members as the Mills family. We have heard about some of them in previous editions of PenCambria and in this issue Richard Meredith sketches some pen portraits of a few more of them. Following my brief look at the development of the British Parliament and of the history rioting in mid Wales in PC34, you can read my account of the riot that took place in Llanidloes in 1721. This is also the featured article on this web page.

Giving us much food for thought, Dr Chris Barrett reviews a book documenting the various asylums in Wales and the lives of the inmates.

The Reverend Francis Kilvert was a prolific 19th century diarist and his diaries while he was a curate at St Harmon are a great source of research material, giving a particularly vivid insight into life there at that period. Reginald Massey takes a look at Kilvert as a diarist. Reginald also gives a tantalising look into his own life with his account of film making in Bangladesh with that great boxer Muhammed Ali, yes, really!

The RCAHMW has two fascinating projects that they are keen for us all to know about and to use the collection of information about European travellers in Wales from 1750 to 2010 and their list of historic place names in Wales. Details can be found on their pages in this edition. History told in verse, as indeed it was for millennia, especially in Wales, before the age of writing, conveys an impression of events more vividly and memorably than many words written down on dusty parchments. We have two instances in this issue: the very human tale of a jilted albeit anonymous Radnorshire girl, sent in by Brian Lawrence, and in the Dragon’s Crypt the epic drama of 500 bards slaughtered by Edward I after a feast at Montgomery as commemorated by the Hungarian poet, Janos Arany in a masterly translation by the physicist Peter Zollman. Also in the Dragon’s Crypt  the late Tom Merchant of Aberystwyth tells a tale of hope overcoming adversity, Norma Allen discovers the Radnorshire legend of Silver John, Reginald Massey welcomes the return of the swallows and Eeyore has a few words of advice. 

CONTENTS 

Mr. Newtown. David Pugh 1941-2017 Brian Poole

Llanidloes: a Riotous Town? Part One Gay Roberts

The Royal Warehouse at Newtown Brian Poole

The Millses of Llanidloes A Family of Many Talents Richard Meredith

The Demise of the Dakins of Llanidloes : Part One Andrew Dakin

The Life and Diaries of Francis Kilvert Reginald Massey

All Below the Watchtower Lawrence Johnson 

Edward Ronald Morris 1922-2017 Richard Meredith 

The Jilted Girl Brian Lawrence 

Dangerous Asylums : Book review Dr. Chris Barrett

Domestic Deity  or a Damned Cat Diana Ashworth

Aberystwyth Bruce Mawdeskey

Mid Wales in 1867 Jim French

Make Love Not War  1967 and the Summer of Love Gay Roberts

Ali and Me Reginald Massey

Abbey Cwmhir Heritage Trust

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales features

European Travellers: A new view on historic tourism to Wales

The List of Historic Place Names of Wales

Mid Wales Art Centre Events

 

The Dragons Crypt

I Shall See Snow Again Tom Merchant

The Bards of Wales Janos Arany, translated by Peter Zollman

The Legend of Silver John Norma Allen

The Swallows Reginald Massey

If I were you Eeyore

 

THE LLANIDLOES RIOT OF 1721 Gay Roberts 

To set the scene in Llanidloes, in December 1721 canvassing was already underway for the general election which was to be held in April of the following year. There were two political parties putting up candidates the incumbent Whig party, that drew its support from the burgesses and the landed aristocracy led by Sir Robert Walpole, who was campaigning to establish himself as the country’s Prime Minister, and the Tory party, the party of the landed gentry and the burgesses. Diana Brown has written very astutely and entertainingly about the political tough and tumble in Montgomeryshire at this critical time.

Their names Whig and Tory are thought to come from the Scottish whiggamore, meaning a horse thief, and the Irish tory – a pursuer or a pirate, hence the saying that the English Parliament is a parliament of pirates and horse thieves. The Llanidloes gentry, which included the powerful families of the Lloyds of Berthllwyd, the Ingrams of Glynhafren, the Clunnes of Glandulas, the Owens of Garth and the Glynne family were Tory to a man and had been ever since the Civil War, and especially since the 1680s when the Whig Herberts of Lymore had sought to disenfranchise the out-boroughs, and have their pocket borough of Montgomery as the sole representative of the seat.

The candidates contesting the seat of the Montgomery Boroughs were John Pugh of Mathafarn, the sitting member, a Tory who was supported by the outboroughs of Llanidloes, Llanfyllin, and Welshpool, and Sir Charles Lloyd of Moel y Garth, a Whig supported by the borough of Montgomery and its patrons the Herberts of Lymore. 

What actually happened on 26th December 1721? Dr. Humphreys gives an excellent summary of the events of that night and that follows below:

On 26th December 1721 Evan Glynne of Glyn Clywedog, a member of a powerful local gentry family and a Tory, canvassed the town with more than the customary gusto. Accompanied by at least four henchmen, all apparently the worse for drink, he called “Pugh for Ever!” and fired his pistols at the houses of several respectable townsfolk. By coincidence, at the market hall there were two town lads, Richard Pryce and John Davies who baited one another with the political cat-calls of “Pugh for Ever!” and “Lloyd for Ever!”. Evan Glynne, hearing Richard Pryce call ”Lloyd for Ever!” fired his pistol at the boy and caught him in the thigh. Ugly scenes were already developing in the town; Glynne was inciting an explosion of communal anger. He and his accomplices fled into the house of a mercer of the town named John Evans. There followed the stoning of the house, apparently a popular form of crowd action in eighteenth-century Montgomeryshire. When the crowd finally entered the house, they found that Glynne had escaped with his accomplices, and for good measure they proceeded to beat-up John Evans. Two cases were brought into the Court of Great Sessions; a case by John Evans against the rioters for riot and assault, and a case by Richard Pryce against Evan Glynne for grievous assault. However, the whole affair becomes confusing because of the appearance of some `alternative’ witnesses who were undoubtedly used by the Glynne family to clear the case against their relative. (Dr. Melvin Humphreys)

As with all rioting the sequence of events is a bit confusing with some statements appearing to be at odds with others. The following account is pieced together from the depositions reprinted by Dr. Humphreys in his article.

Sometime between seven and eight o’clock in the evening of 26th December Evan Glynne and three companions, John Humphreys, a shoe maker, Richard Humphreys, a shoemaker, and John David Junior, all probably somewhat the worse for drink, were swaggering around the town crying “Pugh for ever!”  in support of John Pugh as they passed Lowry Jones’s house until they came to David Jarman’s house. Glynne stood against the house and fired a gun the shots of which passed very close to the face of David Jarman’s daughter Anne, who was trying to get back to the safety of her father’s house as quickly as possible, and lit up the side of the house. Wandering on, they were joined a bit later by Morris Humphreys, a glover, and some others in the street where John Evans, a mercer, lived.

Richard Price, a carpenter in Llanidloes, was on his way home from the house of John Wilson when he heard John David Junior called out”Pugh for ever! Who dares speak against him?” When Richard Price answered “Lloyd!” in order to reprimand John David Junior for making such a disturbance, Glynne was out of sight and called out to ask who was there. Price replied”It is I. Dick Price”. Glynne then emerged from the shadows and came upon him with Richard Humphreys saying “God Damn you! How dare you say Lloyd”! Price replied that he would say Lloyd again, and went on his way.Evan Glynne, John David and Richard Humphreys ran after him. Then Evan Glynne hit Price in the face and Richard Humphreys grabbed him by the hair and started to haul him along. At that moment Richard Humphreys’ father John arrived and told his son to let Price go, which he did.

At some point during this interchange Glynne replied “God Damn me but I’ll shoot thee!”, instantly cocked the loaded gun he had in his hand and clapped the muzzle up against the breast of Richard Price, who immediately beat it down with his hand so that when it went off it shot him in the right thigh. Price dropped to the ground crying  “I am killed! Mr. Glynne hath shot me through the thigh!”  but managed to make it back to his home where he lay dangerously ill for a long time lapsing in and out of consciousness at least a dozen times. When the depositions were being taken he was being treated by James Baxter, the apothecary and surgeon of Newtown, However, he was still in a very uncertain state of health when his deposition was taken and if he survived he would as likely be lame or a cripple and he and his family would be ruined as the result of his being unable to work. David Lewis, a former citizen of Llanidloes, asked the group who were the murderers who killed the lad, striking at somebody in the crowd as he did so. Morris Humphreys then struck David Lewis with a hurdle. At this point one of the petty constables, Robert Jones arrived and told Morris Humphreys, John Humphreys and Richard Humphreys to lay down their weapons and be quiet in respect of the King’s peace. Whereupon John Humphreys knocked Constable Jones to the ground, cutting him on the forehead and they all fled into John Evans’s house and barred the doors. There then followed the most extraordinary scenes.

At around nine o’clock, a crowd assembled in an ugly mood outside John Evans’ house and then proceeded to break most of the windows. Those gathered were the sergeants Evan Davids and David Jerman, David Evan bellman, Henry Edwards the inn keeper, Richard Owen the butcher, Thomas Jones glover, Edward Woosnam, Richard Jerman and Lowry Roberts. Lowry Roberts and some other men and women collected some great stones which they then threw into the house through the broken windows. She then said that she would get some fire, or perhaps they would get some gun-powder and blow the house up. Henry Edwards said that was not proper and that breaking it open so that they could get in should be enough. Then Edward Woosnam threw a huge stone that made a great breach in the wall and Henry Edwards, David Jerman and Evan Davids laughed heartily and said “Good lad, thou art strong, that’s a good push!” and then they broke open the shop windows. The next day he heard some people say that it was ill done to break John Evans’ house and windows to which John Price replied that it was not half enough but they should pull the whole house down. As a result, a watch was put on the street that night. Of those already in the house, John Jackson, a Scotchman from Newtown, said that he and three others were in John Evans’ parlour that night when around eight or nine o’clock the windows were broken and several great stones were hurled through by Richard Owen, David Evans and Evan Davies. Seven of them fell on the bed where Dunkin Miller lay and he was forced to get up. David Evans put his hand through the window and tried to strike John Jackson. Then one of Llanidloes’s innkeepers, Henry Edwards, came to the window and called everyone in the house murderers and that if they would not open the door to him he would break it down and murder everyone inside. He then saw Jenkin Kenkerdine, a shoemaker, come into the house along with everyone else, all acting in a riotous manner and Kenkerdine kicked John Evans down the stairs. 

Anne Lewis came along as Evan Davies, John Price Junior and David Miles, all carrying great clubs or truncheons, were trying to break into the house, she tried to pacify them but Evan Davies pushed her in the breast with a club and said “God Damn You!” Just then John Price struck her on the head with a club and she fell down and began to bleed profusely. She managed to get to the back door of John Evan’s house where she was let but she was in a bad way and had to lie down on a bed in one of the rooms where another sick young woman also lay. Despite this the men continued to throw stones into that room. Matthew Ruffe was in the John Evans’ house that night and he heard John Price Junior, Richard Owen and David Miles say they would bring the house down and immediately began to take the tiles off the roof and threw them into the room where Matthew was along with the great stones they were throwing into the other rooms. He saw Jenkin Kenkerdine kick John Evans down the stairs and then he and David Miles hauled him by his collar into another room where they assaulted him and tore his clothes. Lydia Humphreys, wife of Morris Humphreys, had come over to the house at the request of John Evans’ wife and while she was there Richard Owen threw a great piece of wood, possibly the foot of one of the benches in the street, into the shop where it struck Mrs. Evans, who was standing there, causing a great bruise on her forehead. Then, despite the back door being open, all the previously named rioters burst in through the other door and proceeded to break all the windows. 

According to Lowry Jones, John Evans’ son James was also in the crowd when Evan Glynne shot Richard Price and they all urged him on to do it. However, it would seem from Richard Price’s testimony that Evan Glynne committed the act without any urging from anyone else and maybe he was saying this in order to provide some mitigating factors as to why he should not receive the full punishment that the law provides. When he first heard the gun being discharged, Henry Edwards did not know who had shot Richard Price. He did not find out until later that night, at the house of Francis Herbert, when Evan Glynne confessed to him and that he was sorry that he ever seen the face of the Humphreys and John David. Glynne’s deposition does not appear in Dr. Humphreys’ article and his name was crossed out on the list of those who did provide testimony. And there is no indication of whether or not he was found guilty and if so, what the punishment was.

Although slogans of political support were exchanged it would seem that these just provided the touch paper for a brawl by Evan Glynne and his friends, who then fled into John Evans’ house to escape being apprehended for the shooting of Richard Price. However, what is intriguing is why this should have caused so many in the town to want to destroy John Evans’ property and bring out such murderous feelings that his very life seemed to be in jeopardy. John Evans was a mercer, which is a textile merchant, one who buys and sells textiles. The economy of Llanidloes would have depended on the wool trade at this time both the manufacture and the weaving of the finished product. Unless there was something in his life that is not mentioned here, which gave townsfolk cause to feel such rage against him, maybe John Evans was too tight in his purchases and too generous with his profit margins. After all, the rioters were not calling for him to hand Evan Glynne and his companions over to them or the law. They just seemed determined to bring his house down, with gunpowder if necessary, as if some deep, long held back frustration had suddenly burst out and they were determined to take full advantage of the opportunity that presented itself.

Just how politically motivated this riot was, is open to question. Evan Glynne was a scion of an old and very powerful Llanidloes Family, the Glynnes of Glyn Clywedog and he and his followers were evidently used to throwing his weight around using politics as an excuse, as the following incident shows. When the Whig John, Lord Lisburne passed through Llanidloes on his way to his home at Crosswood in Cardiganshire he was set upon by one of Evan Glynne’s henchmen, Morris Humphreys, whose wife Lydia made a deposition regarding the riot on 26th December 1721. According to one Richard Owen, Humphreys was standing in the road with a pikel in his hand, as Lord Lisburne approached. Humphreys called out “Pugh! Pugh!” and pushed at his Lordship’s breast with the pikel as he rode by. Lord Lisburne called out “Edwards, Edwards, I am put upon! Secure the man or the pikel!

The December 1721 brawl was certainly not the only incident of its kind that Evan Glynne would be party to. Dr Humphreys is convinced that, although Evan is a common name in the Glynne family and it can be difficult to know which Evan is being referred to, it was this same Evan Glynne who was present when, at the house of one Richard Spoonley, a man called Evan Humphreys was killed seemingly because he wanted a fiddler, who was also present, to play a certain tune. Evan Glynne objected and a brawl followed resulting in the death of Edward Humphreys by an unknown assailant with a sword thrust through an open window. 

(THE LLANIDLOES RIOT OF 1721 National Library of Wales, Wales 4/ 173/ 8 Edited by Dr Melvin Humphreys and published the Montgomery Collections Volume 75 1987)

In Part One of this article it was stated that there was an interesting correlation with the Chartists riot in Llanidloes nearly 120 years later. When the Trewythen Arms was attacked in order to release the Llanidloes Chartists who had been arrested and were being held there, it was Thomas Marsh, the former mayor who, having persuaded the current mayor David Evans to bring in reinforcements which included three London policemen and about three hundred special constables from around the area to maintain law and order, who, finding himself surrounded by the crowd wanting to get their friends released, shouted â “Hurrah for the Chartists! The people forever!”, raised his stick and smashed the first pane of glass, before fleeing to Shrewsbury to inform the Lord Lieutenant. The names are different but slogan is almost the same; vandalism is committed, women gathered the stones in both incidents

CONCLUSION

In the course of this piece we seem to have gone from the days of Victoria back in time to Poldark and back through the centuries to the days of the Anglo Saxons.  However, I think that I prefer today’s ‘boring political life that some young people currently deride, to the rioting and affray that overcame Llanidloes in the 18th century.

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 32 Summer 2016

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 32            SUMMER 2016 

Dear PenCambrians,

Well, what a turn round for us all during these last few weeks – leaders resigning, underlings scrabbling for power and, despite everything thrown at him, only one prepared to stand his ground, all credit to him. As I write this introduction a new leader for Conservative Party has just been announced. In the meantime, Diana Brown gives us a very entertaining glimpse into the murky world of 18th and 19th century politics with a look at the Watkins Wynn brothers of Montgomeryshire. Plus ça change indeed.

This year we have been commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, to that date the worst battle ever experienced on European soil. The only people who can possibly know what it must have been like are men who are or have been soldiers themselves. From Brian Lawrence’s remarkable month by month record of the First World War as experienced in Rhayader and the surrounding villages, in this issue we find out what was happening to the men themselves, some in France but many elsewhere in places such as in Turkey and Egypt. We also have news of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Living Memory Project devoted to the Battle of the Somme.

In the last issue as part of an article observing the changes in transport during the 19th-20th centuries Brian Poole included an interview with Evan Mills, published in the Montgomeryshire Express in 1940. Following this I was delighted to hear from his great-granddaughter Elizabeth Day, who has corrected three mistakes in the original interview and also provided a lovely, fuller piece on both Evan (giving me chance to correct three mistakes which have gone unremarked for the past 70 years) and his daughter Chloris, also mentioned by Brian, and Elizabeth’s great aunt. Chloris was quite an extra woman – a suffragette, a writer and poet, a teacher and a potential headmistress who could not however, stay away from her beloved mid Wales – well, we all know how that feels. Some of her work will appear in future editions of PenCambria. Brian Poole himself has found a corner of mid Wales just outside Newtown, containing three houses – Glan Hafren, Middle Scafell and Red House – that have been the inspiration for three published writers of quite different fields.

In this 90th birthday year of Her Majesty the Queen, Chris Barrett has been looking at the various progresses of Elizabeth II throughout Wales since she became Princess Elizabeth, heir to the British throne. Meanwhile, Roger the First refers not to a monarch but to the first person in Wales recorded as having the surname Jones this being one of Lawrence Johnson’s most entertaining articles. The Dakin Brothers of Llanidloes were hugely influential in the wool trade in this part of mid Wales and in Merthyr Tydfil in the 19th century and their rise and demise as recorded by their descendants, Andrew and Keith Dakin as part of their research into their family history gives us yet another glimpse into the complex world of mid Wales before the First World War.

C.S. Lewis is the subject of a lively pen portrait by Michael Apichela, who used to live in his house in Oxford. As well as pictures of his residency, Michael can be seen wielding C.S. Lewis’s walking stick, which was left in the house when he moved in. In chapter 5 of E. Ronald Morris’s book on Chartism in Llanidloes the instigators of the riot have been caught and are brought to trial. In Llawryglyn our retired lady’s lambs are determined to evade capture.Finally in our non fiction section, a lively look at the Carnival and Fancy Dress in Llanidloes with thanks to Robert Parker Munn for memories recorded at Llanidloes Day Centre as part of his oral history archive and published in The Llani Weaver in 2003.

The Dragon’s Crypt in this issue is full of wonderful writing to get your imaginations going. Bruce Mawdesley is struck by Moonlight, while Martha Fosberry is struck by her childhood memories of Nant-y-sgiliwch, the house where Bruce and Glenys lived in Llawryglyn. Bringing us down to earth Norma Allen imagines what it might have been like being involved in the building of the new War Memorial Hospital.

 

CONTENTS

Our Boys from Radnorshire Brian Lawrence

Evan and Chloris Mills Elizabeth Day 

The Queen in Wales Chris Barrett

Roger the First Lawrence Johnson

The Dakin Brothers of Llanidloes and the Mid Wales Wool Trade Andrew Dakin

C.S. Lewis and Wales  Michael Apichela

Chartism in Llanidloes: Chapter 5 E. Ronald Morris

The Parish Corners with Three Authors Brian Poole

Van Institute Exhibition of Photographs, Postcards and Paper Collection

Put Out to Grass: part 19: Colditz Hero Diana Ashworth

Bubble and Squeak Diana Brown

The Battle of the Somme – Commonwealth War Graves Commission Living Memory Project

Good Times in Llani Gay Roberts

Mid Wales Arts Centre

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

  The Dragons Crypt

Nant-y-sgiliwch  Martha Fosberry

The New Hospital 1962  Norma Allen

Moonlight Bruce Mawdesley

 

GOOD TIMES IN LLANI: Carnival and the Fancy Dress from Llanidloes past.

Gay Roberts

Llani has always known how to have a good tine and if we can raise money for a good cause, so much the better. We had two great regular collective events in which everyone can take part  – the Carnival, which was originally organised in 1932 to raise money for the War Memorial Hospital, and the Fancy Dress, when almost the whole town dressed up, which was started in 1969 to raise money to fund the Community Centre.

Llanidloes Carnival

Dressing up is something most of us love to do from childhood and many of us carry on doing it in one way or another into a ripe old age. Carnival is one of those occasions and it is a tradition which goes way back to time immemorial in all societies, including Llanidloes, although from 1932 onwards, its main purpose has been to raise money for the hospital. The syllable ‘carn’ in Carnival means meat, implying that meat was an essential part of this occasion and, as anyone who watches Time Team will know, archaeology has shown us just how important and frequent were festive occasions when huge quantities of meat were consumed. These days while the barbecue and the hog roast are a vital part of the provisions, it is the dressing up, the parade all through the town, led by the Llanidloes Silver Band, down to the football field on Victoria Avenue, and the games that we all enjoy that is important, the Carnival Queen taking pride of place.

In 1932, when the current Llanidloes Carnival began after a break at the end of the First World War, the Queen was the Rose Queen and they were known as the Rose Queen Carnivals. They were held specifically to raise money for the hospital, which, before the National Health Service began in 1948, was paid for by subscription, donation, sponsorship and general fund raising. The General Organiser and Chairman of the Executive Committee that revived the Rose Queen Carnival in 1932 was Mr. W.E. Dakin who can be seen on page 16 as a small boy and one of the weavers in the High Street Factory. He was a very enthusiastic and energetic fundraiser for the War Memorial Hospital, and in the eight years prior to the outbreak of World War Two the Rose Queen Carnivals raised on average over £200 a year, totalling £1,716 altogether, a very satisfactory sum for the time. His wife was a vice president in 1954 and although I have no details to hand I believe she was just as enthusiastic in this cause as was her husband.

The pre-war Rose Queens were Dorothy Benbow (1932), Iris Wood (1933), Dorothy Worthington (1934), Annie Ashton (1935), Margaret Ingram (1936), Beryl Phillips (1937), Morfydd Ingram (1938) and Florence Evans (1939). To be 18 years of age and single are still the usual qualifications to be a Carnival Queen, who is chosen by the public at a special dance; and on Carnival day, rather like her wedding day, it is the one day when she gets to be beautifully dressed and treated like a queen before real life sets in.

Left: Dorothy Benbow, The first Rose Queen in 1932.

Right: Marie Jones, whom many of us remember as Marie Ingram, crowned as Rose Queen in 1954,

The Rose Queen Carnivals carried on after the end of the war in 1945 and the picture below, very kindly given by Gaynor Waters shows the crowd in Great Oak Street cheering the parade in 1953.

Left front are Ann Evans and Margaret Jenkins.

Centre grouping are Mrs Lithgow and her daughter Stephanie, Elsie and Betty Hughes, Olwen Edwards, Phil and Rita Owen (neé Edwards) and their daughter Julie (in the pram).

On the right are Peter Jones with his nephew Brynmor, standing at the back, and Gaynor herself in the front. Do let me know if any of you recognise anyone else in this picture, and I will pass it on to Gaynor.

Fun is the essence of Carnival and the late Carroll Davies told me of the time he and a friend decided to dress up as German officers. They couldn’t get hold of real uniforms so they dressed up in what would pass for such at a glance, including the peaked caps. They took a jeep down to Llangurig and burst into the Black Lion, thinking everyone would laugh. The place went dead quiet as everyone looked at them as if in a time warp, and Carroll wondered just for a moment whether they had done the right thing. Then, everyone started to laugh and said, “It’s alright. It’s only Carroll!” and to the profound relief of everybody, drinks were had all round.Finally, passing the residents of Maesywennol, who had been brought out to Smithfield Street to see the parade this year, as they passed them the Llanidloes Silver Band played ‘Hello Dolly’ as a special tribute to them and the general enjoyment of all.

Llanidloes Fancy Dress

When I first came to Llanidloes in 1972 it seemed to me that the Fancy Dress was an opportunity for everyone – male and female – dress up in drag, especially as good-time girls. Great Oak Street was closed to traffic and filled to bursting – you could hardly move from place to place for fishnet tights and shiny bras let alone get to a bar to get a drink. There must have been as much beer spilling out of the pubs as there were bodies, and the scent of more exotic stimulants also filled the air. The Dance at the Community Centre started at 10pm and finished around about 2am. But one or two revellers could still be found staggering around town at 9am the next morning. And everything was cleaned up by then too, which was a great credit to the organisation. It wasn’t a competitive event, not for the adults, anyway. It was just a great street party. Children’s competitions were introduced a few years later but they didn’t really seem to reflect the spirit of the Fancy Dress, which was just to dress up and have a good time. And there was no trouble.

In the 1980s as word got round, more and more visitors began to make a point of coming to Llani for the Fancy Dress and soon busloads of party goers were coming in from places as far afield as Telford, Birmingham and even London. It began to be known the Llani Mardi Gras, after the similar festivities in New Orleans in the USA. Unfortunately, as the years went by, many of the revellers would be well oiled with drink before they arrived and inevitably there was trouble. In the early days the need for policing was minimal, probably just to redirect the traffic. By the 1990s it was a major operation. In 2004 5,000 people filled the streets. Inevitably it became too expensive to police and in 2005 it was temporarily suspended over concerns for public safety; in 2012 it was cancelled altogether. But you can’t keep a good Llani girl, male or female, down and, while it is no longer held as a festival, that particular Friday is still Fancy Dress night when we can climb into our fishnets, take to the streets and have a good time. 

The second part of this article gives voice to the people in the town sharing their memories with Robert Parker Munn in FANCY THAT! Published in The Llani Weaver of Summer of 2003 and gives a wonderfully vivid picture of the fun and enjoyment that Idloesians have at the Carnival and the Fancy Dress

Margaret said Victor Davies was an ex police sergeant who was the “Mr. Fancy Dress”. He was the one who used to organise it. Ivor said it was a Mr. Roberts who started it all. He was a solicitor’s clerk with Milwyn Jenkins. Ivor was a treasurer for the Fancy Dress once.

Margaret said the early fancy dress must have been in the 1960s but Doug said he remembers it in 1955 when he was in digs in Picton Street. He went as King Arthur. Everyone said it’s all for the alcohol now and not so much for getting friends together like it used to be.

Margaret said people don’t realise the Fancy Dress has always been organised by the Fancy Dress Committee and not the Council. Peggy remembered the fancy dress was a dance night in the community hall. After the carnival they would be dancing in their costumes. The carnivals went back to the 1930s at least. Beryl recalled a “Tramps Dance” too, there was something on every night in carnival week.

Ceridwen said the procession used to start from the old station. There was lots of space before, no industrial estate. There would be a figure of eight march through town to the football ground. Billy or Beryl Vaughan would lead it all on a piebald horse. Then there was Monty Morgan’s homemade penny-farthing bicycle. The Vaughans supplied the horses. When Billy died it was Berty Bull (Berty Slawson) who walked up front. Berty used to be a drummer in Llani Silver Town Band.

Beryl said Ernie D.T. and Nelly Griffiths used to do an act. Nellie was short and he would push her upon a horse and she’d fall off. You’d laugh at Harry Crisp as a Zulu too. Denzil Crisp and his brothers had motorbikes with planks across them.

Ynys said carnivals were brilliant affairs. 20 to 30 good dance troupes from all over performed. There were comic football matches with people dressing up as anything. The floats were fantastic. “I always remember a man on stilts catching money in his box hat.”

Beryl said there was the crowning of the Queen and competitions. Carnival always ended up with a confetti battle in Great Oak Street outside the town hall.

Peggy said that in the carnival there was a prize for the best dray pulled by stallion horses.

Carys said that everyone used to make their own clothes. Ivor said he was the treasurer for the Carnival in Llanidloes for 5 years. The carnival fell out for a few years in the 1940’s.There was a jazz band that often played there. “The Cambrian Jazz Band” Len Davis (Merle Davis’s brother) played for it. He was coming from the Cambrian leather factory. They dressed up as Spaniards and Dick Evans the Angel was in it. Carys remembered them marching to the sound of “The Isle of Capri.” There were often Morris Dancers. There was Llanidloes Football Team for Ladies for fun in the 1940s. They’d turn up on Carnival Day in the evening. The men would have a tug of war. There were other jazz bands too.

Peggy said, “We went as Llani football team. It was after 1941 sometime. We were a married group. We were walking. We were all ladies. We won the first prize. The second year we went as bunny girls. We won a prize then too. And we went as Black and White minstrels. Another time we dressed as babies with dummies. A woman was dressed up having 8 or 9 ‘babies’. We all had dummies and wore nappies. We won another prize like that. We went once as the Land Army girls. Another one was as the Salvation Army. I still have the photos. We had lots of fun preparing for it. We made it all ourselves. We went for the fun of it. We never had such fun after. It was very odd really that our husbands were letting us go in for it.

Eileen Meredith. I was from Llangurig. In 1932 I was a Scotch girl on a lorry in the carnival.

Doreen was 13 when she was the first carnival queen at Rhayader, in 1930. She wore a special dress to keep. They went round the schools to choose; about 7 of them. They would pick the ones to go on the lorry. Peggy said you had to pay for all the bits and pieces. Peggy said Llani Carnival Queen was called a Rose Queen.

 

REFERENCES

– The History of the War Memorial Hospital Llanidloes 1920 – 1948 Brian Owen published by the League of

Friends Llanidloes Hospital 1998  

– 1954 Rose Queen Carnival Programme and Timetable

– The Llani Weaver Summer 2003

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanidloes

https://llanidloes.com/llanidloes_carnival/index.html

 

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 31 Spring 2016?

 EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 31            SPRING 2016

Welcome to the eleventh year of Pencambria, and I hope will find its contents as interesting/absorbing/ entertaining and/or thought-provoking as you have in previous years. While writing this introduction, I am on my best literary behaviour, determined that my efforts do not come to the attention of Professor Pedanticus in the puzzles section of the Saturday edition of the Guardian. How mortifying to have my grammatical gaffs spread out for all Guardianistas to tut and gloat over.

The closure of John Mills Foundry in Llanidloes was a great loss to the economy of Mid Wales. Douglas Hurd worked there for thirty years and he remembers some of the extraordinary machines that were made there. In the meantime, as he strides the hills once more, Lawrence Johnson looks for traces of that legendary Welsh bard, Taliesin, in the landscape. In contrast Brian Poole has taken to the river as he finds traces of timber being floated downstream to its destination, a mode of transport, long gone since the coming of the railways and the long-distance lorry.

If there is one object that can be said to be iconic as regards the heritage of Wales it has to be the harp. Wales has given birth to many truly great harpists and none more so than the Roberts family of Montgomeryshire. The most famous of this family was John Roberts the bicentenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year in several places in Wales, most notably here in mid Wales in Montgomery, where there will be a series of workshops held by Amanda Munday and one of the great contemporary virtuosos of the Welsh triple harp, Robin Huw Bowen, culminating in a concert in Montgomery town hall in May. Chris Barrett tells us all about John Roberts himself in the second part of Life On The Road, her lively account of the gypsies in Mid Wales and this article is published below as a tribute to this great Welsh harpist who, when he finally settled down, made Newtown his home.

On 1st June 1889 the town of Johnstown in Pennsylvania was wiped out by a flood when a reservoir above it collapsed after one of the most violent storms ever experienced in that area and in total some 5,000 people lost their lives. Johnstown was the home of a large number of migrants from mid Wales, especially from Newtown and Llanidloes. Several people managed to send letters describing the disaster, back to their friends and families in Wales and the newspaper reports give a particularly vivid account of the flood and its aftermath. Two of these letters plus the account transmitted in a Reuters telegram published in the Montgomeryshire Express are printed in this edition.

Having looked at the history of the Liberal Party in Montgomeryshire, Diana Brown goes for political balance by examining the influence of the Conservatives in this very politically  independent area of Wales and finds families entrenching their positions in a struggle for political supremacy that is, assassinations aside, comparable to the military manoeuvrings of the medieval period that preceded them.

Meanwhile, in Chapter 4 of Chartism in Llanidloes 1839-40 E. Ronald Morris covers the political struggles of those much lower down the social scale: the Chartists riot for which the town is famous or notorious depending on which side you were on.

Using household account books of the period, Val Church shows us just how different were lives of the rich and the poor in Montgomeryshire in the nineteenth century.

Our retired lady from Llawryglyn discovers the joys and pitfalls of attempting to become a Welsh speaker. Let us hope she does not come across Henry, the Welsh learner whose fate is described by Val Church in a tale in the Dragon’s Crypt. There we also find A Strange Encounter as related by Gaynor Jones, the apprehensions on Leaving Home reflected on by Norma Allen, a child’s Hope of seeing her daddy again when he goes away to war expressed in a poem by Amber Louise Robinson, and Bruce Mawdesley’s inimitable variation on the immortal Song of the Weather as previously observed by those masters of wordplay, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.

Pasg hapus i chi – a Happy Easter to you all.

CONTENTS

The Foundry, Llanidloes  Douglas Hurd

A Welsh Hero  Reginald Massey

“I was a Salmon, I was a Dog”  Lawrence Johnson

A Harp for Rhiew Bechan School

Whigs vs Tories :Montgomeryshire politics prior to the 19th century Diana Brown

Chartism in Llanidloes: Chapter 4 E. Ronald Morris

The Johnstown Flood Gay Roberts

Gregynog Festival : Eire

Put Out to Grass: part 18: Reflections on Language Diana Ashworth

A Celebration of Welsh Gypsy Harping

The Lost Welsh Kingdom John Hughes

Two Lifestyles and What was in the Soup at Dolanog Val Church

Life on the Road: Part 2: The Roberts Family Chris Barrett

Mid Wales Arts Centre

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

  The Dragons Crypt

The Seasons Bruce Mawdesley

A Strange Encounter  Gaynor Jones

Leaving Home : 1962  Norma Allen

Hope  Amber Louise Robinson

Death of a Learner Val Church

 

LIFE ON THE ROAD by Chris Barrett 

Part 2: The Roberts Family

There are three things a man ought to have in his home:  a virtuous wife, his cushion in his chair and his harp in tune.”

Welsh Triad (Stephens, 1901, p203)

The history of gypsies in Wales from the 16th century to modern day was presented in Part 1 of this article (PenCambria, No 30). Part 2 focuses on the talented harpists and violinists of the Roberts family of Newtown, descendants of Abram Wood – the great gypsy patriarch whose presence in north and mid-Wales is documented from about 1750. Abram Wood married Sarah and it is through their son, William, that the Roberts branch of the Wood’s family tree developed. Many of the Roberts family members became renowned as musicians. The most famous of this talented Teleu was John Roberts, born 1816, this year marks the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth.  He was known as Telynor Cymru, the Harpist of Wales. A book about John’s life and his family, “With Harp, Fiddle and Folktale”, was first published in 1978 in Welsh. A considerably revised English edition by E. Ernest Roberts, John’s great-grandson, was published in autumn 1981. Unfortunately, Ernest died in June 1981 and did not live to see his published work. Roberts (1981 p27) praised Abram’s astuteness and foresight in adopting the Welsh triple-string harp, in which his Teulu was to excel.  Some brief explanatory notes may be useful before exploring the Roberts’ family story.

The Triple Harp is known to have been used during the reign of Charles I, around 1630, and was very well known in Britain by the beginning of the 17th century (Roberts, 2000).  It is believed that the first Welsh triple harp was made, towards the end of the same century, by Elis Sion Siamas of Llanfachreth near Dolgellau (www.clera.org/saesneg/harp.php)An early description of the Welsh harp is provided by the harpist John Parry (Bardd Alaw) (1776–1851) in the preface to the second volume of his collection; The Welsh Harper (London 1839). Genetic studies have shown that the Romanies/gypsies originated in India (Kalaydjieva et al, 2005) and, therefore, may have brought the “Welsh” harp to Britain in the 16th-17th centuries as they travelled across Europe. There are reports of similar style harps being played in Europe, especially in Italy, before its arrival in Britain.  Davies (1901), in an appendix to Stephens’ book “Welshmen”, describes the Welsh Triple harp thus; there are no pedals on the Welsh harp, it is held on the left shoulder and produces a different sound to the English or pedal harp – notes which are clear, sonorous and rich, a household or family instrument. Davies considered it possessed three “enormous advantages of cheapness, simplicity of design and a rich tone” (p243) and, most importantly for travelling players, it was lighter and more portable than the pedal harp. Davies suggests possible improvements to the harp, stating that it had not been structurally modified in the past 200 years! In his opinion the contemporary decoration, on English and American harps, were more pleasing and Welsh harp makers were continuing to reproduce bad features such as being “troublesome to maintain in tune due to the great number of strings” and “manipulation owing to the closeness of the strings”. However, Sebastian Erard is known to have improved the Triple harp in the 1790s, producing a double action mechanism) which he later patented (http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk). 

The violin may also be called a fiddle and to all intents and purpose they are similar. The term fiddle is often applied when the music played is folk-song, celtic or gypsy. (Abram Wood played the violin, rather than the harp).

Penillion singing, cerdd dant, is an old Welsh form of poetry in which a harpist plays and sings or is accompanied by other singers. The harp player always opens the performance with the main melody (alaw/cainc) but both player and singer(s) then add a counter melody (cyfalaw), harmonies and rhythms before finishing their presentation together. The website cerdd-dant.org traces the history of penillion from its beginnings to present day. The earliest recording of this type of singing was in the 12th century. In 1885 Idris Fychan published the first known penillion guidelines and listed 64 penillion singers of the day. Trevelyan (1893), in describing Welsh singing, states that penillion ranges from “grave to gay, from quick movements to slow and from sprightly tunes to melancholy wailing” (pp106-107). In John Roberts’ time the harpist traditionally played the Welsh harp airs and the vocal counter melody was improvised. In old collections the “song” is the lyrics and the “air” is the tune. Modern penillion singing has become more structured.

Welsh Harpists are known to have been employed by Royal families in England, at court and in battle, since the reign of King Henry VII (1457-1509). They played single and double row harps and had adopted the triple harp by the 1660s (Roberts, 2000).

Enough of technicalities, let’s move on to the Roberts musicians themselves! John Roberts Alaw Elwy (1816-1894) was the eldest son of John Robert Lewis and Sarah Wood. His father was a Welshman, from Pentrefoelas, a parish and village in North Wales. His mother, Sarah, was the grand-daughter of Abram Wood. John was born at Rhiwlas Isaf, Llanrhaeadr, Denbighshire. His nomadic gypsy childhood, often within a small family group, was challenging. Roberts (1981) provides evidence that John experienced poverty and hunger and when the family desperately needed money he would be sent back to work on a relative’s farm near Llanhaeadr. In 1830, aged just fourteen, John decided to join the army. He reasoned that (p38) during a “wilful cold winter” in Breconshire he enjoyed seeing the soldiers on parade. Also, John knew his own father had been in the army and reportedly fought at Waterloo. After enlisting at Brecon Barracks, John spent about nine years as a drummer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (23rd Battalion). However, he deserted twice, firstly in 1839 when he was captured in Swansea. He absconded again four months later and stayed on the run for four more years during which time he earned enough money performing to purchase his service discharge in 1844. John was obviously a very resourceful person, as illustrated by his ability to survive for five years as a deserter during which he moved around the UK (Roberts, 1981 pp38-40).

Because of the strong family ties in the gypsy community John would have known many other harpists, too numerous to discuss in a short article, for example; Richard Roberts (1796-1855), from Caernarvon, who was blind from the age of 8 yrs and a well-known and accomplished harpist, penillion singer and teacher. The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, available on the National Library of Wales website (wbo.llgc.org.uk/en/s-WOOD-sip-1500html), lists many of the Woods/Roberts Teulu who were talented harpists and fiddlers. They were welcomed by Welsh gentry to entertain their guests and some individuals were employed long-term by the nobility as their resident musician. But John’s talent was exceptional and by 1886 he was widely known as Teylnor Cymru, rather than Alaw Elwy, following his investiture in a bardic gorsedd near Llyn Geirionydd. In addition to his extraordinary musical talent his resourcefulness, imagination and ability to write and to tell a good story seems to have contributed to a “larger than life” persona. Literacy was not common in his social class at that time. John’s correspondence to Frances Hindes Groome, written in 1887-9, are in Romani and English and are an entertaining mixture of affection for his “nephew”, storytelling, and descriptions of gypsy music and lifestyle.

John had played the harp since boyhood and was steeped in the traditions of gypsy music, poetry and song. During his military life as a drummer he learned about many other musical instruments and improved as a harpist. He played the harp for various members of Royalty including Princess Victoria (in Portsmouth in 1834 and Winchester in 1835), the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia (in Aberystwyth in 1847) and Prince Leopold 1, later the first King of Belgium (in Swansea in 1848).  In his letters to Francis Hindes Groome he identified many notable families of Welsh gentry he had entertained on request. He had married his first cousin Eleanor Wood Jones (Perpinia), in 1839.  Her father was a well-known musician, Jeremiah Wood Jones, who worked as a harpist at Gogerddan (the home of the Pryse family since the 14th century). Once John and Eleanor were married, and during the time he was an army deserter, they entertained people in many different venues from inns and hostelries to fine country homes. But John’s reputation grew when he won Eisteddfod medals and prizes for his playing and singing (at Abergavenny in 1842, and 1848 and at Cardiff in 1850.)

John Roberts, picture reproduced from flyer and archived in the National Library of Wales

In 1850 John and Eleanor settled in Newtown, mid-Wales, a place which was to remain his home until he died some forty-four years later. They brought up a family of thirteen children who were born between 1840-1865. And it is here that the focus of the Roberts family moves from John to his many talented offspring. Apart from Abraham, Sarah and Ann, his remaining ten children were instrumentalists, singers and performers (see Table 1).

When John and his nine sons performed together they were known as The Cambrian Minstrels. They practiced at home in Newtown to become a “trained and disciplined orchestra…that toured a circuit that included Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Tywyn, Dolgellau, Corwen and Bala” (Roberts 1981 p76). Table 1 illustrates each individual’s competence to play different instruments but only suggests the co-operation that must have been required to achieve cohesion of the group members. John appears to have acted as agent/manager of the Minstrels, confirming events and travel and touring arrangements as well as deciding the programme from their vast repertoire.

The Minstrels’ reputation was bolstered in their home town by local performances including balls held in the Pryce Jones Warehouse. When Queen Victoria visited Wales in 1889 she stayed with Sir Henry Robertson, of railroad building fame, in the beautiful mansion overlooking the River Dee, Pale Hall. The Cambrian Minstrels solely provided the evening entertainment for the royal visitor. Roberts (1981) describes in detail the family’s preparations for their performance and their journey to Llangollen and onward by a special train to Llandderfel station. Interestingly, the current website of the Pale Hall Hotel describes the occasion as; the Queen was “serenaded by a local Welsh choir”!  Following a year of declining health John had a stroke in 1893 and sent his triple harp to his friend, Mr Nicholas Bennett. The family turned down a trip, all expenses paid, to the World Fair in Chicago. John died in 1894 and was buried in Newtown, in the parish churchyard of St David’s church.

Table 1: Musical ability of the family of John Roberts 

Date of Birth  Name Place of Birth Area of recognised competence Other comments
1840-1869? Mary Ann Neath Welsh Harp, Violin, singing Eisteddfod prizes, 1850 & 1858
1844-? Lloyd Wynn Llanuwchllyn Welsh, English Harp Eisteddfod prize, 1865Harpist to Lady Londonderry
1850-1852 Abraham Brecon Died aged 2yrs
1852-? Madoc Brecon Mainly English Harp, and Welsh Harp Eisteddfod prizes, at least 9
1852-1919 Sarah Welshpool
1853-? John Newtown Welsh and English Harp, Singing Eisteddfod prizes, at least 10Played for the Empress of Austria
1855-? James England Holywell Flute, Flageolet Twin: Reuben
1855-1949 Reuben France Holywell Welsh Harp, English Harp, Violon-Cello, Double Bass, Piccolo. Mandolin Twin: JamesHis eldest son was Ernest France, the father of Eldra (1917-2001) and taught her to play the harp. Eldra taught gypsy tunes to Robin Huw Bowen
1858-? Albert Kington Welsh Harp Eisteddfod prizes, at least 19.Bardic title and Chief Harpist.“The ablest musician of the family” *

Played for the Empress of Austria

1860-1897 Ann Newtown —–
1862-1962 Ernest Aberystwyth English Harp, Violin, Double Bass, Singing
1865-? Charles (Charley) Aberystwyth Cello and Harp Twin: William
1865-? William Aberystwyth Mainly Violin, English Harp Twin: CharlesPlayed at London Palladium and Phoenix Theatre

 *(Roberts, 1981 p67)

It is important to place the achievements of the Roberts family in context. Musicality is recognisably part of Welsh history, culture and folklore. In the 12th century Gruffydd ab Cynan held an Eisteddfod at Caerwys, Flintshire, “for the purpose of regulating minstrels, whither travelled all the musicians of Wales” (Stephens 1901, p200). He is credited also with increasing the popularity of the bagpipe in Wales, where it was often regarded with contempt (pp200-202). At this time “the harp ruled supreme” and “strangers were entertained with conversation of young women and the music of the harp, for…almost every house was provided with both” and in “every family, or in every tribe they esteemed skill in playing on the harp beyond any kind of learning” (p203). Karen McCauley has studied the Celtic Bards in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Her descriptions of wandering minstrels and mournful harps are available on several websites, including a chronology of Welsh Songbooks 1794-1927 and many examples of Welsh harp airs, songs and penillion arrangements. (crowdsourcingbard.pbworks.com).

Despite present day recognition of the Roberts family’s abilities, wandering minstrels and Gypsy/Romany musicians may often have been on the fringe of the music scene in Wales –  as they were in much of society generally. In many European cultures Romani music was only partially assimilated into national culture. Gypsies and their way of life stimulated fascination and fear.  For instance, in Hungary gypsy costumes and music were emblematic, national symbols. However, gypsies themselves and their folk music were later to be discriminated against and ostracised. In the UK in the 18900s Trevelyan wrote “Glimpses of Welsh Life and Character”. In Chapter 7, which was devoted to “Welsh singing and song”, she declares this activity to be “as natural to the Welsh as to the birds” (p105). She reproduces the words and music to many songs which “are to be heard from house to house in Wales, and perhaps never to better advantage than in the open air” (pp110-113). This could be assumed to be a reference to gypsy singers but the rest of her writings make no mention of travelling or Romany musicians. Her descriptions are of farming folk in rural areas, milkmaids and workers. Marie Roberts’ book The Harpmakers of Wales (2000) does include a description of the “folk harpers” (p26-28) who travelled the Welsh countryside carrying their harps on their back.  Also, she lists 58 makers and repairers of harps and includes John Roberts. John and his sons would have been skilled at maintaining and repairing their harps. Marie describes their ability to renovate old instruments (p127). Indeed, Roberts (1981) includes a letter from John to Mr Morley of Morleys harp makers in London. It discussed the technical aspects of the Welsh harp and the desirable quality of a pure Welsh harpist as “one who has love for his country … and a Tear in his eye” (pp94-9).

Today the harp, like the gypsies, is still a part of life in Wales. To mark the two hundredth anniversary of John Robert’s birth there has been a celebration of Welsh Gypsy Harping(telynor.cymru/en/hanes.php). A series of harp workshops and concerts has been held throughout Powys. Robin Hugh Bowen has played the harp airs in the traditional Welsh manner- resting the harp on his left shoulder. He has many talents and is a harpist, folk group member and publisher. Other contemporary Welsh harpists have achieved international fame, including Elinor Bennett and Catrin Jones. In the 19th century Wales gained a reputation as the Land of Song and in Welsh the harpist doesn’t play but sings the harp – Canu’r telyn! Throughout Wales, Welsh love spoons, silver and wooden, are found with a heart and harp entwined. It is often said that music is heard by the ears but the harp touches the heart and in Ireland the harp is said to reflect immortality of the soul. It seems fitting to end this article on Welsh gypsies and the talented Roberts’ family with the opening words from Chapter 9 in the book written by EE Roberts about his great-grandfather; Telynor Cymru:

“John had a deep and abiding love for the Welsh harp.”

REFERENCES

Davies (1901) Appendix on the Welsh Harp In Stephens (1901) Welshmen 2nd Ed Western Mail Ltd. Cardiff.

Jarman, E & AOH (1991) The Welsh Gypsies: Children of Abram Wood, University of Wales Press.

Roberts EE (1981) With Harp, Fiddle and Folktale, Gee & Son, Clwyd.

Roberts M (2000) The Harpmakers of Wales. Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, Wales.

Short R S Rev (1885) The Roberts family of Welsh Harpists Aberystwyth Gazette July 18th 1885.

Stephens T (1901) Welshmen 2nd Ed Western Mail Ltd. Cardiff.

Trevelyan M (1893) Glimpses of Welsh Life and Character. John Hogg, London.

McCauley K https://www.academia.edu/1511674/Crowdsourcing_the_Celtic_Bard_Wandering_Minstrels_and_Mournful_Harps and crowdsourcingbard.pbworks.co.uk.

Letter from John Roberts http://www.morleyharps.co.uk/general-articles/historical-documents-from-the-clive-morley-collection/

2016 Anniversary Workshops: telynor.cymru/en/hanes.php

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 29 Summer 2015?

Issue 29 Introduction and Contents at a glance

INTRODUCTION 

Well, what profusion of centenary commemorations we have this month! Continuing with our tributes to the war time generation, this issue remembers both world wars. Brian Lawrence has documented month by month Rhayader’s involvement in and reaction to World War I and this time we hear something about life from January to July 1915. Brian Poole has been investigating the contribution of the men of the Cambrian Railway, specifically three men from Caersws, to the war effort and Diana Ashworth has been looking through back numbers of the Montgomeryshire Express to find how VE day was celebrated in 1945in mid Wales.

Lawrence Johnson considers the bloody history of a pile of bones found in the church of St Llwchaiarn at Llanmerewig in 1892.

Richard Meredith treats us to another aspect of his extraordinary family history – the builders, and their lasting legacies of edifices of all kinds from houses to chapels to bridges and a reservoir are still part of our everyday environment.

Another centenary is celebrated this year at Bryn Tail Cottage which has housed an Outdoor Summer School for Central Secondary School in Birmingham since 1915. Richard Fryer tells us all about it. While researching the life of the late Emlyn Hooson Diana Brown found out so much about the Liberal Party and its links with Montgomeryshire that she decided to write about it for this edition and cover Emlyn’s life in a later issue.

Jo Florin was one of those souls that come to mid Wales after a very much out-of-the-ordinary life elsewhere and find a haven here to settle down and develop a life away from the stresses of modernity and to end their days, which indeed Jo did last year. Andy Scrase knew her well and has written an appreciation of her which will chime with all those who knew her. In Llawryglyn our retired couple hope they can give their dog benefit of the doubt regarding the wound on their dog’s leg, which they hope has come from an heroic stand taken to defend a sheep against an intruder hound.

A crop of interesting books has been brought to our notice this month. Newtown History Group has published two very different books – A Brief Survey of Public Houses, Inns and Taverns of Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn, and Letters from the Front 1914-1918, a collection of letters sent home to Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn by some of the men involved.   The Dolanog Booklet Group has brought out a  booklet all about Dolanog. Meanwhile this month Gwen Prince reviews a recently published book about climate change by George Marshall; and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales have published two new books: one about the history of the slate industry in north Wales and the other about their discoveries of Roman life from their excavations of the Roman villa at Abermagwr, near Aberystwyth. For those of you eager to read the next instalment of E.Ronald Morris’s account of the Chartists’ uprising in Llanidloes, lack of space prevented its appearance in this issue, so it will continue in the next edition out at the end of October.

In the Dragon’s Crypt Gaynor Jones paints a beautifully sensitive picture of a mother taking her child to be admitted to school for the first time; Norma Allen completes her tale of the Welsh migrants’ journey to Patagonia; Reginald Massey expresses his love of Wales in some wonderfully heartfelt verse (SEE BELOW); Bruce Mawdesley remembers summers of childhood brought to life by John Selly’s illustration, and Amber Louise Robinson asks us what happens when we silence the world – a profound question from a 17 year old.

 CONTENTS

ROD Brian Poole 

Victory in Europe –  VE Day in Mid Wales Diana Ashworth

Blood and Fire Lawrence Johnson

A Legacy in Stone, Bricks & Mortar Richard Meredith

Don’t Even Think About It : Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change :

George Marshall book review Gwen Prince

Bryn Tail Cottage Richard Fryer

A Local Gladstone vs Disraeli Diana Brown

World War One in Rhayader : January to July 1915  Brian Lawrence

The Story of Jo Andy Scrase

Put Out To Grass : part 16: Dog Days Diana Ashworth

Roman Life in Abermagwr: Villa Finds Go On Display In Ceredigion Museum RCAHMW

New Publications reviewed:

Dolanog – Village on the Vyrnwy

From the Newtown Local History Group

–  A Brief Survey of Public Houses, Inns and Taverns in Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn :

–  Letters from the Front 1914-1918 Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn

From the RCAHMW:

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry

  The Dragons Crypt

School Admission Gaynor Jones – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -43

Mimosa Journal  Norma Allen – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  44

Lines from Llani Reginald Massey – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  51

“All on a Summer’s Day” Bruce Mawdesley, illustration John Selly– – – – – – – – – – – 52

A Song in Silence  Amber Louise Robinson  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 53

LINES FROM LLANI

I now proclaim my immense wealth.
I live in Wales, the Land of Bards.
I know it rains and winds are cold;
But grass is green and sheep are hard.

I am not Welsh by blood nor birth
But they have taken me to heart.
And hence I thank the Welsh nation;
They are indeed a world apart.

My London friends still think I’m mad
That I deserted them for Wales.
But I never made a better choice;
I love the oaks, I love the gales.

The Mid-Walians possess warm hearts
And have a sense of decency.
They are the salt of God’s good earth;
I love them all and they love me.

Reginald Massey

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 24 Winter 2013?

Pillow Talk Lawrence Johnson
The Shrewsbury Drapers and the Mid Wales Cloth Trade Dr. David Stephenson
Out & About with the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments in Wales
Capel Gerisim Brian Poole
An Evening with R.S. Thomas Glyn Tegai Hughes
Sir William Jones Reginald Massey
1st World War Centenary Commemoration Request
In Living Memory – H.B. ‘Gurra’ Mills Diana Ashworth
Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit
Cefn Gaer & Owain Glyn Dŵr Gay Roberts
Cefn Gaer : visit by the Arwystli Society Gay Roberts
Christmas at Dolwen Gaynor Jones
My Roots : Part 4: Polecats & Pigeons Richard Meredith
Put Out To Grass : part 11 Pumpkins, Myths and Toadstools Diana Ashworth
Farming Between the Wars 1920-40 part 1 Women’s Work R.M. Williams
A Good Read : two books reviewed by Norma Allen
Newtown Local History Group Honoured by the Queen Joy Hamer
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Wales

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Portrait or a Policemen Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by John Selly

The Parish Hall R.M. Williams
Back of the Bus Siôn Rowley
The River Severn in December Gaynor Jones
Final Choice Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 24 by Gay Roberts
With all kinds of interesting things in this issue, we begin with Lawrence Johnson, who has been walking the wilds of mid Wales again, going rabbiting, so to speak, investigating the pillow mounds above the Elan Valley.
Once Wales finally came under total English rule and disputes over sovereign territory were at an end, mid Wales wool producers began a war, of words rather than arms, over the monopoly of their wool sales enjoyed by the Shrewsbury Drapers, and Dr. David Stephenson, who I am very pleased to welcome back to the pages of PenCambria after a couple of years’ break, puts the case for the grievances of both sides.
The chapel traditions that mushroomed in Wales after the 1689 Acts of Toleration allowed Non-Conformists to practise their faith without fear of penalty, are remembered with the example of Capel Gerisim, high in the peat-cutting district, between Bwlchyffridd and Adfa, by Brian Poole, whose wife grew up in that parish. R.S. Thomas was greatly influenced by these isolated communities, and his thoughts were often part of the conversations that he had with Glyn Tegai Hughes, who shares some of them with us now, at the end of this year, which is the centenary of the great poet’s birth.
Yet another forgotten Welsh genius has come to Reginald Massey’s attention. This is the noted linguist, lawyer and orientalist Sir William Jones, whose family hailed from Anglesey.
A genius of quite another sort has been tracked down by Diana Ashworth. Gurra Mills was, among other things, a footballer of international quality who despite offers from several professional teams including Arsenal, Swansea and Shrewsbury, could not bear to leave this area, which he loved so much.
Owain Glyn Dŵr has been conspicuously absent from the pages of PenCambria as no suitable article has been forthcoming. This month, however, we have an account of a visit by the Arwystli Society to the house he owned in Pennal, near Machynlleth and where in 1406 he wrote the famous Pennal letter asking the king of France for aid in his campaign to secure his position as Prince of Wales. He also asks the pope at Avignon for help in establishing an independent Welsh church and two universities. The house is built on a Roman fort and is full of history. To accompany the account of the visit, I have included a very brief history of Owain Glyn Dŵr’s life, how he got to that moment and what might have been going through his mind as he wrote the letter.
The delights of a growing boy’s life in the 1950s are fondly remembered by Richard Meredith; Gaynor Jones relishes memories of Christmas during this time at Dolwen; while the joys of grandchildren and Hallowe’en in the 21st century are fondly related by our retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn.
Women’s work in St Harmon Parish between the two world wars is detailed by R.H. Williams. With no electricity or modern conveniences such as the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner, it was an entirely different life from that of today – and a hard but uncomplaining one too.
The RCAHMW has had a very active and interesting six months finding a Roman fort from cropmarks in a field near Brecon, restoring a bridge over the Kymer canal near Kidwelly, engaging with the Somalis of the Butetown, young and old, in tracing changes in their community using the Britain From Above material; and finding a long-lost carved medieval stone at Silian. They have also launched a new dimension to their access system, Coflein, which now allows users to search the National Monuments Record directly and explore the collection in far greater depth.
Norma Allen has found two excellent books to read and has reviewed them for your delectation.
Meanwhile in the Dragon’s Crypt there is lots of good reading, starting Bruce Mawdesley who remembers, in his own inimitably lyrical fashion, the village policeman, and once again it is illustrated by the delightful drawing of John Selly.
As well as a chronicler of the changes in St Harmon Parish R.H. Williams is also a dab hand at a bit of verse and here is the ballad he wrote for the centenary and the demise of the Parish Hall at Pantydwr.
Siôn Rowley, a new writer who I am very pleased to welcome to the pages of PenCambria, tells a story about a schoolboy who finds the courage to overcome the bully on the bus.
Gaynor Jones has also turned her hand to poetry this month, inspired by the river Severn in December.
Finally, a ghostly revenge from the pen of Norma Allen.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 23 Summer 2013?

Aberystwyth: the Biarritz of Wales Gaynor Jones
My Roots: Part 2 – Cor Hafren Richard Meredith
Cor Hafren Photographs
Mid Wales Railway and Associated Lines to Brecon: 50th Anniversary of Closure Anon, submitted by Colin Breeze

The Naming of Parts Lawrence Johnson
A Secret Legacy Diana Ashworth
An English Admiral and a Welsh Hill Reginald Massey
The Montgomeryshire Bench in the 1870s Rachael Jones & Gay Roberts
The Reality of Lambing Without Spring Diana Ashworth
Grus Grus at Caersws Brian Poole
Put Out To Grass part 11: Raining Cats & Dog Diana Ashworth
The Water Mills of Radnorshire R.M. Williams
Riot on the Mid Wales Railway: Llanidloes and Newtown Telegraph article submitted by Brian Lawrence

Coronation Day Diana Ashworth, the County Times and a few others
Freedom of the City of London for Reginald Massey
Knit for Britain From Above Campaign Natasha Scullion and Sandra Bauer

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Saturday Night Dance Norma Allen
Letter from the Llyn Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by John Selly

Editorial PenCambria Issue 23 by Gay Roberts
It is the summer holiday season once again and, up to the date of printing, we appear to having the sort of summer that has been just a distant memory for so long. Well, to celebrate, or rather to commemorate, we start with a memory from Gaynor Jones of more summer holidays in Aberystwyth in the 1950s. This article is a follow-up to her first memory there of a holiday, aged three years old, as printed in PC22.
Apart from the Cardiff services, from a network that covered the whole country, there are only three railway lines left in Wales. This industry, along with coal and various metal works, once provided the work that made Wales prosperous in so many ways. All these industries are now reduced to a wraith of their former services, and so it is very pleasing to be reminded of how integral they were to life in Wales. This we can enjoy in an article, author unknown, written in 2004 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of lines through mid Wales to Brecon.
Mid Wales is famous for its highly descriptive names of features in the countryside and Lawrence Johnson has been investigating the wilds of Plynlimon once again, this time as a lexicographer – he has been finding out what some of the names up there might mean.
Diana Ashworth has had a really busy few months on our behalf. Long before the advent of the NHS, we kept ourselves well with herbal remedies, a practice for which Wales has been famous for generations. As a retired GP, she has been looking into this from the point of view of a modern practitioner, and has shed a very interesting light on some of the remedies used, in comparison to today’s knowledge, with a particular emphasis on Nicolas Culpeper, the 17th century herbalist whose work still provides the standard body of knowledge for anyone learning this ancient art.
This year has been terrible year for Welsh sheep farmers and as Diana and her husband now have a small hill farm, she takes us through the hardship and heartbreak of those months. But, not to be beaten, the retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn still appreciate the funny side of life with their hearthside animal companions.
Reginald Massey has been visiting the Montgomeryshire borderlands, and at Breidden he came across Rodney’s Pillar, the tale of which he relates here. He has also become a Freeman
of the City of London, for which we must congratulate him, and you can read all about that too.
Richard Meredith remembers another choir with which he sung, this time Cor Hafren. With so many members, I have printed two different photographs so that you can enjoy seeing who was who in the 1950s.
I am very pleased to welcome local historian Rachael Jones back into the pages of PenCambria. She has been researching the Montgomeryshire Bench in the 1870s and we have a very interesting article based on a talk she gave to Powysland Club in April this year plus an account of a trial in Newtown 1869 to which I have added my own thoughts.
Rhayader has always had a mind of its own, so to speak, and Brian Lawrence has uncovered more riots in a very uncomfortable episode that happened between the Welsh and Irish navvies when the Elan Valley dams were being built. Calming things down a bit, in the gentle countryside of Radnorshire, R.H.Williams gives us tour around the water mills of St. Harmon Parish.
Royalist or republican, Protestant or Catholic, 1953 was one of the two years that marked the beginning of modern Britain. In 1945 the Atlee government that gave us the NHS, full state education and the Welfare State. In 1953 the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the start of a brighter, more hopeful age after the dreadful slaughter of the two world wars and the years of greyness and austerity which followed as Britain struggled to recover from near bankruptcy. It was also the first event that virtually the country watched as it happened on the newly available television sets. Many people have all sorts of memories of that day sixty years ago and now, thanks to Diana Ashworth once more, we have a literary snapshot to complement them.
How are your knitting skills? One of the most delightful projects I have ever come across is the brainchild of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales. This august body would like us all to Knit Aeroplanes for Britain From Above – yes, really! Natasha Scullion and Sandra Brauer will tell you all about it, including how to get hold of the knitting patterns.
In The Dragon’s Crypt Norma Allen goes out dancing while Bruce Mawdelsey contemplates evening on the Llyn Peninsular.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 22 Spring 2013?

April: a Playful Month Cynric Gwrol
Saint Richard Gwyn: Our Local Saint Diana Brown
Bell, Bones and Stones Lawrence Johnson
The Fowlers of Abbey Cwm Hir and the Lloyds of Clochfaen Cecil Vaughan Owen 
History Matters at Ty Mawr Medieval Hall Gary Ball
My Roots Richard Meredith
Everyone Can Sing Norma Allen
Powys Paradwys Concrit Cymru Brian Poole
Driving and Drovers Routes R.M. Williams
How Aberystwyth Became Norma Allen
A Trip to the Seaside Gaynor Jones
The Old Forge Bruce Mawdesley
Put Out To Grass part 10: Safe in the Gleam of Tony Blair’s Smile Diana Ashworth
The Second Rebecca Riots Brian Lawrence
The Oldest Working Brewery in Britain: Three Tuns, Bishop’s Castle Diana Ashworth
Mid Wales Arts Centre – A Sense of Place

Another Journey for the Little Red Dog Lesley-Ann Dupré
The Voice Lesley-Ann Dupré
Wartime Wedding Diana Ashworth
Nemesis Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 22 by Gay Roberts

What a fickle Spring this has been! So many things seem to have conspired to prevent me to get this edition on time that I began to wonder what disaster have I avoided by being late! Because of the snow, car repairs and snow again, I have been house-bound for two of the last three months and with more snow forecast for Easter, it could be still more days tucked into my blissful but tricky little dingle. As a result, not only have I been unable to get this issue by Easter but there are also a few photographs that I have been unable to pick up unless I put back publication for even more weeks. I decided on balance to put it out with my profound apologies to Gary Ball and the Royal Commission for pictures omitted. I am sure I will be able to find a space for them in a later edition. Despite these setbacks, there is quite a light-hearted tone to begin 2013.
For one of our number, Cynrig Gwrol, the beginning of April seems to be a particularly inspirational time of the year. However, it was October that spelt doom for Llanidloes’ St Richard Gwyn who, on 15th of that month in 1584, was executed for high treason. Diana Brown brings us the grisly details. It is the ancient past that has taken Lawrence Johnson’s arm and led him into the wilds of Llangurig to an area called Cistfaen, not far from Cwm Clochfaen. The history of Clochfaen Hall and its occupants was described very entertainingly by the late Cecil Vaughan Owen in An Arwystli Notebook Part One, which the Arwystli Society have very kindly allowed me to reprint in this edition of PenCambria.
Historical re-enactment is all the rage these days and in one instance it goes hand in hand with the development of Ty Mawr, a medieval hall rescued and reconstructed by Powis estate and Cadw. Gary Ball tells all about it.
Richard Meredith is looking back to his boyhood and the debt he owes to Llanidloes’ great choral tradition. Norma Allen, in one of three highly entertaining items, tells us, on the other hand, all about the coping mechanism of that rare creature: a Welshman who cannot sing.
Brian Poole praises the contribution of concrete to the architecture of Powys, another pioneering venture started in Mid Wales.
R.M. Williams wanders far and wide with the drovers of Mid Wales, particularly the routes of Radnorshire.
Norma’s second piece looks to Rudyard Kipling and Ted Hughes for inspiration to speculate on the origins of Aberystwyth. This makes the perfect introduction to new writer Gaynor Jones’ remarkable memory of a trip to the seaside at Aberystwyth aged just three years old. Meanwhile Bruce Mawdesley waxes lyrical once again about crafts of the countryside, this time about the skill of the blacksmith.
Our retired lady at Llawryglyn finds herself coping with the emergency services and a clutch of new-hatched chicks.
Salmon poaching, that time-honoured tradition of the Welsh countryside, caused riots in Rhayader in the 19th century. Brian Lawrence tells us all about them.
The Three Tuns brewery is one of the four oldest breweries in the country and although it is in Bishop’s Castle, nevertheless it is close enough to interest us here on the Welsh side of the border. After all, with the various border changes over the years, it may well have wandered
into our jurisdiction at time or another. Diana Ashworth recounts its history after having spent an aromatic morning there.
The Royal Commission has been busy last year, especially with its future as an independent body in the balance. You can read all about their activities in the second Friends’ newsletter which they have very kindly allowed me to print in this edition of PenCambria.
Mid Wales Arts Centre has a lively and inspiring programme of events scheduled for this year and I do hope you will go along and enjoy some if not all of them.
I was unable to get in touch with the Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit in time for this edition but do get in touch with them or visit their website (see page 10) to find out what is going on. They will be delighted to see you and to hear from you.
The Dragon’s Crypt is full of good things, as usual, with more from about the travels of Lesley-Ann Dupré’s Little Dog and a complementary poem about the finding of a voice; Diana Ashworth brings the poignancy of a war-time wedding to life; and Norma Allen brings this edition to a close with a cautionary tale of chance, hope, jealousy, revenge and retribution.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 18 Winter 2011?

A Forgotten Industry: the Coal Fired Gasworks of Montgomeryshire Brian Poole
The Maggot Roger Garfitt
Kington & Radnor Bank in Rhayader Gay Roberts & Gwynne Jones
From the Glog to the Giant’s Grave Lawrence Johnson
Lumberjacks & Backwoodsmen: Put Out to Grass pt. 7 Diana Ashworth
More Winter Memories of Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams
Llanidloes Town Hall Gay Roberts
Saint Harmon Parish Monty Williams
John Wesley and Methodism in Llanidloes Gay Roberts
Round Perdition’s Corner Gay Roberts
The Hafren Circuit: Final Stage the Heart of Montgomeryshire David Jandrell
Witchcraft and Magic in Wales Richard Suggett

Radnorshire Felicity Vale
Flight Plan for the Island Lesley Ann Dupré
Journey South Janet Williams
Verbascum thapsiforme Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by Jane Keay

Editorial PenCambria Issue 18 by Gay Roberts

This month we have a real taste of Radnorshire, I am pleased to say. Monty Williams shows us around St Harmon Parish by way of another article based on his book, A Glimpse of Beautiful Mid Wales. We get a look at the history of the Kington and Radnor Bank together with banking practice from another era with Gwynne Jones, former manager of the Midland Bank in Rhayader. The late Felicity Vale wrote paean to Radnorshire and this is published by kind permission of John Pugh. Finally we have some more winter memories of Llandrindod Wells provided by Joel Williams.
That forgotten industry, the coal-fired gasworks in Montgomeryshire is the subject of a well-needed tribute and Brian Poole is the man for this. Gas was the first source of power to literally shed light on a whole community, delivered from a single source rather than from individual candles and torches. Not since the Moors left Spain had the streets in Europe been lit so efficiently. It was the stepping stone to so many other chemical-based facilities that we take for granted today. It was a dirty, dangerous industry and the men who operated it deserve our heartfelt thanks for risking their health and their lives in such conditions to lighten our darkness and put bread on their tables.
Lawrence Johnson’s peregrinations have taken him to the Glog, an area full of prehistoric monuments, behind Dolfor and Mochdre. Coming into the present era, early motoring in The Maggot is what Roger Garfitt remembers in this final excerpt from his autobiography, The Horseman’s Word. David Jandrell completes the Hafren Circuit with a nostalgic trip down memory lane through the heart of Montgomeryshire by road and rail from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth. This has been a wonderful series which has taken us to some beautiful and little known places in the valley of the Hafren and I do hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have done – and if you can keep a dry eye reading the epilogue than you are made of sterner stuff than me!
John Wesley visited Llanidloes several times in the course of his preaching tours around the country. There has been a small exhibition celebrating this history and also the installation in the Wesleyan Chapel in Longbridge Street, of a bust taken from the statue of him outside his birthplace in Lincolnshire. This bust, created by Sue Thornton, the sculptor of the statue in Epworth, is unique to Llanidloes. The Arwystli Society visited the Wesleyan Chapel in the course of an afternoon trip around Llanidloes this September and the talk given was based on the article in this edition of PenCambria. We also visited Llanidloes Town Hall and you can read all about that as well.
Our retired couple in Llawryglyn have been planting trees and finding their way through a forest of regulations under the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. Spreading our wings a bit further afield, in the second part of my article on Welsh pirates, we find ourselves back on the high seas with Captain Henry Morgan and Black Bart in wooden ship quite possibly built with Montgomeryshire oak.
It is October and not just the season of mellow fruitfulness but also of melancholy, magic and all things that go bump in the night. Wales is nothing if not the Land of the Fey and in 2008 Richard Suggett published a book entitled the History of Witchcraft and Magic in Wales and that same year he gave a talk about it to the Arwystli Society and has very kindly agreed to let me publish a transcript.
The Dragon’s Crypt contains a feast of poetry in this edition. As well as Felicity Vale, Lesley Ann Dupré and Janet Williams both take flight and Bruce Mawdesley meditates on the humble mullein with another beautiful illustration by Jane Keay.