Issue 28 Introduction and Contents at a glance
IN MEMORY OF MICHAEL BROWN
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
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
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 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.
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.
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)
Introduction and Contents at a glance
This year, indeed almost to the day this edition comes out, is the centenary of the out break of the First World War – the Great War, the War to end all wars, as it was called after the event, until twenty five years later. In order to mark the occasion this edition of PenCambria is devoted to all things related to this epoch-changing event.
The Great War brought down the crumbling edifices of the European monarchies and finally brought about the social changes for which the people had been agitating for over one hundred years, since well before the end of the Napoleonic wars. The experience of the millions of men on the battlefield belongs to them, very few of them talked about it afterwards – they could not do so except to other soldiers, an experience common to all men who have served in conflict – and in this edition there is relatively little that relates directly to their service. However, one of the defining features of World War One was that it was the first time in history that the whole country took part.
Five million men were recruited in Britain and the British Empire for battlefields and the Royal and Merchant Navies, these latter often forgotten in the carnage of Flanders. But they all needed to be fed, clothed and armed, cared for when injured, the country still had to function while they were away from their civilian jobs and much of this work was taken up by the women. They worked in ammunition factories, on the land and in the hospitals and in a whole range of other essential services. Working class women were used to working in factories, shops, offices and other establishments; upper class and aristocratic women were used to organising charitable activities, but this was the first time that middle class women had joined the work force en masse rather than wait for a suitable marriage partner to be presented to them. Even children and animals were commandeered.
In fact after the war girls at school were told that due to deaths of so many men, one in ten of them would not find a husband and so they should prepare to spend their lives doing something other than running a hone and raising a family. It is also an interesting fact that women over thirty years of age were given the vote in February 1918, a few months before the end of the war, as if the government recognised that many women would soon be fending for themselves and they did not want to have to deal with suffragette activity on top of everything else that would beset them.
In this commemorative edition with Lawrence Johnson and Brian Lawrence we discover how the outbreak of war was reported in Montgomeryshire in the County Times and, with the Declaration made by the King George V, how Rhayader mustered in support.
Nia Griffiths has embarked on a remarkable project to bring to light the stories of the men whose names appear on the cenotaph and the memorial tablets in the Llanidloes, some of whom appear in this edition.
War makes poets of us all and none better than those two great, war poets, profiled here by Reginald Massey: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, a native of Oswestry.
Gilbert Phillips, a Newtown man, was a prisoner of war in Germany and his daughters very kindly talked about him to Brian Poole.
Jack Morten served in Europe and the Far East and his mother kept all his letters in a shoe box. Norma Allen reviews a book written by his daughter-in-law who typed up all the letters and researched his Battalion.
Mary Oldham meanwhile looks at the Davies Sisters of Llandinam, who provided canteens for the Frenchmen at the Front.
Florence Haynes was recruited into the Women’s Land Army and Gwenda Trow was very kind to tell me all about this feisty lady. In addition, she gave me Florence’s Land Army Handbook, which I have reproduced for you all to see just how seriously these women were taken, how important their service was and what was expected of them.
Countless numbers of animals are used in the pursuit of war, none of whom have any choice but to give their lives when the time comes. Diana Brown sheds light on this sacrifice.
Gardening is an unlikely pastime pursued behind the lines of both armies and Diana Ashworth has been digging around to find out more.
The nursing profession as we know it today grew from the need to nurse the soldiers who had, in so many cases, suffered such terrible injuries. Chris Barrett has researched this history and pays tribute to all the nurses who were killed in France but whose names do not appear on any role of honour.
In the Dragons Crypt Norma Allen continues the story of Selina, and Bruce Mawdesley tells of a narrow childhood escape.
The true feelings of the men at the Front are revealed in the songs they sang to keep themselves sane and the words of some of these – those that are printable! – are interspersed in this edition, gleaned from The Wipers Times and Trench Songs from The First World War Poetry Digital Archive. Toodle pip! Good-byee!
Gay Roberts, Editor
CONTENTS ISSUE 26
World War 1 – Rhayader 1914 Brian Lawrence
Remembering the Great War RCAHMW
The War Cloud Lawrence Johnson
Remembering the First World War – A Llanidloes Trail Nia Griffiths
Sassoon and Owen – Great War Poets Reginald Massey
The Conquering Conkers Gay Roberts
The Great War and a Newtown Man as Prisoner of War in Germany Brian Poole
Post Card in Newtown on 14th August 1914 submitted by Sterling Mullins
Book Review: “I remain, Your Son Jack” Norma Allen
Preparing for the Front RCAHMW
The Davies Sisters at the Front in World War One Mary Oldham
Florence Haynes as told to Gay Roberts by Gwenda Trow
The Women’s Land Army L.A.A.S. Handbook
“They Had No Choice” Diana Brown
Kitty Gay Roberts
War and Gardening: Gardening in the Trenches in World War 1 Diana Ashworth
Finding their Voices Nurses and Midwives in Wales 1910-1940 Chris Barrett
The Dragon’s Crypt
In Time of War: part two : Gathering Shadows Norma Allen
Guardian Angel Bruce Mawdesley
In Their Own Words : Songs and Snippets The Soldiers of World War One
Eliza, Julia and Henry-a Victorian Triangle Val Church
“The One I Don’t Go To” Lawrence Johnson
The Trouble with History Diana Ashworth
My Roots Part 5: Salmon Poaching Richard Meredith
Torri Mawn: Peat Cutting in the Uplands of Mid Wales Brian Poole
Farming Between the Wars 1920-40, Part 2: Men’s Work R.M. Williams
1st World War Centenary Commemoration Gay Roberts
Put Out To Grass: Part 12 Left-Handed Challenge Diana Ashworth
How Not To Kill Yourself in Borth: a meditation on the Welsh hills by a flatlander Veronica Popp
Monastic Wales Diana Brown
Jottings of a Mid Wales Tourist Peter Watson
The Dragon’s Crypt:
Three Ladies Bruce Mawdsley
Back to the Smoke Gaynor Jones
In Time of War: A Trilogy Part 1: Selina’s Birthday Norma Allen
Editorial PenCambria Issue 25 by Gay Roberts
Well, after such a soggy winter, what a lovely spring we are having at the time of writing. We all love a good scandal and we start this issue with a splendid example of a Victorian marital disharmony and a wet lettuce – just read it and find out. Val Church tells us the extraordinary history of Eliza Williams of Dolanog, her friend, Julia Davenport and Julia’s husband Henry Crookenden.
Lawrence Johnson has been looking into the culture of the Chapel in mid Wales. Once Non-Conformity became legal and the Bible was printed in Welsh and English, people could interpret it and preach more or less what they liked. In Wales, which has always been a very religious and thoughtful country, a whole variety sects with their attendant chapels mushroomed and one could choose which group to attend, which group to avoid and to chop and change as the fancy took.
Prior to this, the invasion of the Normans in 1066 was followed in the 1130s by colonisation of the country by the monastic movement, which, in Wales, was overwhelmingly Cistercian. Professor Janet Burton of the University of Wales Trinity St David’s has created a database and website which will eventually provide a fully comprehensive archive of all material including a bibliography of primary and secondary sources relating to this phenomenon – a must for anyone research this fascinating topic. Diana Brown has been studying it and gives us a most interesting account of what she has learned.
It is thanks to the Chartists that we have the parliamentary democracy we enjoy today. Llanidloes played a small but notable part in this campaign and, taking the two main historical sources, Diana Ashworth manages to present an account that does justice to both sides.
Tracing his roots once again, Richard Meredith regales us with his youthful salmon poaching adventures on the river Severn.
Peat cutting is one of the great unsung crafts of the uplands of mid Wales. Brian Poole touched on it in his article on Capel Gerisim in the last edition of PenCambria. This time he does full justice to it through the oral history of the area and his own interest in and understanding of the technical side of these activities.
Meanwhile on the lower slopes and pastures R.H. Williams describes men’s work on the farm between the two world wars.
It is lambing time in Llawryglyn and our retired lady grasps the mettle, or rather the back legs of her sheep by the hand and attempts to administer all kinds of pills and potions to keep her flock in tiptop condition.
The last episode of recent television programme thriller “Hinterland” set in Aberystwyth included a murder in Borth. A few days later Veronica Popp sent me this delightful piece about one of her experiences as a student at the University in Aberystwyth entitled “How Not to Kill Yourself in Borth”. I won’t spoil it for you. Just enjoy it for yourselves.
Peter Watson had a holiday in mid Wales last year both for leisure and for research and here is his affectionate account of his travels.
The RCAHMW have been very busy with their activities to preserve our heritage and to make sure that we are as fully aware of them as is possible. One of these is the creation of computer 3-D animation reconstructions of complex archaeological sites, especially the Swansea Copper Industry, for which they have received an award. They have also managed to provide a conclusive date for the construction of Tredegar House, one of Wales’ great until now unsolved archaeological mysteries. And they are asking for our help in providing what information we can about our own areas, specifically when it comes to place names. They are also putting on a full programme of events open to the public which are very enjoyable and informative, so do go along if you can.
Mid Wales Arts Centre and Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit are offering a wealth of creative and spiritual opportunities and you can read all about their activities as usual.
In The Dragon’s Crypt Bruce Mawdesley entertains us with his pen portraits of three women; going back to the smoke Gaynor Jones expresses what so many of us feel about have to leave mid Wales for a life elsewhere; and Norma Allen begins a three-part story set in the time of the First World War as the opening to our commemoration of this event, which will be published in the next issue.
Pillow Talk Lawrence Johnson
The Shrewsbury Drapers and the Mid Wales Cloth Trade Dr. David Stephenson
Out & About with the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments in Wales
Capel Gerisim Brian Poole
An Evening with R.S. Thomas Glyn Tegai Hughes
Sir William Jones Reginald Massey
1st World War Centenary Commemoration Request
In Living Memory – H.B. ‘Gurra’ Mills Diana Ashworth
Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit
Cefn Gaer & Owain Glyn Dŵr Gay Roberts
Cefn Gaer : visit by the Arwystli Society Gay Roberts
Christmas at Dolwen Gaynor Jones
My Roots : Part 4: Polecats & Pigeons Richard Meredith
Put Out To Grass : part 11 Pumpkins, Myths and Toadstools Diana Ashworth
Farming Between the Wars 1920-40 part 1 Women’s Work R.M. Williams
A Good Read : two books reviewed by Norma Allen
Newtown Local History Group Honoured by the Queen Joy Hamer
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Wales
The Dragon’s Crypt:
Portrait or a Policemen Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by John Selly
The Parish Hall R.M. Williams
Back of the Bus Siôn Rowley
The River Severn in December Gaynor Jones
Final Choice Norma Allen
Editorial PenCambria Issue 24 by Gay Roberts
With all kinds of interesting things in this issue, we begin with Lawrence Johnson, who has been walking the wilds of mid Wales again, going rabbiting, so to speak, investigating the pillow mounds above the Elan Valley.
Once Wales finally came under total English rule and disputes over sovereign territory were at an end, mid Wales wool producers began a war, of words rather than arms, over the monopoly of their wool sales enjoyed by the Shrewsbury Drapers, and Dr. David Stephenson, who I am very pleased to welcome back to the pages of PenCambria after a couple of years’ break, puts the case for the grievances of both sides.
The chapel traditions that mushroomed in Wales after the 1689 Acts of Toleration allowed Non-Conformists to practise their faith without fear of penalty, are remembered with the example of Capel Gerisim, high in the peat-cutting district, between Bwlchyffridd and Adfa, by Brian Poole, whose wife grew up in that parish. R.S. Thomas was greatly influenced by these isolated communities, and his thoughts were often part of the conversations that he had with Glyn Tegai Hughes, who shares some of them with us now, at the end of this year, which is the centenary of the great poet’s birth.
Yet another forgotten Welsh genius has come to Reginald Massey’s attention. This is the noted linguist, lawyer and orientalist Sir William Jones, whose family hailed from Anglesey.
A genius of quite another sort has been tracked down by Diana Ashworth. Gurra Mills was, among other things, a footballer of international quality who despite offers from several professional teams including Arsenal, Swansea and Shrewsbury, could not bear to leave this area, which he loved so much.
Owain Glyn Dŵr has been conspicuously absent from the pages of PenCambria as no suitable article has been forthcoming. This month, however, we have an account of a visit by the Arwystli Society to the house he owned in Pennal, near Machynlleth and where in 1406 he wrote the famous Pennal letter asking the king of France for aid in his campaign to secure his position as Prince of Wales. He also asks the pope at Avignon for help in establishing an independent Welsh church and two universities. The house is built on a Roman fort and is full of history. To accompany the account of the visit, I have included a very brief history of Owain Glyn Dŵr’s life, how he got to that moment and what might have been going through his mind as he wrote the letter.
The delights of a growing boy’s life in the 1950s are fondly remembered by Richard Meredith; Gaynor Jones relishes memories of Christmas during this time at Dolwen; while the joys of grandchildren and Hallowe’en in the 21st century are fondly related by our retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn.
Women’s work in St Harmon Parish between the two world wars is detailed by R.H. Williams. With no electricity or modern conveniences such as the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner, it was an entirely different life from that of today – and a hard but uncomplaining one too.
The RCAHMW has had a very active and interesting six months finding a Roman fort from cropmarks in a field near Brecon, restoring a bridge over the Kymer canal near Kidwelly, engaging with the Somalis of the Butetown, young and old, in tracing changes in their community using the Britain From Above material; and finding a long-lost carved medieval stone at Silian. They have also launched a new dimension to their access system, Coflein, which now allows users to search the National Monuments Record directly and explore the collection in far greater depth.
Norma Allen has found two excellent books to read and has reviewed them for your delectation.
Meanwhile in the Dragon’s Crypt there is lots of good reading, starting Bruce Mawdesley who remembers, in his own inimitably lyrical fashion, the village policeman, and once again it is illustrated by the delightful drawing of John Selly.
As well as a chronicler of the changes in St Harmon Parish R.H. Williams is also a dab hand at a bit of verse and here is the ballad he wrote for the centenary and the demise of the Parish Hall at Pantydwr.
Siôn Rowley, a new writer who I am very pleased to welcome to the pages of PenCambria, tells a story about a schoolboy who finds the courage to overcome the bully on the bus.
Gaynor Jones has also turned her hand to poetry this month, inspired by the river Severn in December.
Finally, a ghostly revenge from the pen of Norma Allen.
Aberystwyth: the Biarritz of Wales Gaynor Jones
My Roots: Part 2 – Cor Hafren Richard Meredith
Cor Hafren Photographs
Mid Wales Railway and Associated Lines to Brecon: 50th Anniversary of Closure Anon, submitted by Colin Breeze
The Naming of Parts Lawrence Johnson
A Secret Legacy Diana Ashworth
An English Admiral and a Welsh Hill Reginald Massey
The Montgomeryshire Bench in the 1870s Rachael Jones & Gay Roberts
The Reality of Lambing Without Spring Diana Ashworth
Grus Grus at Caersws Brian Poole
Put Out To Grass part 11: Raining Cats & Dog Diana Ashworth
The Water Mills of Radnorshire R.M. Williams
Riot on the Mid Wales Railway: Llanidloes and Newtown Telegraph article submitted by Brian Lawrence
Coronation Day Diana Ashworth, the County Times and a few others
Freedom of the City of London for Reginald Massey
Knit for Britain From Above Campaign Natasha Scullion and Sandra Bauer
The Dragon’s Crypt:
Saturday Night Dance Norma Allen
Letter from the Llyn Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by John Selly
Editorial PenCambria Issue 23 by Gay Roberts
It is the summer holiday season once again and, up to the date of printing, we appear to having the sort of summer that has been just a distant memory for so long. Well, to celebrate, or rather to commemorate, we start with a memory from Gaynor Jones of more summer holidays in Aberystwyth in the 1950s. This article is a follow-up to her first memory there of a holiday, aged three years old, as printed in PC22.
Apart from the Cardiff services, from a network that covered the whole country, there are only three railway lines left in Wales. This industry, along with coal and various metal works, once provided the work that made Wales prosperous in so many ways. All these industries are now reduced to a wraith of their former services, and so it is very pleasing to be reminded of how integral they were to life in Wales. This we can enjoy in an article, author unknown, written in 2004 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of lines through mid Wales to Brecon.
Mid Wales is famous for its highly descriptive names of features in the countryside and Lawrence Johnson has been investigating the wilds of Plynlimon once again, this time as a lexicographer – he has been finding out what some of the names up there might mean.
Diana Ashworth has had a really busy few months on our behalf. Long before the advent of the NHS, we kept ourselves well with herbal remedies, a practice for which Wales has been famous for generations. As a retired GP, she has been looking into this from the point of view of a modern practitioner, and has shed a very interesting light on some of the remedies used, in comparison to today’s knowledge, with a particular emphasis on Nicolas Culpeper, the 17th century herbalist whose work still provides the standard body of knowledge for anyone learning this ancient art.
This year has been terrible year for Welsh sheep farmers and as Diana and her husband now have a small hill farm, she takes us through the hardship and heartbreak of those months. But, not to be beaten, the retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn still appreciate the funny side of life with their hearthside animal companions.
Reginald Massey has been visiting the Montgomeryshire borderlands, and at Breidden he came across Rodney’s Pillar, the tale of which he relates here. He has also become a Freeman
of the City of London, for which we must congratulate him, and you can read all about that too.
Richard Meredith remembers another choir with which he sung, this time Cor Hafren. With so many members, I have printed two different photographs so that you can enjoy seeing who was who in the 1950s.
I am very pleased to welcome local historian Rachael Jones back into the pages of PenCambria. She has been researching the Montgomeryshire Bench in the 1870s and we have a very interesting article based on a talk she gave to Powysland Club in April this year plus an account of a trial in Newtown 1869 to which I have added my own thoughts.
Rhayader has always had a mind of its own, so to speak, and Brian Lawrence has uncovered more riots in a very uncomfortable episode that happened between the Welsh and Irish navvies when the Elan Valley dams were being built. Calming things down a bit, in the gentle countryside of Radnorshire, R.H.Williams gives us tour around the water mills of St. Harmon Parish.
Royalist or republican, Protestant or Catholic, 1953 was one of the two years that marked the beginning of modern Britain. In 1945 the Atlee government that gave us the NHS, full state education and the Welfare State. In 1953 the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the start of a brighter, more hopeful age after the dreadful slaughter of the two world wars and the years of greyness and austerity which followed as Britain struggled to recover from near bankruptcy. It was also the first event that virtually the country watched as it happened on the newly available television sets. Many people have all sorts of memories of that day sixty years ago and now, thanks to Diana Ashworth once more, we have a literary snapshot to complement them.
How are your knitting skills? One of the most delightful projects I have ever come across is the brainchild of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales. This august body would like us all to Knit Aeroplanes for Britain From Above – yes, really! Natasha Scullion and Sandra Brauer will tell you all about it, including how to get hold of the knitting patterns.
In The Dragon’s Crypt Norma Allen goes out dancing while Bruce Mawdelsey contemplates evening on the Llyn Peninsular.
April: a Playful Month Cynric Gwrol
Saint Richard Gwyn: Our Local Saint Diana Brown
Bell, Bones and Stones Lawrence Johnson
The Fowlers of Abbey Cwm Hir and the Lloyds of Clochfaen Cecil Vaughan Owen
History Matters at Ty Mawr Medieval Hall Gary Ball
My Roots Richard Meredith
Everyone Can Sing Norma Allen
Powys Paradwys Concrit Cymru Brian Poole
Driving and Drovers Routes R.M. Williams
How Aberystwyth Became Norma Allen
A Trip to the Seaside Gaynor Jones
The Old Forge Bruce Mawdesley
Put Out To Grass part 10: Safe in the Gleam of Tony Blair’s Smile Diana Ashworth
The Second Rebecca Riots Brian Lawrence
The Oldest Working Brewery in Britain: Three Tuns, Bishop’s Castle Diana Ashworth
Mid Wales Arts Centre – A Sense of Place
Another Journey for the Little Red Dog Lesley-Ann Dupré
The Voice Lesley-Ann Dupré
Wartime Wedding Diana Ashworth
Nemesis Norma Allen
Editorial PenCambria Issue 22 by Gay Roberts
What a fickle Spring this has been! So many things seem to have conspired to prevent me to get this edition on time that I began to wonder what disaster have I avoided by being late! Because of the snow, car repairs and snow again, I have been house-bound for two of the last three months and with more snow forecast for Easter, it could be still more days tucked into my blissful but tricky little dingle. As a result, not only have I been unable to get this issue by Easter but there are also a few photographs that I have been unable to pick up unless I put back publication for even more weeks. I decided on balance to put it out with my profound apologies to Gary Ball and the Royal Commission for pictures omitted. I am sure I will be able to find a space for them in a later edition. Despite these setbacks, there is quite a light-hearted tone to begin 2013.
For one of our number, Cynrig Gwrol, the beginning of April seems to be a particularly inspirational time of the year. However, it was October that spelt doom for Llanidloes’ St Richard Gwyn who, on 15th of that month in 1584, was executed for high treason. Diana Brown brings us the grisly details. It is the ancient past that has taken Lawrence Johnson’s arm and led him into the wilds of Llangurig to an area called Cistfaen, not far from Cwm Clochfaen. The history of Clochfaen Hall and its occupants was described very entertainingly by the late Cecil Vaughan Owen in An Arwystli Notebook Part One, which the Arwystli Society have very kindly allowed me to reprint in this edition of PenCambria.
Historical re-enactment is all the rage these days and in one instance it goes hand in hand with the development of Ty Mawr, a medieval hall rescued and reconstructed by Powis estate and Cadw. Gary Ball tells all about it.
Richard Meredith is looking back to his boyhood and the debt he owes to Llanidloes’ great choral tradition. Norma Allen, in one of three highly entertaining items, tells us, on the other hand, all about the coping mechanism of that rare creature: a Welshman who cannot sing.
Brian Poole praises the contribution of concrete to the architecture of Powys, another pioneering venture started in Mid Wales.
R.M. Williams wanders far and wide with the drovers of Mid Wales, particularly the routes of Radnorshire.
Norma’s second piece looks to Rudyard Kipling and Ted Hughes for inspiration to speculate on the origins of Aberystwyth. This makes the perfect introduction to new writer Gaynor Jones’ remarkable memory of a trip to the seaside at Aberystwyth aged just three years old. Meanwhile Bruce Mawdesley waxes lyrical once again about crafts of the countryside, this time about the skill of the blacksmith.
Our retired lady at Llawryglyn finds herself coping with the emergency services and a clutch of new-hatched chicks.
Salmon poaching, that time-honoured tradition of the Welsh countryside, caused riots in Rhayader in the 19th century. Brian Lawrence tells us all about them.
The Three Tuns brewery is one of the four oldest breweries in the country and although it is in Bishop’s Castle, nevertheless it is close enough to interest us here on the Welsh side of the border. After all, with the various border changes over the years, it may well have wandered
into our jurisdiction at time or another. Diana Ashworth recounts its history after having spent an aromatic morning there.
The Royal Commission has been busy last year, especially with its future as an independent body in the balance. You can read all about their activities in the second Friends’ newsletter which they have very kindly allowed me to print in this edition of PenCambria.
Mid Wales Arts Centre has a lively and inspiring programme of events scheduled for this year and I do hope you will go along and enjoy some if not all of them.
I was unable to get in touch with the Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit in time for this edition but do get in touch with them or visit their website (see page 10) to find out what is going on. They will be delighted to see you and to hear from you.
The Dragon’s Crypt is full of good things, as usual, with more from about the travels of Lesley-Ann Dupré’s Little Dog and a complementary poem about the finding of a voice; Diana Ashworth brings the poignancy of a war-time wedding to life; and Norma Allen brings this edition to a close with a cautionary tale of chance, hope, jealousy, revenge and retribution.
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.
Gwendolen Nasty Brian Poole
Sarn Sabrina Adele Hopkins
The Full Monty Gay Roberts
Walking the Montgomery Canal Tim Chilton
The Long and Winding Leat Lawrence Johnson
Cementing the Future Diana Brown
Put Out to Grass: part 9 Abby and the Earthquake Diana Ashworth
Glyndwr’s Daughter John Hughes
“We pulled half of Llani down!” Ivan Evans Reminiscences with Lesley-Ann Dupré
Quiet Time Lesley-Ann Dupré
St Harmon Parish – the Black Years 1939-45 R.M. Williams
The Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit James Roose-Evans
Rhayader Mayfair: Never to be forgotten! Brian Lawrence
Grand-dad, What was it like in the Olden Days? Part 1 David Jandrell
Bees of Montgomeryshire Tony Shaw
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales : Friends Newsletter
Harold and the Widow Norma Allen
The Apple Tree Bruce Mawdesley
Dirge Hatton Davidson
Editorial PenCambria Issue 20 by Gay Roberts
The first thing you will notice in this issue is the change of format in the text from single column per page to, for the most part, two columns per page. As well allowing more reading material on the page, which in view of the reduced number of pages, I am sure you will agree is better value for the money, it also makes easier reading, particularly when some articles might need particular concentration. I do hope you like the change. For my part I think it is great improvement and my special thanks go to Lesley-Ann Dupré, our new commissioning editor for suggesting it.
This month, despite the extraordinary and prolonged downpours, PenCambria is full of articles about walks in mid Wales, one newly created, one restored and one not exactly neglected as it is not a formal trail but which for the experienced walker is worth following.
Firstly, following his portrait of Gwendolen Williams in last month’s PenCambria, Brian Poole has been looking at another Gwendolen who left her mark on mid Wales, but not such a pleasant one. This was Gwendolen, mother of Sabrina, the maiden who gave her name to the river Severn. Coupled with this is an introduction by Adele Hopkins to the Sarn Sabrina Walk, which, starting from Llanidloes follows the river Severn, to its source on Pumlumon. This walk was created by Nick Venti, whose name will be familiar to many PenCambria readers, and Richard Dix.
With Tim Chilton our restored walk follows the Montgomery Canal, which was built in 1794 to transport lime to the upland farms of mid Wales but fell into disuse when the railways
and the roads came into greater use. I have preceded this article a history of its construction and current use.
Our neglected trail is the leat that once brought water from Llyn Nant Ddeiliog to the mines at Dylife. This is the walk taken by our intrepid Lawrence Johnson.
One uncommon hazard of the outdoor life is the possibility of bee stings. Bee keeping is a well established tradition in Wales and Tony Shaw introduces us to the art and some of the problems of bee keeping in Montgomeryshire. Livestock of the more conventional kind have been running rings around our retired lady from Llawryglyn.
David Jandrell begins his last article for us for the time being, this time part one of a two-part imagined conversation with a child of today telling him about his own childhood on the farm in Mochdre, and inspired by questions from his granddaughter.
Memories of Llanidloes in more industrial times are recalled by Ivan Evans, while Lesley-Ann Dupré enjoys a quiet moment.
There is a quality of stillness and an altered sense of time on the hills of Radnorshire that can induce feelings of tranquillity that open the mind to a range of creative possibilities suppressed by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In the tiny hamlet of Bleddfa is the Centre for the Creative Spirit in which these possibilities can be explored. We are privileged to have an article by its founder, the distinguished British Theatre director James Roose-Evans telling how the Centre was created and extraordinary patronage he was able to obtain to get it off the ground and functioning.
In this spirit we have a substantial arts section this month with news of the re-opening of the Wyeside Theatre in Builth Wells and the programme of events from Mid Wales Arts Centre. John Hughes also tells us how he was inspired by the poems of three Welsh medieval bards to write a novel about Owain Glyndwr’s daughter, Gwenllian, who lived in Gwrtheyrnion, the ancient kingdom that is now Pantydwr and Tylwch.
Elsewhere in Radnorshire, Brian Lawrence remembers all the fun of the Rhayader Mayday Fair while R. M. Williams remembers the wartime years in St Harmon.
The Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales is very keen to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of its function and its facilities, especially its archives and data base which are, for the most part free to use, and to this end it has created a Friends network. You can read all about this as well as some of the many activities they are currently investigating as well as the concern they have over a proposed merger with other organisations including the Welsh heritage body Cadw. A summary of their newsletters will be a permanent feature of PenCambria.
In the Dragon’s Crypt Norma Allen points out that men who appear to be a soft touch may not be as keen to have their feathers ruffled as the fancier might believe. An apple tree inspires Bruce Mawdesley’s peerless poetic prose and we finish with Hatton Davidson’s Dirge, a rumination on the selfishness of love.