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.