What was in PenCambria: Issue 28 Spring 2015?

Issue 28 Introduction and Contents at a glance 

IN MEMORY OF MICHAEL BROWN

Dear PenCambrians

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Michael Brown, one of our great contributors and staunchest supporters who passed away in February this year after a long illness. Michael brightened our pages for many issues from 2006 starting with “Are You Church Or Chapel?”, his witty account of the installation of the organ in the Calvinist Methodist Chapel in Llanidloes in numbers 4-6. He then went into creative writing and produced some fine stories:  Midge Bellingham (number 11), about a woman who unwittingly falls foul of the Race Relations Act; Margaret Collier (number 13), a woman who has to make a decision to help out an old friend; and The Princess Who Was Vain (numbers 9 and 10), a wonderfully Gothic tale about the search for a suitable suitor for a princess who was a martyr to her own vanity.

In 2008 Michael was poised to take on a major editorial role with PenCambria when he had a massive stroke which severely curtailed his verbal communication both in speech and writing and so that never happened. Instead we have been so lucky that his wife Diana has put her own not inconsiderable talent at the disposal of the magazine and she has written regularly for us since then, and to some of those articles Michael was able to make a contribution.

When I first asked him if he would like to take over the editorial side of PenCambria, working with David Burkhill-Howarth, I suggested that he might like to become the Richard Ingrams of mid Wales, as I saw PenCambria as somewhat in mould of The Oldie. He laughed and agreed to it. Diana told me that it was a few days later when he was wondering if he should take it on that he had his stroke, and she commented “Well, you didn’t need to go that far to get out of it.” He will be much missed. An appreciation Reginald Massey follows this introduction.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and Our Roll of Honour commemorates Private David Bennett Jones of Llanwnog, who sacrificed his life as a Chindit in that often forgotten campaign in Burma. We are profoundly grateful to his niece, Linda Evans for introducing him to us.

Sacrifices of a different sort continue the theme this month as Lawrence Johnson and Brian Lawrence remind us of those communities that lost their lands to, among other things the great reservoirs of mid Wales created to supply the water and electricity needs of west Wales and the City of Birmingham. Lawrence reminds us of so many places that Wales has lost by inundation. Meanwhile Brian cordially  invites us, courtesy of the City of Birmingham Water Department, to the King Edward VII’s visit to Rhayader on 21st July 1904 on the occasion of His Majesty’s Inauguration of the New Water Supply in the Elan Valley.

Trefeglwys celebrates the 100th Anniversary of its Eisteddfod this year and Margaret Jones traces this history of this remarkable cultural event along with a short history of this once pivotally important community.

When the going gets tough the girls go shopping and Val Church provides a bit of retail and entertainment therapy Victorian style.

This year is the 175th Anniversary of the Chartist Riot in Llanidloes and in the 2nd chapter of his booklet, Chartism in Llanidloes 1839-40 Ronald Morris describes the situation leading up to this event. Llanidloes was politically charged at this time and the ruling classes were very uneasy.

Michael Apichela takes us much further afield, to Pennsylvania, where there is a large and fiercely enthusiastic Welsh immigrant community.

Our retired gentleman at Llawryglyn buys a second hand digger and the culvert burst its banks into the field after a particularly heavy downpour – thank heavens for the digger – if he can get it to work!

Spring is here and the activity centres are opening their doors. So there are lots of things happening to satisfy the needs of the mind and the body.

In The Dragon’s Crypt, taking inspiration from various sources of the voyage of the Mimosa, the ship that took so many immigrants from Wales Patagonia 150 years ago to start a new life, Norma Allen has created a fictional diary that brings home so poignantly what those voyagers must have experienced. Part 1 is in this edition. Amber Louise Robinson sings a song in silence. Finally Bruce Mawdesley presents a paean to the Trannon Valley, illustrated once again by Jane Keay whose beautiful drawings I am so pleased to be able publish once again

Gay Roberts, Editor

 

CONTENTS 

Michael Mackenzie Brown – an appreciation Reginald Massey

Roll of Honour: Private 14639680 David Bennett Jones – Chindit Linda Evans

Drowned Worlds Lawrence Johnson

Making Waves – Events along the Montgomery Canal

Trefeglwys: the 100th Eisteddfod (2015) Margaret Jones

Bryn Tail Cottage Invitation Richard Fryer

Clywedog Bus Services Brian Poole

Shopping & Entertainment for Young Ladies in the 19th Century Val Church

Boo Boo Mawdesley-Bevis Requiescat in pace Tom Lines, illustration John Selly

Chartism in Llanidloes 1839-40, Chapter 1 E. Ronald Morris

A Very Special Day Brian Lawrence

The Welsh in Pennsylvania Michael Apichela

The School Bus Run from Y Fan to Staylittle Brian Poole

Put Out To Grass : part 15: The Big Freeze Diana Ashworth.

Stretching the Mind & Body

–        Gregynog Festival

–        Mid Wales Arts Centre

–        Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

–        Mid Wales Events Horizon

 

  The Dragons Crypt

Mimosa Journal  Norma Allen

A Song in Silence  Amber Luise Robinson

Trannon Bruce Mawdesley, illustration Jane Keay

Article submission

For each issue we select one article to be published on the website. The following is the first part of a riveting piece of creative writing, based on historical fact, by Norma (one of our regular contributors and a member of the editorial team).  

MIMOSA JOURNAL Part 1  by Norma Allen 

In May 2015, it will be one hundred and fifty years since the Mimosa; a Clipper[1] converted to a Barque, set sail from Liverpool to Patagonia. The ship carried around one hundred and sixty people from all over Wales who were seeking a new life in Argentina, South America. These included Abraham Matthews, a Minister, born in Llanidloes in 1832, along with his wife Gwenllian from Aberdare and their daughter Mary Annie, born in 1865 in Merthyr Tydfil.

The story of what led to this journey as well as what happened when they arrived in Patagonia, some seven thousand miles and two months later, has been well documented.  Pencambria published a very informative and interesting article in two parts written by the late David Burkhill-Howarth in 2009 on both the journey and the start of the colony in Patagonia. There is a wealth of material online and further reading in Susan Wilkinson’s two books. I have drawn heavily upon her book, ‘Mimosa –The life and times of the ship that sailed to Patagonia’ for much of the factual detail which enabled me to construct the fictional journal (see details below).

Several of the travellers kept diaries or journals giving some account of life on board. Although the journal that follows is based on facts known about the voyage, together with mention of the names of some of the passengers and crew, you will not find any Edith Pryce or her brother Elwyn on the passenger list for the Mimosa, as they are fictional characters.

References

Burkill-Howarth, David, The Welsh People in Patagonia – Article: Parts 1 and 2, 2009.

Pencambria, Issues 10 and 11.

Wilkinson, Susan, 2007. Mimosa – The life & times of the ship that sailed to Patagonia

Y Lolfa, Ceredigion ISBN: 9 78086243 952 3

Wilkinson, Susan, 2007. Mimosa’s Voyages –Official Logs, Crew Lists and Masters.

Y Lolfa, Ceredigion ISBN -13: 9 780 86243 983 5

www. glaniad.com/ The voyage of the Mimosa, 1865

Edith Pryce’s Journal 

Thursday May 25th 1865 At last we have been let on board the Mimosa and will sail out of Liverpool as soon as the tides are right. I fear our journey will not be a pleasant one for our quarters are cramped and barely adequate for all the people travelling. The sleeping quarters for single men, and for women and their families, are separate. We are on the main deck with our own communal washing area; the men are on a lower deck and kept away from us by iron bars and separate hatches to the upper deck, so I am parted from my brother Elwyn at night. We each have a narrow bunk with communal washing area. There is no privacy and only four privies to serve us all. We have brought our bundles of blankets and pots with us but any other possessions must be stored in the hold. It will have to be endured though and surely cannot be worse than the hardships we have borne in our lives already.

Elwyn is barely seventeen and a sickly lad. I pray he will make the journey without any further illness. We lost our parents and two younger sisters to the fever and I was barely able to scrape a living for us both as a servant. As soon as I heard about this trip to Patagonia through our chapel, I was determined we should go. We did not have enough to buy the tickets for it was twelve pounds for each of us, but our chapel helped us out and we will repay it when we can.  The rest of our savings was used up in Liverpool where we have had to wait four long weeks before the ship was ready. It is only through the kindness and generosity of others waiting to travel that we managed to remain. Some families had to give up and return home as they had no more money or any means of getting any.

We are promised one hundred acres of land for each family and even though Elwyn isn’t strong, I am in good health and only in my early twenties. I believe he will thrive in a better climate and will rise to the challenge. It has been hard to leave our relatives and friends, knowing we may never see them or the land of our birth again. Yet, we are told it is the chance for a new start where we Welsh will make a land for ourselves and will not have to obey the English parliament, who some say, want to stamp out our language and culture.

Sunday May 28th 1865 This morning the Red Dragon of Wales was raised and we all sang an anthem in welsh to the tune of God Save the Queen. Mimosa was attached to a steam tug, the anchor was raised and with the help of a pilot who knew these waters well, we were steered safely out of the estuary into the ocean.

Elwyn and I, along with many others, watched the Perch Rock Lighthouse recede with a mixture of excitement and fear. Like most of the other passengers, neither of us had been much beyond our village in Wales, near Bala, before we travelled to Liverpool and it was difficult not to wish for a return to everything that was familiar to us. I have had little rest for the last two nights for there is so much noise and restlessness in our sleeping quarters. Several of the families have babies and young children and it seems as soon as one child stops bawling, another begins.

Captain Pepperell conducted a short, Anglican service this morning. Sunday School was arranged for the children this afternoon and this evening we are to have a non-conformist service. But the water has been rough all day, the ship plunges and rises constantly and we passengers who are unused to sailing are suffering from bouts of seasickness. Some are more afflicted than others. I cannot decide whether to go on the deck to get air and grow nauseous as I see the movement of the waves or to lie on my bunk below with others who are constantly vomiting.  Elwyn is struggling but I hope we will soon become accustomed to the movement.

Monday May 29th  At four this morning, those of us who had fallen into a fitful slumber were awakened by a great storm –– the wind roared, the rain was torrential and the ship was buffeted like a matchbox by the waves. Nearly everyone was sick and lay clinging to his or her bunk –– the infants wailing and the younger children sobbing with terror.  Most of us were frightened for our lives as the timbers creaked and groaned around us.  I worried about my brother on the lower deck. I cannot find out how he is doing while we are all in our own quarters. We did not know if the Mimosa would withstand the onslaught. We were only just off the Anglesey coast and heard a life-boat had put out to take us back to shore but Captain Pepperell refused the help and we struggled on. All I wish at this moment is we were back home. Our roof may have been leaking and there were draughts through the windows but at least the floor remained still. We are told by the crew who are well accustomed to such storms, that we will soon get our sea-legs.

Tuesday May 30th  The storm had abated by morning light and the Mimosa is now in full sail. We passed the Scilly Isles, Cornwall and the Irish coast under clear skies. Everyone is feeling better and there is a cheerier atmosphere, even though the women have had a day of it clearing up after yesterday’s sickness. This is no easy task as we are allowed to wash clothes and bedding on only two days a week, fortunately this was one of them. We have to put everything in large tubs of sea-water on deck. The washing comes out cleaner but dries as stiff as boards and our hands are already chapped and raw. I feel for the babies in their stiffened diapers and the infants with their tender skin. Elwyn managed to come out onto the communal deck this afternoon. I was much relieved to see him with a little colour in his cheeks. He complains little but I know he’s having a hard time. He is one of the younger ones and unused to the rough language and ways of some of the other men.

Friday June 2nd  The ship is sailing well now and we are off the Bay of Biscay. We have had some celebration today for Lewis Humphreys, one of the three ministers on board, married William Hughes and Ann Lewis, both from Abergynolwyn. They are not young, both in their thirties, I believe and Ann is with child. They could have wed earlier but perhaps decided they would like to do it on board the Mimosa, as they sailed out to a new life together. Elwyn is feeling more settled now the sea is calmer and is no longer vomiting. His health is benefitting from the sea air too and he talks excitedly of how it will be when we get to Patagonia.

Thursday June 8th In the last day or two we have all been anxious about little Catherine, the two- year-old daughter of Robert and Mary Thomas from Bangor, who is suffering from a bad dose of croup. The doctor, Thomas Greene, has moved the child to the sick cabin and applies warm fomentations to her throat to try to alleviate the spasms. One or both parents are in attendance at all times but it is pitiful to hear the child’s hoarse, croaking cries. We all pray for her.

Friday June 9th   All our praying and the best efforts of the doctor could not save the child. Little Catherine died today. My heart goes out to her grief-stricken parents.

Saturday June 10th  At ten o’clock this morning the child was buried at sea. She was placed in a special box weighted with stones at one end and cast overboard. Captain Pepperell read the prayer book service for the burial of the dead. Catherine’s parents could scarce contain themselves as the coffin slipped into the ocean. Her mother clung to the hand of the child’s five-year-old sister as if nothing would ever part them.  All passengers and crew were in attendance and there were many tear-streaked faces and all in sombre mood.

If that was not enough to bear, worse came late this evening when we heard that James, the two-year-old son of Aaron and Rachel Jenkins, had also died. The child was suffering from some hideous disease that causes gangrenous inflammation of the face and sometimes afflicts young children. It may have been a merciful release for the child, since I’ve heard the cheeks redden and swell as the insides of the mouth slough away. Certainly, we have all noticed the foul odour emanating from the child. His mother is heavy with another pregnancy and we pray the shock will not have caused any harm to her unborn child.

Sunday June 11th This morning, Mary Jones from Mountain Ash went into labour. The doctor moved her to the cabin serving as a hospital but we were all able to hear her screams and howls as the birth progressed. It put some of the other women in mind of their birthing pains and we had also to endure their gory descriptions of blood loss, still births, babies strangled by the birthing cord and so on. I went up on deck when I could endure it no longer. There was nothing to view but the vast expanse of ocean with a few sea birds flying high above but the day was clear and the air felt fresh. I went back below to hear the welcome sound of the infant’s first cries.  It is a boy and he is to be called Morgan. We were all greatly cheered by the news after yesterday’s tragedies.

Tuesday June 13th We are now in the Tropics and have just passed the island of Madeira. It is as if we have entered another world. The heat is overwhelming and the ocean is a sparkling expanse below the blue sky. There was a wondrous sunset last night. It is hard to describe the glowing colours in the sky as the sun slipped below the horizon. Although we were a few miles away we could see the island through the crystal clear air  –– whitewashed houses with palm-frond roofs and other hovels which seemed to be made of gorse. The sand is bleached white and we can see terraced plantations laid out across the hillsides. We have all been out on deck despite the heat but there are reddened faces and forearms now and many of the children are whimpering as their tender skin peels, many parents having paid no heed to the doctor’s advice to keep the youngsters covered and out of the sun.

Thursday June 15th Today we saw the Canary Islands and the mountain of Tenerife in the distance. I am thankful to our father, who was a scholar and a schoolmaster before he became sick and we fell on hard times, who made sure to give all his children an education. It means I do have some knowledge of where we are in the world and how far we have travelled. We make progress but I know we have many more weeks on board the ship before we reach our destination. Also, I am able to write this journal, which provides a record of our journey as well as an outlet for my thoughts. Many of the passengers are quite illiterate, especially the women and are curious about what I write. Sometimes they ask me to write letters for them, which will be sent at some stage of the journey. I am happy to do it. The heat has become unbearable, especially in our quarters below deck. The aroma rising from our hot, sweaty bodies, along with the stench from the privies, is now a great deal worse. Tempers are becoming short in the heat and quarrels break out between families.

Friday June 16th This has been a most upsetting day. Captain Pepperell discovered that some of the passengers have head lice. He said that the women’s hair should be cut and their heads washed with soap and water. I was on the quarter deck when young Jane Huws, was advanced upon by one of the crew who was brandishing a pair of shears, intent on obeying the captain’s orders. Her screams of terror soon brought many other passengers onto the deck, including her father, Rhydderch Huws. He and Hugh Hughes confronted, the captain, demanding the girl be let go.  Captain Pepperell grew very angry and there was a loud exchange of words as we all looked on. The men would not back down and the captain drew his revolver and pointed it at Hugh Hughes’ chest. We were all silent, fearing what would happen. Still the men stood their ground whereupon the captain raised his revolver and fired –– into the sea. Rhydderch kept on pleading for his daughter to be let go so Captain Pepperell ordered John Downes, the mate, to manacle him. Downes is not an agreeable man and plainly enjoyed approaching Rhydderch, jangling the irons and sneering at him. Before he did so however, the Captain, aware of the mounting antagonism arising from the other passengers, changed his mind and finally a compromise was reached. It was decided that he and the doctor, Thomas Greene, would examine all heads for the presence of lice. Fortunately, both Elwyn and I are free from infestation. We are told that in order to prevent the spread of infection, passengers are not allowed access to the quarterdeck. This leaves us with even less space for fresh air and exercise.

Wednesday June 21st Today we saw many sharks in the waters near our ship. Fish were leaping high out of the sea, one landed on deck and was seized.  It was a wonderful to see such creatures. Despite the danger from the sharks, some of the bolder young men plunged into the ocean and allowed themselves to be towed along on a rope tied to the bowsprit. We all applauded as the waves rose and fell, lifting then submerging the men. Still, I felt fearful for their safety and was glad when they were all back on board. They strode about the deck, drying off, telling us what an exhilarating experience it had been. Elwyn was envious but he would never have had the strength for such an adventure and for that I was thankful. There will be plenty more new experiences when we start our life in Patagonia.

Sunday June 25th The wind has picked up in the last few days and today we sailed into a tropical storm. Once again the ship heaved and creaked leading to the return of sickness to some. Above the sound of the wind and waves we once again heard the howls of a woman in labour. The doctor has little to alleviate the pain so it must be borne. The child, a girl to be called Rachel, was a daughter for Rachel and Aaron Jenkins, who lost their son James just a fortnight ago.

Tuesday June 27th We have crossed the equator and passed into the southern hemisphere. There was a celebration to mark ‘Crossing the Line’. The young male passengers were chased by the crew and had water thrown over them, while we women looked on, enjoying the spectacle. It was all taken in good part. I saw Elwyn getting soaked a time or two but the heat of the sun soon dried off the victims. Later Captain Pepperell invited some of the passengers for drinks in his cabin. There were reports of drunkenness by those unused to such an amount of liquor but no lasting harm, I suppose.

Wednesday June 28th During the early hours of this morning, John Davies, the eleven-month-old son of Robert and Catherine Davies from Llandrillo, died as a result of complications caused by ‘water on the brain’. We had all observed the poor infant’s unnaturally large head and his struggles as his little body wasted away. We stood on deck at eight this morning, with great sadness, as the Chaplain performed the funeral rites and committed the infant’s body to the ocean. My heart goes out to his parents but it is a blessing that the baby will suffer no more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 27 Winter 2014?

Issue 27 Introduction and Contents at a glance

Following on from the summer edition in which we were able to mention just a few of the many men who fought and died in the First World War, where appropriate, starting with this edition, we will begin a Roll of Honour, a series of mini-biographies of the men and women of mid Wales who fell in this ghastly conflict and who deserve to be more widely known than they may be at present. Peter Watson and Nia Griffiths are doing valuable research in this cause and between them they have provided details of eight more men from mid Wales. Nia has also given us details of a most interesting part of the project in which she is involved – the contribution of Llanidloes Schools to the War Effort.This war could not have been conducted without the contribution of the railways and while it may not have been directly involved, Dolwen Station provided a vital link for life in the Severn Valley, as Brian Poole shows. Lawrence Johnson takes us much further back in time, to medieval mid Wales and the influence of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem – the Knights Hospitaller – especially the memory they have left in Carno.Richard Meredith entertains with another episode of his family history as he goes looking for his roots.Newtown Local History Group are rightly proud to announce that in recognition of their contribution towards the study of local history, they have received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce a book containing letters written from the Front during the First World War.

If you go down to the woods tonight you may see more than just the ghosts of trees. Norma Allen has been talking to Rory Evans, who will take you on a ‘Ghost Walk’ around Caersws and will chill your blood with all the spooky happenings that are known to occur –  Whoo-oo-er! Just the thing for a dark November evening!Winter in Llawryglyn and the sheep must fed by our intrepid retired couple, who are enchanted by the sight of a back fox and its cub.R.M. Williams provides us with another glimpse of mid-20th century St Harmon, this time his own life, which was hard but fulfilling. Hard, too, was life in the 19th century and, following Diana Ashworth’s excellent comprehensive account in PC25 of the Chartist uprising in Llanidloes in 1839, E. Ronald Morris has given me permission to serialise his own booklet, which was first published in 1989 on the 150th anniversary of the uprising. Here, in chapter one, he sets out the historical background. Following his delightful book based on the tradition of Owain Glyndwr’s daughter living in the Pantydwr area, in what would at that time have been Gwrtheyrnion, John Hughes, with the help of Dr David Stephenson, now turns his novelist eyes to Llywelyn ab Gruffudd, the last Welsh Prince of Wales, who was assassinated near Builth Wells and whose body was buried in Abbey Cwm Hir.The Chapel has a very special place in the hearts and culture of Wales and as part of their digital history project, in conjunction with Adoldai Cymru, RCAHMW are in the process providing digital images of the chapels in Wales. So, via your screen, you can now pay the chapels a virtual visit although any singing will have to be your head – for now. In Concrete Across the Clywedog Brian Poole charts the history of the Clywedog Dam including the importance of concrete as its construction material and his book, published by the Powysland Club is reviewed by Reginald Massey.

So many Welsh men and women crossed the Atlantic Ocean to find fame and fortune in the New World and Chris Barrett looks at some of their lives through  the book 150 Famous Welsh Americans by W. Arvon Roberts. A famous Welshman who stayed at home was Emlyn Hooson QC, who died, sadly, in 2012. Derec Llwyd Morgan has written a portrait of him through his essays and reminiscences, which Diana Brown has reviewed briefly here with the view to writing a fuller account of his life next year.

In the Dragon’s Crypt

  • Gaynor Jones tells us a haunting story of Welsh migrants;
  • Michael Apichela is inspired to write a poem about his stay at Mid Wales Arts Centre;
  • the war is over for Selina and she must try and bring some peace to shell-shocked George in this concluding part of Norma Allen’s trilogy In Time of War;
  • finally try as he might, despite John Selly’s charming illustration, Bruce Mawdesley fails to experience even a frisson of fairy fingers in his poem Mything Out.

 CONTENTS Issue 27

Introduction  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  1

Roll of Honour Peter Watson  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –   2

The Contribution of Llanidloes School to the First World War Nia Griffiths – – – – – – –  – – – 5

A Welcome in the Vale? Lawrence Johnson  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — –  8

Dolwen Station Brian Poole – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  12

My Roots : Part 6:  Who Do You Think You Are? Richard Meredith – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -16

Newtown Local History Group and The Heritage Lottery Fund – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  21

Post Card from Newtown   – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  21

‘Spooked in Caersws’ Ghostly tales from Rory Evans as told to Norma Allen – – – – – – – – -22

Emlyn Hooson: Essays and Reminiscences book review by DianaBrown – – – – – – – – – – –  26

Put Out To Grass : part 15: The Big Freeze Diana Ashworth. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 27

My Life in St Harmon R.M. Williams. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  29

King Edward VII in the Elan Valley postcard from Sterling Mullins – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –30

Chartism in Llanidloes 1839-40, Chapter 1 E. Ronald Morris – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –   31

Llywelyn John Hughes  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 39

Virtual Chapels in Wales RCAHMW . – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — 41

Saga of the Clywedog Dam book review by Reginald Massey – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  42

150 Welsh Americans book review by Chris Barrett – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –   43

 

 

  The Dragons Crypt

A Welsh Ghost Story Gaynor Jones  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  47

Cathy’s House or an Ode to the Mid Wales Art Centre  Michael Apichela – – – – – – – – – – – 49

In Time of War: part three: an End and a Beginning Selina’s Birthday Norma Allen   – – – -50

Mything Out Bruce Mawdesley, illustrated by John Selly – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  53

The next issue will be out at the end of MARCH  2015

 

 

Sample article from PenCambria number 28

150 FAMOUS WELSH AMERICANS  W. Arvon Roberts (2008)

Llygad Gwalch, Ysgubor Plas, Llwyndryrys, Pwllheli, Gwnedd LL53 6NG  ISBN 1-84524-077-4 Paperback 208 pages.

Reviewer: Chris Barrett

This is a review of a 1st Edition (2008) copy of this book which is available from Powys Libraries. Llygad Gwalch is the brand name of Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, originally a Welsh language publisher, which now brings out books in many more languages. The press takes its name from Carreg-y-gwalch (falcon rock) which is reported to hide a cave which was the C15th sanctuary of local rebels after the Owain Glyndwr War of Independence. W. Arvon Roberts is a Welsh American historian and writer who currently resides in Pwllheli, Gwynedd. He has published in American and Welsh journals and newspapers. The bibliographic notes that informed the writing of this book are held in the National Museum of Wales, Aberystwyth.

The author states that he enjoyed researching and writing this book. The 150 Americans he selected are a personal choice from the many individuals who left Wales for new lives and opportunities in America. Thus, the selection is eclectic, including the famous, infamous and less well known characters. The content is arranged alphabetically and searching for ancestors, when the family name or person’s occupation is known, is an easy task. The focus of the book is purely to catalogue these famous people, not to explore the social and political reasons for immigration. (For detailed background information about the significant immigration waves from Wales to America see: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Sr-Z/Welsh-Americans.html).

Approximately two thirds of the profiled 150 individuals are prominent orators, statesmen and politicians (36), poets, academics and writers (29) and musicians, singers, composers and artists (16) and clergymen, missionaries and theologians (12). Since the Welsh have long been recognised as passionate communicators, entertainers and hymn writers, talents in these fields will come as no surprise. Some individuals acquired fame through their professional ability in medicine (5), in law (6), in military activity (9) and in business, investment, engineering and industry (15). The remaining 22 entries reflect the environment these individuals found across the Atlantic, which was probably markedly different from their native land. The pioneers, ranchers, trappers, map makers and abolitionists are all represented and the colourful and intriguing wild-west characters who became rodeo champions, Red Indian scouts, gangsters and desperados. The inclusion of an antique collector (Daniel L. Jones) may seem tame in comparison but he has another claim to fame in that he persuaded the US Government to include a commemoration to Wales in the Washington Monument in 1885. The words engraved on the stone, which was imported from Swansea, are:

Fy Iaith, Fy Ngwlad, Fy Nghenedl, Wales, Cymru Am Byth!

Researchers of Welsh Americans seeking specific information may regret there is no cross referencing facility that connects, for example, the ancestor Edward Evans of Mold, Flintshire to his famous grandson Edward Herbert Rees, a US Congressman born in Kansas in 1886. For that type of search, Dear Reader, you will need to read the whole book as I did!

There is also no means of cross referencing for place of birth in Wales within this otherwise useful and informative book. For many entries the author has been able to identify the town, village or even the house in which the individual originated as in Samuel Milton Jones (p124), a millionaire, inventor and politician, who was born in Ty Mawr, Nantmor, near Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire. Sometimes there is a tenuous link to Welsh ancestry, rather than evidence. Earl W. Bascom (p17), an artist and rodeo champion and Thomas Bibb (p20), the 2nd Governor of Alabama are both stated simply to be direct descendents of Welsh settlers. Where there is a dispute about place of origin this is carefully explained, as with Roger Williams (p198), Founder of Rhode Island who is reported to have originated variously from London, Glamorganshire or Carmarthenshire. The famous Americans listed below may be of particular interest to PenCambria readers as their Welsh ancestors are identified to have lived locally.

A theme which emerges from the book, if read as a whole, is best expressed by the uniquely Welsh word hiraethus; missing the homeland or longing for something. Welsh-American immigrants maintained strong ties with Wales, and “Welshness” was promoted in America, where many still spoke Welsh after fifty years in the USA. The pioneers established Welsh Colleges, edited and published Welsh-American newspapers and books and developed the Eisteddfod and Welsh Societies and translated hymns, bibles, textbooks and novels into Welsh. The newspapers included Y Drych and Baner America and notable publications included Hanes Cymry America and the first Welsh book to be published in the USA; Annerch i’r Cymry. Given the realities of travel during the1880s and onwards the willingness of these pioneers to return to Wales, sometimes several times, is striking. Their journeys were in relation to research and academic work, forging links with the church/chapel and missionary work. It is clear that visits linked with music and art were important and particularly participation in the Eisteddfod. Personal reasons are often cited such as visiting family, and notably, to seek another Welsh wife after bereavement.

Stated place of origin in Wales Famous Welsh-American Page in2008 Ed.
Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire William Bebb 17
Darowen and Cemaes, Montgomeryshire Llewellyn Breese 23
Bala, Merionethshire Benjamin Childlaw 33
Llandygwydd, Cenarth, Newcastle EmlynTeifi Valley Prof. Phillips G. Davies 39
Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire William Henry Harrison 79
Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire Ezekiel Hughes 87
Y Castell, Carno, Montgomeryshire Llewelyn Morris Humphreys 96
Llanwyddelan, Montgomeryshire George Jones 112
(Unknown) Montgomeryshire John Edward Jones 117
Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire Edward Morgan Lewis 135
Berriew, Montgomeryshire orBala, Merionethshire Thomas Morris 150
Meifod, Montgomeryshire William W. Vaughan 195

Only nine women are included within the 150 entries. Eight of these achieved fame as respectively as singer (3), evangelist (1), author (2), Hollywood actress (1), and US President’s wife (1). The ninth female entry is Betsy Ross who made the first United States flag. She lived 84 years, spanning seven President’s terms of office and saw the number of stars on the flag increased from 13 to 26 and her fame is ensured by the establishment of the Betsy Ross society. But what of the many other women who supported all these Famous Welsh-American men? Very little is written about the aspirations and dreams of these women, of their strength and courage and about their success in creating homes and societies in a new land. There are some notable Welsh-American women whose careers are well documented and could have been included the book such as Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Her Great-grandmother came from Llanddewi Brefi.

Simply “dipping-into” this book will reveal a range of human stories on every page. One such tale is of the famous statesmen, William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States, born 1773, whose great-grandfather was a poor smallholder in Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire. He was the first US President to die in office but, regrettably, not the last! Then there is Mari Jones Judson, one of the few female profiled in the book. She was born in 1918 in Ystradgynlais, Breconshire and found fame as a singer, conductor and musician performing on television, film soundtracks and at many prestigious venues in the Western States. In contrast, the oldest Welsh-American recorded, Thomas Morris, lived a very quiet life as a butcher, shoemaker and farmer. He is known to have been born in Wales in 1794, either in Bala or Berriw and was still alive in 1916 but the date of his death is unknown. Some individuals defy categorisation. Thomas Jones is simply referred to as a Wild West Character whose exploits are thought to have included cattle stealing and who was hanged with his twin sister in 1885. Likewise, the three Hughes brothers, Jesse, Thomas and Elias were Scouts and Indian fighters and they had many adventures, worthy of a Wild West Hollywood film, from the late 1700s to 1840s. Many Welsh immigrants had background knowledge of mining and farming and took leading roles in America’s industrial development including Samuel Milton Jones in the petroleum industry, David Thomas in iron manufacture and Hugh W. Thomas in slate production. The latter, left his impoverished background in Nasareth, Caernarfonshire in 1857, aged 21, and become very rich within ten years and famous as the Slate King of America!

This small book (200 pages) would be of interest to many readers including researchers, ancestry seekers or it may be read simply for pleasure. A 2014 version, re-issued by Llygad Gwalch, is available in paperback and on-line (£12.00)

What was in PenCambria: Issue 21 Winter 2012?

The Upheaval: the Clearance of the Elan and Claerwen Valleys 1892 Diana Ashworth
John Paddison Gay Roberts
The Welshman and the Kilt Lawrence Johnson
Bacheldre Mill Reginald Massey
The Good Life: “It’s Been Such Fun” Doreen Gough talks to Lesley-Ann Dupré
Mother’s Aberystwyth Mariners Gay Roberts
Grand-dad, What was it like in the Olden Days? Part 2 David Jandrell
Getting the Best from Britain From Above Natasha Scullion
The Species Habitat Protection Group Brian Allen
Superorganisms Tony Shaw
Talking with the Dead Professor Peter J. Conradi
The Bedtime Apple Lesley-Ann Dupré
On the Move in Radnorshire R.M. Williams
The Wildlife Artist of Llanidloes Reginald Massey
Put Out To Grass part 9: Green Sheep & the Rout of the English Knights Diana Ashworth

Winter Memories of Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams
October Thoughts Janet Williams

War Wounds Tyler Keevil
The Devil’s Dues Norma Allen
The Little Dog : Growing Up Lesley-Ann Dupré
Evensong Bruce Mawdesley, illustrated by Jane Keay

Editorial PenCambria Issue 21 by Gay Roberts

Welcome to the final issue of 2012. It will also be my final year as the general editor of PenCambria. After eight years in the big chair it is time to let someone bring in fresh ideas. That someone is Lesley-Ann Dupré who has been helping me as commissioning editor for this past year. She has already made some welcome changes to the layout as well as some very imaginative contributions to The Dragon’s Crypt. I am very grateful that she has agreed to take on the task of encouraging our established writers and finding new ones to help fill the pages of this magazine and you will find her contact details on the contents and back pages. I shall still be in the background, on the production and publication side and dealing with various technical and subscription matters and I shall still be delighted to hear from those of you who wish to keep in touch with me.
We have quite a personal tone to this issue with several articles of biography and family history. Diana Ashworth has been talking to John Pugh about how the Elan Valley clearances in 1892 affected his family, as described in the memoir of his ancestor, Emiline Price.
John Paddison was a remarkably talented sculptor who retired to Llanidloes from Wolverhampton in 1993. He was a great friend of Dr. Andy Scrase, who has allowed me to use an essay about him, written by Roger Holloway, as the basis of a profile that I hope you will enjoy as well as pictures of some of his sculptures, his “other children”, which appear on various pages of this magazine.
In 2009 we had a series of essays about Robert Owen, the great philanthropist from Newtown. Lawrence Johnson has followed these up with an article on a neglected aspect of Robert Owen’s vision – the kilt as an essential garment to a satisfactory and comfortable life.
Mid Wales is remarkable for its ability to nurture entrepreneurs. Two such are Matt and Ann Scott who came to Montgomery from Hampshire and established Bacheldre Mill, whose organic stone ground flour now enhances the lives of so many of us. Reginald Massey is so impressed that he has written a profile of them. Reginald has also been talking to Chris Wallbank, the wildlife artist who lives is Llanidloes and whose work is often seen in exhibitions at Maesmawr Art Gallery. You will also some of his delightful pictures seen on pages in this magazine.
Another person who is active in the preservation of wildlife if Brian Allen. He has written an article all about the protection of wildlife habitat, in particular, barn owls in the Llandinam area and his photo of a barn owl must be one of the most delightful that I have had the privilege to publish.
Professor Peter J. Conradi, who wrote that wonderful book about Radnorshire At the Bright Hem of God, has just published a book about a most extraordinary poet and wartime helper of the partisans in Yugoslavia, Frank Thompson. This is story we should all know about.
David Jandrell finishes his answers to questions posed by his granddaughter about life in the ‘Olden Days’. This will be his last work for us for the time being. David, you have kept us entertained with your travels round the Hafren Circuit, and your various family memoirs for four years. I shall miss you, I know, and so will so many of our readers. But if the muse does strike you again, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Joy Hamer has completed the third volume of her remarkable family history researches. This time we go to sea with Mother’s Aberystwyth Mariners.
Transport in Radnorshire from the horse drawn carriage to the coming of the railway and now the motor car has been on the mind of R.H. Williams. The Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales has acquired a huge archive of aerial photographs of Britain taken between 1919 and 2005 which they are very keen to share. You can find how to do so and see an example of Llanidloes in 1932.
Tony Shaw discusses how the bee functions as part of a single body, superorganism, as opposed to an individual and how this relates to human society.
Doreen Gough came to Old Hall to lead ‘The Good Life’ in 1981 and she tells Lesley-Ann Dupré all about it and how things have changed since then.
Diana Ashworth entertains us with yet another episode in the life of the retired couple from Llawryglyn.
Joel Williams has some more winter memories of Llandrindod Wells and Janet Williams shares some October Thoughts.
Gripping reading, as ever in The Dragon’s Crypt with Tyler Keevil’s War Wounds, Norma Allen giving the Devil his due, Lesley-Ann Dupré’s Little Dog and Bruce Mawdesley and Jane Keay bring the year to a close with Evensong.

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 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 12 Winter 2009?

“And Now ‘Bryn Calfaria and Thank You’ ,Llanidloes SS Male Voice Choir Richard Meredith
Llanwnog Church from a talk by Dr David Stephenson transcribed by Diana Brown
The Millsiaid of Llanidloes Cynthia Mills
The Old Hall Air Crash Diana Brown
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 3 Wye Valley and Plynlimon David Jandrell
Put Out to Grass: A Mid Wales Retirement Part 1 Iolos Revenge Diana Ashworth
Eden in Wild Wales Gay Roberts
Memories of Hafod and Peacocks in Paradise Reginald Massey
Robert Owen and Trade Unionism John Butt
More Winter Memories from Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams
The Medieval Chatelaines of Powis Castle: Part I The Lady of Cyfeiliog Dr David Stephenson
The Welsh People in Patagonia: Part 3 David Burkhill-Howarth
The Welsh in Iowa: Book Review Gay Roberts
Brennin Llwyd David and Mark Burkhill-Howarth
The Gentleman Hood: part 11 Conspiring with the enemies Tyler Keevil

Dog Tags Brian L. Roberts
Vespers Bruce Mawdesley
Radnor Vale Janet Williams
Last Reminisce Gail Standen
Winter Doves Janet Williams

Editorial PenCambria Issue 12 by Gay Roberts

We start this issue on rather a sad note, I am afraid. David Burkhill-Howarth whose has been such a staunch and enthusiastic contributor since he first came across PenCambria in 2006 has died after a long battle against cancer. Indeed, it was only because of his and Michael and Diana Brown’s enthusiasm and willingness to take over much of the editorial work that I was able to start PenCambria again in 2008.
In the spring of 2008 I chanced across David in the Great Oak Café in Llanidloes. He was recovering from chemotherapy and looking for a new project to keep his mind active and when I suggested, never really expecting he would say yes, that he could take over the editorial responsibility and get PenCambria back on its feet again, he jumped at the chance. Six months previously I had asked Michael if he would like to become the Richard Ingrams of Mid Wales by doing the very same thing and within a week of his agreeing he had been struck down by an illness which prevented him from taking on such a task. However, he was partially on the road to recovery when I asked David and the two of them, with Diana, came to a very satisfactory arrangement. Michael and Diana would concentrate on local subjects and David would cover the wider topics, which he has done in such an interesting way with the history of the Welsh in Patagonia.
His articles were full of information and he always wrote in a direct, easy to read manner, tinged with humour where appropriate. He originally presented me with his ‘credentials’ in the form of a three-part exploration of the 1921 Abermule train crash, which resulted in a world-wide system of rules governing single track railways. This was his first contribution and it was published in PenCambrias 6, 7 and 8. His first piece after the relaunch was an account of a walk he had undertaken in the Ratgoed Valley. He then began a major opus on
the history of Welsh people in Patagonia, such an interesting series about a Welsh migration that most us probably have heard about but know little or nothing of the details. I have certainly learned a lot about this, knowing absolutely nothing before except that Patagonia was just above Tierra del Fuego at the foot of South America on the Atlantic side. His own interest in it was kindled many years ago when he was there in person. Although he never said as such, I think that PenCambria gave him the opportunity to write about his knowledge and experiences of this remote finger of the continent and to bring it to people’s attention in a way that he had not been able to before.
This edition contains the third part in the series along with something in a lighter, yet darker vein. Cader Idris is famous, or rather notorious for the legends and strange experiences that many have when they climb that craggy mountain. Perhaps the most well-known is that anyone spending the night on its summit will come down either mad or a poet. A few years ago David’s two sons, Mark and Gareth, did indeed spend the night on Cader Idris and his last article is an account of that night taken from the notes that Mark kept of their excursion. This issue of PenCambria, which is dedicated to David’s memory, is published on 31st October 2009, Hallowe’en, and a very appropriate day for such tale.
I shall miss David’s writing very much as I think he was just beginning to get into his stride with PenCambria. Fortunately I am very pleased to tell you that Mark and Gareth are very keen not only to finish the work he had in hand but also to write for us on their own account. Mark’s interest in Welsh folklore I know will be a great asset and I really look forward to hearing more from them.
There is a musical note to some of this edition with Cynthia Mills account of the Millsiad, the well-known family of ‘musical Mills’ in Llanidloes, coupled with Richard Meredith’s history of the Llanidloes Social Service Male Voice Choir. Close by, Diana Brown tells us about the 1947 aeroplane crash at Old Hall. We have an account of the Arwystli Society’s visit to Llanwnog Church in 2008 with Dr David Stephenson who also begins a series on the medieval Chatelaines of Powis Castle beginning with the feisty Hawise, wife of Gruffudd ab Gwenwynwyn. We have the first in highly entertaining series by Diana Buck of her experiences of coming to Wales two years ago and settling in as a novice farmer in Llawr-y-glyn. The Robert Owen Museum in Newtown has kindly allowed me to print the second of the essays in their booklet: Professor John Butt’s essay on Robert Owen and Trade Unionism. Joel Williams sends us some more winter memories of Llandrindod Wells. With David Jandrell we travel Stage 3 of the Hafren Circuit: from Abbey Cwm Hir to Llanidloes with a trip around the Hafren forest to Plynlimon and the source of the river Severn. Hafod, near Cwmystwyth, is one of mid Wales’ verdant miracles. Based on Peacocks in Paradise by Elizabeth Inglis Jones Reginald Massey tells us about Thomas Johnes, who occupied it and built it up to the sylvan spectacle it became in the 18th century while I have provided a background history of life in the valley and the Cardiganshire uplands. Two more books to read are Bob Pitcher’s novel In At the Deep End and, continuing with our American connections, Cheryl A Walley has written a book about the Welsh migrations to Iowa entitled The Welsh in Iowa which I have reviewed; and Tyler Keevil reveals just how Murray the Hump helped to get John F. Kennedy elected. In The Dragon’s Crypt we are in reflective mood as Brian L. Roberts tells us a story for Armistice Day about a First World War find, complementing a piece by Bruce Mawdlsey reflecting on a pilot he knew during World War Two. Janet Williams finds enchantment in the Radnor Vale and Gail Standen offers a last reminisce.

What was in PenCambria Issue 11 Summer 2009?

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

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

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

What was in PenCambria Issue 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 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…