What was in PenCambria: Issue 25 Spring 2014?

Eliza, Julia and Henry-a Victorian Triangle Val Church

“The One I Don’t Go To” Lawrence Johnson

The Trouble with History Diana Ashworth

My Roots Part 5: Salmon Poaching Richard Meredith

Torri Mawn: Peat Cutting in the Uplands of Mid Wales Brian Poole

Farming Between the Wars 1920-40, Part 2: Men’s Work R.M. Williams

1st World War Centenary Commemoration Gay Roberts

Put Out To Grass: Part 12 Left-Handed Challenge Diana Ashworth

How Not To Kill Yourself in Borth: a meditation on the Welsh hills by a flatlander Veronica Popp

Monastic Wales Diana Brown

Jottings of a Mid Wales Tourist Peter Watson

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Three Ladies Bruce Mawdsley

Back to the Smoke Gaynor Jones

In Time of War: A Trilogy Part 1: Selina’s Birthday Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 25 by Gay Roberts

Well, after such a soggy winter, what a lovely spring we are having at the time of writing. We all love a good scandal and we start this issue with a splendid example of a Victorian marital disharmony and a wet lettuce – just read it and find out. Val Church tells us the extraordinary history of Eliza Williams of Dolanog, her friend, Julia Davenport and Julia’s husband Henry Crookenden.

Lawrence Johnson has been looking into the culture of the Chapel in mid Wales. Once Non-Conformity became legal and the Bible was printed in Welsh and English, people could interpret it and preach more or less what they liked. In Wales, which has always been a very religious and thoughtful country, a whole variety sects with their attendant chapels mushroomed and one could choose which group to attend, which group to avoid and to chop and change as the fancy took.

Prior to this, the invasion of the Normans in 1066 was followed in the 1130s by colonisation of the country by the monastic movement, which, in Wales, was overwhelmingly Cistercian. Professor Janet Burton of the University of Wales Trinity St David’s has created a database and website which will eventually provide a fully comprehensive archive of all material including a bibliography of primary and secondary sources relating to this phenomenon – a must for anyone research this fascinating topic. Diana Brown has been studying it and gives us a most interesting account of what she has learned.

It is thanks to the Chartists that we have the parliamentary democracy we enjoy today. Llanidloes played a small but notable part in this campaign and, taking the two main historical sources, Diana Ashworth manages to present an account that does justice to both sides.

Tracing his roots once again, Richard Meredith regales us with his youthful salmon poaching adventures on the river Severn.

Peat cutting is one of the great unsung crafts of the uplands of mid Wales. Brian Poole touched on it in his article on Capel Gerisim in the last edition of PenCambria. This time he does full justice to it through the oral history of the area and his own interest in and understanding of the technical side of these activities.

Meanwhile on the lower slopes and pastures R.H. Williams describes men’s work on the farm between the two world wars.

It is lambing time in Llawryglyn and our retired lady grasps the mettle, or rather the back legs of her sheep by the hand and attempts to administer all kinds of pills and potions to keep her flock in tiptop condition.

The last episode of recent television programme thriller “Hinterland” set in Aberystwyth included a murder in Borth. A few days later Veronica Popp sent me this delightful piece about one of her experiences as a student at the University in Aberystwyth entitled “How Not to Kill Yourself in Borth”. I won’t spoil it for you. Just enjoy it for yourselves.

Peter Watson had a holiday in mid Wales last year both for leisure and for research and here is his affectionate account of his travels.

The RCAHMW have been very busy with their activities to preserve our heritage and to make sure that we are as fully aware of them as is possible. One of these is the creation of computer 3-D animation reconstructions of complex archaeological sites, especially the Swansea Copper Industry, for which they have received an award. They have also managed to provide a conclusive date for the construction of Tredegar House, one of Wales’ great until now unsolved archaeological mysteries. And they are asking for our help in providing what information we can about our own areas, specifically when it comes to place names. They are also putting on a full programme of events open to the public which are very enjoyable and informative, so do go along if you can.

Mid Wales Arts Centre and Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit are offering a wealth of creative and spiritual opportunities and you can read all about their activities as usual.

In The Dragon’s Crypt Bruce Mawdesley entertains us with his pen portraits of three women; going back to the smoke Gaynor Jones expresses what so many of us feel about have to leave mid Wales for a life elsewhere; and Norma Allen begins a three-part story set in the time of the First World War as the opening to our commemoration of this event, which will be published in the next issue.

 

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 11 Summer 2009?

Things That Last Forever Diana Brown
In Living Memory: Sustainable Farming Diana Ashworth
Yr Hen Garchar, The Old Roundhouse Gay Roberts & Richard Meredith
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 2 Kerry Hills and our Radnorshire Cousins David Jandrell
Robert Owen: part 2 Margaret Cole
An Afternoon at the Old Ffinnant Bruce Mawdsley
The Great Fire of Llanfair Caereinion 1758 Part 1 Bryn Ellis
The Lost Clywedog Valley Brian Poole
In living memory: Antediluvian Tales of the Clywedog Valley Diana Ashworth
Pigs, Paddle Boats and Paper Petticoats: Llandrindod Wells 1940s and 1950s  Norma Allen
LLandidrod Wells, Sheikh Joseph Audi Joel Williams
When Shropshire Belonged to Powys Dr David Stephenson
The Welsh People in Patagonia: part 2 Living in South America David Burkhill-Howarth
The Gentleman Hood: part 10 Tyler Keevil

Midge Bellingham Michael Brown
Dogroses and Harebells: two poems for Summer Roger Garfitt
Loyoute Sans Fin: chapter 3 Brian L. Roberts

Editorial PenCambria Issue 11 by Gay Roberts
Mid Wales has given birth to a remarkable number and variety of great men for such a small and sparsely populated corner of the world. Robert Owen from Newtown whose life we are celebrating at the moment, was perhaps the world’s greatest social visionary; David Davies, the philanthropic industrialist of Llandinam and his son, David the first Lord Davies, who amongst countless philanthropic deeds was instrumental in setting up the League of Nations which, despite its apparent failure, eventually grew into the United Nations; Owain Glyndwr, who very nearly achieved independent nation status for Wales; Sampson Lloyd the Second of Dolobran who set up the great banking institution that we know today as Lloyds TSB, which despite its current troubles is still thought of as the country’s most reliable bank; Murray the Hump, the Chicago gangster whose life has been enthralling us for the past nine issues, was very protective of his Carno ancestry, and with his outstanding intelligence, ruthlessness, sense of strategy and achievement, he could have left such a different legacy had the government of the United States, and particularly local government not been so corrupt; we can only mourn the loss of his talents to society as a whole.
Talents that are much less sung in public are those of the women of Mid Wales. Reginald Massey has done the world of literature a great service by getting the works of Newtown’s Eluned Lewis back onto the book shelves; however the women in PenCambria do tend to be written about in their private capacity rather than for their public achievements. This is understandable bearing in mind that until recently ‘history’ meant the history of men and their politics and battles with women being noted for the most part for their deeds or lives that encroached on these areas. (Do discuss and comment. I shall be pleased to publish your responses.) So this month sees the first in a series to bring some balance to this view. Diana Brown is researching the business women of Mid Wales and in this issue celebrates the life of Laura Ashley, the designer, who, from designing tea towels at her kitchen table went on to build one of the world’s biggest dress, fabric and household design and production companies. Her primary aim was to provide work for the people of mid Wales, specifically, Carno, and she maintained this until her death at the age of 61. It is worth noting perhaps that Laura Ashley’s aim and area of industry was not a million miles from that of Robert Owen, although educational aspect of Robert Owen’s dream had been fulfilled by the state by the time Laura Ashley began her career.
Our other Diana, Diana Ashworth, continues her quest for the oral history of the Llawr-y-glyn area. With the drive towards sustainable living these days she has discovered how countryfolk lived sustainably for hundreds of years, until very recently in fact; and to
complement Brian Poole’s journey back through the history and prehistory of the Clywedog Valley before it was flooded in the 1960s, Diana Ashworth also finds out what life was like for the inhabitants before the arrival of the Clywedog dam, the winter of 1947 being an especially memorable time.
A Llanidloes building with a fascinating history is Yr Hen Garchar or the Old Roundhouse. Built as a gaol in 1838, it fell into disuse as a place of penal confinement and then became first a rented residence, then, after coming into the hands of John Jones Meredith, the filter house for the town’s water supply, then a storage place for Council bits and pieces and now, back in the hands of the Meredith family it has been reconverted to a residence.
We follow David Jandrell on Stage 2 of the Hafren Circuit, which takes us from Snead to Dolfor along the Kerry Ridgeway, out to the Bryn Dadlau Wind farm and down to Abbey Cwm Hir.
Bruce Mawdsley captures the magic of a musical afternoon at the Ffinnant in Trefeglwys
Bryn Ellis brings to light the Llanfair Caereinion Great Fire of 1758 and the losses incurred by one of its residents.
More memories from Llandrindod Wells both of childhood from Norma Allen, whose home it was and, courtesy of Joel Williams, of a very exotic pre-WW2 regular summer visitor – Sheikh Joseph Audi.
When the question of where the Welsh Assembly should be sited was mooted, although it was not taken seriously, Shrewsbury was suggested. With Dr David Stephenson we find out just why this was not quite so outrageous as it might have seemed at the time.
David Burkhill-Howarth takes us deeper into the hinterlands of Patagonia and Tyler Keevil shows us just how Murray made a mint in Las Vegas.
In the Dragon’s Crypt Michael Brown tells us a cautionary tale about the perils of PC (not PenCambria), Roger Garfitt’s poems have just the right aroma for summer and Brian L. Roberts brings his story of social and political change to a rousing conclusion by taking us storming down the pages of Chartism in Llanidloes.
Finally, please let me apologise to Robert James Bridge for getting his name wrong in the introduction to PC10. I inadvertently introduced him as Robert Shoebridge. I am pleased to say that I got it right on the story, Kinmel Revisited, itself.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 5 Summer 2006?

The National School, Llanidloes in 1945 John A. Williams

Robert Owen’s Newtown David Pugh

Averting Armageddon Lembit Opik MP

Following the footsteps of an Edwardian Field Society Rachael Jones

“Are you Church or Chapel?” – Part 2 Disputes and Diapasons Michael Brown

Independents from Llanbrynmair Reverend Malcolm Tudor

The Gentleman Hood – Part 4 Tyler Keevil

The Judge’s Lodging Gay Roberts

Summer in Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams

The Great Mid Wales Land Grab – Part 2 Gay Roberts

Aspects of Mid Wales Reginald Massey

The Arwystli Debate – Report of Dr David Stephenson’s Lecture

Murder in Garth Beibio Gay Roberts

Fitting In Tony Jones

Slate John Hainsworth
Hunter’s Moon R.S. Pyne
Two Poems Reginald Massey
The Tortoiseshell Combs Norma Allen
The Map of My Life Maggie Shepherd

Editorial PenCambria Issue 5 by Gay Roberts

Well, I hope you are all enjoying the sunshine. As a matter of historical interest, 30 years ago during the 1976 drought which started in July, for several weeks there was not a blade of grass to be seen on the hills of Mid Wales. The poor hungry sheep had eaten the fields to the bare earth and no rains came to grow any more. The only greenery to be seen were the dark patches of the hedges and the forestry. It was bad enough for plans to be prepared to raise the level of the Craig Goch Dam in the Elan Valley – just as there are murmurings now about putting in another dam in Mid Wales to supply water to the south-east of England. It was shelved again in the 1970s, as plans to build a dam in Twlych had been in 1966. Let us hope plans for any new ones here go the same way. Our well ran dry in 1976, as it always does in a dry summer and that year I was doing our washing on a stone in the River Dulas, just like the countrywomen always did until the installation of internal plumbing and the washing machine, that masterstroke of modern invention – and as so many do today in the poorer corners of the world. But that’s enough of my memories.
John Anderson will bring back all sorts of other memories of the National School in Llanidloes and some of you may even recognise yourselves in the photograph! John is one of a number of new writers who have joined our merry band during the last few months and I am delighted to welcome them and to introduce them to you in strictly in alphabetical order.
John Hainsworth is better known for his campaign to preserve the Llanfyllin Workhouse, about which more in a future edition of PC. In the meantime, he has shown an unexpected (for me at any rate) talent for poetry and has written a quite remarkable and moving poem about the slate quarrymen of North Wales.
Rachael Jones is a mine of information on local history, being in the process of completing her master’s degree in this very subject. She will be such an asset and I am delighted that she is willing to share her knowledge and expertise with us. I could not have written the article about the murders at Garth Beibio if she had not pointed me in the right direction. Her articles on the BBC website are a delight to read. For this edition she has written about a group walk from Welshpool to Madog’s Wells near Llanfair Caereinion in the footsteps of one made in 1910.
Tony Jones, whose column as “Newcomer” many of you will have enjoyed reading in the County Times, has turned his talent for lateral observation to PenCambria and I do hope you will all enjoy looking at life in Mid Wales from his gently humorous and slightly oblique angle.
When he is not serving his constituency interests as Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire Lembit Opik’s passion is for astronomy, for which he is well known. In this issue he tells us all about his background and family interest in stargazing and his part in the campaign to set up the observatory at Knighton and to bring about Spaceguard, the asteroid watch. I have observed in the past how Mid Walians seem to delight in travelling as far afield as possible and I think outer space is about as far away as one could get.
R.S. Pyne is another very welcome new author to The Dragon’s Crypt. A West Walian, from Ceredigion, R.S.’s little spine chiller is based on a true incident. I look forward very much to reading more of his stories.
David Pugh, President of the Newtown Civic Society is a great fan of Robert Owen and he shares with us his observations on how the great man would have seen Newtown in the 18th and 19th centuries compared to how it is today today. David did mention to me last year that he was thinking about writing some biographical articles on Robert Owen. Robert Owen’s part in our social history is so little known about today and as a consequence, so under-appreciated. I do hope I am not being premature in looking forward to him presenting them to PenCambria so that we can all learn about him and give him the respect he deserves. Incidentally, mea culpa and my profound apologies for describing David Pugh as the Chairman of Newtown Civic Society in the last issue of PenCambria. He is of course the President. My grateful thanks for pointing this out go to John Napier, who holds the position of Chair.
Our regulars have been hard at it with quill and pen – or rather, keyboard and mouse this spring.
Tyler Keevil reveals just how much influence Murray the Hump had with Al Capone and his part in St Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.
Michael Brown continues the saga of the chapel organ, which is finally ordered and delivered on time – just.
Reverend Malcolm Tudor has been looking at a family of Independent Congregationalists from Llanbrynmair who were born to the pulpit, it seems.
Catherine Richards brings us up-to-date with Powys Archives and from PenCambria point of view, special mention must be made of the late Carol Davies’ photographic archive of some 3,000 photos that Christina Edwards has very kindly presented to Powys Archives for the benefit of the community.
Llandrindod Wells in summer inspired some memories which Joel Williams has sent us from his new collection.
Reginald Massey has been browsing in the Great Oak Bookshop and come across all sorts of books about Mid Wales and by Mid Walians. He has also contributed two beautiful poems that I am delighted to publish this month.
Once again The Dragon’s Crypt contains a lot to surprise and delight. As well as R.S., John and Reginald, young women going off to do their bit for the war effort sparked off Norma Allen’s imagination, and Maggie Shepherd shows us once again what delightfully original talent she has for articulating life’s experiences.
My own offerings this month are an account of the 1906 tragedy at Garth Beibio as related in the County Times of that year, how the 12th century Normans settled into the Welsh Marches, a report of Dr David Stephenson’s fascinating talks on how the legal processes to determine the fate of Arwystli in the 13th century gripped the attention of Medieval Europe and a snippet about the Judge’s Lodgings at Presteigne.