What was in PenCambria: Issue 36 Winter 2017

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 36 Winter 2017 

Dear PenCambrians

 

The Welsh migration in the 1860s to Patagonia to form a colony that spoke only Welsh, worshipped as they chose and celebrated their own culture free from the restrictions of the English government, in essence to form a new Wales, is pretty well known, especially after their 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015. What is possibly not so well known is that originally what is now the state of Pennsylvania was to be a Welsh colony in North America and that for over 100 years prior to the Patagonian migration there had been a constant trickle of Welsh people, especially from rural Wales, to North America desperate to escape the grinding poverty of their homeland. In this issue we read about one of those communities, built in the heyday of the slate industry, which, despite its decline, has managed to maintain its Welsh culture due to the determined efforts of the minister at the local chapel. The history of the Rehoboth Chapel is a very welcome feature in this edition.

Life in Wales is a constant flow of people coming in and going out and also in this edition we have the extraordinary account of a couple who retired here from Lincolnshire but who arrived there having escaped the worst excesses of Partition in India in 1947. Lyn Wells, who related her account to Diana Ashworth as part of Diana’s In Living Memory oral history project, and her husband Clarrie, have also been in the news this year for having been married in the same year as the Queen and having received a suitably royal card of congratulations from Her Majesty earlier this year.

To begin with, however, we have a portrait of the Reverend John Idloes Edwards and his connection with the Llanidloes Debating Society sent in by his granddaughter Julie Evans who has very kindly furnished us with E. Ronald Morris’s translation of the Reverend’s obituary in “Y Blwyddiadur 1905“ Deaths of Ministers and his Will and also a piece about him from The Children’s Treasury 1904.

Andrew Dakin comes to the end of his very entertaining and informative series of articles chronicling his researches into his family history.

The fight to save St. Mary’s Church at Pont Llogel which was damaged as the result of a nearby plane crash during WW2, is very much on Val Church,s mind.

Brian Poole reflects on the part that the ox and bullock have played in our history.

A daredevil attempt by the Marquess of Powis and her maid to spring her husband William Maxwell from the Tower of London, where he had been imprisoned for his part in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 is beautifully told by Lawrence Johnson.

Meanwhile Dr David Stephenson provides us with the historian’s perspective of the legend of the massacre of the bards of Montgomery which appeared in the last issue of PC.

Love makes the world go round they say, and love has to be proved by various deeds, or at least some sort of effort, so Chris Barrett has been looking at Welsh courting customs as presented by Catrin Stevens in a book of the same name some years ago. 

40 years ago here in these quiet backwoods of the United Kingdom at Carno, the world’s biggest drugs bust took place. Code-named Operation Julie, Jim French takes us through the whole business from the history and the arrival of the drug manufacturers and their dealings to their eventual arrest and imprisonment.

Meanwhile in the Dragon’s Crypt Norma Allen eavesdrops on a group of locals who have heard that not all the drugs were recovered during the heist and that big rewards may be paid to anyone who finds them.

The Royal Commission is going from strength to strength in its goal to make its facilities available to all and their programme of events is a must-to-attend for all those interested in the history and heritage of Wales.

Finally in the non-fiction section although who knows? I succumbed to Michael Apichela’s persuasive techniques to include something personal in this very eclectic publication.

Elsewhere in the Dragon’s Crypt Julia R. Francis takes us on a walk through the year, “Eeyore” laments the closure of Lloyds Hotel and I leave you with a tale for Halloween inspired by a picture hanging in a friend’s back room, the stories that came with it and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Spooky! 

CONTENTS 

Reverend John Idloes Edwards and the Llanidloes Debating Society Julie Evans

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

The Long Arm of the War Val Church

Oxen of Bullocks? Brian Poole

Castle, Cottage and Tower Lawrence Johnson

The Tragic (and Completely Untrue) Story of the Bards of Wales D. David Stephenson

Fred Carno’s Army: the Story of Operation Julie Jim French 

In Living Memory : The Partition of India Diana Ashworth

Rehoboth Church : A Piece of Wales in Pennsylvania Gay Roberts with Sterling D. Mullins

Courtship the Welsh Way! Book Review by Chris Barrett

Gay Roberts : a Woman of Many Parts a Profile by Michael Apichela Ph.D

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales 

The Dragons Crypt

The Reward Norma Allen

Walking the Year Julia R. Francis

No More Room at the Inn Bruce Mawdesley

The Cobblers Field Gay Roberts  

THE LONG ARM OF THE WAR

Val Church 

During the last week of June we learned, with some sadness, that St. Mary’s Church at Pont Llogel, in the parish of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, has been closed. The reason, we understand, is that it is no longer safe, and cannot be insured until certain repairs have been carried out. Needless to say, the necessary repairs are expensive, and the church authorities feel that with the current decline in congregation numbers, the cost of maintaining the fabric of the building is not warranted. Until and unless the problem is solved, services are being held in the village hall. 

The nature of the safety problem lies in the visible bowing of the main church window, and requires its removal and re-setting, together with some modifications to the surround. The cost is currently set at about £1300.  However there is also electrical work to be done, and additional money needed to pay current debts and ensure future maintenance. It is estimated that the total amount needed to save the church is in the region of £30,000. 

There may be a clue to this misfortune, which dates from the Second World War, some seventy-five years ago. Apparently the RAF was in the habit of carrying out anti-submarine sweeps over the Bay of Biscay and along the French coast. On at least two occasions the Wellington planes used for these sorties had to be abandoned, once because of engine failure and a second time because the plane ran out of fuel. Details of one of these disasters were recounted in a publication called Wings over the Border, a History of aviation in North-east Wales and the Northern Marches, by Derek Pratt and Mike Grant. 

It is suggested that on each occasion bad weather caused the planes to become hopelessly lost, and to overfly their home base in South Wales. One of them crashed in Dyfnant forest. Piecing together reports from several RAF monitoring locations, signals from the plane had been picked up in the area two or three times before being lost , and the dates and times recorded from these posts match the discovery of its remains at a currently unknown spot in the forest. 

According to the account given in the book mentioned above, discovery of the debris was made by one Pte. Watkin Jones, a member of the Llwydiarth Home Guard, who was making his way back from seeing a security film in the village hall, past Parc Llwydiarth to Tynfedw, his home. Suddenly he stumbled over a large cylinder lying across the track. By the dimmed light of his torch he could make out the word Oxygen stencilled on the side. 

Looking around by the light of his torch, Pte. Jones saw debris of all kinds scattered over the forest floor, and suspended from trees. He noticed that many of the trees had been neatly topped as if by a giant scythe. 

Upon his arrival home, he was naturally anxious to know if anyone had heard anything strange, but nothing but the howling of the wind in the chimney had been heard by his family. He felt, however, that the matter should be immediately reported to the authorities, and dutifully braved the storms and darkness to make his return journey to the village where he telephoned his superiors in the Home Guard. Meanwhile the Intelligence base at Wrexham were receiving reports of an aircraft crash, and of a German pilot who had baled out of his doomed aircraft, and been taken prisoner by the Home Guard unit guarding the Vyrnwy dam. Other reports told of German parachutists in the vicinity of the hairpin bend at Boncyn Celyn down river from the dam, resulting in a full-scale invasion alert. Several arrests were made of survivors of the crash, all of whom turned out to be members of a Polish air unit stationed in Pembrokeshire. The last person to leave the aircraft before it crashed was the Polish pilot. He broke his leg on hitting the ground and was in such pain that he forgot the few words of English he knew, which would have enabled him to explain his predicament. 

Since the plane had crashed into a heavily forested area, the impact on the plane itself was relatively light. The bombs and depth charges it was carrying did not explode. However it was necessary that these weapons of war should be destroyed, and this was done by means of a series of controlled explosions. A day and a time was fixed, people advised to leave doors and windows open, and to lie flat on the ground outside their houses. 

Some damage was done to local houses, and here I quote from the book: Nothing could be done about the windows of St. Mary’s parish church, Llwydiarth, even today many of them still show traces of bowing, severe in places, as they withstood the blast. It was not certain then, and is even less so now, whether all ordnance had been removed from the wrecked aircraft. 

The War Damage Commission was set up to organise compensation for damage done to property and buildings as a result of enemy action. Responsibility for payment was taken over by local authorities, and the scheme finally wound up in 1964. Had a claim been made in the early years it is likely that repairs would have been paid for, but it is probable that the scheme was not widely known about, particularly in small rural places far from the heavily bombed areas. 

Whether the damage done to the church windows has worsened over the last seventy-five years we do not know. It is likely that health and safety issues are taken more seriously today than in the past, and maybe today the bowed windows pose no greater threat to the public than was the case in 1942. 

However, the building cannot be used if it is not insured, so, as matters stand today St. Mary’s Church faces an uncertain future.

 

 

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 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 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 19 Spring 2012?

Musical Words Lawrence Johnson
Ty Coch Water Mill at Pontdolgoch Tim Chilton
Two Pen Portraits Bruce Mawdesley
“Don’t Push Until We Get You Into Bed” Connie Howells with Lesley-Ann Dupré
The Gwalchmai Family of Mid Wales : part 3 Gwalchmai Sais
The Mount and China Street Gay Roberts
Baron Moyle of Llanidloes in the County of Montgomeryshire Diana Brown
Homage to Gwendolen Williams Brian Poole
New Friendly Society of Rhayader and Llansantffraid-Cwmdauddwr Brian Lawrence
Saint Harmon and the British Heresy R.H. Williams & Gay Roberts
Digging up my Roots David Jandrell
Put Out To Grass part 3: Beginner’s Luck Diana Ashworth
Meg Lesley-Ann Dupré
Aberystwyth Printmakers

Welshpool Sheep Market Jane Keay
The Little Dog’s Journey Lesley-Ann Dupré
Lord Edric’s Fairy Wife Hatton Davidson
Walking the Hills and Hearing the Wind Lesley-Ann Dupré

Editorial PenCambria Issue 19 by Gay Roberts

Welcome to PenCambria number 19, the first issue of 2012. With this edition I am very pleased to welcome Lesley-Ann Dupré as our new Commissioning Editor. You will already know her name from some of her very imaginative poems and prose published in The Dragon’s Crypt in the last few editions of this magazine. Bilingual in Dutch, Lesley has had extensive experience in editing and translation and she is already a valuable asset to the team. She is very good with snippets and so we can enjoy a few more of those in future. She also has a keen interest in oral history and begins a series for PenCambria with an interview with Connie Howells, the former Llanidloes midwife who remembers very different practices from those today.
As usual, we have lots of good things for you to read. Lawrence Johnson has been researching John Hughes, the 19th century Llanidloes stationmaster whose alter ego was that great Welsh poet Ceiriog. Well, there must have been a lot of time between trains and once he had finished his chores… Tim Chilton was looking to buy a period residence in the Cotswolds or South Wales and ended up with the water mill at Pontdolgoch near Caersws – haven’t so many us found ourselves here quite by chance? With the third instalment of his researches of the Gwalchmai family history Gwalchmai Sais comes to the end of his account for the time being. From 1920 until his death Lord Arthur Moyle of Llanidloes was a great socialist and member of the Labour Party who sought to improve the conditions of working men and women through his support for the trade unions and whose position as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Clement Attlee enabled him to play an active part in the introduction of the welfare state and the National Health Service in the late 1940s. Diana Brown has been researching into his life and has shed some light on this neglected worthy of our heritage. With the help of Dr David Stephenson I have been able to put you all in the picture as to how the Mount in Llanidloes came to be and its subsequent history and how China Street got its name – something which I know has puzzled so many people in the past.
In times of sickness, old age or any other kind of adversity, until the creation of the Welfare Stare and the National Health Service, the only thing that stood between the working man and his family and the Poor House, the Work House or starvation were the Friendly Societies, a form of insurance that paid out benefits to its members so long as certain stringent conditions were met. These societies need to be remembered for the good they brought to their members and as the result of his research into the social welfare life of Rhayader and the surrounding districts, for this issue of PenCambria Brian Lawrence has given us an account of the New Friendly Society of Rhayader and Llansantffraid Cwmdauddwr. Continuing his Glimpses of Beautiful Mid Wales, R.H. Williams begins a two-part look at the religious life of St Harmon Parish beginning with a brief look at its early medieval history and the Pelagian heresy that was integral to the establishment of St Harmon church. From there he touches on Francis Kilvert, vicar of St Harmon Parish for a short time, the long vanished St Harmon Monastery and Abbey Cwm Hir.
After his tour of the Hafren Circuit around the edges of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, David Jandrell has settled back at his home on the Shropshire border and has been digging up the roots of the Jandrell family tree – and a fascinating dig it is too, going right back to the late 14th century and lucky, no doubt to survive the Black Death. Our retired couple from Llawryglyn face their first lambing season, observed with wonderful wry humour as ever by Diana Ashworth, PenCambria’s “Pam Ayres in Prose”. A book shop and the coach station provides the venue for two more of Bruce Mawdesley’s beautifully penned character studies. Brian Poole makes an interesting and quite unexpected diversion from his industrial pursuits by venturing into the cultural life of Newtown and has discovered yet another forgotten artist, Gwendolen Williams, a sculptor, who although a north Walian by birth, nevertheless spent a lot of time here with her closest friend, Eveline Lewis, and much of her work is still in the area.
In the Dragon’s Crypt in a poetic change from her usual pen-and-ink studies, Jane Keay shows us a very poignant perspective of Welshpool Sheep Market from the point of view of the sheep. In the classical tradition of the medieval English ballad Hatton Davidson recounts the tale of the fairy wife of Lord Edric of Shrewsbury. Finally Lesley-Ann Dupré takes us on a journey up into to the realms of the Infinite with her little dog, and coming back down to earth again to the sublime hills of Mid Wales.

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.

What was in PenCambria Issue 10 Spring 2009?

Hafren CurcuitIn Living Memory : the post at Llawr-y-glyn Diana Ashworth
The Hafren Circuit : part 1 David Jandrell
A Visit to the Hall at Abbey Cwm Hir Norma Allen
Remembering Ossian Gordon Diana Ashworth
Musicians of Llanidloes Michael and Diana Brown
Mary Powell’s Story David Jandrell
Robert Owen-Industrialist, Reformer, Visionary 1771-1858: part 1 Margaret Cole
Owain Cyfeiliog: Prince, Poet, Patron: part 2 The Ruler Dr. David Stephenson
The Schools Heritage Project Rachael Jones
The Welsh People in Patagonia: part l David Burkhill-Howarth
Gentlemen of the Road Bruce Mawdsley
The Gentleman Hood: part 9 Tyler Keevil

Kinmel Revisited Robert James Bridge
Two Poems for Spring Roger Garfitt
Loyoute Sans Fin: Chapter Two Brian L. Roberts

Editorial PenCambria Issue 10 by Gay Roberts

Well, I hope you all survived the winter with relatively few problems. Here in Tylwch the temperature went down to -12°C every night for the first fortnight of January and not much above that during the day. I think it did once go to 3°C but mostly it was -4° to -5°C. Then we were snowed in for the first ten days of February. The last time I remember such low temperatures for such a long period was in the winters of 1980-81 when it went down to -23°C and 1981-82 when it was about -18°C and Mid Wales was cut off by a blizzard that blew in during the night of Thursday 5th January. Both winters were so cold the diesel in lorries and vans turned to gel and we had vicarious spectacle on the television of drivers lighting fires under their vehicles to liquefy their fuel so that they could go on their way. I believe that diesel has now been treated so that this no longer happens. Do you have any memories of life under unusual weather conditions? If so, do let me know because I am sure our readers would like to share them with you. The 1976 snow in June followed by the drought in July are two that come to mind.
The weather is certainly something you will need to take account of if you go on some of the walks suggested by David Jandrell on the round-Montgomeryshire route he has devised and called The Hafren Circuit. David comes from Mochdre but now lives on the Shropshire border since he retired from the day job. He has combined his love of Montgomeryshire and his love of walking into this 130-mile Circuit, divided into 10 stages, which take us all around the Montgomeryshire border and following much of the river Severn. He will narrate these walks for us, enlivening them with various titbits of history associated with the places he visits.
David Burkhill-Howarth takes us a great deal further this time – to Patagonia no less, where many people from Wales, including some from Mid Wales emigrated in the 19th Century in order to create a community based on their own Welsh language and culture as opposed to the English way of life that was being imposed on them in their homeland. This is a remarkable story of settlement and survival which will keep us riveted to these pages for this and the next two editions of PenCambria.
One of the most remarkable men to come from Mid Wales was Robert Owen, the socialist pioneer of the Co-operative movement. In 1971 the Robert Owen Association published a booklet of four essays to commemorate the bicentenary of his birth. The booklet was republished in 1989 by the Robert Owen Museum in Newtown and as it is now out of print they have very kindly allowed me to publish these essays in PenCambria and you will be reading them over the next four issues.
Llanidloes is famous for its musical tradition and perhaps the most notable family in this field is the Mills family, known in musical circles as the Millsiad. In the 19th century the Montgomeryshire Express published a series of articles on the musical members of this remarkable family and the town’s other musicians too; and these articles were published later as a small collection, now out of print. Diana Brown is a member of this family, although not
the musical branch, and she and her husband Michael have adapted this booklet for PenCambria and it will be published over a number of issues starting with this one.
PenCambria wouldn’t be the same without Murray the Hump and Tyler Keevil now brings us right to the top and Curly’s influence over the White House.
In a lighter vein we have some memories of the postal deliveries at Llawryglyn collected by Diana Ashton, who also writes a very moving study on a commemorative walk ending in Llawryglyn. Another piece of family history comes from David Jandrell regarding his great-grandmother Mary Powell of Trefeglwys. Rachael Jones lets us into the classroom, so to speak, with an account of one of her local history teaching sessions. Norma Allen visited Abbey Cwm Hir House and tells us all about the tour. We also have some delightful observations on the former Gentlemen of the Road by Bruce Mawdsley.
We have a feast of reading to recommend including Eluned Lewis’s The Captain’s Wife reviewed by Reginald Massey.
Ninety years ago in the aftermath of the First World War armistice of 1918 a regiment of Canadian soldiers were billeted at Kinmel near Conwy, awaiting a ship to take them home to Canada. The intolerable conditions and interminable wait caused them to riot and in the Dragon’s Crypt Robert Shoebridge has written a short story based on their plight, which deserves to be far more widely known. We also have the 2nd episode of Brian L. Robert’s story set against the background of the Chartist Riot in Llanidloes in 1839 and finally two very beautiful seasonal poems by Roger Garfitt.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 6 Autumn 2006?

Life in Radnorshire Eileen Williams

“Are You Church or Chapel?” – part III Michael Brown

Bob Hyde Rachael Jones

The Deadly Tablet: The 1921 Abermule Train Crash – part I David Burkhill-Howarth

Working at the Post Office in the Winter of 1947 Joel Williams

The Llanfyllin Union Workhouse John Hainsworth

Town Planning in the Upper Severn Valley – Medieval Style Dr David Stephenson

The Use of Modern Technology for Research Rachael Jones

Caersws, Moat Lane and the Cambrian Railways Brian Poole

The Gentleman Hood – part V Tyler Keevil

The Great Mid Wales Land Grab – part III Gay Roberts

A Trip to the Old Homestead Eileen Williams

Rain? Diana Ashworth
Song of the Van Cynthia Mills
A Cat’s Party Harry M. Scharff
Do You Remember the Gooseberries? Norma Allen
A Woman’s Prerogative Ellen Hywater

Editorial PenCambria Issue 6 by Gay Roberts

Well, after one of the hottest summers ever, it seems as though we are plunging earlier than ever into the cold of winter. If any of you have memories of Wales during notable weather periods I shall be very happy to publish them. The winters of 1947, 1963 and 1980-2 are the ones that spring to mind immediately, as well as the summer of 1976, which I mentioned briefly in the last edition. I was not here in 1947 or 1963, but I remember the early 1980s vividly. For several weeks over the 1980-1 winter months, temperatures dropped to -23 degrees centigrade – it was far too cold to work it out in Fahrenheit – and many trees were killed by the resulting permafrost. Diesel turned to jelly and drivers were lighting fires under their vehicles to get the engines warm enough to turn over. In 1982 temperatures dropped to about – 18°C and on the night of Thursday 5th January it snowed a blizzard. We woke up to a world of white and Llanidloes was cut off from the outside world by a 10 foot snowdrift down the pitch. With no daytime warmth to melt the top of the snow and form a nice crisp covering the snow stayed powdery. On the Friday morning I had to walk the four miles from Tylwch to Llangurig, with sledge, to get cat food and other supplies. On the Saturday I had to walk the same distance, with sledge, to Llani to get chicken feed. Once I was on the A470, it was easy, but walking the two miles there from the house – our normal B-road was out of the question – was like wading through talcum powder.
This month’s main feature is the Abermule train crash of 1921. David Burkhill-Howarth has written a very lively, detailed and comprehensive account of this disaster, which is known throughout the world wherever there is a single line railway system. It is published in two parts and in this issue he deals with the events leading up to the crash. David is one of the five new writers who I am very pleased to welcome this month.
Eileen Williams is a native of Radnorshire and has written two delightful pieces about rural life in the county. The first gives an insight into the medical practices, smock-making and wife-selling in the “good old days”; the second is of a chance visit she made to yours truly in the summer. Her grandmother had lived in my house and as part of the family continuity, she wished to show it to her daughter and granddaughter, who came with her. We had a very pleasant afternoon and I am pleased to say that she has agreed to write for us.
Diane Ashworth is a newcomer to Mid Wales, but she has certainly got the feel of the place and the language. The fluidity of her prose flows from her pen – or keyboard – onto the paper like the rain she has observed so imaginatively permeating Wales and its culture.
Harry Scharff came across PenCambria on a visit Llanbadarn Fynydd while his wife was looking for her Welsh ancestors. A talented writer, Harry’s muse, dormant for sometime, has been re-awakened by the idea of The Dragon’s Crypt and his first story for us, The Cat’s Party, will, in its way, remind many of you, I am sure, of the French film, La Ronde.
Ellen Hywater shows how internet dating should be approached with caution.
Of our established team, Michael Brown brings the story of the China Street organ to a rousing finish. Many of you will, I know, be aware of the campaign to restore and preserve the Llanfyllin Workhouse, Y Dolydd, and John Hainsworth, who wrote that very moving tribute to the men of the North Wales slate quarries in the last issue, is one of the leading lights in this campaign, which he tells us all about in this issue. Railways are Brian Poole’s passion and this month he goes into the rise and fall of the railways in Mid Wales, the subsequent development of the bus services and the importance of Caersws and Moat Lane as the gateway to the rest of Wales and the Marches. Joel Williams takes us back to the winter of 1947 in Llandrindod Wells.
In her previous article re-creating an early 20th century walk to Madog’s Wells, Rachael included a picture of Dr Bob Hyde. For this issue she has sent us a profile of Dr Hyde whose extraordinary career has brought him to the bookshop in Knighton. This was previously published in Mensa Magazine. She has also written of her experiences tracing a family through the internet, a very popular pastime these days. As part of the studies for her MA in Local History, she was recently awarded a distinction for her project on the historical significance of the Devon landscape in comparison with the Llanidloes area of the Montgomeryshire landscape, for which, Rachael, our heartiest congratulations.
Dr David Stephenson gives us an insight into how our towns in the Severn Valley were planned. Logaston Press have published some fine books on the architecture and prehistory of Wales this year and you can read all about these too. Tyler Keevil has delved even deeper into the murky world of 1930s Chicago with Murray the Hump. Finally we emerge to draw a welcome breath of clean Mid Wales air with Norma Allen reminiscing about gooseberries and Cynthia Mills lifting our eyes, voices and hearts to the hills.

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.