What was in PenCambria: Issue 41 Summer 2019?

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 41 Summer 2019 

Dear PenCambrians

Well, after wondering if our unusually hot, dry spring was a sign of global warming, our summer seems to have settled into its usual unpredictable state albeit on the fine and dry side as I write this introduction. Summers were always fine in our childhood memories and Gaynor Waters evokes some wonderful memories of cinema going in Llanidloes in the 1950s and 60s.

Still in Llanidloes, the annual exhibition of quilts is a great visitor attraction and Chris Shercliff, a trustee of The Quilt Association gives a fascinating account of its history and some of the exhibits. Diana Ashworth takes to the choppy waters on a brief visit to Bardsey Island, hunting the chough. Does she find one? You will have to read and out.The centenary of the 1st World War and its aftermath continues to affect our lives and in this edition Peter Francis takes a journey across mid Wales using the war memorials as markers. So many names on them, so many young lives taken.The life of the First Lord Davies of Llandinam was also touched by the 1914-18 World War, so much so that he was driven to campaign for the formation of the League of Nations to try and prevent a future war. This and his many other activities are touched on in this excerpt from Peter Lewis. Fishing is an integral part of life in rural mid Wales and Val Church looks at the impact of the Vyrnwy dam on the migration of trout and salmon at Dolanog.

Time was when every other vehicle you saw on the roads in mid Wales was a Land Rover. Not so now with a huge variety of 4x4s to choose from, Brian Poole has fond memories of the Land Rover and its workhorse capacity and he takes us through them with illustrations which will surely bring back memories to many of us as well. It was a magpie and a buzzard that stopped Lawrence Johnson in his tracks in the hills above Carno and Trefeglwys and he found himself musing how nature gets along very well, much better in fact, without us. This observation is certainly reinforced by Gareth Morgan’s account of the proposal in 1966 to make a reservoir out of the Dulas Valley with a dam at Tylwch to provide water for the south east of England. There was a vigorous campaign against it in which he, along with several other legal professionals, such as Emlyn Hooson, gave their services for free to ensure the project would not go ahead. Marian Harris, born and bred in the Dulas Valley, has written a book about it which was published in April this year and reviewed in this edition by Chris Barrett. Meanwhile Gareth himself has written a two-part article for PenCambria about the event and in this issue he looks briefly at the history behind flooding valleys of Wales to supply water to English towns and cities and the preliminary build up to the Public Enquiry, which will be the subject of his article in the October edition.

Phil Brachi discovered the magic of mid Wales some 40 years ago when he made a new life here for himself and his family. The Upper Cledan Valley is his special place and here he found many things that challenged his severely intellectual outlook on life, not the least being the Tylwyth Teg, those faerie phenomena that just catch your eye when you’re looking the other way… Life along the Montgomery Canal continues to thrive and Michael Limbrey has us a report on the progress of its restoration and the annual triathlon event held there and filmed for television in May this year. It is part of the Restore Montgomery Canal! Appeal, which in 2018 was enhanced by the appearance of Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

Mid Wales Arts Centre has a full programme of exhibitions of paintings and sculpture this summer, and sculpture, pottery and printing workshops for adults and children. A Poetry Party in September will be great fun, so do along if you can. The King’s Rent Hole and the Red Lady of Paviland are our topics from the Royal Commission this month. Read the article to find out what they are about.In the Dragon’s Crypt a surprise at the Show from Bruce Mawdesley, summer musings from Julia R. Francis and from Norma Allen, a story based on the tale of the man who was wrongfully hanged in Montgomery in 1821 and whose grave has been a source of mystery ever since. Enjoy your read.               Gay Roberts       PenCambria Editor and Founder

CONTENTS PenCambria 41

  • Llanidloes Cinema Gaynor Waters
  • The Quilt Association, Llanidloes Chris Shercliff
  • Bardsey Island Chough Hunt Diana Ashworth
  • How We Remembered: the War Memorials of Mid Wales Peter Francis
  • The First Lord Davies of Llandinam: part II  Peter LewiS
  • Trout and Salmon in the River Vyrnwy above Dolanog Val Church
  • Remembering the Land Rover Brian Poole
  • We Do Not Belong Lawrence Johnson
  • The Dulas Valley Victory and the Treweryn Factor – book review Chris Barrett
  • Dam Tylwch and Flood the Dulas Valley Gareth Morgan
  • A View from the Hills : Little Wing Zöe Spencer
  • The Truth Fairy Phil Brachi
  • Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust
  • The King’s Rent Hole; the Red Lady of Paviland Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

Article in PC 41 selected by the Editor to be reproduced in full on this website:

DAM TYLWCH AND FLOOD THE DULAS VALLEY : The 1966 threat to build another reservoir in mid Wales: Part 1, by Gareth Morgan

As a solicitor, I found that once a case was closed and the decision made, it became a closed book. No more was heard of it. However, Tryweryn and the threats to flood the Dulas Valley do not to fit into that category. After 50 years or more they both still have a life of their own!

The year 2019 saw the publication of an excellent account of the campaign to save the Dulas Valley from being flooded. Entitled The Dulas Valley Victory, and the Tryweryn Factor. It has been written by Marian Harris, who was born and brought up in the Valley. The launch took place at Chatwood in Llanidloes on the 18th April 2019. It was a sell out. The story is still alive in the minds of many people. I doubt there has been a better book launch in Llanidloes; venue packed to the rafters, and many standing outside on the pavement.

The episode clearly still resonates with so many people. At the time I was often told that “all former attempts to stop the powerful machine preparing to flood your valley, had failed”. Mind you, I recollect someone telling me how David Lloyd George had been the only successful solicitor in this respect when an attempt was made to flood the Ceiriog Valley in an era lost in time. A part of our history never recorded in print. A big “Thank you” to Marian Harris for ensuring that the Dulas experience is recorded for posterity. 

This publication seems to have revived raw memories of the many Welsh Valleys that had been flooded to supply water to English cities. The most celebrated was the drowning of the village of Capel Celyn in Merioneth in the 1950s to create the Tryweryn reservoir supplying water for the city of Liverpool. Prior to this there had been the construction of the Vyrnwy Reservoir in North Montgomeryshire to supply a city in England. Tryweryn, built in the 1950s, seems to have left the greatest hurt in the Welsh mind and memory. After 70 years it is still a sensitive point in Welsh history. I doubt it will ever heal. It has even prompted the construction of one of Wales’s most famous pieces of graffiti. On a roadside wall in Ceredigion near Llanrhystyd, there is painted on a lay-by wall the words “Cofiwch Dryweryn” “Remember Tryweryn”. These are poignant words, challenging everyone who passes on the main coast road never to forget how Capel Celyn was taken against the will of the people to satiate the needs of a large city in England.

Occasionally one sees film of the opening ceremony when a large crowd tried their best to disrupt the ceremony. Plaid Cymru had led and sustained a long campaign to try and stop the project. This was a period when Plaid was a rising political force even though it had not at that time seen anyone elected to Parliament as its representative. It also led to the seed being sown that enabled the founding of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Cymraeg, an organisation that has without doubt helped enormously to raise the cause for saving our language. It was against this background that we entered the 1960s and 70s in Wales. The Welsh conscience had been roused by Tryweryn. No other valley was to be flooded in Wales. If every Welsh Member of Parliament had voted against it, as was the case with Tryweryn, the huge majority of English M.P.s were more than enough to drive it through. Consider for a moment that all the Welsh M.P.s  totalled a mere 36, in those days. Very small in number compared to the total of 650 members in the House of Commons. I mention this background, because it shows that political pressure alone was insufficient to stop the Parliamentary machine when it embarked on a programme to legislate enabling it to acquire the land to build a reservoir in Wales.

The early 1960s brought the news that the Severn River Authority, as it then was, had identified 24 sites in Montgomeryshire that were potential reservoir sites to supply water for the South East of England. There is some doubt as to whether this information had been made public at that stage. Later in 1966 it became publicly known that 29 sites in Montgomeryshire (including the Dulas Valley) were being examined as potential reservoir sites. These sites were being investigated on the instructions of the then Secretary of State for Wales the Rt. Hon. James Griffiths M.P. He was the first Secretary of State for Wales, a new office with a seat in the Cabinet, created by the Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He had set up a Welsh Water Committee to advise him on water matters. There also existed a Water Resources Board charged under the Water Resources Act 1963 with taking “all such action as they may from time to time consider necessary and expedient, or as they may be directed to take by virtue of this Act, for the purpose of conserving, redistributing or otherwise augmenting water resources in their area, or of transferring any such resources to the area of another authority”.

At this time industrial growth was expected to accelerate along with significant increases in population in the south east of England. The Central Electricity Generating Board was by now responsible for the investigation and selection of sites in both England and Wales for large sources of water to meet future demand for water abstraction from the river Severn to provide water for electricity generating purposes. At the time, demand for water was growing year by year for cooling purposes at power stations. It is believed that there was a need to double the daily flow of water over the measuring gauge on the Severn at Bewdley in Worcestershire. That gauge still plays a vital part in Severn river flows from the Clywedog reservoir outside Llanidloes. There is a statutory obligation in the Clywedog Reservoir Joint Authority Act of 1965 to maintain a minimum flow over the gauge. In 1966 it was stated that future demand as then estimated required a daily flow of 300 million gallons of an “unfailing supply” of cold water. The high rainfall in Montgomeryshire coupled with its topography, and low population, classified the County as a suitable area to conserve water to meet the future demands of England.

Publication of this information produced huge concern and considerable unrest in the County. The then M.P. was the Liberal Mr Emlyn Hooson Q.C. who had been elected in a by-election in 1962 following the death of his predecessor the Rt Hon. Clement Davies Q.C. who had been the Leader of the Liberal Party for many years. There was so much consternation, that a county wide defence committee was created comprising representatives of all the areas affected. The Secretary was Mr R.P. Davies the County Secretary of the Farmers Union of Wales all under the Chairmanship of Mr Leslie Morgan the owner of an agricultural engineering business and ironmongers in Llanfair Caereinion.

The Dulas site was not only situated in Montgomeryshire but it also extended into Radnorshire close to the village of Pantydwr. The main dam or buttress was proposed to be erected adjacent to Tylwch rocks. In view of the inclusion of part of Radnorshire, the Labour Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnor, Mr Tudor Watkins was a member of the Defence Committee. Mr Watkins was the member from 1945 until the early 1970s when he retired and became the first Chair of Powys County Council. By this time he had been elevated to the peerage, becoming Lord Watkins of Glantawe. He was known for his diligence as an M.P. and for the care and attention he gave to his constituents.

The arrival of crisis point, that is the threat posed by 29 reservoir sites, led to Emlyn Hooson Q.C. the distinguished member for Montgomeryshire obtaining an emergency Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on Friday the 27th May 1966. Mr Hooson delivered a masterful speech. A poignant sentence in his speech is worth quoting:

in response to a request of mine, the Authority (Severn River Authority) sent me a plan on the 8th April and I think that all who have seen it will agree that it is a horrific document in itself because it purports to show, by way of illustration, about one-third of the land surface of Montgomeryshire under water.”

He went on: “ In the hearts and minds of most of the people affected it was a preliminary step which would eventually lead to the submergence of their valleys. The production of the map and plan, more than anything else, had a deep psychological impact on the population of the area. I feel justified in saying that in many cases people have been caused needless anxiety and fear by these proposals.”

He concluded: “ It would be a great help if the Secretary of State (now The Rt. Hon Cledwyn Hughes Labour M.P. for Anglesey) were today to make the authoritative statement which I have asked for as to precisely what the Government’s policy is and what kind of proposal he would definitely not even consider on sociological and economic grounds.  It might be possible for him to announce today the elimination of these sites from any further consideration. I hope he will do so.”

An English poet wrote:  

“ Breathes there the man, with soul as dead,  Who never to himself hath said,  This is my own, my native land!

Never was this matter so well expressed, even though it was expressed by an English poet. It expresses the feelings of many of hundreds of my constituents who are affected by this proposal.

The Member of Parliament for Denbigh Mr W.G. Morgan also spoke in support of Mr Hooson. In his reply the Secretary of State made some cogent comments for example “ I am quite sure that the Welsh Committee (the Water Committee) and the river authority will take the most careful account of the sociological objections before they make any final recommendations……. Let me say now, so that there may be no more misunderstanding or further misconception, that as Secretary of State for Wales I do not propose to consent to the drowning of any villages in Mid Wales ….. I can assure the hon and learned Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman the member for Denbigh that communities count as far as I am concerned. The need for preserving first-class agricultural land will also be very much in my mind”.. The Secretary of State concluded “I intend to see that the interests of our country and its people are fully safeguarded. This is my responsibility and privilege as Secretary of State for Wales.”

What was the result of this debate and these assurances extracted by Mr Emlyn Hooson? We know that Secretaries of State change from time to time and even though they have a seat in the Cabinet, they may not be there for too long. Cledwyn Hughes did in fact deliver good news. It did appear on reading the debate that some lessons might have been learnt following the Tryweryn debacle. In September 1966 it was announced that no less than 19 sites were eliminated, but this left a further 10 in the melting pot. Further investigations were carried out by Binnie and Partners Consulting Engineers who then reduced the number to 6.which still included the Dulas Valley. The latter was presented in the form of two different projects, still in the valley but differing in capacity.

After much deliberation by the promoting authorities ( there were several representing their area of benefit, with the Severn River Authority as lead authority supported by the Water Resources Board) the decision was made to publish an application for consent under section 67 of the Water Resources Act 1963 for compulsory powers to carry out trial borings at Tylwch near Llanidloes in connection with the proposed Dulas Regulating Reservoir. At this stage it was clear that 17 farmhouses and their outbuildings were to be inundated as well as 6 other residences and a further 20 farms were to be affected by land acquisitions. The Severn River Authority admitted “disturbance would be relatively high and disruption appreciable”. That was an understatement if ever there was one. In fact 50% of the valley with a total population of 380 persons was to be affected.

Shortly after this a draft Order was published by Severn River Authority, and the date of the Public Enquiry to consider the application was announced. At this the stage the Dulas Defence Committee had no legal representation and at most about 6 weeks before the hearing. This called for urgent action. This will be outlined in part 2 of the story.

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 25 Spring 2014?

Eliza, Julia and Henry-a Victorian Triangle Val Church

“The One I Don’t Go To” Lawrence Johnson

The Trouble with History Diana Ashworth

My Roots Part 5: Salmon Poaching Richard Meredith

Torri Mawn: Peat Cutting in the Uplands of Mid Wales Brian Poole

Farming Between the Wars 1920-40, Part 2: Men’s Work R.M. Williams

1st World War Centenary Commemoration Gay Roberts

Put Out To Grass: Part 12 Left-Handed Challenge Diana Ashworth

How Not To Kill Yourself in Borth: a meditation on the Welsh hills by a flatlander Veronica Popp

Monastic Wales Diana Brown

Jottings of a Mid Wales Tourist Peter Watson

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Three Ladies Bruce Mawdsley

Back to the Smoke Gaynor Jones

In Time of War: A Trilogy Part 1: Selina’s Birthday Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 25 by Gay Roberts

Well, after such a soggy winter, what a lovely spring we are having at the time of writing. We all love a good scandal and we start this issue with a splendid example of a Victorian marital disharmony and a wet lettuce – just read it and find out. Val Church tells us the extraordinary history of Eliza Williams of Dolanog, her friend, Julia Davenport and Julia’s husband Henry Crookenden.

Lawrence Johnson has been looking into the culture of the Chapel in mid Wales. Once Non-Conformity became legal and the Bible was printed in Welsh and English, people could interpret it and preach more or less what they liked. In Wales, which has always been a very religious and thoughtful country, a whole variety sects with their attendant chapels mushroomed and one could choose which group to attend, which group to avoid and to chop and change as the fancy took.

Prior to this, the invasion of the Normans in 1066 was followed in the 1130s by colonisation of the country by the monastic movement, which, in Wales, was overwhelmingly Cistercian. Professor Janet Burton of the University of Wales Trinity St David’s has created a database and website which will eventually provide a fully comprehensive archive of all material including a bibliography of primary and secondary sources relating to this phenomenon – a must for anyone research this fascinating topic. Diana Brown has been studying it and gives us a most interesting account of what she has learned.

It is thanks to the Chartists that we have the parliamentary democracy we enjoy today. Llanidloes played a small but notable part in this campaign and, taking the two main historical sources, Diana Ashworth manages to present an account that does justice to both sides.

Tracing his roots once again, Richard Meredith regales us with his youthful salmon poaching adventures on the river Severn.

Peat cutting is one of the great unsung crafts of the uplands of mid Wales. Brian Poole touched on it in his article on Capel Gerisim in the last edition of PenCambria. This time he does full justice to it through the oral history of the area and his own interest in and understanding of the technical side of these activities.

Meanwhile on the lower slopes and pastures R.H. Williams describes men’s work on the farm between the two world wars.

It is lambing time in Llawryglyn and our retired lady grasps the mettle, or rather the back legs of her sheep by the hand and attempts to administer all kinds of pills and potions to keep her flock in tiptop condition.

The last episode of recent television programme thriller “Hinterland” set in Aberystwyth included a murder in Borth. A few days later Veronica Popp sent me this delightful piece about one of her experiences as a student at the University in Aberystwyth entitled “How Not to Kill Yourself in Borth”. I won’t spoil it for you. Just enjoy it for yourselves.

Peter Watson had a holiday in mid Wales last year both for leisure and for research and here is his affectionate account of his travels.

The RCAHMW have been very busy with their activities to preserve our heritage and to make sure that we are as fully aware of them as is possible. One of these is the creation of computer 3-D animation reconstructions of complex archaeological sites, especially the Swansea Copper Industry, for which they have received an award. They have also managed to provide a conclusive date for the construction of Tredegar House, one of Wales’ great until now unsolved archaeological mysteries. And they are asking for our help in providing what information we can about our own areas, specifically when it comes to place names. They are also putting on a full programme of events open to the public which are very enjoyable and informative, so do go along if you can.

Mid Wales Arts Centre and Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit are offering a wealth of creative and spiritual opportunities and you can read all about their activities as usual.

In The Dragon’s Crypt Bruce Mawdesley entertains us with his pen portraits of three women; going back to the smoke Gaynor Jones expresses what so many of us feel about have to leave mid Wales for a life elsewhere; and Norma Allen begins a three-part story set in the time of the First World War as the opening to our commemoration of this event, which will be published in the next issue.

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 24 Winter 2013?

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.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 23 Summer 2013?

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.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 22 Spring 2013?

April: a Playful Month Cynric Gwrol
Saint Richard Gwyn: Our Local Saint Diana Brown
Bell, Bones and Stones Lawrence Johnson
The Fowlers of Abbey Cwm Hir and the Lloyds of Clochfaen Cecil Vaughan Owen 
History Matters at Ty Mawr Medieval Hall Gary Ball
My Roots Richard Meredith
Everyone Can Sing Norma Allen
Powys Paradwys Concrit Cymru Brian Poole
Driving and Drovers Routes R.M. Williams
How Aberystwyth Became Norma Allen
A Trip to the Seaside Gaynor Jones
The Old Forge Bruce Mawdesley
Put Out To Grass part 10: Safe in the Gleam of Tony Blair’s Smile Diana Ashworth
The Second Rebecca Riots Brian Lawrence
The Oldest Working Brewery in Britain: Three Tuns, Bishop’s Castle Diana Ashworth
Mid Wales Arts Centre – A Sense of Place

Another Journey for the Little Red Dog Lesley-Ann Dupré
The Voice Lesley-Ann Dupré
Wartime Wedding Diana Ashworth
Nemesis Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 22 by Gay Roberts

What a fickle Spring this has been! So many things seem to have conspired to prevent me to get this edition on time that I began to wonder what disaster have I avoided by being late! Because of the snow, car repairs and snow again, I have been house-bound for two of the last three months and with more snow forecast for Easter, it could be still more days tucked into my blissful but tricky little dingle. As a result, not only have I been unable to get this issue by Easter but there are also a few photographs that I have been unable to pick up unless I put back publication for even more weeks. I decided on balance to put it out with my profound apologies to Gary Ball and the Royal Commission for pictures omitted. I am sure I will be able to find a space for them in a later edition. Despite these setbacks, there is quite a light-hearted tone to begin 2013.
For one of our number, Cynrig Gwrol, the beginning of April seems to be a particularly inspirational time of the year. However, it was October that spelt doom for Llanidloes’ St Richard Gwyn who, on 15th of that month in 1584, was executed for high treason. Diana Brown brings us the grisly details. It is the ancient past that has taken Lawrence Johnson’s arm and led him into the wilds of Llangurig to an area called Cistfaen, not far from Cwm Clochfaen. The history of Clochfaen Hall and its occupants was described very entertainingly by the late Cecil Vaughan Owen in An Arwystli Notebook Part One, which the Arwystli Society have very kindly allowed me to reprint in this edition of PenCambria.
Historical re-enactment is all the rage these days and in one instance it goes hand in hand with the development of Ty Mawr, a medieval hall rescued and reconstructed by Powis estate and Cadw. Gary Ball tells all about it.
Richard Meredith is looking back to his boyhood and the debt he owes to Llanidloes’ great choral tradition. Norma Allen, in one of three highly entertaining items, tells us, on the other hand, all about the coping mechanism of that rare creature: a Welshman who cannot sing.
Brian Poole praises the contribution of concrete to the architecture of Powys, another pioneering venture started in Mid Wales.
R.M. Williams wanders far and wide with the drovers of Mid Wales, particularly the routes of Radnorshire.
Norma’s second piece looks to Rudyard Kipling and Ted Hughes for inspiration to speculate on the origins of Aberystwyth. This makes the perfect introduction to new writer Gaynor Jones’ remarkable memory of a trip to the seaside at Aberystwyth aged just three years old. Meanwhile Bruce Mawdesley waxes lyrical once again about crafts of the countryside, this time about the skill of the blacksmith.
Our retired lady at Llawryglyn finds herself coping with the emergency services and a clutch of new-hatched chicks.
Salmon poaching, that time-honoured tradition of the Welsh countryside, caused riots in Rhayader in the 19th century. Brian Lawrence tells us all about them.
The Three Tuns brewery is one of the four oldest breweries in the country and although it is in Bishop’s Castle, nevertheless it is close enough to interest us here on the Welsh side of the border. After all, with the various border changes over the years, it may well have wandered
into our jurisdiction at time or another. Diana Ashworth recounts its history after having spent an aromatic morning there.
The Royal Commission has been busy last year, especially with its future as an independent body in the balance. You can read all about their activities in the second Friends’ newsletter which they have very kindly allowed me to print in this edition of PenCambria.
Mid Wales Arts Centre has a lively and inspiring programme of events scheduled for this year and I do hope you will go along and enjoy some if not all of them.
I was unable to get in touch with the Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit in time for this edition but do get in touch with them or visit their website (see page 10) to find out what is going on. They will be delighted to see you and to hear from you.
The Dragon’s Crypt is full of good things, as usual, with more from about the travels of Lesley-Ann Dupré’s Little Dog and a complementary poem about the finding of a voice; Diana Ashworth brings the poignancy of a war-time wedding to life; and Norma Allen brings this edition to a close with a cautionary tale of chance, hope, jealousy, revenge and retribution.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 18 Winter 2011?

A Forgotten Industry: the Coal Fired Gasworks of Montgomeryshire Brian Poole
The Maggot Roger Garfitt
Kington & Radnor Bank in Rhayader Gay Roberts & Gwynne Jones
From the Glog to the Giant’s Grave Lawrence Johnson
Lumberjacks & Backwoodsmen: Put Out to Grass pt. 7 Diana Ashworth
More Winter Memories of Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams
Llanidloes Town Hall Gay Roberts
Saint Harmon Parish Monty Williams
John Wesley and Methodism in Llanidloes Gay Roberts
Round Perdition’s Corner Gay Roberts
The Hafren Circuit: Final Stage the Heart of Montgomeryshire David Jandrell
Witchcraft and Magic in Wales Richard Suggett

Radnorshire Felicity Vale
Flight Plan for the Island Lesley Ann Dupré
Journey South Janet Williams
Verbascum thapsiforme Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by Jane Keay

Editorial PenCambria Issue 18 by Gay Roberts

This month we have a real taste of Radnorshire, I am pleased to say. Monty Williams shows us around St Harmon Parish by way of another article based on his book, A Glimpse of Beautiful Mid Wales. We get a look at the history of the Kington and Radnor Bank together with banking practice from another era with Gwynne Jones, former manager of the Midland Bank in Rhayader. The late Felicity Vale wrote paean to Radnorshire and this is published by kind permission of John Pugh. Finally we have some more winter memories of Llandrindod Wells provided by Joel Williams.
That forgotten industry, the coal-fired gasworks in Montgomeryshire is the subject of a well-needed tribute and Brian Poole is the man for this. Gas was the first source of power to literally shed light on a whole community, delivered from a single source rather than from individual candles and torches. Not since the Moors left Spain had the streets in Europe been lit so efficiently. It was the stepping stone to so many other chemical-based facilities that we take for granted today. It was a dirty, dangerous industry and the men who operated it deserve our heartfelt thanks for risking their health and their lives in such conditions to lighten our darkness and put bread on the