What was in PenCambria: Issue 8 Autumn 2008?

Saving Llanidloes Hospital Gay Roberts

Dr Graham Davies Gay Roberts

A Life Well Spent Eileen Williams

“Being at Montgomery” Part 2 Gay Roberts

The Deadly Tablet  Cambrian Railways 1921: Part III David Burkhill-Howarth

More Summertime Memories from Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams

Cwmdauddwr Gravestone Opens a Window on the Napoleonic World Part 2 Nick Venti

Livestock, Timber & Retail Therapy Dennis Duggan & the Welshpool Oral History Project

The Gentleman Hood: Part VII Tyler Keevil

The Princess Who Was Vain Part 1 Michael Brown
Haikus Reginald Massey
A Rural Idyll? Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 8 by Gay Roberts
Hovering over all our small and not so small communities is the threat of closure of all our small and not so small but thoroughly convenient hospitals. So, while in no way taking a party political stand, I make no bones about including in this issue the story of Llanidloes War
Memorial Hospital, how it was created and funded until the National Health Service took it over, what it means to the community and the prospect for us when/if it is closed. While this is the history of the Llanidloes institution, nevertheless all communities will recognise it as their own experience and for any of you reading this, who find your own hospital under threat of closure too, I hope you will all take heart and use it in any way you choose to keep your own hospitals open. I and my family have been very grateful for its services in the past as have so many of us, not just in the Llanidloes area, but many from elsewhere as well, as Lembit Opik, for example, is always very keen to affirm after his life-threatening fall. Meanwhile I dedicate this issue to the Campaign to Save Llanidloes Hospital and wish it every success. Following the history of the hospital is a small cameo of Dr. Graham, whom I know most people who knew him in Llanidloes will remember with great affection.
Another affection tribute this month is paid by Eileen Williams to her grandparents, especially her grandmother, who did so much to make sure she had a happy childhood and a positive upbringing.
We reach the final part of The Deadly Tablet this month with the inquest on the 1921 train crash at Abermule and find that it has become famous throughout the world as an example of how to avoid such an incident on a single track railway.
Murray the Hump forsakes politics and turns to the glittering prospects of Hollywood. Tyler will be taking a ‘natural break’ from Murray after this month to concentrate on his creative writing studies at Aberystwyth for a year. That should give us all chance to digest everything that he has uncovered so far. That the son of a Mid Walian should become the driving force in such a murky world…
Major Edward Jones storms Badajoz in the Peninsular War this month and Nick Venti deserves great credit for bringing the exploits of this valiant son of the Elan Valley to our notice so long after the event.
Our pensioners from Welshpool continue with their reminiscing – this time it is being combed for head lice, seeing the ponies being brought down from the hills for a life in the pits, and the Co-op divvy, amongst other things – and I am sure their memories will be familiar to so many of you as well.
Other memories of summer in Llandrindod are recalled with nostalgic pictures of the lake as told to Joel Williams in Voices of Llandrindod Wells Vol. 1.
In the second part of the Arwystli Society’s outing to Montgomershire, we are taken round the town on a guided tour and come across fake windows, fake timber framed buildings and the mysterious patch of bare earth on the robber’s grave.
Catherine Richards brings us up-to-date with the work of Powys Archives and has sent us a lovely picture of fishing in the Wye.
And there are all kinds of events going on this summer both for learning and leisure.
In The Dragon’s Crypt this month Michael Brown goes from fact to fiction with part one of a Gothic tale of Gormenghast dimensions.
Reggie Massey paints a picture of the season with his customary succinct yet beautifully expressive haikus.
Norma Allen’s tale of settling to life in the countryside will ring a bell with all of us who found this place after living in the city and wouldn’t even think of going back – back? Where’s that?
And now, if it still raining by the time you settle down with this copy of PenCambria, at least it will give you something to take your mind off this dreadful summer. And maybe by the time you finish it, we will be into a lovely autumn. Well, one can but dream…

What was in PenCambria: Issue 4 Spring 2006?

The Gentleman Hood – Part 3 Tyler Keevil

“Are You Church or Chapel?” – Part 1 Michael Brown

The Kerry Tramway Brian Poole

Father Gillespie O.F.M. Llanidloes and Rhayader E. Ronald Morris

Llywelyn ab Gryffyd Memorial Gethin Gruffydd

Walk Around Newtown with David Pugh and the Arwystli Society – Part 1 Gay Roberts

Springtime in Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams

Water Mills of Radnorshire Gay Roberts

Playing with Molten Lead David Rowlands talks to Dennis Duggan

Civil War in Montgomeryshire – Part I Dr David Stephenson

Gordonstoun in Llandinam Reverend Malcolm Tudor

Memories of Mid Wales Reginald Massey

The Great Mid Wales Land Grab – Part 1 Gay Roberts

My Foundry Days Eric Jervis

Llanidloes Gateway Sculpture

The Oldest Script Roger Garfitt
Lovers’ Leap Norma Allen
Falling in Love August Mullen & Matt Maus
Haiku Reginald Massey

Editorial PenCambria Issue 4 by Gay Roberts

Since the launch of PenCambria last Spring and I am delighted to find how much interest it has generated and how far afield its name and reputation is spreading. This is a credit to all our writers to whose talents this is directly due. We had our writers’ lunch at the Black Boy in Newtown on 19th January this year and a good feed and good conversation was had by all, most of whom had never met before and so some new friendships were forged as well.
Interest over the internet has been generated too, with enquiries as regards help with tracing family history and surprise at finding information about a certain ancestor, namely our roguish friend, Murray the Hump – he gets more roguish in every episode – you should read this one! I am also very pleased that The Dragon’s Crypt is giving such pleasure.
One quite serendipitous contact has been as a result of Reginald Massey’s article about the Newtown writer Eiluned Lewis. Her niece Janet contacted me, after having been sent a copy of the article by a friend and as a result Reginald and his wife Jamila treated Janet, Eiluned’s daughter Katrina, her husband Richard and myself to a delightful afternoon tea and conversation despite the snow.
I know that there were several errors in PC3 for which I must apologise and for which, apart from one, can only blame lack of proper proof reading and my haste to get out the magazine, which was already six weeks overdue. The most glaring of my own errors was not to spot in the third paragraph of the article Past and Present that although technically it has been over a thousand years since the Romans rested on Esgair Perfedd, two thousand years would give a more accurate indication of when they passed through to the lead mines of Cardiganshire. My thanks to Chris Lord Smith for pointing this out. The other mistake for which I am indebted to Lady Hooson for pointing out and allowing me to make the correct attribution is that the Gregynog Festival was re-started by Glyn Tegai Hughes with the artistic support of Anthony Rolf Johnson, not the University of Wales. My information came from his own excellent booklet on Gregynog in which he, with all modesty, does not mention his own part in the re-starting of the festival, implying that the driving force was University rather than him.
I should also like to apologise for the lack of content about Radnorshire in this edition. My attempts to find people willing and able to write about Radnorshire are not bearing very much fruit. I am very grateful to Peter Dean for his interview about the hotels and some of the more colourful characters of Llandrindod Wells last year and to Joel Williams for agreeing to send in items from his oral history collection from the same town and also to Keith Parker for last year’s item of the Gaolbreakers of Presteigne, and whom I also hope to interview for further article about Presteigne’s history. My own efforts have been limited to information from the Powys Archives Digital History Project and to Paul Remfry’s book Castles of Radnorshire. But if any of you are willing to send in material on Radnorshire, I should so much appreciate
it if you would contact me; or if you know of people who might be willing to do so, do please give them my contact details and if possible let me know how I can get in touch with them. We have a growing readership in the county and I would very upset to have to disappoint you all for lack of material. My very grateful thanks to you all on this matter.
In this issue we have all kinds of interesting goodies including the next stage in Murray the Hump’s career with Chicago Mob; fun in fundraising for the chapel organ; a portrait of Father Gillepsie, whom so many of you will remember with affection, I am sure; a campaign to raise a permanent memorial to Llywelyn ab Gryffydd; a bijou look at Springtime in Llandrindod Wells; a chat with David Rowlands as he looks back at his family’s history with the County Times and his own career as the manager of the Lake Vyrnwy and Llyn Celyn estates; the beginnings of the 1642-46 Civil War in Montgomeryshire; part one of the makings of the county of Radnorshire; walks all over Mid Wales including the Kerry Tramway, part one of a walk around Newtown and a brief look at the water mills of Rhayader and Presteigne for those of you who like to explore the by-ways and little-trodden paths. We have our update from Powys Archives and the calendar of events. The Dragon’s Crypt has attracted some first class storytelling and poetry this month about which, I shall say no more. Finally, we have several people requesting information regarding their Mid Wales forebears. So if any of you can help I am sure they will be more than grateful.

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 3 Autumn 2005?

Capel Bethel Cemetery, Llanidloes E Reginald Morris

A Victorian Industrialist Reverend M Tudor

The Gentleman Hood: Second part of the history of Murray the Hump-Life on the mean streets Tyler Keevil

Past and Present Bryan Lawrence 

Some letters of General Valentine Jones, who built the Trewythen Arms, Llanidloes Nick Venti

The Ancient Monasteries of Arwystli Dr. David Stephenson

“Come away from the window, you’re not supposed to look at that” Dennis Duggan and the Welshpool Oral History Project

Gothic Parker Gay Roberts
Gregynog – The Butterfly of Mid Wales Gay Roberts
Down and Out in Rhayader and Saint Harmon Gay Roberts
Unsung Heroes Gay Roberts

The Pebble Maggie Shepherd
The Conjuror of Llandinam Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 3 Gay Roberts 
First of all, please accept my apologies for the late publication of PC3. I broke my arm in August and, not being able to drive for two months, was unable to get out about collecting material or indeed put what I had into the computer until a couple of weeks ago. Consequently for some of this edition I have resorted to that most modern of information sources, the internet about which more later.
For those of you who were among the first buyers of PenCambria number 2 and would not have had the slip I sent round a week later, I must also immediately correct a mistake in the article by E. Ronald Morris’s. On page 11 please note that in the second paragraph from the bottom, “Dolhafren cemetery” should be substituted by “the churchyard”. So the passage should read as follows: “A ‘running sore’ was the fact that if Nonconformists wanted to be buried in the churchyard, rather than the cemetery just off High Street, they had to submit to the rite of the Church of England. Because the Church of England owned the churchyard, they were not allowed to perform their own rites over the deceased.” The original insertion was due was a misunderstanding by the editor, not a mistake by Mr. Morris. My sincerest apologies go to Mr. Morris for any distress he has felt as a result of this misprint.
In his article for us in this issue, about the Capel Bethel Nonconformist cemetery in Llanidloes, Mr. Morris shows just how Llani draws people back, its hiraeth, to such an extent that however far away they may have strayed in their lifetimes, after their deaths native Idloesians want to come back and spend eternity here.
At the other end of life, we have a vivid picture of childhood in the 1930s as told to Dennis Duggan by five members of Welshpool’s senior community as part the Welshpool Oral History project.
Nick Venti has been continuing his search for General Valentine Jones, who built the Trewythen Arms Hotel in Llanidloes. In this issue we join him in Canada in 1770s commanding the Northern District of the American Colonies in Quebec, hearing in his own words how he is at his wits end trying to find and finance provisions for the soldiers under his command, before returning to London in 1779.
The Reverend Malcolm Tudor pens a brief sketch of the great Llandinam coal magnate and philanthropist David Davies, while at the other end of the spectrum Tyler Keevil continues his search into the murky underworld of 1920s Chicago in his quest for Carno’s grandson, Murray the Hump.
Brian Lawrence brings us a breath of the bracing Radnorshire air as he walks the Cwmdauddwr hills, pondering the struggle of the small farmer to survive in this hard, unforgiving environment and looking at the military time capsule left there in the form of relics from the two 20th century World Wars and the ruins of the Roman military occupation of Wales.
The ancient monasteries in Arwystli are David Stephenson’s topic this month, specifically the ‘clas’ communities of Llangurig and Llandinam and, with an interesting twist, the legal expertise of one of its medieval abbots.
The Arwystli Society had an afternoon at Gregynog in May and this inspired the article about the families who occupied it from its foundation until the University of Wales took it over in 1963.
In June I was delighted to be contacted by the BBC who, as part of their regional network policy, were interested in forging a link between them and PenCambria as a source of information. PC is now linked to the BBC Mid Wales web site and on their newsletter list and as a result, I am now pleased to be able to include an internet round-up based on their site, of all kinds of news and snippets relating to Mid Wales. Inspired by this, during my incapacity, I found quite a few more internet goodies and was able to put together a look at the life of the poor in Rhayader during the 19th century based on the Rhayader mini web site at http://history.powys.org.uk
Another Arwystli event inspired An Unsung Hero, a look at commandeering of horses during wartime and one relating specifically to a member of the British Army Veterinary Corps during the First World War who retired to Llanidloes.
Powys Archives have sent us their updates and a lovely photograph of Plas Winton Square in Llandrinod Wells in the early 1900s.
Finally, in the Dragon’s Crypt this month we have a bewitching tale of love and fulfilment from Norma Allen and a fascinating exercise in litho-empathy (work it out for yourselves!) from Maggie Shepherd, a student in Llanidloes’ Creative Writing Class. As a new and very talented writer, I am delighted to be able to publish her work and hope it will inspire her to write more.

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 1 Spring 2005?

Proud to be Radical – A look at the radical past of Llanidloes Gay Roberts

Newtown Textile Museum Gay Roberts with Eva Bredersdorf

You Can’t Have Any More, There’s a War on Gay Roberts with Carroll Davies
The Gaol Breakers of Presteigne Keith Parker
The Mystery of Mathraval Dr. David Stephenson
Arwystli – the Key to Wales Gay Roberts
The Pantydwr Patient – Reflections of the NHS in Mid-Wales Jonathan Sleigh
The Marion A. Mills Collection Cynthia Mills
In Search of General Jones Nick Venti

Haiku Reginald Massey
Anchorage Tyler Keevil
Blaidd Spirit Matt Maus

Pen Cambria Issue 1 Editorial by Gay Roberts
“To begin at the beginning”, to quote Dylan Thomas, welcome to PenCambria.
What is and why PenCambria? I hear you ask. PenCambria is a magazine devoted to local history, heritage, culture and fiction all centredon Mid Wales, i.e. Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire. Pen being both Welsh for above and English for a writing tool, Cambria being Wales and the arched lettering being a symbolic pictogram of our beautiful hill countryside.
There is a huge interest in history with new books and television programmes every day, but they are nearly all about great events and grand people that have influenced the nation or the world. While they draw us in a general way, we all want to know about what has happened in our part of the world. What makes our town or village tick. In many ways it is an extension of the gossip factor. But this is usually too parochial for the national media unless there is some other factor to interest them.
Mid-Wales is quite an extraordinary place. It has given birth to people and ideas whose ideas have influenced nations and who have formed major communities abroad, particularly in the United States of America. The people who live here travel widely but wouldn’t live anywhere else. It attracts people from all over the world to on its uplands and in its valleys; and yet the current tranquillityof its hills hides ancient struggles for power as bloody as any by comparison over the border in England. The Romans, the Saxons, the Normans and the English have all left their marks of conquest – as you will find out in these pages.
But history is not just about the large picture. It is also about the small, local, family events. So many people spend their time researching some corner of their locality, a particular person or family, perhaps, maybe the history of a building or an incident that happened long ago. Perhaps they might publish a book about it. They often attract an audience at the local historical or cultural group. But very often they deserve to reach a wider readership. It is also about contemporary experiences being recorded for tomorrow’s historians. And that is where PenCambria comes in.
There is also a huge wealth of creative talent in the area and that certainly deserves an outlet and by including a section with short stories, poetry and other literary material, maybe PenCambria can bring these artists and writers to the attention of an appreciative readership.
If there is a preponderance of articles about Llanidloes in this issue, it is because PenCambria is Llani-based and it is Llanidloes people and events that have got this magazine off the ground and on to the shelves. In this regard I should like to pay tribute to Carroll Davis, who has always given me unstinting support in my writing activities, and whose boyhood wartime memories you will read about a little further on. Sadly Carroll died before PenCambria came to fruition and so I would like to dedicate this issue is to his memory. I hope it will inspire many more of you with interests in the wider areas of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire to want to write for us.
This is a magazine which I hope will appeal to people with a wide range of interests, particularly in local affairs and who like, above all, a good read.
Like planning a menu for a good meal, there will be articles you can dip into for a bit of a taster and there will articles you will want to linger over, to give more thought to. There are some really meaty ones, some a bit lighter and sweeter, some a bit tangy and then there is the bombe surprise at the end.
So, settle down in your favourite chair, take the phone off the hook and enjoy your read. Gay Roberts