What was in PenCambria: Issue 16 Spring 2011?

The Early Gwalchmai Family : part I Gwalchmai Sais
“Not Much of a Hill”? Lawrence Johnson
The Red Road Gay Roberts
Bunford’s Bus Business at Trefeglwys Brian Poole
Wales and the Essex Rebelllion Mary Oldham
Llanidloes – Its History and Its Historians Diana Brown
Odd? Not really, when you think about it: Put Out to Grass part 5 Diana Ashworth
Leaping the Marteg R.M. Williams
Miss Lizzie Barker: School Mistress Extraordinaire! Brian Lawrence
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 7 Along the Shropshire Border David Jandrell
Roman Roads, Prehistoric Monuments and the Morning Surprise Gay Roberts
A Song of the Scythe Bruce Mawdesley (illustrations by Jane Keay)
Owen Owen: part 3 Gay Roberts
The Stefan Knapp Project Gay Roberts

The Strange Tale of Dai No-Socks Peter A. Tudor
Sharing Secrets & Southwell Cathedral Elizabeth Briggs
To TSE Reginald Massey
Fashionista Tyler Keevil
Bluebell Wood Janet Williams

Editorial PenCambria Issue 16 by Gay Roberts

Well, after the second year in a row of being snowed in for several very wintry weeks following what certainly didn’t seem like one of the hottest summers on record in this part of the world, it is difficult to believe in global warming in mid Wales at the moment. However, this has not put us off getting a very interesting group of articles together for your delight, delectation and edification this Spring.
There can be very few people in Wales who have not come across the beautiful pictures of the artist Jane Keay and I am especially pleased this month to be publishing a set of her drawings illustrating Bruce Mawdesley’s matchless prose in an elegy to the scythe, that once ubiquitous tool that harvested the wheat for our daily bread, the hay to feed cattle and horses and the straw for their bedding, the thatching for our houses and so many other uses.
The great Calvinistic Methodist preacher Humphrey Gwalchmai is legendary in the Non-Conformist tradition of Wales. He was born to a Montgomeryshire family and one of his English descendants, Gwalchmai Sais begins a family history and opens this edition of PenCambria with an introduction to the 17th century members of this dynasty.
In a fascinating speculation as the meaning of the name of Pumlumon/Plynlimon or any other orthographic variant, Lawrence Johnson takes us on a trip through the bogs of etymology and tradition as well as those in the wilds of the Cambrian mountains where the unwary can get sucked in as much by the mire of myriad meanings as they can by the peat.
Bunford’s at Trefeglwys was one of those small bus services scattered throughout the country that we all took for granted and to whose fate and service to our communities we never gave a thought as we bought our cars and drove off down the highway of history. Alun Bunford has talked to Brian Poole about his father’s business and provided a nostalgic set of photographs with views which I know many of you will enjoy.
It can’t be many articles that begin with an early 17th century hanging, drawing and quartering and Mary Oldham captures vividly the mood of the rebellion by the Earl of Essex as he attempted to seize the throne from Queen Elizabeth I, supported by two Welshmen from the Marches, Robert Vaughan and Sir Gelli Meyrick, the latter whose fate it was to suffer this end.
Dr David Stephenson’s recently published book, Llanidloes: a history, is the latest in a line of books seeking to define Llanidloes through its history, each one adding to the knowledge of its predecessor. In an article by Diana Brown each of these historians and their work are assessed and each one gives a fascinating glimpse into world that they knew and the history that they themselves had researched.
Continuing their adventures renovating a hill farm in the hills of Llawryglyn, our retired couple have now got the roof on and daughter, who is not country-savvy in the ways in which her mother is now totally au fait (!), come to stay.
The perils of country walking around St Harmon are also vividly described in a fishy little tale by R.M. Williams, a newcomer to our merry band of scribes and whose tales I look forward to reading a great deal more in PenCambria in the future.
Brian Lawrence introduces us to Miss Lizzie Barker, the school mistress of Bwlchysarnau who forsook our beautiful Radnorshire hills for the wilds of South Africa to teach the Boer children in the concentration camps there.
On Stage 7 of the Hafren Circuit David Jandrell takes us out of Wales on a brief diversion into Shropshire, along the Vyrnwy from Llanymynech to Crewgreen..
Two years ago Bob Silvester of Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust gave one of the most interesting talks it has been my privilege to hear, all about Roman roads, prehistoric sites and squatter settlements (tai nos) in mid Wales. Based on his talk, I have written and article which I do hope you will enjoy it as much as I did listening to the original.
We come to the final part of Owen Owen’s biography when Owen having consolidated his success in business turns his eye to marriage, children and finally returning in some measure to his birthplace in Machynlleth.
Cathy Knapp has now established her sculpture park, housing the collection of Stefan Knapp at Mid Wales Art Centre and you can read all about him, his works and all the other events going on there and elsewhere in mid Wales this summer.
The Dragon’s Crypt contains a feast of poetry, a toe dipped into the murky waters of the Paris fashion scene and the strange tale of Dai No-socks.

What was in PenCambria: Issue15 Winter 2010?

Remains of Roman Villa found near Aberystwyth Diana Brown
Cartrefi Cefn Gwlad Cymru book launch.
The Meifod Deserter Bryn Ellis
Winter Walks in the Elan Valley
The Grand Canyon of Mid Wales Bev Barratt
The Second World War in the Clywedog and Trannon Valleys Diana Ashworth
Jamila Massey
Improving Llanidloes Michael and Diana Brown
The Wild Men Of Dinas Mawddwy : Put Out to Grass part 4 Diana Ashworth
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 6 The Berwyns David Jandrell
Armchair Detective Lawrence Johnson
Winter Memories at Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams
Seashore Bruce Mawdesley
Radnorshire: A Historical Guide by Donald Gregory part 2 of a detailed synopsis
Gay Roberts
Joan Corbet : Medieval Chatelaines of Powis Castle part 4 Dr David Stephenson
Two Pictures by John Lavrin
Ferrilos Patagonicos Brian Poole
Owen Owen by David Wyn Davies: part 2 of a detailed synopsis Gay Roberts
John Lavrin: a profile Gay Roberts

Lady’s Maid Norma Allen
The Torso Lesley-Ann Dupré
Autumn Reflections David Jandrell
Autumn Janet Williams

Editorial PenCambria Issue 15 by Gay Roberts

The air is bracing, the view from the mountains is wonderful – panoramic peaks, plunging escarpments, gentle rolling hills, myriad subtle hues of green, purple and russets of autumn – just the vision to conjure up sitting by your firesides reading PenCambria in the darkness of winter. Yes, we go out and about for much of this issue treading in footsteps of the drovers, the preachers, the miners, the medieval knights, the Welsh princes, the Romans, the Celts and those enigmatic peoples who populated our hilltops thousands of years ago but of whom nothing remains now but a few standing stones and flint tools.
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales are excavating a hitherto unknown Roman villa near Aberystwyth and this is completely redrawing our previous picture of Roman settlement in Wales. We, or rather Clwb Dringo of Machynlleth plunge into the Grand Canyon of Mid Wales in the wilds of Plynlimon near Dylife and with Lawrence Johnson we contemplate the hills of Radnorshire and the ancient people who populated them from Fowler’s Armchair – if we can find it, that is. Our progress with David Jandrell around the Hafren Circuit reaches the most northerly edge of Montgomeryshire with a magnificent view from the Berwyns and takes us through to Llanymynech via Llanrhaeadr-ym-mochnant, Llansilin and the site of Owain Glyndwr’s celebrated but completely obliterated hall of Sychnant.
With Diana Ashworth we go out into the valleys of the Clywedog and the Trannon to investigate an aeroplane crash from World War II. Further afield, almost as south as we can go, we find out about the development and construction of the railway system in the Welsh colony of Patagonia, with Brian Poole finishing the late David Burkhill-Howath’s series about the Welsh people in Patagonia.
Michael and Diana Brown’s account of how Llanidloes was as anxious to attract visitors a hundred years ago as it is today gives a fascinating picture of the town and its improvement campaign, which offered basically the same sort of attractions as we do now in the 21st century i.e. accommodation, outdoor activities amidst wonderful scenery, some popular entertainments and good connections to other parts of the country. At this point I should like to welcome Michael Brown back to the authorial fold of PenCambria and I am delighted to note that he is making such a good recovery after the stroke that incapacitated him so badly three years ago.
Diana Ashworth was definitely out and about in the middle of a dark and stormy night as she recounts in the latest episode of her memoirs of retirement to a Welsh hill farm, Put Out To Grass, a familiar plight I am sure to all of you who have made the same leap of faith to come and live in the hills of Wales.
Joel Williams discovers more winter memories and Llandrindod Wells and Bruce Mawdesley evokes the magic of the seashore, well away from wintry landscape of mid Wales.
Jamila Massey is an exotic Indian jewel living amongst the greenery of Montgomeryshire and you can find out all about her on Youtube.
David Stephenson introduces us to another formidable medieval chatelaine of Powis Castle, while I continue with my synopses of Donald Gregory’s Historical Guide to Radnorshire and David Wyn Davies’ account of the great Victorian department store owner, property magnate and philanthropist Owen Owen.
For proper outings, there are walks in the Elan Valley and there’s lots of entertainment for those of you who like to go out of an evening rather sit in front of the television mesmerised by Strictly Come Dancing. Montgomeryshire’s Got Talent too, as you may have enjoyed at Theatr Hafren earlier this month.
Mid Wales is certainly the home to talent as evidenced by the art exhibitions, especially John Lavrin, at Mid Wales Art Gallery and Glasbury Arts programme of events. Finally, for a rollercoaster read to keep you entertained on those dark days and nights when the fireside calls, you can find out how to get hold of Tyler Keevil’s first published novel, Fireball.
In The Dragon’s Crypt I’d like to extend a warm welcome a new poet, Lesley-Ann Dupré, who also introduces us to the pantoum, a form of poetry that is new to PenCambria and which I am sure you will enjoy. I look forward to more of this interesting poetic discipline. David Jandrell has come across a connection in his family history that has sparked his imagination with a tale of medieval derring-do. Norma Allen’s tale of a country girl about to go to town for her first job and the apprehension she feels will bring back memories, too, I am sure. Finally we end this edition of PenCambria with poem from Janet Williams, guaranteed to bring a seasonal glow to our smiles.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 14 Summer 2010?

A Worker’s Paradise!!! Brian Lawrence
Hamers and Hughes Families: book review Gay Roberts
The Abermule Train Crash – post script Transcribed by Brian Poole
The Dylife Postbus Lawrence Johnson
Madame Despard Gay Roberts with E. Ronald Morris
Put Out to Grass: Episode 3 Hi-Ho! Farm Electrics Diana Ashworth
A Peculiar Hissing Sound in Rock Park
Freemen of Llanidloes Diana Brown
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 5 Around Lake Vyrnwy David Jandrell
Hare and Hounds Gay Roberts
Robert Owen John Harrison
Owen Owen by David Wyn Davies: part 1 of a detailed synopsis Gay Roberts
Radnorshire: A Historical Guide by Donald Gregory part I of a detailed synopsis
Gay Roberts
“Those Were The Days” at Llandrindod Joel Williams
Medieval Chatelaines of Powis Castle part 4 David Stephenson
A Family Affair/Pagans & Polytopes Gay Roberts
Ty Duw Bruce Mawdesley

Life Support Tyler Keevil
Midsummer Janet Williams
The Shepherd Over The Water Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 14 by Gay Roberts

Once again we have a journal packed full of good things which I hope you will find interesting. Some of our writers are new; some are familiar friends. As ever, some pages will make you think, some will make you chuckle, some will bring a glow of reminiscence, some
will offer you something totally new.
The construction of the Elan Valley dams in the 19th century brought in a huge number of workers all of whom had to be housed, fed and cared for. In order to attract the best quality of workman a model village was built at Llanwrthwl and an insurance scheme set up to provide top quality care paid for via premiums taken out of the men’s wages. Brian Lawrence has researched this aspect of the project and provides a fascinating insight into the lives and the health of the men who worked on these dams.
Joyce Hamer has put together the family history of the Hamer and Hughes families of Newtown and Llanidloes in a book which is a model of how to present such research in both an informative and an interesting way. One member of the family went to the site of Great Train Crash at Abermule in 1921. He wrote an account of it to his daughter who was studying at Bangor Normal College at the time and Joyce has very kindly allowed me to print it for you.
With friends in the area, Lawrence Johnson has been a frequent visitor to mid Wales for many years much of which he has spent walking the hills and the valleys, which he probably knows better than many of us who spend all our lives travelling them by car. His first venture into the wilds of PenCambria is his reminiscences of the round trip to Dylife by bus from Llanidloes.
Llanidloes has rightly been proud of the part it has played in the history of social reform and the Chartist movement. However, this did not extend en masse to supporting for votes for women. The esteemed suffragette Madame Charlotte Despard got a very rough ride when she came to the town and you can read all about that with grateful thanks to E. Ronald Morris who proved me with the information.
Meanwhile the Freemen of Llanidloes had a much more respectful reception as Diana Brown discovered from family papers and as reported in The Montgomeryshire Times.
The retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn find themselves at the mercy of their ancient electrics whilst converting their barn in this episode of Put Out To Grass.
The Hafren Circuit takes us around Lake Vyrnwy and up to Llangynog, taking in the Anne Griffiths Walk to Dolanog, the glimpse of wild Snowdonia at Bwlch-y-groes and the beautiful Pennant Melangell. I have also included an impression I wrote of the visit to Pennant Melangell and Llanyblodwel with the Arwystli Society several years ago. Bruce Mawdesley finds a similar peace on the Llyn Peninsular.
This month we come to the final essay on Robert Owen, this one by John Harrison who discusses the great man and the communities he founded.
Owen Owen by David Wyn Davies and Radnorshire: an Historical Guide by Donald Gregory are two books which I hope will interest you and I have begun a detailed synopsis of each one this month.
Dr David Stephenson takes us into the Grey areas of Powis Castle with Jane Orwell proving as attractive and fertile to Edward Grey, then Lord Powis, as another Jane, this one Grey by descent, was at the same time proving to be to the English monarch of Welsh descent, Henry VIII.
Joel Williams revives some more memories of Llandrindod Wells in summer.
An exciting new addition to the arts world in mid Wales is the Maesmawr Arts Centre at Caersws. Opened in October 2008 it is really on its feet now and you can read all about in this edition. To complement this article you can also read all about the Wade family of Tylwch all of whom are artists in their own special way and who all took part in a family exhibition in June this year at Maesmawr, each one displaying their own original talents.
Summertime is festival time and of the huge number to pick from I have chosen two each of a very different character to tell you about: the Machynlleth Festival which includes art and music of the highest quality; and at Pontrhydfendigaid is the Festival in the Shire which is devoted to J.R.R. Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings, hobbits and all things to do with Middle Earth. A new trail around sixteen relatively undiscovered places of worship in North Montgomeryshire, Living Stones, was inaugurated in May and I am sure many of you will be keen to go on that too. I have also included brief details of walks organised in and around the
Elan Valley by the Elan Valley Trust and those further afield, Trail Tempters 2010, by Powys County Council.
Meanwhile for those of you with Arthurian interests, Old Oswestry Landscape and Archaeology Project are holding a seminar in October entitled A Time For Arthur? Western Britain Without the Romans. This should be a real treat.
In The Dragon’s Crypt after his tour de force with Murray the Hump this month Tyler Keevil takes a well earned breather with a short story all about the tenacity of life; Janet Williams finds poetry in midsummer; and finally Norma Allen gives the Second Branch of the Mabinogion, the tale of Branwen and Llyr, a modern day twist.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 13 Spring 2010?

Black Vaughan of Hergest and the Vaughan Clan in the 15th Century Mary Oldham
Put Out To Grass 2: The Phantom Tup Diana Ashworth
1834 – A Fateful Welsh Journey, Siluria versus Cambria  Colin Humphries
A Shadow, a Lion, a Bicycle, a Pit Prop and a Prop Shaft Brian Poole
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 3 Owain Glyndwrto Machynlleth David Jandrell
Robert Owen and the Co-Operative Movement William P. Watkins
The Medieval Chatelaines of Powis Castle: Part 2 Dr David Stephenson
The Gentleman Hood: part XII End of an Era Tyler Keevil
Park House (Parc Pen Prys) Talk by Dr David Stephenson transcribed by Diana Brown
At the Bright Hem of God: Book Review Reginald Massey
The Great Fire of Llanfair Caereinion 1758 Part 2 Bryn Ellis

Margaret Collier Michael Brown
February Janet Williams
Carys’s Story Norma Allen
Time Is? Bruce Mawdesley

Editorial PenCambria Issue 13 by Gay Roberts
Well, I am sure that many of you were glad to have something to read, maybe even PenCambria, during the weeks we have been snowed up this past winter. For myself, we were snowed in from 20th December to 16th January. Luckily we had the foresight to be stocked up with provisions for two months, taking us well into February. Our neighbours’ landrover was also a lifesaver for one of our cats who, beset with a blocked bladder, needed an emergency dash to the vet. It was the end of February before we were finally free of snow on
our driveway.
However, from what I have been told before, this still does not measure up to the winter of 1947. The ladies of Clochfaen Hall, Llangurig, always remembered the snow starting on 23rd January and it being the middle of March before they were able to get supplies from the village about half a mile away. It was July before the snow finally disappeared. Do send me your winter memories if you will since I know so many of you like to share these things.
Black Vaughan of Hergest gets this edition off to a rollicking start. Mary Oldham has been researching that great Welsh family, the Vaughans, and the article she has written for us concerns the Hergest branch, in particular one Thomas Vaughan who may have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his finest detective novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Another mysterious animal, but definitely not in the Dartmoor tradition, is the phantom tup that features in this next episode of Diana Ashworth’s memoire of retirement to a Welsh hill farm in Llawr-y-glyn.
A 19th century geological feud that literally split Wales in two is related by Colin Humphries.
Newtown’s shadow aircraft factory has inspired a most interesting feature on the Lion Works by Brian Poole. The history of industry rarely gets the coverage that it deserves and yet the importance of this factory to the conduct of World War II can hardly be overstated.
The history of another medieval lady of determination is related by Dr David Stephenson. Indeed, her very nickname, Hawise Gadarn, Hawise the Hardy, gives us a glimpse of the life she had to endure.
From Llanidloes to Machynlleth and then over the top to Llanerfyl is the route that David Jandrell takes on his next stage of the Hafren Circuit, his most enjoyable and comprehensive tour around the outskirts of Montgomeryshire.
With Robert Kennedy’s pursuit of the Outfit, the national trauma of President Kennedy’s death and the Gentleman Hood’s own demise, this month Tyler Keevil brings his epic work on Murray the Hump to an end. We have been following the career of this extraordinary Welshman by parentage for all but the first edition of PenCambria, from the next issue it will be very strange not to be looking forward to it any more. Tyler has created a hard act to follow.
Park House just outside Caersws was one of the most important houses of its day. The Arwystli Society was privileged to visit it in 2007 with Dr. David Stephenson as historical consultant and Diana Brown has transcribed a report of this visit.
A Radnorshire Pastoral by Peter Capaldi has caused Reginald Massey to wax lyrical.
We have the third of our essays on Robert Owen, this one by William P. Watkins, who looks at the Co-operative movement that Robert Owen inspired.
Bryn Ellis has produced another inventory from the 1758 Great Fire of Llanfair Caereinion that he invites our help with in the deciphering.
In response to a letter in praise of Brian Poole’s article on the lost Clywedog Valley, archaeologist Richard Scott Jones has provided a wealth of information about the uplands of Plynlimon.
Joel Williams brings us some more memories of Llandrindod Wells in Spring.
In The Dragon’s Crypt, Norma Allen has been inspired by the story of Rhiannon and Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed in the First Branch of the Mabinogion; and Michael Brown has written a poignant portrait of a woman who finds herself in the sort of dilemma that has been much in the news lately. Janet Williams’ poem celebrating February looks forward to the coming year while Bruce Mawdesley calls Time on this edition of PenCambria.

What was in PenCambria Issue 9 Winter 2008?

The Ratgoed Valley Walk David Burkhill-Howarth

The Penstrowed Quarry Brian Poole

Geraint Goodwin Reginald Massey

Local Studies as a Resource for History Teaching Rachael Jones

The Medieval Development of Rhayader C.E. Smith

Owain Cyfeiliog (C1125-1197) Prince, Poet and Patron Dr. David Stephenson

Owen Davies, Clockmaker E. Ronald Morris

The Gentleman Hood: Part VIII Tyler Keevil

A double centenary: Llanidloes Gay Roberts 

ER Horsfall Turner Dr David Stephenson

Frank Shaler: Architect John Napier

Family History Appeal for Frederick J. Griffiths. Andrew Woodland

Newtown 1901 Newtown Local History Group

The National Monuments Record of Wales: Collecting Our Past Gay Robert

The Chronicles of Cynllaith – Llansilin Anniversary Pageant Gay Roberts

Was There Anybody There? Ghost Tour of Powis Castle Gay Roberts

The Princess Who was Vain: Conclusion Michael Brown
Loyoute Sans Fin: Chapter One Brian L. Roberts
More Rain? Diana Ashworth

Editorial PenCambria Issue 9 by Gay Roberts

Welcome to PenCambria Number 9 and do please forgive me for the year’s break but after the publication of number 8 last summer I was completely overwhelmed by the demands of the day job among other things that it has taken until now and a team of excellent assistants to get PenCambria back into print. I should like to add that it was also at the behest of many of
you, too, who were so kind as to tell me how much you have missed it. I am deeply touched and would like to thank you all for your past and continuing support and hope that you will enjoy it as much in the future.
As I said we now have a team of assistant editors and sales and media support, and I should like to take this opportunity to introduce to you. You will recognise most of them as have contributed much excellent reading matter in the past. David Burkhill-Howarth will do what he can in the way of local and sometimes not-so-local history, Michael and Diana Brown have taken on the heritage side, especially helping with reports of the Arwystli Society talks and visits; because they are always so interesting, these and reports of the Powysland Club lectures will take a much more prominent role in future issues. Norma Allen and Tyler Keevil are developing the creative writing content, Reginald Massey is our Consultant Editor, Christina Edwards and Diana Buck are our sales and distribution team and Nick Venti is hoping to fix the web site, desperately in need of updating. I am also indebted to Christina for her recent offer to help with editorial collection. My thanks to all of you for taking so much of the burden of my shoulders.
As ever, in this issue, we have a lot of good things for you to read. First we take a walk in the beautiful Ratgoed Valley with David Burkhill-Howarth. Then we get down to the nitty gritty of quarrying with Brain Poole, who has done an enormous amount of research on a totally unsung but vital part of life in Mid Wales – the Penstrowed Quarry outside of Newtown. This quarry and the men who worked it have provided the roads we use, the houses we live in, the bridges we use to cross the rivers, and all manner of basic infrastructures. His article gives an insight into the geology and history of the quarry, how it was worked, what it supplied and its future prospects. On to Newtown and we discover another of the town’s forgotten writers, Geraint Goodwin, with Reginald Massey. Next Rachael Jones takes us on a short course researching local history which many of you aspiring historians will find very rewarding, even you don’t end up in the dock at Welshpool’s old Assizes Court, as did one of her students! South to Rhayader with Chris Smith, a professional archaeologist and Rhayader resident, who provides with a fascinating insight on the development of Rhayader during the medieval period along side the fate of Cwmddaudwr. Back to North Powys again with Dr. David Stephenson and the exploits of the medieval Prince Owain Cyfeiliog and, after a brief detour to Llangurig with E. Ronald Morris and a local boy who made it good, we complete the round trip with Tyler Keevil and the piece you have all been waiting for – the next episode in the extraordinary career of that grandson of Carno, Murray the Hump.
2008 is the centenary of the opening of Llanidloes Town Hall. One of the driving forces behind it was E. Horsfall Turner, headmaster of Llanidloes County Intermediate School and completely unsung water colourist. The Arwystli Society talk in April this year celebrated the both the anniversary of the Town Hall and the life and work of this man. A month later, John Napier gave the society a talk on Frank Shayler, the architect of this building, and of many others in the Mid Wales area. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did listening to them.
In August I was privileged to receive an invitation to the press launch of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales’ centenary exhibition at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. Its title is Collecting Our Past and the theme is the work of the National Monuments Record of Wales. You will find an account of this exhibition in this issue as well as a brief preview of the television series following their work, due to be screened in November. I would urge you, if you can, to go and see the exhibition before it closes on 22nd November this year and to bookmark the series on BBC2 Wales as part of your winter’s viewing.
I was also sent a very entertaining DVD of the pageant put on by the community of Llansilin in 2005 to commemorate fifteen hundred years of life in this community since the establishment of St. Silin’s church in 500 AD to the present date – and, being a border area, much has happened there indeed. It was also conceived to mark the departure after twenty
five years of the then Vicar, Reverend Kit Carter, a very talented man by way of writing and performing for the theatre as well as for his priestly activities. You will find a synopsis of this pageant further on.
To chill you blood, Christina, another friend and I went on the ghost tour of Powis Castle last year and you can read all about those spooky goings-on as well.
We have our regular report from Powys Archives as well details of two new books, and a calendar of some of the things that are happening in Mid Wales during the next few months. Finally, in the Dragon’s Crypt we find out exactly what fate had in store for the Princess Who Was Vain, we have the first chapter of a story about a weaver and his family set against the backdrop of the Chartists’ uprising in Llanidloes in 1839 and we have some more observations on our current precipitation preoccupation.
All in all, plenty for you to enjoy reading during the long dark months of winter.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 8 Autumn 2008?

Saving Llanidloes Hospital Gay Roberts

Dr Graham Davies Gay Roberts

A Life Well Spent Eileen Williams

“Being at Montgomery” Part 2 Gay Roberts

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

More Summertime Memories from Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams

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

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

The Gentleman Hood: Part VII Tyler Keevil

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

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

What was in PenCambria: Issue 7 Spring 2007?

If Only These Stones Could Talk… Eileen Williams

Disturbing the Dead Rachael Jones

The Gentleman Hood: Part VI Tyler Keevil

Montgomeryshire’s Man of Many Parts Reginald Massey

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

Montgomery in the Civil War Part II Dr David Stephenson

More Springtime Memories from Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams

Family History Appeal for Morley Bennett Lloyd Morgan Vanessa Dutton

Cwmdauddwr Gravestone Opens a Window on the Napoleonic World Nick Venti

“Being at Montgomery…Part I ” Gay Roberts

Margaret Collier Michael Brown
Sold For A Shilling Norma Allen
I HapPEN to Know Harry Scharf

Editorial PenCambria Issue 7 by Gay Roberts
There is a decidedly stony feel to this edition of PenCambria. We begin with a vivid picture of daily life in the rocky hillsides of Wales in the early 19th century from Eileen Williams; next we have Rachael Jones’ researches into the history behind a gravestone in the churchyard of Christ Church, Welshpool; Nick Venti has uncovered an extraordinary history of military action by a Rhayader man, commended for his valour in the Napoleonic Wars from 1807 onwards and especially in the Peninsular War of 1811. Nick’s article is especially relevant as, despite their reluctance to go on crusade in medieval times, so many men from Mid Wales have left the country over the centuries to go a-soldiering, and Welshmen were indeed highly esteemed abroad for their fighting qualities. He has found a quite remarkable report albeit it anonymous from an ordinary soldier that is in marked contrast from the
Colonel’s dry terse account of the same battle and it is a description that today’s soldiers would recognise too.
Warfare of an earlier age is the subject of Dr Stephenson’s feature this month as he completes his article on Montgomery and the Civil War. For those of you who have missed part I, this appeared in the Spring 2006 edition of PenCambria, back numbers of which are available from for this and any other issue, details on the back page of this magazine.
Montgomery is in fact in the spotlight this month with the first part of my report of the Arwystli Society’s very enjoyable visit to this town last September, when our first port of call was the Old Bell Museum, and it is the subject of one of the recommendations for your bookshelf.
Coming across a number of books written by David Davies, the 1st Lord Davies of Llandinam, including The Seven Pillars of Peace and A Federated Europe, Reginald Massey has been struck by both the vision and the achievements of this man, the more so that his ideas are so relevant to today and that his work is so little known. The latter Reginald hopes to remedy starting with his article in this issue.
Murray the Hump consolidates his position in this episode of Tyler Keevil’s excellent series on the Chicago gangster of Carno parentage. This time he dips his toe into the murky world of American politics and finally eliminates one of his hated rivals.
After the crash, care for the casualties, counting the dead and clearing the line are priorities of the all those involved in the 1921 Abermule train crash as recounted in the second episode of his gripping account of this tragedy by David Burkhill-Howarth. So many of you will find familiar names in these lists, I am sure.
Joel Williams provides with a whisper of springtime in Llandrindod Wells with a memory from Miss Mary Abberley recounted in his book Voices of Llandrindod Wells.
Logaston Press has published two more very fine books, which are well worth adding to your collections of books about Mid Wales. The Celtic Christian Sites of the Central and Southern Marches by Sarah and John Zaluckyj is an excellent compliment to the books on history and ancient sites mentioned in previous issues of PenCambria. Dr. David Stephenson once said that while the history of Wales as told through the churches and chapels of the Principality is well established, that told through those other great cultural institutions, the inns and taverns is hardly known. The Pubs of Radnorshire by Tony Hobbs goes a long way towards redressing the balance in this direction and is a most enjoyable and instructive read on this aspect of our culture. Also recommended for your bookshelf this month is A Story of Montgomery by Ann and John Welton, a book that is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of this town.
Powys Archives have been having their annual stocktake and once more Catherine Richards updates us on some of their content and to the access facilities of Ancestry.com for all those of you researching your family history. Speaking of which, we have another request for information and contact from a lady of the Morgan family of Llanidloes whose grandfather, born in 1888, emigrated to South Africa. Speaking of family history, if any of you researching your family history come across any interesting stories and would like to have your findings published in PenCambria, do please get in touch with me and I should be very pleased to do so.
Into The Dragon’s Crypt once more to enjoy the fertile imaginations of our creative writers: Michael Brown, who entertained us all last year with the installation of the China Street organ, ponders the dilemma of the supreme act of friendship; Norma Allen has been inspired by an item in the last edition of PenCambria about wife selling; and Harry Scharf (only one f, not two as I mistakenly printed last time – mea culpa and profound apologies, Harry) meditates on the tool of the writer’s trade.

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 2 Summer 2005?

The Gentleman Hood – first part of the history of Murray the Hump, notorious accountant for Al Capone. Tyler Keevil

Walking the Van.  Brian Poole

The Beginning of Education in Llanidloes.  E Ronald Morris

Trefeglwys Engineers Reverend Malcolm Tudor

The Origins of Llanidloes Dr. David Stephenson

Eiluned Lewis Reginald Massey

Llandrindod Wells – An Exceptionally Fashionable Town Peter Dean

Jonathan Sleigh – A Tribute Alan Sillitoe

The Parthenon of Wales Gay Roberts

The Powis Family Album Gay Roberts

Welsh Tradition Tune Club Gary Northeast

The Lamplighter Norma Allen
The Day It Happened August Mullen
The Case of the Lingo Larceny Matt Maus

Pen Cambria Issue 2 Editorial by Gay Roberts

Welcome to PenCambria No.2 and before I go any further, my very grateful thanks are long overdue to everyone who helped me get the first issue off the ground and who are still supporting on its second outing as well as all our new contributors and distributors.
I am very pleased with the response to PenCambria No.1. It has been available in shops in Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire since April. We also have eight new contributors to this issue, I am delighted to say, as well as four from last time. There would have been five but Nick Venti’s findings on General Valentine Jones will be published in the PenCambria No. 3.
This issue has quite a different flavour from the last one. As part of our oral history, we have a very entertaining piece about the hotels of Llandrindod Wells and some of the town’s colourful characters as told to me in conversation with Peter Dean, whose family has lived in the area for 400 years.
Teachers are perhaps Wales greatest export and education came very early to Mid Wales, albeit a religious one first of all. Ronald Morris, who as so many of you know is an absolute gold mine of information about Mid Wales and Llanidloes in particular, has written a most informative piece about the beginnings of education in the town in the 19th century.
Tyler Keevil has turned from fiction to fact for this issue and has been researching Murray the Hump. In the first of a four-part series he begins to dish the dirt on one of Mid Wales’ most notorious characters.
The Arwystli Society was treated to a very enjoyable talk by Brian Poole on the Van Railway and he has described a walk he took along the old railway track from the Van mines to Caersws in the process of updating a book on the subject in which he has collaborated.
From Trefegwlys to Sardinia, it is extraordinary how Mid Walians have brought the benefits of technology to the some of the most remote areas of the world. Malcolm Tudor gives us a glimpse of one such in the person of Benjamin Piercy,
A writer from Newtown who was compared with Jane Austen thirty years ago but who now all but forgotten in her home area, Eiluned Lewis was rediscovered by Reginald Massey who reminds us of just how important a writer she was and of the company she kept.
In our first edition, Jonathan Sleigh gave us a very moving and much appreciated account of his experience as a cancer patient. This was to be the first of two, maybe several episodes of the progress of his recovery. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with this scourge of our time and died at the end of April. His friend Alan Sillitoe (no, not THAT Alan Sillitoe) has very kindly sent me a copy of the tribute he paid at Jonathan’s funeral service and gives us an insight into the life of this man who had such a variety of jobs and interests and gave so much of himself to his friends and his family. The last time I saw Jonathan, he suggested that we might have a series of articles on people who had moved into Mid Wales and stayed here. I think this was a series he himself was planning to write. I would like to think that this portrait of him might be the first of such a series.
I have been out and about on guided tours of the paintings and statues of Powys Castle and, with the Arwystli Society, of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and you can read all about these as well.
The folk music tradition is alive and well in Mid Wales and Gary Northeast tells us about the tune club he formed in Llanfyllin last year and invites anyone who is interested to go along.
We have an update on Powys Archives from the manager Catherine Richards.
The Dragon’s Crypt is full of goodies this month with a charming but slightly edgy story that will have your heart in your mouth from Norma Allen, a tale of the heart in the classic Edgar Allen Poe tradition from August Mullen, and another philological tour de force from Matt Maus that will having you reaching for your dictionary of English grammar. Play it again, Matt.
Finally, the pictures filling in the spaces between the articles are all from the recent Work Together exhibition of painting, photography and sculpture at the Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes.