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Violence in a time of black rain T

he Reporter’s Tale is a global adventure story about the life of Tom Davies which begins when he is a young teacher with Voluntary Service Overseas in North Malaya and a book he is writing, full of perverted sex and violence, blows up on him and he sees visions of a world under attack by artists such as himself. In a final vision in Penang he sees the blue sky being ripped apart and black dots falling out of it, slowly at first and then hurriedly. The black rain. Thereafter he takes his new insights on a long journey as a top reporter and award-winning writer, first discovering in Belfast that his Malayan visions have been made flesh and that a media, obsessed by violence, is the cause of so much of the disorder there. The media, he reports, has become the mother and father of modern terrorism, endowing such as the IRA and now the Taliban with disproportionate power and importance merely because they offer violence. Our violence-loving television news service in particular has become the main catalyst of the rioting on our streets, Davies shows, and in relation to the student riots in Whitehall the only question to ask is: What role did television play in them? And is it not now clear that television cameras always set up a platform on our streets

WALES’S MAGAZINE The Reporter’s Tale Utterly fascinating. What a life! What an epiphany! I am astonished by the profligacy of detail – inner and outer – and by Tom Davies’ command of his own meanings. Jan Morris, writer Steel worker’s son, gossip columnist, novelist, travel writer, religious visionary. Tom Davies’ journey through the last 60 years is as strange and compelling as the Book of Revelation. Ian Jack, Guardian columnist and former editor of Granta I found The Reporter’s Tale both disturbing and thoughtprovoking, Berwyn Mountain Press is to be congratulated on keeping the faith with one of Wales’ most passionate and creative writers. Max Boyce, entertainer

cambria the world of

t h e w o r l d o f c a m b r i a


£3.50 €€3.50

This is a packed and passionate book from a man who kissed the Blarney Stone and found God talking to him. Steve Dube, Western Mail A beautiful writer, all heart. Jilly Cooper, author I just can’t wait for the film. Anne Robinson, television presenter

TOM DAVIES: “There’s one hell of a storm coming.”

on which the loonies of the nation are keen to perform? In a just world the police in Whitehall should have kettled the media. Even the seeming madness of the suicide bomber begins to make sense when seen in the context of a media which rewards his carnage with global publicity while also drawing attention to his cause. If you want to get a headline, get a bomb or a gun or, failing that, a big knife. Give me a nice, juicy murder, particularly of a celebrity, and I’ll instantly reward you with worldwide and even eternal fame. Also the events of the Arab Spring take us directly to the meaning and message of the

black rain, Davies believes. Here the world’s media – helped by Facebook and Twitter – first began feeding on the self-immolation of a Tunisian street trader before spawning revolution after revolution in neighbouring countries. They all suddenly wanted freedom and democracy, we were told, but all that really happened was that many protestors were half-crazed by watching too much television news as each service, particularly AlJazeera, spooled out violent imagery on an almost 24hour loop mostly from footage downloaded from their viewers’ mobile phones. Written with words of fire and drawing its inspiration

from a glittering dynasty of great Welsh preachers in their wooden pulpits this is a book written in righteous wrath by a man who has seen visions of a world in uproar and cannot turn his back on them. God is wounded and in great pain, desperate to talk to us again, Davies says. He can no longer stay silent as he sees us all under attack and dying in a long season of black rain. No one anywhere will be unmoved or untroubled by Davies’ description of a great tide of evil which is flooding the world, destroying our values and turning violence into the very oxygen we are all now breathing.

This book will change the way you think about everything The Reporter’s Tale, a trade paperback of 450 pages, is published and distributed by Berwyn Mountain Press which is based at Oriel Tan Yr Hall, 58 High Street, Bala LL237AB. So far 2,200 copies have been moved and this ad announces a new third edition. If you want to become another naysayer and cast a vote for a cleaner, more responsible media then send us your address – or that of a friend’s – with a cheque for £7.99 ( inc p&p). Or go to our website or better still, call into the gallery yourself. Every copy sold will make the book’s voice louder and every penny the book earns will be invested to make that voice louder still. The world needs to hear this wake-up call at top volume.

Along with C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, Jack Clemo’s Confessions of a Rebel and Malcolm Muggeridge’s Chronicles of a Wasted Time – this is one of the most significant spiritual memoirs we have ever read. The Christian Librarian Unmissable, a powerful autobiography which grapples with faith, sex, the media and the horrific impact of fictional violence on our disturbed society. Michael Saward, former Canon of St Paul’s Perhaps the most interesting part was the story of Evan Roberts which in some ways reflects the general story of Davies himself. John Davies, poet Tom Davies’ progress from provincial journalist to UK national icon is genuinely worth reading and this book charts his journey with an engaging mixture of revelation and humour. I found it compulsive. Peter Finch, Welsh Academy The Reporter’s Tale is a riveting read and Tom possesses – like C S Lewis – the rare gift of making theology accessible and deserves a wide audience. Tom is a reluctant prophet – but a prophet nevertheless – and his prose is soaked in wisdom, clarity and the odd drop of whisky. Highly recommended. Amazon


On a fantastical journey from North to South J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 1 1 M E H E F I N / G O R F F E N N A F

A WARNING FROM HISTORY, part two TAFFYMANDERING Pushing the boundaries S4C Does it have a future?





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contents volume 12 number 4

8 8 8

editor’s letter



12 14 16 18

5 6 10 Rhobert ap Steffan

S4C What of it's future? Eifion Lewis takes a look at the possibilities, what the channel has become and means to the culture and future of Wales.

The Taffymander Michael Harris analyses what changes in the boundaries of Welsh constituencies may be and how they might affect election results.

Warning from history Part II Wyn Thomas continues his exploration of the reasons for extreme measures in recent Welsh history, "Never again will the authorities take Wales for granted" is this true?

The trans-cambrian express Jan Morris Following conversations with Tad Deiniol regarding his proposals for a north south rail link Jan Morris embarks on a journey we would all like to see become possible.


8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8


8 8 8 8 8 8 8


23 Siôn Jobbins on The Death of a tradition. 26 Peter Williams on The Birth of Steam in Wales. 28 Alun Roberts on The last days of a Coal Mine.

31 Byron Kalies on The Best Ryder Cup in History.


32 Miranda Morton: Dathlu Gwiliau.

learn welsh

34 Caroline Palmer: Through the eyes of Otto.


36 Gwyn Griffiths on Edward 'Celtic' Davies.


39 Chris Kinsley on the early spring and its wildlife.


40 David Brodie on Bryn Eglwys, photographs John Keates. art 46 Steven Stokes on 75 years of the Welsh School of Architectural Glass. literature/poetry 50 Caroline Palmer - Cautionary Tale. books/reviews 51 meic stephens' overview of the publishing scene in Wales. 56 Byron Rogers - Three Journeys extract. 8 music & opera 60 Norma Lord on Die Fledermaus. photofeature

62 Tom Davies - A Taff in the land of the Gogs.



64 Dave Allen on the wonders of Woofing. 62 John A. Edwards on von Richtofen and the new Renault Laguna.

travel and food 68 Niall Griffiths on Landsker and where to eat. welsh kitchen

70 Dorothy Davies on Wild garlic, terrines and Rachel's Organic


72 The St. David's Day Parade.

what’s hot

74 cambria’s guide to events and exhibitions around Wales

y clawr / the cover:

M - N © C 2010

from the editor

contributors volume

is a journalist and poet and has written, edited and translated some 150 books about our country’s culture. meic stephens

is a regular and valued contributor to Welsh periodicals. siôn jobbins


represents cambria in the press section of the National Assembly.


& friends Jan Morris D. Huw John D.W. Bevan Berwyn & Martha Jones John Elfed Jones Aneurin Jones John Hefin Helga Martin Dr Arturo L Roberts Meredydd & Phyllis Evans Peter N. Williams

clive betts


gwyn griffiths is a journalist, author and renowned authority on Breton

history, art and culture. john a. edwards

is a Welsh motoring journalist of many years experience.

norma lord


Henry Jones-Davies

is a lifelong opera lover and music


12 number 4 2011



Frances Jones-Davies political editor

Clive Betts associate editor

Jeremy Fonge


literary editor

Meic Stephens editor-at-large

Siôn T. Jobbins motoring editor

chris kinsey is a poet who won the 2008 BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year Competition. Oriel Davies, Newtown, first Writer-in-Residence for 2011-12.

John A Edwards advisory board

Professor Meic Stephens Robat Gruffudd Myrddin ap Dafydd Wil Aaron Elisabeth Luard David Gravell

is a professional photographer specialising in the landscape of Wales.

mari sterling

dr. wyn thomas

sometime lecturer at Swansea university on Welsh history of the 20 century specializing in the Welsh language, nationalism and devolution.

art direction

Simon Wigley photography

David Williams, Carl Ryan, Mari Sterling, John Keates webmaster

Chris Jones

adventurer and journalist, travel writer, diarist and novelist.

tom davies

a scientist, worked for many years at NASA and laterly in statistical analysis.

michael harris,

cambria - the national magazine of wales © 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced by any means without the prior permission of the publisher in writing. cambria is published bi-monthly by Cyhoeddwyr Cambria Cyfyngedig, po box 22, caerfyrddin/carmarthen, SA32 7YH, Cymru/Wales. issn: 20462409. All material submitted must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The publisher will not be held responsible for loss, damage or any other injury to unsolicited manuscripts or artwork (including drawings, photographs, and transparencies). We cannot guarantee a response to unsolicited matter. cambria magazine has made every effort to ensure that proper permission has been obtained for the reproduction of all illustrations in this issue, and we apologise unreservedly for any errors or oversights. Views and opinions expressed by individual writers in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the publisher. All information in this publication has been verified to the best of the authors’ and publishers’ ability; however Cyhoeddwyr Cymrica Cyfyngedig does not accept responsibility for any loss arising from reliance on it. Subscriptions for 6 issues: British Isles £18 - All other countries £28. Single copies: £3.50 plus 70p postage. The first copy of a new subscription application will be mailed by second class post for addresses in the British Isles, and by surface mail for the rest of the world. Please allow 6 weeks for overseas delivery. Argraffwyd gan: HSW Print, Tonypandy. tm


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cambria is distributed throughout Wales, and is available at all good newsagents, Siopau Lleol Cymraeg, and selected Asda, Cooperative, Morrisons, and Tesco stores. Should you experience any difficulty obtaining supplies of cambria, please call 01267 290188


huge apology to all of you, our subscribers especially, who have had such a long wait for this issue. When Cambria hit a wall, metaphorically speaking, in the darkest part of the year, our initial feeling was that we had tried to produce a magazine which really did represent the psyche of this country and its people and would also be commercially viable. In that very important last element we had failed, yet I still do believe that M P F J D Wales should be able to support such a magazine. Sitting in the office in January, opening letters and answering the telephone and talking to you, I knew that if the magazine is so loved it must be possible to save it. Over the next two or three months a group of subscribers and contributors got together and produced a rescue package. This issue comes to you thanks to them. Many readers have promised support, practical and financial, and those of you who have so kindly rounded up your subscriptions, or sent cheques, I cannot thank you enough. The future of Cambria is assured thanks to all of you. My particular apologies to those of you who took out Christmas gift subscriptions; I hope that you who are in receipt of these will find the magazine is worth the wait. I know that some of you have been terribly frustrated but please bear with us. If you have enjoyed the magazine please do continue to support it. Thanks go also to our advertisers who have been understanding and supportive. Welsh Rarebits with whom we had negotiated special offers for our Friends of Cambria Club have very kindly widened their offer to all subscribers, and all current subscribers will receive a Welsh Rarebit Loyalty card in early June. Future subscribers will receive them within six weeks of subscribing. There will be changes, but I hope you find them for the better. Tom Davies is joining us on a regular basis with a diary column, which will blend the flavours of north and south and bring us some much needed humour. In this issue we are also embarking on a regular golf column, often called for; and Byron Kalies replies to Denis Campbell’s critique of the last issue. In future he will be reviewing the best and most interesting golfing establishments in Wales and giving tips on what to look out for and how to handle the tricky shots. Sion Jobbins ruminates on the death of the English national anthem in Wales asking ‘when did that stop and a little part of Britishness die?’ I wonder; perhaps it died in England before it died here! In addition, if you want your heart to be stirred, do read Jan Morris’s vision of a journey on the Trans Cambria Express inspired by Tad Deiniol’s continued lobbying for a north-south rail link.

cambria gratefully acknowledges the financial support of its literary pages by the welsh books council

- accounts - administration

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The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising everytime we fall. Nelson Mandela


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letters Editor As a long time reader of Cambria I have much enjoyed most of the content, including many articles which put forward unusual points of view. However I was very disappointed to see such an intemperate critique of the Ryder Cup effort as that given priority over the other articles in Volume 12 Number 1. While there may be some aspects of the arrangements which were unsatisfactory, the general view is that the Ryder Cup was a great success. It put Wales firmly on the map for world class golf. The course itself was widely judged as well designed and prepared - world class in fact. Sir Terry Matthews is to be congratulated on his drive and imagination in paving the way for this event. 

The weather was exceptionally bad. October is often a reasonably dry month for us in Gwent. It was just bad luck but the superb efforts, including those by the indefatigable ground staff, enabled the tournament to continue to a an exciting conclusion - as the sun finally emerged! Denis G Cambell's assessment, while doubtless containing some valid points came across as an unbalanced diatribe. That the Ryder Cup was pursued to a successful conclusion inspite of appalling rain storms was a credit to the quality and determination of Welsh people. The rewards of this effort will doubtless be gathered in future economic development and inward investment. It is too soon to judge.

It was good to hear of the association of Cambria with Welsh Rarebits hotel guide. I do hope down-beat articles like Denis G Campbell's will not put-off hotel visitors from returning to Wales. We all must have the confidence to forge a great future for Wales, accentuate the positive, and vote 'Yes' on 3rd March 2011 to give effective powers to the National Assembly for Wales so that we can


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ensure conditions for economic and social success are in place. This will, indeed, be an important year for Wales. 

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi ac i ni gyd yn Nghymru 

 Nicholas Hoyal Abergavenny.

We are always delighted to receive letters of

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every opinion. It may prove necessary to edit letters for space and clarity. Letters should be exclusive to



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Editor I was grateful for Catryn Rowlands' recollections (Letters, Vol 12, Number 3) of the time my father Jonah Jones spent at Ysgol y Gader, Dolgellau, creating a sculpture together with the school students. However, her warm memories also raised a serious point that must not be overlooked. Like too many of the public works in Wales by Jonah, the sculpture at Ysgol y Gader - Y Neges, a piece based on the Mabinogi - no longer exists. I do not know why it was destroyed, but when I visited the site three years ago nothing remained but a small square of cobbles. I suspect "health and safety" considerations prompted the sculpture's dismantlement, but whatever the justification, it was an affront not only to the memory of Jonah but also the efforts of those young students. Perhaps Jonah's most important work in Wales, his great wall sculpture at Coleg Harlech (which was featured on the Hidden Histories programme on BBC2 Wales in 2009), is currently under threat. The student block in which it is housed is due to be demolished in 12 months' time, and no new site has been found for the sculpture. Has anyone got a spare large wall to give a modern masterpiece a home? Peter Jones Caversham, Reading

I have subscribed to your magazine for many years; not quite from the first issue, but fairly close. I always look forward to the wonderful photographs and many interesting articles. Although a work exile from my homeland for many decades, I return often and I closely follow the news from Wales. In all of my readings however I find that there is something vital missing, and in my view that something is a healthy and vigorous debate about the future of Wales. Cambria has long been a supporter of an independent Wales but I have never seen any thorough debate about whether this is the best, or indeed the only way to preserve and revitalise all that is valuable to the Country. Welsh culture, history, language and many of its institutions are important and need not just protection but invigoration and support from the entire spectrum of the population. The Welsh economy is in need of support and invigoration also. We would all like to see a Wales that is economically strong, healthy and with a lively and evolving culture. No argument there your readers might say, but the reality is that in comparison with the rest of the World, Wales is falling further behind in its economy, education and health. The recent news is that despite 11 years and six billion pounds of EU money, the Welsh economy is slipping behind the rest of the EU. Worse, the per capita Gross Domestic Product in the Valleys and in west Wales was at 71% of the EU average and is the lowest in the UK. An article in the

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letters Economist magazine on the 9th of December, 2010 about educational performance in Britain versus other countries across the World, highlighted the continuing decline in the educational attainment of British schoolchildren, but worse than that it contained the following statement: "Though ever greater proportions of British students are passing exams and progressing to university, those tested by the OECD in 2009 did slightly worse than their predecessors in 2006 and much worse than those in 2000. That is almost entirely due to poor performance in Wales, where pass rates in schoolleaving exams have also been falling compared with those in other parts of Britain. " On the 8th of March, 2011, in giving evidence to an inquiry on inward investment, Dr John Balls a lecturer in economics at Swansea University made a statement that was reported on the BBC Wales news page as follows: "Wales is not attracting high quality inward investment due to 'appalling' skill levels and a poor education system, an academic has told MPs". Decades of investment by the WDA in bringing branch factories of foreign companies to Wales has not resulted in much. Now the daily news contains reports of the closing of many of those same factories. All that money and what does Wales have to show for it? Against these dire results I have seen the usual pablum statements from the politicians saying that the numbers are not as bad as they seem or that they are misrepresenting what is really happening. That cannot be true and my many friends and relatives in Wales know that it is not true. The sense of many is that Wales in well on course to becoming a "third World country" dominated by illeducated, unhealthy and underemployed people.


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Its not acceptable to just deny everything or blame it on some other malign external influence. The Welsh people need a thorough and honest assessment of what the desired future for Wales should be and how to get there. Failed political, educational and economic policies need to be dissected and if found wanting, thrown out. Members of the Welsh Assembly need to be challenged too. Are they up to the task? If not they need to either change or leave room for others. Political commentators in your pages have bemoaned the incompetence of many Assembly members. Why are they still there? Plaid Cymru's big idea is to set up an infrastructure fund. What will the building of bridges and roads do if the business is not there in the first place, or if the business cannot find employees with the competencies that they need? As far as I can tell the level of debate on these serious matters in inadequate and for that the blame must fall not just on the political parties but also on media and finally on the electorate who should be demanding better. Wales has a serious problem and it needs to wake up and tackle it. I would hope that Cambria be both the instigator and at the forefront of what should be a vital and spirited National debate. Put everything on the table; challenge; seek the opinions and ideas of as wide a spectrum of people as possible. Let our deeply held ideas be challenged and all of us made to feel uncomfortable with the status quo so that we can really seek out some good solutions to this problem. Let's face it, our beautiful country is showing many signs of relative decline, if not absolute decline, and none of us should be idle at this time. Step to the front Cambria! Robert Heming Houston, Texas, USA

Editor I am writing in response to the article 'The Secret of Rhydymwyn' in Vol 12/3. I would like to point out that the management of the site is wrongly atttibuted to a Wildlife Trust and by inference the North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT). NWWT covers the whole of north Wales from Wrexham to Holyhead and Llandudno to Machynlleth. Among our 33 nature reserves is one that can be compared with Rhydymwyn. It is the old Cooke's Explosives Works at Penrhyndeudraeth, now known as Gwaith Powdwr Nature Reserve. We are managing it to enhance its historic, landscape and wildlife value. We held a successful weekend Arts Festival last June as part of Darganfod Gwynedd, when musicians, poets and artists demonstrated how they have been inspired by the site. One of the highlights was a film of the operation in the 1920's.

For all your motoring needs! Am eich holl gwasanaeth moduro! Serving the local community since 1932 Gwasanaethu y cymuned lleol dda’r 1932

Kate Gibbs Chair North Wales Wildlife Trust

Scene & Word Limited, the private company with charitable aims which was set up to celebrate Jonah's life and career, has recently released a collectors' set entitled 'An Artist's Life in Wales'. This will include a hand- bound copy of Jonah's Gregynog Journals, a CD-Rom showcasing his rarely seen sacred art, and limited edition reproduction prints of three paintings by Jonah. For further information please contact David Townsend Jones at 9 Overland Road, Langland, Swansea SA3 4LS or email

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A Greatly Missed Friend

Rhobert ap Steffan (formerly Robert Hinton), political activist


born Hove, Sussex, 4 February 1948 married 1977 Marilyn Walters (two sons, one daughter) died Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, 11 January 2011.

he menhir at Cilmeri that commemorates the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd is the focus for several hundred patriots who gather there on the anniversary of his death every year. Prominent among them was Rhobert ap Steffan, who from his teens was devoted to the memory of the Prince, and those others who gave their lives in the cause of their country’s freedom down the centuries. He never missed the occasion, not once in forty years, and when he failed to turn up last December there was a sense of unease in the nearby pub to which the crowd had repaired. Something was seriously amiss if ‘Castro’, as Rhobert was known, was not there to join in the act of remembrance. It was he, after all, who had done much to convene the rally over the years. What most present didn’t know was that he had just been diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of cancer and had only a month to live. His zeal for commemorating the heroes of the Welsh Pantheon never faltered. In 2001 he led a campaign to erect a statue of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd ap Fychan in Llandovery. A local squire, ap Fychan led the King’s forces on a wild goose chase across upland mid-Wales so that Owain Glyndwr could muster his forces elsewhere. Captured in 1401, the squire was hanged, drawn and quartered, and his intestines burnt before his eyes: but he refused to divulge Owain’s position, and for this reason he has been called ‘the Welsh Braveheart’. The splendid monument, created by the brothers Toby and Gideon Petersen and made of stainless steel, is now an admired feature of the townscape. Rhobert was also among the leaders of a Welsh contingent which visited Mortagne-sur-Gironde in France for the inauguration of a memorial to Owain Lawgoch (known to the French as Yvain de Galles) a soldier of fortune and claimant Prince of Wales, who was killed during the siege of the castle at Mortagne in 1378. The statue, with a lapidary inscription in Welsh and French, was unveiled by Rosemary Butler, Chair of the National Assembly’s Culture Committee, in 2003. Inevitably, Rhobert took a very active part in the anti-Investiture campaign of 1969. An associate of Cayo Evans, and other leaders of the Free Wales Army, he was never openly implicated in its clandestine activities, preferring to put his skills to good use in staging processions and rallies at which the arms of the House of Gwynedd (‘quarterly de Gu et Or en les quartiers leopards passans de contre couleur’) first made a comeback; the red-and gold flag is now widely seen in Wales, often flying from public buildings together with the Red Dragon. The same


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Cadair Goffa Rhobert ap Steffan Jeremy Wood of Esquel

fondness for heraldic devices prompted Rhobert to found the annual St David’s Day Parade which enlivens the streets of Cardiff. Rhobert also supported the Keep Cornwall Whole campaign when, in 2010, it was proposed to move the boundary with Devon some miles to the west. Indeed, he had contacts and friends in all the Celtic lands as well as in Catalonia and the Basque Country. He shared the general outrage when it was announced that there wouldn’t be a Welsh option on the 2001 Census form. The way he chose to protest was original and effective: he made a coffin in which he collected many thousands of spoiled forms and drove it all over Wales in a hearse, often to applause as it passed through each village and town. The move contributed to a change of heart by the Office of National Statistics, and was a Welsh tick-box on the Census form this year. But there was another side to Rhobert. In 2008, with the naturalist Iolo Williams, he went on a sponsored trek through the Andes in a bid to raise money for Mencap Cymru. Walking twelve miles a day for five weeks, he visited many of the Welsh settlements in Patagonia, taking copies of textbooks and the recently-published Encyclopaedia of Wales for presentation to schools and libraries, and this out of gratitude for having first learnt Welsh in the colony as a young man of 19. As a member of the Patagonia Support Group, he was among those who helped Shirley Edwards, a young Welsh-speaker from Patagonia, to spend some time in Wales after she had been refused entry by the Border Agency. His articles in this magazine (of which he was Editor at Large) were informed with a wit and sense of the absurd which made him an attractive commentator on current affairs in Wales and abroad. Rhobert ap Steffan was born in Hove, Brighton, in 1948, the son of an army chaplain named Hinton. Educated at Porth Grammar School in the Rhondda and Cirencester Agricultural College, after nearly a year in Patagonia he trained as an Art teacher at Barry College of Education. His first teaching job was at Bishop Hedley Roman Catholic School in Merthyr Tydfil; he took early retirement from a similar post at Ysgol Pantycelyn, Llandovery, where he had been Head of the Art Department, devoting his last years to photography, history and patriotic causes. The decision that defined the course of his life was that, while still in his teens, he changed his name to a patronymic form, using no other thereafter and passing it on to his three children.                                                                                                                

Meic Stephens

Meic Davies and Rhobert ap Steffan


he Trevelin Eisteddfod is the proud new owner of an original Welsh Eisteddfod Chair - replacing the one which had to be borrowed every year. The new chair has a fascinating history, having originally been awarded at the Tabernad Chapel Eisteddfod, Aberystwyth, in 1925.

The story of how it came to Patagonia begins some 20 years ago when the Welsh-born but (at the time) Yorkshire-based antiques dealer Rob Clement visited the shop of an ‘Irish Knocker’ (a dealer who bought door-to-door) in Mansfield, Cheshire. The sight of an Eisteddfod chair tucked away amid all the other furniture immediately tugged at Rob’s Welsh heartstrings, and he promptly paid £80 for it. When Rob moved his antiques business to a chapel in Builth Wells he became friendly with Rhobert ap Steffan, the great campaigner for Welsh causes and a love of Patagonia, who soon “relieved” Rob of the chair and took it off to his home in Llangadog. A year earlier Rhobert had visited Patagonia to raise money for Mencap Cymru and his renewed acquaintance with the region rekindled his passion for the place, and he decided the 1925 chair must find a home there, thus prompting more than two years of head scratching - with Jeremy Wood of Esquel- as to how it could be transported Patagonia, short of dismantling it and posting it! Finally, the chair hitched a ride in a container full of personal belongings being shipped to Argentina, where it duly arrived in January of this year, by which time Rhobert had decided it should be offered to the Trevelin Eisteddfod. As the transportation was being sorted, attempts were also being made to find out more about the Chair: who had won it and with what type of work. Unfortunately, however, the Capel Tabernad Eisteddfod records were destroyed in a fire in 2008, and The National Library in Aberystwyth and the Archives Ceredigion held little relevant information. More research turned up a couple of articles from 1925 in the Cambrian News - one predicting stiff competition at the upcoming Easter Eisteddfod and the other (a week later) announcing that a Mr Charles Abel Jones had won the Chair. Could this be the chair? A click on the BBC mid-Wales website revealed that Charles Abel Jones once owned a petrol station in the town: the site also carries reminiscences from two of his grandchildren, one being Peter Henley of Bow Street, an e-mail to him brought the immediate reply that Charles Abel Jones had won no less than seven Eisteddfod chairs! Moreover, each of his seven children had inherited a chair and all but one had, until now, disappeared! Peter Henley also wrote that his grandfather had won the 1925 Tabernacl Eisteddfod chair with a poem entitled

Rob Clement and Jeremy Wood taken by Rhobert ap Steffan

“Parchedig Thomas Lefi 1825-1916” dedicated to the first salaried minister of Capel Tabernacl. A few weeks later, Peter Henley and his daughters found the original winning poem in the National Library (complete with adjudicator’s notes) and, together penned a moving dedication of their chair to the Trevelin Eisteddfod. They also discovered that a member of the family recalled selling a chair many years ago to a door-to-door antique buyer. Rhobert died on the same day the chair arrived in the Andes. And so the Commission of the Trevelin Eisteddfod is very proud to announce that it will be known as Cadair Goffa Rhobert ap Steffan . His name will be as immortal here in Patagonia as it is in Wales.


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Euros Lewis is a proud product of the Rhondda Valley. However, it is the rural communities of the west that have provided him with a base of creativity and energy with which to question both the fragility and resilience of Welsh culture. During his time as Lecturer in Charge of Theatr Felin-fach he instigated radical projects that sought to develop a creative dialogue between cultures. Subsequently he established Cwmni Cydweithredol Troedyrhiw - a co-operative company that produced, in 2010, a whole year of multi-media work dedicated to the re-telling of how the community of Epynt was lost, 70 years previously. In May, 2010 he was appointed Performance and Script-writing Fellow at University of Wales, Trinity St David’s. He has one son, Rhodri, and his wife, Eleri, is part of Tinopolis’  Wedi 3 production team in Llanelli.


ouring a show they had devised themselves about S4C’s on-going crisis my students had quite a shock. The drama - 4 waleS/C england - was the product of intensive discussions they organised on behalf of a channel that they infrequently watch. Indeed, they infrequently watch any television channel. Facebook and other social media applications have generally taken the place of television with regard to this age group. The response of audiences in the village halls and chapel vestries of our Welsh speaking communities was quite a shock to them. Audiences presented them with a depth of feeling and concern about the potential fate of S4C that they were just not prepared for. At the beginning of this year I took part in an open discussion in my own community about the channel’s crisis. Two emotions were prevalent: anger and anxiety. The anger emanated from the UK coalition government’s high-handed treatment of our one and only Welsh medium channel. The anxiety was focussed on its future. Does S4C have one? It’s a good question and one that has almost as many answers as there are interested parties. Some media analysts are concerned that the contractual arrangements between S4C and the small group of largely Cardiffbased companies that supply the bulk of its output will make it very difficult for the channel to manage the severe budget cuts that the government has enforced. Although they are too wary to say it out aloud what they infer is simple: S4C does not have a sustainable future. Not, that is, in its present form. Their worst day scenario is a complete - call-in-the-receivers style - shutdown. Their best guess is that a much smaller and very much less active S4C will be rescued from the ashes. Less active would mean a return to limited hours broadcasting – from 6.00pm until 10.00pm nightly, for example. Such a reduced schedule would mean the end of S4C’s substantial children’s output – an output that is widely


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acclaimed not only for its high production standards but also for its tangible contribution towards delivering a bilingual Wales. Such a reduction would also raise questions about S4C’s presence at our main communal happenings which include the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show as well as the Urdd and the National Eisteddfodau. Whereas television coverage tends to have an adverse effect on sporting events Wales’ principal cultural festivals have doubtlessly enhanced their appeal and effectiveness since the advent of S4C and its comprehensive coverage. Ned Thomas, a veteran of the battle to establish a Welsh channel and an academic with wide experience of international media, has commented that whilst many European broadcasters are heavily dependent on the dubbing of American drama and films to fill their schedules S4C, from the start, has managed to provide us with television that is home-produced through and through. But whilst the harbingers of doom warn us that such a service cannot be taken for granted in the future other, more radical voices say that cutting S4C’s working budget does not necessarily mean a less virile service. Indeed, they argue to the contrary. A slimmer S4C could be more invigorative and much more exciting. Such an argument is based on a presumption that the channel’s guiding figures will translate the funding crisis into an opportunity to re-imagine its role and re-define its raison d’etre to take account of the very different current context of television as a national media and its relationship with the whole issue of the Welsh language in comparison to the days of its inception, almost 40 years ago. In 1982, the Welsh fourth channel was allowed to join BBC 1, BBC 2 and HTV’s collective monopoly of home entertainment. Within the last 10 years the advent of multi-channel digital television followed by the social networking revolution has consigned that situation well and truly to history.

it's future? Similarly, the day-to-day status of the Welsh language is idiomatically partnered by ‘culture’ (iaith a diwylliant). has changed considerably over the same period of time. The radical re-imagining of S4C would re-establish the Forty odd years ago hardly any one of the many professymbiotic link between the language and distinctive culsional agencies that now plan and promote the language ture of Wales. Such a step could be very far reaching. It at national, regional and local level existed. Most imporcould even provide us with the power of self-belief. tantly of all, there was no Welsh Assembly Government It was understanding the battle fought by a determined to take political responsibility for the language and to few that enthused my students to create a drama out of instigate progressive initiatives across the boundaries of S4C’s crisis. all devolved matters. The students who wrote and performed 4 waleS/C england are from a variety of linguistic backgrounds. They would not have gathered together on a Welshmedium university course were it not for the bilingual educational provision whose widespread blossoming is indicative of the changes The Annual Reference Book Wales has undergone since S4C of Public Affairs in Wales was first launched. Language commentators attribute much of the Wales in Westminster: success of the bilingual schools Select Committee on Welsh Affairs movement to the change in attiSecretary of State, the Wales Office tude towards the Welsh language Register of MPs’ Interests, etc effected by S4C’s early success. Guide to the 2011 Assembly Election: From being the language of all our Electoral facts, History and Analysis yesterdays it became the lingua Members and Candidates franca of a confident and ambiProspects and Predictions tious young and creative energy. Doomsday could still happen The National Assembly for Wales: – not least if S4C is to become Membership of Committees merely an esoteric department Questions & Contributions to Debate within the BBC’s vast and hierarRegister of AMs’ Interests, etc chical empire. Surely the radicals’ Welsh Assembly Government: approach is the only possible way The Cabinet, Policy Portfolios, of ensuring a meaningful future Partnership Councils for the channel. Such an approach The Welsh Civil Service would engender the development of a broadcasting strategy that Welsh Local Government: is based on the multi-channel Principal Officers and multi-platform reality of Executive Members and Cabinets the moment. Such an approach Details for all elected County Councillors would ensure that S4C, and its world-wide potential, is seen as an essential component within the Order online at burgeoning framework of a gual nation. In Welsh, ‘language’

TheWales Yearbook

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Eifion Lewis


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S4C What of opinion

TThe The The he

TTaffymander Taffymander Taffymander affymander  






he first democratic nation in the world, the United States, came into being in 1789. It tells you something about democratic politicians that it only took them 20 years to work out how to thwart the voters and rig the voting system in their own favour. In 1809 Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry realized that his opponents got most of their votes from the outlying parts of the state (which is roughly square in shape). His own voters were mostly in the centre of the square. So he drew the boundaries of the six constituencies to which Massachusetts was then entitled in such a way that one huge, long, very thin district curled around the edge of the square.  It contained almost all his opponents, and of course they won it by a huge majority.  The other five constituencies - central and compact - each had a small majority for Gerry, since the opposition voters were almost all in the long thin outer edge district.  This outrageous long thin monstrosity was called "Gerry's salamander", from whence our term "gerrymander". While most people are presently focussing on the AV referendum, the new Conservative government is also planning to reduce radically the number of MPs in Parliament.  The details are not yet completely settled, but the principle is that all seats should have exactly the same number of voters, as near as possible. What this means for Wales is (a) that, since Welsh seats are much smaller than average, Wales will lose a lot; not knowing the exact details yet, it will go down from 40 seats at the last election to somewhere between 18-26 seats at the next one; and (b) there are going to be amalgamations, divisions and other surgery on the existing seats to make this reduction.  This will give scope for rigging the vot-


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ing system geographically, i.e. for gerrymandering. There is an easy way to calculate the approximate effects of this, which is the point of this article.  Welsh seats are so small at present that, if you combine them two by two, without any other surgery, they come out almost exactly equal. So I simply draw a map of the present Welsh seats, combine each one with one of its neighbours, add the votes for each party in the two seats, and predict the winner in the combined seat.  The number of seats goes down from 40 to 20. But which seat to combine with which neighbour? The answer turns out to be surprisingly simple, the reason basically being that Wales is such a peculiar shape, with a lot of "sticking-out bits", and a "thin bit in the middle." American political scientists (who know all about gerrymandering) speak learnedly of "corner" seats and "isthmus" seats. I prefer to say  "promontory" seats like Lly^ n, and a "Mid-Wales bloc" in the thin middle. The most extreme promontory seat is Ynys Mon, whose only connection with the mainland is with the Arfon seat across the Menai Strait . There is no other natural way of combining it with any other part of Wales. The "natural" way of amalgamating seats is to add the votes in these two: 2010 Seat Ynys Mon Arfon New Seat

PC 9029 9383 18412

Lab 11490 7928 19418

C 7744 4416 12160

LD 2592 3666 6258

 I will explain shortly what I mean by "natural".  For now, notice that one Labour seat and one Plaid seat are

folded into a Labour marginal. The map then dictates that, if promontory seats can only be combined with the neighbouring mainland, the next promontory (Lly^ n = Meirionnydd & Dwyfor seat) can only combine naturally with the Tory seat of Aberconwy. The adding-up procedure then gives a marginal PC seat with the loss of one Conservative seat. The next promontory is the Penfro peninsula in the South-West, which is big enough for two seats (Pembroke S. & Carmarthen W., and Preseli). The only natural combination is to put them together. Since both are held by the Tories, the new seat will be safe for them. The Mid-Wales bloc at present contains four seats. Given the way the six promontory seats are forced to combine as above, there are only two ways of pairing the Mid-Wales four: an east-west pairing (Ceredigion + Montgomery and Brecon-Radnor + Carmarthen E.-Dinefor) or a north-south pairing (Ceredigion with Carmarthen E., Brecon-Radnor with Montgomery).  The Cambrian mountains are a natural dividing line; there are cultural differences between the borderlands of Powys and the Welsh-speaking west. The natural pairing is thus the north-south one. If so, the new Ceredigion+ Carmarthen E. seat is marginal for Plaid Cymru, and the Powys seat (Brecon-Radnor-Montgomery) is Lib-Dem. The remaining 30 present-day seats can be paired in almost any way you please.  However, they have one thing in common - they form compact blocs in the North-East and South-East which are so strongly Labour that, whichever pairing you choose, all pairs except two will still be won by Labour after pairing. The current Liberal Cardiff Central seat and Conservative Cardiff N. and Vale of Glamorgan will be swamped by any possible neighbouring Labour-held partner. The two exceptions are Clwyd W. in the North-East and Monmouth in the South-East, which are both strongly Conservative enough to overcome possible Labour partners. The possible partners for Monmouth are the two Newport town seats and Torfaen; I regard the Torfaen option as the only natural one. The situation is less obvious for Clwyd W.; I have rather arbitrarily chosen the  Denbighshire pairing Clwyd W. + Clwyd S. In any case, the new seat is again Tory. I won’t go into detail about any other pairings in the North-East and South-East, because they will all be Labour. My predictions are: 

Party PC Labour Conservative Lib. Dem.

Old Seats 3 26 8 3

New Seats 2 4 3 1

Loss of Possible Marginals           seats (incumbent) 33% Ynys Mon + Arfon (Lab) 46% Monmouth + Torfaen (Con) 63% Dwyfor-Meirion. + Aberconwy (PC) 67% Ceredigion + Carmarthen E. (PC)

So, while Wales as a whole of course loses, within Wales Plaid come out relatively well.  This may appear surprising, but it is due to the way Welsh speakers are distributed, since they are Plaid's core. They form a compact bloc (the "Bro") in the west and particularly in the promontory seats. The promontories lose by being forced to expand, but they can only "naturally" expand into the adjacent mainland, which itself is strongly Welsh-speaking. The opposite is true for the Tories and Liberals, whose support is scattered across Wales. Expanding any of their seats brings in supporters from another party (PC or Labour).   Finally, how to recognize a gerrymander once the new map has been drawn in a year or two?  I have indicated in this article the pairings of seats which I consider "natural". Any departure from the natural arrangements for the named seats should be suspect (for example) promontory seats not being combined with the adjacent mainland) - a "taffymander", so to speak. 

Map nos., seats (old) in text: 2, Aberconwy 4, Arfon 6, Brecon & Radnor 9, Cardiff C. 10, Cardiff N. 13, Carmarthen W. & Pembroke S. 14, Carmarthen E. & Dinefor 15, Ceredigion 16, Clwyd S. 17, Clwyd W. 20, Dwyfor & Meirionnydd 25, Monmouth 26, Montgomery 28, Newport E. 29, Newport W. 32, Pembroke Preseli 36, Torfaen 38, Vale of Glamorgan 40, Ynys Mon


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Warning from History Part II


Wyn Thomas

hortly before midnight, on investiture eve, one of the four MAC active units armed by John Jenkins to protest the ceremony, were killed as they apparently planted a device outside the Social Security office in Abergele. The two men, Alwyn Jones and George Taylor, were killed instantly. Since the death of her father, Jennie Evans, George Taylor’s daughter, has argued passionately that her father was not in MAC, but was instead trying to talk his friend from undertaking what she calls ‘a foolish act’. This view is challenged by John Jenkins, who claims Mr. Taylor’s daughter - just three at the time of her father’s death - was not in a position to know. Moreover, an entire family might be unaware that a father, brother or husband was involved. It was not, Jenkins says tellingly, a ‘matter brought up at the breakfast table’. It is a belief supported by some former police officers, who also believe George Taylor had no reason to join Alwyn Jones unless actively involved. The fact that Abergele is en route for Caernarfon, has also led some to claim the bombers were attempting to target the railway track, or indeed, the Royal Train, which was scheduled to pass through the town that night. Despite the tantalizing conjecture, it is a claim dismissed by both John Jenkins and a number of police officers. With Jenkins stating that ever mindful of the ‘hearts and minds’ philosophy which underpinned MAC doctrinaire code, any attempt to target the Royal Party to have been hitherto recognized as ‘massively counterproductive’ in political terms; as indeed would injury suffered by police officers, who, Jenkins was further informed through a police contact, were ‘patrolling the rail line in Abergele searching for devices throughout the evening’. This same police contact, Jenkins attests, could have provided information as to the time the Royal Train was passing through Abergele, if this information he so desired. Yet, it was not requested, as it was utterly superfluous to his intentions. Not all shared their commander’s reasoning, says Jenkins, with some in MAC regarding an attack on the prince as wholly justified. Whatever the truth surrounding the appalling Abergele incident, at 2.00 pm the following afternoon, just before the Royal Party began their horse-drawn journey to Caernarfon Castle, an explosion was heard moments after the traditional 21 Royal Gun Salute of welcome. It was deliberately timed to undermine the prestige of the salute, admits John Jenkins, by adding a twenty second. As the procession continued, the third of the four devices - which comprised the protest - was meant to explode. It


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did not. Despite some degree of public discontent during the ceremony, rude gestures and so on, there was no more militant activity. The day after the investiture, the fourth device was reputedly located at Llandudno pier, where, minutes later, Prince Charles was due to come ashore from the Royal Yacht Britannia, to begin a tour through Wales. It was ‘reputedly’ discovered, because official sources deny a device was found. This is sharply contested by John Jenkins, who claims that officers and the judicial establishment played down its discovery. But what of the third device? Four days after the ceremony, in what is surely regarded as the nadir of the entire campaign, 10-year-old English lad, Ian Cox holidaying in Caernarfon - was badly injured when he disturbed a package while retrieving his football from a garden. The bomb was meant to have detonated as the royal procession to Caernarfon Castle went by. It was intended, John Jenkins states ‘to serve as a disruption’ and not ‘to cause injury or damage’. However, placed beneath two large oil containers - empty as it transpired, but the MAC saboteurs were presumably unaware of this - it can only be imagined what the result might have been, had the device ignited the oil through its activation. Nonetheless, with regard to the injuries sustained by Ian Cox, there are those - and this is not a view shared by John Jenkins - who claim it was unfortunate ‘collateral damage’; that the state itself, having engineered the spectacle for its own political ends, should be held to account. Yet, others believe such injuries to a tenyear-old boy can never be justified; whatever the political cause. Furthermore, that the MAC campaign had derailed itself morally and was now dangerously out of control. Asked why the authorities were not notified of the unexploded device, John Jenkins resolutely declared they were. But, having alerted the police to the bomb’s location, any attempt to retrieve the device was thus prevented, owing to the likelihood the site was being watched. It is an explanation regarded by many as insufficient. As a spectacle of Royal pageantry, the investiture was a success. So too did it appeal to ‘mainstream’ Welsh public opinion. It also succeeded largely, in sending the political message that Wales ‘rightfully’ belonged in the union of British nations. The apparent warmth shown by the people of Wales towards Prince Charles as he toured the country following the ceremony, suggests the investiture had struck a chord and that he was held in some fair degree of affection. However, the investiture did not attract the 200,000 expected visitors to Caernarfon, with only 70,000 - 100,000 attending. Crucially, it was not the jamboree or carnival that organizers and royal and government officials hoped

for. The heavy security presence on the day, and the undermining of the royal salute, was enough to ensure the militants could claim with some justification, to having undermined the prestige of the occasion. Asked for his opinion, John Jenkins replied that while people have said the military won because the investiture went ahead, these people had simply missed the point. ‘To cancel the ceremony, was never our objective’, he said. ‘It would have been the ‘icing on the cake’, but with Plaid Cymru’s refusal to lead a protest, that was never going to happen. However, had the party formally stated its intention to lead a mass sit-down in Caernarfon; had the authorities feared an outbreak of militancy, then I’m sure’ Jenkins declared, ‘it would have been cancelled. They’d have claimed that Charles had a terrible cold; anything’, he added, ‘which offered a diplomatic way out’. So did Plaid Cymru benefit from the militant campaign? Certainly John Jenkins and other former activists believe it did. And there is evidence that prior to the explosion at Clywedog in March 1966, party canvassers in industrial south Wales, were robustly asked ‘what is Plaid Cymru?’. Following the explosion, this did appear to change. Interestingly, the vote for Plaid Cymru despite Gwynfor Evans losing the Carmarthen seat - did peak at the 1970 General Election when, following the ‘British occasion’ of the investiture, it might have been expected to fall. However, there is a contrary view: that support for Plaid Cymru was already falling in the months before the militant campaign ended. And that more importantly, it was not militant action that Plaid Cymru profited from, but rather the Labour Party’s poor economic record, its mishandling of the Aberfan financial settlement issue and the tip clearance controversy. Subsequently, when the more acute memories of the Aberfan disaster began to fade, the Labour Party’s electoral fortunes in Wales were revived. As for the party president, it has since emerged that Gwynfor Evans did privately acknowledge the benefit of some degree of direct action to both the political advance of Plaid Cymru and the nationalist agenda, but to have stated so publicly would have proved electoral suicide. So, what were the short and long-term objectives of the wider campaign, and can it today be considered successful? ‘Considering what our objectives were’, John Jenkins recently declared, ‘it was a success. It was to draw attention to a democratic deficit, through a hearts and minds approach: a political objective at all time. Despite what was said, it was not about stopping the people of Liverpool per se from receiving water, but to draw attention to the unfairness of what was happening. Dramatic action, namely, a campaign of direct militancy, proved to be the answer. The media - even the English media - could not ignore it; and this press attention

raised questions among the Welsh populace. It was not a call for ‘armed revolution’, as was alleged’, Jenkins added, ‘but rather the first, incremental step on the road to constitutional change’. It is a view given countenance by Denis Coslett of the Free Wales Army. He also believed the pathway to the National Assembly began - to some degree - with the campaign of propaganda undertaken by the FWA. Today, the campaign of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru is regarded in certain Welsh circles as a ‘sacred cow’. A brilliantly orchestrated strategy above reproach; and in strictly combative terms, it did prove a worthy opposition. It achieved notable successes: including, the breaking of an apparently unbreachable steel water pipeline in June 1968. However, there is evidence that after the investiture, one senior MAC official wanted to take the struggle to a higher level of militancy. And for all but the most ardent supporter, this is the problem. For although John Jenkins can claim with justification that the militant campaign received a fair degree of acquiescent support throughout Wales, what troubles people is where it might have ended. John Jenkins is a man of integrity and intelligence, but a bomb in the hands of one lacking his scruples does not bear thinking about. A campaign of militant action is - by its nature - a process of escalation. Certainly history would suggest so; a series of increasing responses, either from the state or the militants. Such a campaign of violence therefore, ultimately destroys - or certainly threatens to destroy - the very community it seeks to protect. That said, the MAC campaign did unite, to some degree, those from different political and cultural backgrounds. The bombers were seen - rightly or wrongly - as ‘standing up for Wales’. This appears to have created a certain degree of pride and unity throughout the nation. It did not go unnoticed in Whitehall Jenkins believes. ‘Never again will the authorities take Wales for granted’, he has remarked. Interestingly, it should be noted that no further valleys in Wales have been flooded since the campaign of direct action. Arrested in November 1969, in April 1970, John Jenkins was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, Frederick Ernest Alders to six years. Despite this, many questions remain unanswered. By looking at the geographical spread of the explosions, it is quite apparent Jenkins and Alders did not act alone. Yet, despite a belief that between fifteen and twenty men were actively involved in the campaign, no one has been tried, let alone convicted, for undertaking protest in the name of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru. The efforts of the police have not been helped by John Jenkins, the group’s leader and able strategist, who has resolutely refused to name or implicate anyone else to this day.


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of them redundant. All over the country, though, their track-beds remain. Our theoretical line revives several of them, and links them by new construction into one national route. The Trans-Cambrian Express starts its journey at Caernarfon, in the far north-west, and travels due east along the northern coast almost to the English border. It then turns south, through the Denbigh hills, the lush counties of the Marches and the highlands of the Brecon Beacons until it reaches the industrial southlands, and lunges through the old coal valleys to Cardiff and the Bristol Channel. Along the way it has passed through many kinds of Welshness, experiencing many sorts of landscape, collecting many historical sensations, and has thus become in itself a sort of Welsh anthology. It starts its in the north-west corner of Wales, the

Jan Morris


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longer here than in any other part of Wales – on and off since the days of the Neanderthals. Over the hills to the east, out of sight towards the English border, are the sprawled conurbations of north-east Wales, but it is generous agricultural country that our train rolls complacently through. Poets and divines have thrived here. Sheep do well, and so do old churches, and so did Twm O’r Nant, the great Welsh dramatist of the 18th century. At 1820 feet the hill called Moel Famau is the most prominent landmark of the valley, rising to our left, but even it has a soothing quality: Mendelssohn stayed in its lee in 1829, but was inspired only to write one of his less exhilarating works - The Rivulet, Opus 16 No 4. The railway first reached these parts in the 1860s, but it never greatly changed the character of the valley; and one might think that even the Trans-Cambrian, escap-


his is an account of a virtual journey – an imaginary journey, possibly chimerical, but certainly not inconceivable. It postulates the existence of a direct railway line, the Trans-Cambrian Railway, connecting North and South Wales without crossing the English border. Such a line has never existed, and its creation now would not only be of social, economic and touristic value, but would also powerfully confirm the national identity of Wales. For centuries a weakness of the Welsh psychology has been the subconscious conviction that the north and south of the country are inherently different from one another, perhaps even hostile – a sensation traditionally heightened by the fact that to take a train from Caernarfon to Cardiff, say, one must go via Crewe or Shrewsbury in England. People in north Wales often resent the interfering authority of their distant capital in Cardiff: people in the south tend to regard the northern counties as peripheral to national concerns. The opening of a direct rail route, then, from one end of Wales to the other, would be a national epiphany, and that is what our conceptual railway engineers have in mind. In its postulate condition the Trans-Cambrian sometimes makes use of existing lines, but more often relies upon the restoration of disused tracks that were once part of a lively internal railway network. For years these had been the pride of a clutch of small companies, but successive rationalization schemes, culminating in the drastic Beeching reforms of the 1960s, made nearly all


or Merlin to the historical figures of Llewelyn the Great or the final rebel hero Owain Glyndwr. Vaguer figures and suggestions haunt those mountains too – dragons, fairies or demons still alive in the profoundest depths of the Welsh imagination, holy men and magic cattle and floating islands, quarrymen and copper miners, not to mention the hundreds of climbers who are probably even at this moment, even as we speed by, clinging to cliffs or struggling up couloirs over there. But to the north of us, to our left, a very different scene unfolds. We are scudding along the holiday coasts of Gwynedd and Conway. The weather fortunately being fine, the Irish Sea looks as blue as the Mediterranean, and one by one we pass through a succession of seaside resorts, all too often attended by vastly regimented caravan sites, and ranging in style from sinks of vulgarity to

top left, where it might be said that the modern history of Wales starts too. Here the mountain massif of Snowdonia comes down to the sea, and here the medieval power of the English State finally suppressed the authority of the independent Welsh princes. In this part of the country history decreed that for 800 years, into our own time, the notion of a Welsh nation was to be little more than a dream. It is a highly symbolical landscape, and it is only proper that hardly a stone’s-throw from the Trans-Cambrian terminal should loom the greatest of all the English castles of Wales, stern, terrific, magnificently brooding above the town, and so symbolical of English supremacy that as recently as 1969 the heir to the British throne could be invested within its walls, with full imperial flummery, as titular Prince of Wales. Caernarfon Castle is an ironic historical landmark, a marvelous but dreadful icon, to signal the beginning of our journey Hardly have we pulled out of the station than we join the present-day London to Holyhead railway route, in its time the main link between England and Ireland. Now the symbolism shifts. Almost at once the first foot-hills of Snowdonia appear to our right, and for the next fifty miles we shall see them there, grey, blue and green on our own summer morning, flecked with white snow in winter. They are mountains of almost sacred meaning to Welsh patriots, revered as the last stronghold of ancient liberties. They are haunted by the memories of famous men, from misty half-legendary champions like Arthur

the elegant late Georgian resort of Llandudno. They offer us yet another historical reference, for they rose to prosperity in Victorian times in the wake of the new railroad, direct predecessor to our own track today. This brought huge influxes of English visitors and settlers from the big cities of Merseyside, and the coastal towns have never faltered in their Anglicization since. And look – away out there at sea! – see them? The long white row of offshore windmills, lazily rotating, which remind us that Wales is as subject as anywhere else to the demands, the anxieties and the undeniable beauties of modernity. At 53.32N, 3.48W, the Trans-Cambrian leaves the line to London, and turning directly south, enters another kind of Wales. This is the fertile Vale of Clwyd. The highlands of the Clwydian Range, which bound it to the east, are gentle and rounded, less like mountains, more like hills, and a far cry from the rumourous majesty of Snowdonia. Sheep speckle the fields wherever we look, and the towns we pass by look prosperously snug. There is a friendly little cathedral at St Asaph. The castle at Denbigh is not threatening. It is true that Ruthin, half way down the valley, is where Glyndwr began his rising against the English, in 1400, but it looks eminently peaceful today, half-timbered around the relic of a castle that is now a hotel. Three hundred years ago Daniel Defoe described this country as “a most pleasant, fruitful, populous and delicious vale”, and it is claimed that people have been living

ing from the dramas of the northern coast, and aware of more demanding routes to come, is tempted to freewheel through the valley of the Clwyd. But presently we find ourselves on the edge of the Great Welsh Desert, the slab of wild highland that dominates the centre of the country. We catch a glimpse of the infant Dee, at the very beginning of its journey to the sea, and the easy-going countryside of the Clwyd gives way to rougher stuff when the Trans-Cambrian swerves to the south-east and labours through the Berwyn moorlands – partly through a brand new tunnel. No freewheeling here! In winter the roads can be impassable, for its gradients are dramatic. There is almost nowhere in Wales where one is far from harsh high country, and the heather-covered Berwyns give us a transient imprression of wilderness. There are some marvels hidden away in them, too. Away to our left, especially if we have been having wet weather, we may catch a glimpse of a white streak among the hills and trees. It is Pistyll Rhaeadr, the waterfall that is traditionally one of the Wonders of Wales, and whose waters throw themselves suddenly and violently down a 300-foot gulley. On the other side of the track, in contrast, is one of the holiest and most peaceful places in Wales, the little shrine of the 8th century Saint Melangell: an ancient legend made her the patron saint of hares, and animal-loving pilgrims still make their way to the shrine that contains her relics. A small town or two, some isolated villages, and pres-


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ently our train emerges upon the banks of the greatest of the Welsh rivers, the Severn – Hafren - which has risen in the mountains to the west, and is on its way to the Bristol Channel to the south. We are almost on the English border, in the Marcher country that was for centuries in fief to Anglo-Norman barons. The lordly Powis Castle at Welshpool is now a tourist showplace embedded in gardens, but its massive strength reminds us that here too the Welsh princes resisted the onslaughts of the Anglo-Normans, and soon on our left we can see the little town of Montgomery which is the very model of a Marcher settlement: its Norman castle dominates its huddled houses, its eponymous founder was a conquering swell from Saint-Fol-de-Montgomerie in Calvados, and even its Welsh name, Trefaldwy remembers the dominance of a Baldwin. To the south now we may glimpse a bumpy line of mountains, the most formidable we have seen since Snowdonia. They are the Brecon Beacons, some more than 2,000 feet high, and eventually we must get through them on our way to the southern sea. First, though, the Trans-Cambrian must leave the Marches and the Severn. From the market town of Llanidloes a deceptively remote and beautiful stretch of pastoral country takes it across the headwaters of the Wye. Its only real village is at the cross-roads of St Harmon, which lies strangely silent and empty in a green plateau. In this lonely place, we are told, the 5th-century Welsh Quisling Vortigern (Gwrtheyrn to the Welsh), having collaborated with the invading Saxons took refuge from his own people: and if we think of him as our train sweeps through the hamlet we may well spare a thought too for the diarist Francis Kilvert, who was rector here in the 1870s, and who described his church, when he first set eyes upon it, as “simply hideous…my heart sank within me like stone”. Larger loom those distant mountains now, as we follow the Wye southwards, through the once fashionable Welsh spa country – Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells, Llangamarch Wells, past the moorlands of Epynt to our right, depopulated by the army during World War 2, and the sumptuous Black Mountains to our left, in whose lee shelters the book town of Y Gelli, Hay-onWye. We run along the bank of Llangorse Lake, Llyn Syffadan: Defoe said of this mere that it was “attended by many fables, not worth relating”: but he was wrong, because one of the fables, concerning a city drowned in the lake, has been confirmed by the discovery in its depths of a prehistoric stilted village. And presently, crossing the river Usk, we are among the Beacons. The highest peaks are to our right, and the Trans-Cambria winds its way through a country of firwoods, sudden clearings, water, sometimes there is no sign of life at all. Sometimes a valley swarms with sheep,


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or a sudden clutch of helmeted cyclists appears. This is National Park country, our first since Snowdonia, and it is carefully preserved; but it is the last such landscape we shall see, because before long we pass out of the Beacons, say goodbye to wild Wales, and see before us the coal and iron valleys of Glamorgan. A high ridge, the Heads of the Valleys, gives our first view of them, and it is proper that a presiding landmark in these parts is the vast 19th-century sham castle built for the unbelievably rich and notoriously horrid ironmaster William Crawshay. For in another kind these valleys are as full of legend as Snowdonia itself, and if we consult our map we shall see that we are surrounded by names famous in social history or folklore – Rhymney and Rhondda, fateful Aberfan, Abertillery, Ebbw or Pontypridd. In the days when King Coal ruled the economy of Wales, and these narrow valleys were crowded with heavy industry, the landscape before us was how the whole world saw Wales: blackened with soot, jam-packed with mean houses, with smoke everywhere, and pit-wheels turning, and miners’ wives gossiping in doorways in flowered pinafores. This was the country of How Green Was My Valley. This is where the comedians came from, and the rugby players, and where the miners died in a


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Death of a Tradition opinion

hundred tragedies. We are, after all, in the valley of the Taf, where Taffy the Welshman himself was born. Today there are no coal mines here. The principal industry of Wales is tourism now, rural calm is the propagated image of the nation, and the valleys themselves have been transformed. Wherever we look the old terraces are still there, lining the valley walls and creeping up into the bare hills above, but they have been so revivified, so scoured of coal-dust and decay, that with their narrow twisted streets and occasional towered town halls they look almost picturesque. Economically the valleys, their old purposes lost, are still among the most deprived parts of all Europe: humanly they are still full of spirit and character. There are five main valleys, all running in rough parallel southward to the sea and the seaports, and they still seem to emanate more vigour, more hope and more fun than anywhere else on our journey.. And if you look above those serried terraces, the crowded streets, the chapels and the football pitches, you will discover that up there, between each of the valleys there is empty moorland still. In the old days this is where the miners flew their pigeons and fought their prize-fights, and up there hundreds of ponies still run half-wild in the pristine air, as though the iron-masters’ furnaces had never blazed in the night below them, and the pit-sirens never sounded. The urban landscape thickens as we go, the roads out there are more crowded, suburbs merge into city streets, and so after an hour or so the Trans-Cambrian enters the city of Cardiff. Down past the city centre it goes, past the mass of Cardiff Castle, until its coaches slide at last into the brand new terminal station of Tiger Bay; and then, as we step on to its elegant slate-slabbed platform we shall see, close at hand, the pavilion of Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru, the National Assembly of Wales, bravely flying the banner of the Red Dragon at the water’s muddy edge. We have travelled perhaps 300 miles, since we boarded the train at Caernafon, seen some of the principal Welsh mountains, a few of the Welsh towns and several of the chief Welsh rivers – Wye, Severn, Usk, Clwyd, Dee. We have used the track-beds of one existing railway company, Railtrack, and seven that are extinct – the London and North-Western Railway, the Great Western Railway, the Cambrian Railway, the Mid-Wales Railway, the Brecon and Merthyr Railway and the Great Western and Rhymney Joint Highland Railway. Now and then along the way we have seen the remains of their buildings. There are some pompous old termini, like those at Welshpool or Newtown, which have survived the passing of their companies to be shops or warehouses. There are a few modest little trackside stations, some so pleasantly converted into homes that you might never recognize


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them as stations at all, A cutting here, a tunnel there – sometimes what is left of the old railways is of archaeological interest by now. At least they are real. The Trans-Cambrian Express is only a train of the imagination, a dream-train – but what a dream! In our few hours of comfortable travel (for the Trans-Cambria would be wasted if it were not air-conditioned and equipped with dining-car and observation coach) we have seen contrasting kinds of country, been subject to diverse influences, recalled successive phases of history, and have found our own imaginations stimulated by so many and such varied suggestions. Strange and wonderful place-names have streamed past our windows. Myths and wonders have been evoked. We have seen the wind-farms of the Irish Sea, young Mr Kilvert aghast at his church door at St Harmon, swaggering Normans, the long white plume of Pistyll Rhayader, Melangell, Twm O’r Nant, miners at their moorland fisticuffs. All this we have seen, if only in the mind’s eye, but more importantly, we have seen a nation – not the whole of it of course, but the whole gist of it, laid out for our consideration from top left to bottom right, and down the middle too. If the Trans-Cambrian Express should ever graduate from the virtual to the real, it would give a grand new pride of unity to the people of Wales, and a noble experience of life and travel to everyone else.


Siôn Jobbins

The ‘forgetting’ of God Save the Queen


id you see the TV report about the day a little peasant people snubbed a glorious Crown? Did you read the paper the day the Welsh stopped singing God Save the Queen? Me neither. But it happened. The questions are when, how … and why wasn’t the revolution on the television? It’s funny how significant movements in Welsh society don’t get reported on the news whilst weather reports that it will rain (again!) in Wales, do. So, when did that stop and a little part of Britishness die? The change happened gradually. The tradition for decades at Wales’s international football matches was to play both Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and God Save the Queen (GSQ). But for the Wales v Austria game on 19 November 1975 it was decided not to play God Save the Queen before the match. Why this game? It was billed as the most crucial game in the recent history of Welsh football. Maybe the organisers felt Wales needed the full backing of the crowd at Wrexham – and thought that singing GSQ didn’t go down too well with all Welsh fans. Wales won the match. But the British anthem was played again for the Wales v Hungary match in 1976 and at the game with West Germany in 6 October 1976. In that game the programme notes that GSQ would be played at the conclusion of the game and that the players would stay on the field. This compromise arrangement was decided possibly because it had been expected that the Queen would be in attendance as Patron of the Football Association of Wales in its centenary year. But GSQ was on its wobbly last legs and into extra time. The Wales v Czechoslovakia game on 30 March 1977, just five months later and yes, in the Queen’s Jubilee year, was the first international where GSQ would not be played. If the past is a foreign country, then today playing the British royal anthem, is, like Czechoslovakia, a distant memory of a far away land. Trawls through the newspapers of the time make no reference to this symbolic event. It seems that 30 March 1977 can be officially noted as the day a tradition died. It’s a headstone date – if not a headline one.

The change didn’t go totally unnoticed – not by the English FA at least. At Wembley in 1977, the England officials refused to play Hen Wlad fy Nhadau during the ‘Home International’ football match against Wales. Phil Stead, who is writing a book on the history of Welsh football, believes that the English decision may have been a reaction to Wales’s decision not to play ‘the Queen’ at the Czechoslovakia match. The Welsh players, lead by John Mahoney and Terry Yorath bravely remained in line in defiant protest after the rendition of GSQ despite the English officials’ panic as they tried to usher the team away. As Phil noted, ‘they only broke the line once they felt their point was made’. The change in national anthems at Wales’s football matches followed, and was probably encouraged by a similar set of events on the rugby field. Leading historian of Welsh sport and society, Professor Gareth Williams, says the dual anthem issue came to a head in rugby in 1974: ‘the year of the fuss’ he called it. In that year it was decided not to play GSQ as one of Wales’s dual anthems in Cardiff and rather sing only Hen Wlad fy Nhadau. In 1974 when Wales played England at Twickenham the English Rugby union retaliated against the perceived snub later that year by not playing Hen Wlad fy Nhadau at all. However, whilst the band didn’t play the Welsh anthem, the Welsh crowd sang the anthem as an act of defiance. So, what was going on? Was this a resurgent, nationalist Wales, awoken, like Arthur by the sound of the bell? Well, the 1960s and 1970s did certainly see a rise in a politicized Welsh identity. But it wasn’t that simple – it never is. For every two steps towards Welsh nationality there was one step back. In fact, the more I think of it


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the more amazed I am that the Wales of the 1970s decided not to sing GSQ at all. The 1970s is famous for its iconic pulling down of monolingual English road signs so vividly captured by the protest songs and photos of the longhaired radicals. However, how many today also remember that Barry Jones MP, Labour’s Under Secretary for State at the Welsh Office, refused to attend the official opening of the new Llanelltyd road near Dolgellau in protest against Gwynedd County Council’s decision to place Welsh above English on the road signs? On 4 November 1975, for instance, a fortnight before the Austria game, two nationalists, Iestyn Garlick (who now makes the announcements at the Millennium Stadium) and Gethin Clwyd were arrested for daubing anti-royalist slogans on Caernarfon Castle in preparation for the Queen’s visit. But as we know during the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977 Wales looked as if it had been squeezed through a tube of toothpaste and come out all red, white and blue. During 1977 there was much talk of the Kilbrandon Report on devolution for Wales and Scotland. There’s a melancholic feeling to reading the passionate letters and optimistic inky pamphlets discussing the dreamed-of 100 Assembly in Mount Stuart Square: we know that it was all to end in a crushing defeat for devolution in 1979. There’s little written evidence of booing God Save the Queen and although the TV and radio commentators would try to ignore it, it certainly happened. The booing was nationalistic but there was also an element of goodnatured chiding of the opposition. It was pantomime politics. After all, the least Welsh of songs was meant to be sung at a time when it was expected the fans to be their most Welsh! Gareth Williams suggested it might also have been the banality of the apolitical which killed the anthem. When Wales played there could be three anthems – Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, God Save the Queen plus the anthem of the opposing side. For many it just added unnecessary tedium and delay to the kick off. It wasn’t just politics which got rid of the anthem then, the empire was conquered by the low boredom threshold of the players and fans! ‘Maybe by the 1970s’, as Gareth Williams recalls, ‘more than anything else God Save the Queen seemed an embarrassment.’ But why wasn’t dropping God Save the Queen – the British state anthem after all – not opposed more vigorously by the British establishment? Perhaps part of the answer is because the media reports ‘events’ which it sees as news – it doesn’t report trends.


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As Ron Davies would say the death of GSQ was a ‘process not an event’ and so it wasn’t ‘news’. It was what I’d call, ‘a forgetting’. The Welsh ‘forgot’ to sing the anthem in the same way many of them ‘forgot’ the Welsh language in a previous generation. It was a conscious decision unconsciously done. A very Welsh process if ever there was one. If it weren’t for the ‘event’ of the census charting the decline of Welsh, then the decline of Welsh wouldn’t be ‘news’ it would have been a ‘process’. And ‘processes’, as the Bretons know because the French census has no question on the language people speak, isn’t a ‘news’ item and so is denied a rallying point. The same may be sure of GSQ. I’d also add that GSQ is not a very affectionate anthem. The words feel ill fitting even for many people who are far away from Welsh nationalism. It’s a cold anthem. It’s turgid too except for the ascending notes leading to ‘send her victorious’ line. It hardly endeared itself even to the English in the way that the democratic Hen Wlad fy Nhadau has endeared itself to the Welsh. Its most redeeming feature is that it is so short. How different would history have been had the British anthem been to the truly majestic music of the Soviet Union or rousing South Africa or even the darkly sinister but beautiful (in a ‘Llef’ kind of way) Montenegrin anthem? What if its verses had been about people and places not pampered monarchs? The lesson – if you’re going to conquer a country, pick a decent tune. And what of the moral authority of the British state that it did not insist that ‘the Queen’ was sung? Is it a coincidence that the ‘forgetting’ happened 105 days after the British state asked for a bail-out by the IMF, when spiteful thin new flat-roofed architecture disfigured the landscape, when food was as bland as magnolia woodchip wallpaper? What was there to celebrate? And in any case, to be anti-establishment was the intellectual orthodoxy. Another factor is that there was no obvious or genuine connection between Welsh sport and the Royal Family. Like the (Royal) National Eisteddfod of Wales, but unlike the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, it could ‘for-

get’ its royal link because people didn’t feel the affinity and interest was genuine or relevant. And what of the contradictionary situation where the Welsh asserted their identity by not singing GSQ but then perversely voting against having their own Assembly? A unique case of not wanting your cake nor eating it! Well maybe it was that the Devolution vote became too early? Rather than being an exclamation mark at the end of a process of national assertiveness, as one would expect, the fact is, ‘forgetting’ to sing GSQ, was, for most Welsh people, the opening paragraph. As it was a process, a foot-draggingly slow process, then maybe the confidence of the British-Welsh establishment was such that dropping GSQ was not seen as a big deal. It was allowed to happen. Or maybe, the booing de-normalised the banal nationalism of the British anthem and cre-

ated too much hassle and embarrassment for those in authority. Revolution by institutional lethargy. Wales had to wait 20 years from the dropping of GSQ to voting for an Assembly. A generation. A generation for many of the baby-booming ‘booers’ of Wales to see their own kids coming to voting age. Is there a 20-year cycle in a political or cultural process? The Georgist economist, Fred Harrison, who warned of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis back in 1997, certainly believes that business conforms to a pattern of 18-year cycles determined by the unique characteristics of the land market. Well, it took twenty-one years after the Prague Spring and Mai ’68 for the Berlin Wall to collapse and twenty years from the Croat Spring to Croat independence. So, here’s an intriguing question. If there is a twenty odd year cycle what will Wales be like in twenty years time? To answer that maybe we need not only watch the news and read about the ‘events’ but we need to keep our senses open to the process and the forgettings. You can be sure of one thing, thoy won’t be on the news and they won’t be over until a fat fan in the terraces stops singing.

The Phenomenon of Welshness Sion Jobbins (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch £7.50)


ion Jobbins’ book was launched at the National Library of Wales, where guests were entertained by Ned Thomas (who wrote the introduction) interviewing the author. If you are reading this you may well have read many if not all his articles, however, the editing they have received coupled with more information mean this book is more than just a compilation of his work in Cambria. Each chapter is prefaced by an introduction and then arranged in such a way that they lead easily from one to the other providing a thought provoking and sometimes provocative picture of Wales and its evolving development and attitudes. Written largely with reason and some humour it provides a surprisingly temperate read when considering some of the subject matter. Ease of reference is another good reason for investing in this book!

photos of Sion Jobbins, his daughter Elliw and editor Jen Llewellyn

Sion Jobbins with Ned Thomas


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Peter N. Williams

Was Cynheidre first?

The birth of steam in Wales

For 25 years Des Thomas of Cynheidre has campaigned to re-open the first public railway in Britain: the Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr. Work on the project is now steaming ahead. Below Peter N Williams looks at this and other railway ‘firsts’ in Wales.


lthough we tend to think of rail transport in terms of engines and rolling stock, wagonways (which used horses to haul wagons mounted on rails) had long been used to carry the products of mines and furnaces, the first recorded example being that between Strelly and Wollaton in Nottinghamshire. This was constructed by one Huntingdon Beaumont, who then built three further wagonways soon afterwards at Blyth in Northumberland. These were quickly followed by other routes in Nottinghamshire, Shrophireshire and the Northeast of England. But all were private ventures used for private, commercial means: it was to be another 200 years before the first public railway came into being – the Carmarthenshire Tramroad, which ran for 12 miles between Llanelli and Gorslas, and so creating the foundation for today’s mass public transport systems. Established by an Act of Parliament in 1802, the four-foot gauge, two-horse tramway’s initial purpose was (inevitably in this dawning of the Industrial Revolution) to bring coal from the Cross Hands area down to Llanelli, plus ironstone and limestone for Alexander


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Raby’s Iron Works at Stradey. But the life of the Carmarthenshire Tramroad was relatively brief, the operation closing down in 1844 before being resurrected by the newly-formed Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway Co in 1883. This company (in turn) disappeared in 1922 on being absorbed into the Great Western Railway, which was in turn absorbed into British Railways in 1947. Throughout the twentieth century the line continued as a main artery for coal distribution from the Gwendraeth Valley, until the closure of Cynheidre Colliery in 1989. Early in 1995, it seemed likely that the branch would once more see coal traffic, when a mining company sought to open a mine at Cynheidre and establish a railhead nearby, but again this came to nothing when planning permission was refused. But the Carmarthen Tramroad’s claim to be Britain’s first public rail system was close run, for a strong challenge to the boast came from the Surrey Iron Railway, a horse-drawn narrow-gauge railway which linked Wandsworth and Croydon via Mitcham. This also opened for traffic in 1803, but two months later than the LMMR, which began operating in the May - although the SIR can claim to be the world’s first railway to be publicly subscribed by Act of Parliament. In practice, the line was essentially a form of turnpike, as users had to provide their own wagons and horses, paying a fee for use of the plateway. This venture was again relatively short-lived, closing down in 1846. But what about the development of rail-based passenger transport? Well, here the historical waters are far from clear. Evidence suggests that tram- or wagonways were used by men travelling too and from work, but as for the creation of the first, purpose-built passenger service, this honour appears to rest with the SwanseaMumbles Railway, which in turn claimed to be the world’s oldest running passenger-carrying railway when it closed in 1960, even though the service didn’t start until 25 March 1807. The investors behind this fivemile project (which first operated as a mineral line in 1806) were, in fact, pretty far-sighted: not only did they have the bright idea of converting a coal wagon “for the

conveyance of passengers”, they also ensured that the Act of Parliament which permitted the railway allowed for the use of mechanical power as well as horses to pull the wagons – an indication, perhaps, of the investors’ awareness of certain developments further east at Merthyr Tydfil. Here the Merthyr Tramway had been built in 1802 and was shared by the Dowlais, Penydarren, and Plymouth ironworks. Covering a distance of 9.75 miles from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon, it was constructed entirely for the purpose of carrying coal and iron. However, in 1802 the Cornishman Richard Trevithick - who had built one of his high-pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks at Merthyr - decided to mount a similar engine on wheels and turn it into a locomotive. This so impressed the inronmaster Samuel Homfray that he promptly bought up Trevithick’s patents and made a bet (for 500 guineas) with fellow ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, that Trevithick's steam locomotive was capable of hauling 10 tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon tramway – which it duly did on 21st February, 1804. In short, the loco hauled 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, at an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph. The bet had been won. Despite many people's doubts, it had been shown that - provided the gradient was sufficiently shallow - it was possible to successfully haul heavy loads along a "smooth" iron road using the adhesive weight alone of a suitably heavy and powerful steam locomotive to create traction. However the exercise was not without problems, as some of the short cast-iron plates of the tram road – which were intended only to support the lighter axle load of horse-drawn wagons - broke under the weight of the locomotive, and so the tramroad returned to using horse power after the initial test run. Meanwhile, in 1808 Trevithick set about publicizing his steam loco expertise with a new model called ‘Catch me who can’, which was built for him by John Hazledine and John Urpeth Rastrick at Bridgnorth in Shropshire. Similar to that used at Penydarren, it ran on a circular track just south of the present day Euston Square tube station in London. Admission to the ‘steam circus’ was one shilling (including a ride) and it was intended to show that rail travel was faster than all other horse-powered options, but it was not until 1812 that twin-cylinder steam locomotives successfully started replacing horses for hauling coal wagons on the edge-railed, rack-andpinion railway between Middleton colliery and Leeds in West Yorkshire. One year later, the ‘Puffing Billy’ steam loco was constructed by engineer William Hedley for Christopher

Blackett, the owner of Wylam Colliery near Newcastle upon Tyne. The world's oldest surviving steam locomotive, it was the first ‘adhesion steam locomotive’ to go into commercial operation and was used to haul coal chaldron wagons from Wylam mine to the docks at Lemington-on-Tyne. Hedley, the resident engineer at Wylam then built a number of similar engines to replace the horses used on the tramway. Curiously, however, it was the high cost of horses caused by the Napoleonic Wars which really drove forward the use of mechanical power on the nascent railways – and not necessarily a simple quest for continued technological innovation. Puffing Billly incorporated several novel features which were to prove important in the development of locomotives, but also suffered from a number of serious technical limitations. That said, it proved an important influence on perhaps the most famous of railway steam men, George Stephenson, who lived locally Yet it wasn’t until May 1830 that the world’s first steam-hauled, passenger-only railway (the Canterbury and Whitstable, or ‘Crab and Winkle’ Line) came into being.


Bala Lake Railway, The Station, Llanuwchllyn LL23 7DD 01678 540666 ‡&$)(‡*,)76+23‡72,/(76 ‡)5((3$5.,1*$7//$18:&+//<1


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Gone but not forgotten; The last days of a coal mine.

Alun Roberts

Cwm Colliery and Coking Works, mid-1980's


n 1921, 270,000 coalminers were employed in the South Wales coalfields. And although 241 mines closed down over the next 15 years, 140,000 miners were still working down the pits at the beginning of the Second World War. The post-war period, however, was one of sharp decline. The Rhondda Valley - whose name is synonymous with coal - boasted 56 pits in 1913; by 1986 there was one, and Maerdy was hanging on by its finger-tips. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 had a catastrophic effect on the industry for, in the wake of defeat, the NCB closed one pit after another, with virtually no resistance from a demoralised workforce – except, possibly, the miners of St John’s colliery, Maesteg, and their opposition still ended in failure. By the summer of 1986 eleven pits had been closed since the end of the strike – Treforgan. Aberpergwm, St John’s, Garw, Penrhiwceiber, Markham, Abertillery New Mine, Blaenserchan. Celynen North, Celynen South and Bedwas, this last the setting for the marvellous TV documentary by Karl Francis, ‘Miss Rhymney Valley 1985’. The spirit, commitment and solidarity of the


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miners shown in this documentary was badly dented in the months that followed and the main priority of many was to get out of the industry while the financial terms were relatively favourable – next year the terms would be dramatically worse. The announcement made in early October 1986 that two more pits were to close –Nantgarw and Cwm – still came as a shock, though there had been whispers in the wind. Yet had not the NCB said - during the strike - that the future of Cwm was assured? And hadn’t Coedely had been closed to strengthen Cwm colliery’s prospects? Even so, 770 jobs would be lost at Cwm and another 550 at Nantgarw, after which the number of miners in South Wales would have dwindled to 11,000 from about 19,000 in March 1985. The way things were going, anyone planning to visit a coal mine in South Wales needed to get on with it while there were any mines open at all. So the chance to go down Cwm colliery, Beddau, on the morning of Saturday 25 October 1986 was therefore too good to miss. The following is my account of the experience, written at the time.

A morning down the mine The weather that morning was terrible, a fitting backdrop for a colliery with only a month to live. However, the general gloom (we were told that the men were now taking time off on the slightest excuse) did not affect the warmth of the welcome we received from those we met at the colliery – including the legendary footballer, Alf Sherwood, now a security officer for the NCB who happened to be in the car park as we arrived. Though this was not a normal working day, there were a number of miners around, many doing maintenance work underground. Safety considerations remained paramount so that no battery/quartz-operated watches or cameras were permitted underground, and we were fully togged out in yellow trousers, shirt and jacket (compliments of the NCB and cleaned by Sketchleys), plus helmet, miner’s lamp and portable respirator – the whole works in fact. Having joined another group of visitors plus a couple of miners who were to be our guides, we went to the mine shaft at about 9 am and within two minutes had descended 500 yards - the sensation was that of a rapid descent in a lift, but was by no means unpleasant. (The full depth of the shaft was over 700 yards but work at the bottom level had been discontinued). We stepped out into a large and well-lit tunnel, about twelve feet wide and about ten feet high. After a few minutes’ walk - during which time we passed through wooden swing doors which controlled the passage of air - we came to an underground railway which transported us even deeper into the mine for about one and a half miles – despite the carriages coming off the rails as we set off! Much more walking followed, through tunnels which were becoming narrower and lit only by the lamps on our helmets, but were still high enough for us to be able to walk upright. At one point we were taken into a small recess about six feet deep and ten feet wide. It was often used by the miners as a rest area and was known as the ‘lounge’. It was here that the deputy, who was in effect the leader of the party, demonstrated an instrument which indicated a gas reading of over 3% - nothing to worry about in small pockets, though it would have been enough to clear the mine if that level of gas was generally found in the atmosphere. The deputy also carried the traditional type of miner’s lamp, because the flame would itself betray any unusual characteristics

in the atmosphere. As we walked we talked about life underground. About 770 men worked at the Cwm colliery, some 500 of them underground. The normal shift was about 7¼ hours, with a twenty minutes lunch break. Needless to say there were no toilets, rest rooms, or, as far as I could see, seats underground. There was, of course absolutely no way of being able to tell sun from rain or night from day, and so it was hardly surprising that in such an environment a special esprit-de-corps was forged amongst the men, and reinforced by the teamwork which was absolutely vital. There’s little room for prima donnas, or passengers, down there. We visited a couple of coalfaces which had had to be abandoned as unsafe, including one which only a few weeks previously had been regarded as the potential salvation of the mine. The face was ten feet high and the coal was said to be top grade coking material. It certainly looked mighty impressive, but there was a risk that the roof might collapse (and indeed had partially done so) – a danger borne out by the grossly distorted steel props and girders around us. Even so, the miners we talked to underground felt that there were still vast reserves of coal to be exploited at Cwm and that there was no necessity for the pit to close. Yet, almost perversely, the younger men I spoke to – men in their 20s and 30s – had no intention of finding mine work elsewhere, and to be honest I wouldn’t wish anyone to work underground: conditions underfoot were sometimes treacherous with a layer of slippery sludge hidden under a film of coal dust. And there was Haydn Morgan, the author and Garth John

The Best Ryder Cup in History! a fair amount of air-borne coal dust too (worse in some parts than others) which could be seen quite clearly in the beam of the light from my helmet – a very effective torch incidentally and, of course, absolutely essential. Apart from the coal dust there was also a great deal of stone dust liberally scattered along the passages which was intended to reduce the amount of air-borne coal dust and thus the risk of explosions. Hundreds of yards below the busy Saturday streets of Treforest we came to the last working coalface in the mine. It was about four feet high, and very soon we were crawling through hydraulic props for well over 100 yards (or so it seemed) until we came to where the mechanical cutter was operating - a huge wheel moving along a rail and controlled from a switchboard a few feet away. It really was a bit of a squeeze but so fascinating was the spectacle of the machine actually cutting coal that any potential hazard was forgotten, even when one of the miners demonstrated how the hydraulic pit props were adjusted. We were told that as the face advanced, all the props, the conveyor belts and everything else were just moved forward, leaving the area behind to cave in. Presumably the only reason why there was relatively little subsidence on the surface was because the passages were so deep. Despite the discomforts of the pitch-dark, cramped and filthy coalface environment which so symbolised a

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Wales once buoyant in its coalfield pomp, this was the highlight of our trip – as one would expect. And all the more poignant (and rather surprising) was the news that the thousands of pounds’ worth of sophisticated equipment at work before us would simply be abandoned where it was when the mine finally closed. Back on the surface, I reflected that it was not just the miners and their families who would suffer from Cwm’s impending closure: there were the businesses who would suffer – particularly those like Sketchleys, the dry-cleaners, who were as essential to the mine as the mine was to them. And so I was reminded of the thoughts of Aneurin Bevan: Greek mythology, he told us, had it that each tree was inhabited by a spirit called (I believe) a dryad, which died when the tree died. The pit is to the mining village what the tree is to the dryad. When the pit dies the village dies too; when the pit is ill the village groans. Each is interwoven with the life of the other. Nantgarw colliery closed on 6 November. Cwm (originally sunk in 1909 and, following its merger with Coedely in 1957, once the largest colliery in South Wales) finally shut down on 28 November 1986. Two years later eleven mines remained in South Wales, with a total workforce of some eight thousand: Cynheidre, Betws, Blaenant, Tower and Maerdy, Merthyr Vale, Trelewis, Taff Merthyr, Deep Navigation, Marine, Oakdale and Penallta. By 1994 only one remained, Tower colliery, Hirwaun, with 400 men, and on 22 April 1994 this too was closed by British Coal. However, this time the miners fought back. Led by Tyrone O’Power, the local NUM branch secretary, over 200 miners each contributed £8,000 of their redundancy pay towards the cost of taking over the mine and run- Memorial near entrance ning it themselves, which they did for another thirteen years, until January 2008. This heroic tale is, as they say, another story.


r Campbell makes some good points on the the background on Sky Sports news. Everyone is evenfinances and the politics of the Ryder Cup. tually accounted for and we move on. First there’s the It is obvious however that Mr Campbell is traditional “One in the Goat” – big mistake, in golfing not a golfer. terms. Three minutes later we’re in There are a few aspects of the artithe Old Arcade – nice - it’s become Byron Kalies author of cle I disagree with. I don’t think the a bit posher than we like and we ‘Tenby to Celtic Manor’ Ryder Cup was an unmitigated PR have a few drinks. Later that evening and financial disaster: granted there there’s a talk organised by a number A history of golf in wales wasn’t as much tourism generated of golfing types – we agree to return responds to Denis as the WAG promised – but no-one (we never do) and someone hears a Campbell’s evaluation really believed that, did they?   report that there are a couple of old of the Ryder Cup. Royal Porthcawl, fantastic course acquaintances in a different pub. We though it is, does not have the infraleave, get chips in Caroline Street, eat structure, nor the will to cope with an event such as this. them and cross the road. My understanding is that Sir Terry Matthews had little We wander into O’Neill’s – It’s exactly like a rugby control on the cost of the tickets – that was something International – many, many excited, semi-drunk Welsh the Ryder Cup Committee set. people talking, drinking, watching, analysing and cheerThen there’s the weather? It rained. So what? It does ing simultaneously. It’s still early but already all the shots rain in Wales as it does in most countries. We coped and are being cheered or jeered and favourites are emerging produced one of the best Ryder Cups in history. Most – Rory, Poults and Luke are current favourites and a mix club golfers are tired of watching ‘target golf’ on the variof responses to Tiger – generally polite, very low level ous tours around the world where players can play with comments, all intermingled with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ at the their eyes shut and the caddy giving the exact yardage. shots he plays. It’s nice to see players having to suffer and think a little. The treatment of Monty has totally changed over the The final point that Mr Campbell misses is the sheer past week or so – where has the miserable, growling, fun and excitement the event created. It was fantastic. grumpy Colin gone. Who or what has replaced him with People talked about little else that week. Of course nothis caring, sharing, human. “What have you done with one talks about it now – this is the nature of life. Things the real Monty!” someone cries out , “Bring him back,” move on. It was a great event and had something you “No!” comes the chorus and the pretend ego-free Monty can’t measure financially – one of those “where were carries on talking eloquently, respectfully and politely on you?” moments. I know exactly where I was the day the giant screen. No-one is fooled – the real Monty will Europe won the Ryder Cup in Wales. I suspect many be back. We miss him. Welsh people do as well. We spot a celeb on TV and discuss how they managed Taken from my diary October 10th to get a ticket. Chris Evans appears on screen and the Unable to get a ticket for the Ryder Cup – long story pub is polarised. We all cheer as Mark Roe says some– I end up traveling to Cardiff for a regular meeting thing probably witty and insightful (can’t hear a thing by with other like-minded, like-budgeted, sporty colleagues. now). We are due to meet up in ‘The Cottage’ at 2 so I get to Memories from this point on are sparse and confused. Cardiff early and wander around. It seems a little quieter I remember enjoying the day though. than normal in Cardiff – some shops have golf displays Hours later we’re in an Indian restaurant: eating and but not too many. I get the feeling nothing exciting is reflecting on the day, working out how we’ll get home, happening at all. Perhaps coming to Cardiff on Ryder when we’ll meet again and promising that next time we Cup Saturday was a mistake. will go and see the Ryder Cup in the flesh. Then some‘The Cottage’ is quiet – us early birds talk, and wait one reminds us that’s what we promised to do two years for the others to turn up. Drinks are bought, lives are ago. caught up with and we watch the occasional report in “Ah but next time it’ll be different.”

Learn the LANGUAGE Miranda Morton Dathlu gwyliau Gair rhyfedd ydy gw^ yl; mae e’n gallu golygu festival neu holiday. Ydych chi wedi meddwl am y gwyliau gwahanol rydyn ni’n dathlu trwyr’r flwyddyn? Dydd Calan ydy’r w^ yl gyntaf yn y flwyddyn, wrth gwrs. Fel arfer, mae llawer o ddathlu ar y noson gynt ond does dim llawer o ddathlu ar y diwrnod ei hun. Mae llawer o bobl wedi blino gormod ar Ddydd Calan i wneud dim byd ond cysgu a gwylio’r teledu. Mewn lle o’r enw Cwm Gwaun yn Sir Benfro, mae’r bobl yn dathlu’r Hen Galan hefyd, ar y 12eg o Ionawr. Newidiodd y calendr yn y ddeunawfed ganrif felly newidiodd y dyddiadau ond mae pobl Cwm Gwaun yn hoffi dathlu ar y dyddiad gwreiddiol. Y Pasg sy’n dod nesaf. Mae’r dyddiad yn newid bob blwyddyn. Mae e’n newid achos mae’r dyddiad yn dibynnu ar y lleuad. Mae’r lleuad yn llawn bob pedair wythnos ond mae mis yn hirach na phedair wythnos felly dydy’r dyddiad ddim yn sefydlog. Arwydd o’r gwanwyn yw’r Pasg, o nosweithiau hirach a bywyd newydd. I lawer o blant, unig ystyr y Pasg ydy cael gwyliau o’r ysgol, cael wyau Pasg a bwyta siocled nes bod pawb yn teimlo’n sâl a does neb eisiau bwyta bwyd cyffredin. Calan Mai sy’n dod nesaf, ar ddydd Llun cyntaf

mis Mai. Mae e’n gyfle i ddathlu’r cyfraniad pwysig mae gweithwyr yn wneud i gymdeithas. Wedi’r cwbl, ble bydden ni heb ffermwyr i dyfu bwyd, athrawon i ddysgu’r plant, meddygon a nyrsiau i ofalu amdanon ni pan ydyn i’n sâl, actorion i’n difyrru ni ar ôl diwrnod caled o waith, bancwyr ... Wel, efallai ddim y bancwyr. Mae dwy w^ yl ym mis Mai a’r nesaf ydy’r Sulgwyn, ar ddydd Llun olaf mis Mai. Fel arfer, mae e’n hanner tymor i’r ysgolion. Mae’r plant iau yn mwynhau wythnos o wyliau. I’r plant hw^ n, ym Mlwyddyn 11 a Blwyddyn 13, mae hi’n bryd iddyn nhw ddechrau adolygu o ddifrif, yn barod i’r arholiadau TGAU a Safon Uwch ym mis Mehefin a mis Gorffennaf. Mae gw^ yl banc Awst ar ddydd Llun cynta’r mis. Mae hi’n ganol haf ac mae pawb yn gobeithio cael tywydd braf, poeth ac efallai mynd i’r traeth. Mae llawer o draethau hardd iawn yng Nghymru, o’r Gw^ yr i Ben Lly^ n. Gwaetha’r modd, fel arfer mae hi’n bwrw glaw. Ym mis Awst mae’r plant yn cael canlyniadau’r arholiadau TGAU a Safon Uwch. Mae rhai plant yn cael newyddion da ac mae mae rhai plant yn cel newyddion drwg. Calan Gaeaf sy’n dod nesaf, ar 31ain o Hydref. Does dim gwyliau sywddogol o’r gwaith ond mae hi’n gyfle i gael parti, gwisgo gwisg gwirion a rhannu storïau am ysbrydion. Mae Calan Gaeaf yn arwydd o’r gaeaf, o’r tywyllwch a’r oerni. Y Nadolig a Gw^ yl San Steffan sy’n dod nesaf, gw^ yl ola’r flwyddyn. Dyma gyfle i weld y teulu a ffrindiau ac i ddewis anrhegion hyfryd iddyn nhw. Mae e hefyd yn gyfle i fwyta ac yfed llawer, efallai gormod. Does dim ots. Dim ond ychydig o wyliau ydyn ni’n cael bob blwyddyn felly gwnewch yn fawr ohonyn nhw!

Geirfa Calan Gaeaf Calan Mai Dathlu Difyrru Dydd Calan Ei hun Gwaetha’r modd gwisg gwirion gwneud yn fawr o Gw^ yl, gwyliau Gw^ yl San Steffan Y Gw^ yr Y Nadolig Y noson gynt O ddifrif Y Pasg Pen Lly^ n Safon Uwch Y Sulgwyn TGAU

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C a mbr i a

the national magazine of wales cylchgrawn cenedlaethol cymru


C a mbr i a

the national magazine of wales cylchgrawn cenedlaethol cymru

Through the eyes of Otto Caroline Palmer


have lost several choice plants and shrubs to the last two winters: among the most lamented was the mass of frothy yellow flowers on the deceased Acacia dealbata, and the serious set back to the giant Gunnera whose huge columnar cone shaped spring flowers have yet again been reduced to a soggy mass. Only weak leaves are tentatively poking up from deep within the rhizome, they will be less luxuriant this year. On the bright side, the Wisteria seems to have liked the cold and looks to flower like never before. But there is a new facet to my garden, one which led me out at winter dawn and throughout the day through frost, wind and snow. I have paused far more frequently to examine the frost riming the pale pink berries of Sorbus cashmiriana, the waves of scent from the wintersweet, the fine tilth of the unwelcome new molehills on the sloping lawn, the dew on the grass so delicious to a puppy’s tongue. For my new garden inspiration is a Lhasa Apso puppy, scion of the long haired Tibetan monastery dogs first released to the west by the Dalai Llama as gifts to the great and the good. (Sadly Lhasas no longer come free, - our puppy came from Coventry with a 5 generation pedigree and only after an inspection and interview visit when he was six weeks old.) We passed with flying colours, for we were already a Lhasa family, still bruised from the death of 14 year old Homer, whose years saw the children pass from childhood to independence. Home, they say is where the dog is, and when you have been accustomed to a joyful welcome, home without one can be listless place. We collected Otto at eight weeks old and drove him back to Wales. The motorway was steady but the twisty roads of Wales were a harder test and we had to stop (as many a family has done before us!) to vomit near Llangurig. He felt better then, on the sweeps of Plynlimon and the hairpin descent towards Aberystwyth. Established at home, we began four weeks of purdah, confined to garden and field, learning the joy of a full pelt gallop down the hill, of chasing the chickens, and drinking the pond without falling in. He is a golden brown dog, with a broad white collar and big white feet. My stipulation to the breeder had been I required a largely brown dog. Wales, I said has too much mud for the pale blondes or whites. A Lhasa Apso is optimistic and fearless, and with their


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floppy ears and corkscrew plumed tails have an aptitude for communicating joy. At 12 weeks, fully immunised, he could set out jauntily for any adventure: his first sight of the whoosh and suck of the sea, first gallop on the beach with a mouthful of seaweed, first visit to a care home, choosing a first Christmas tree in the mossy woods. And greatest joy of all – other dogs. A Lhasa is confident and eager with dogs of whatever size. Shy, nervous or aggressive dogs usually capitulate to their affable enthusiasm. A Lhasa is cautious with people it has not met, but it is certain that dog world holds no terrors, and almost invariably it is right. He was 12 weeks old when the snow came, deep, powdery snow higher than his belly and a temperature of -12C. He loved it, leaping crazily into the virgin snow fields, ploughing forward though drifts, bow wave leading in front of his chest. Under a full cold moon we

took the long route around the field, pausing to inspect the sedate footprints of foxes criss-crossing the field to the road below. Each day new eruptions of dark earth showed the progress of the moles diligently destroying invertebrates beneath. These excursions formed great snowballs on Otto’s furry feet and clustered on his chest. I would comb them off in the kitchen lest he lay melting on the carpet in a spreading puddle of cold. The garden is green now, and Otto, almost full size, with a five inch pelt, has a liking for chewing on the strappy white flowers of the Magnolia stellata. Primroses are blooming in the grass. It is time to humanely address the question of the moles, and to plan the management of our sloping lawn for better ball games with Otto in the summer. There are three solutions which are under discussion: investigate the rusting relic flymo in the shed, hire a man with his own mower, or splash out on a handsome ride-on which we might compete to drive. The last course of action sounds the best, but I plan to consult a specialist retailer. Stripes on a sloping hillside we will never achieve, and I don’t feel the need for them, but I do need to know what gradients I can tackle without rolling my machine over, endangering life, limb, and my companion animal. (This, I have learnt, is the PC term for my dog).

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Edward ‘Celtic’ Davies

and the European Connection Gwyn Griffiths


t was my wife, in a shop specialising in old books on music and sport in Hay-on-Wye, who found a copy of Edward Davies’s Celtic Researches on the Origin, Traditions & Language of the Ancient Britons. £35 seemed a fair price for a book – albeit battered – published in 1804. Edward “Celtic” Davies (1756 – 1831), was born at Hendre Einion, in the Carneddi hills, a few miles east of Builth Wells. When he published Celtic Researches he was a curate in Olveston, Gloucestershire. Presumably he published it himself because it says on the first page that it was 'Printed for the Author' followed by the name of a London printer. There is a lengthy dedication to the King followed by a long list of subscribers, many of them prominent ecclesiastic, literary or scholarly figures of the day. The Prince of Wales bought ten copies. As a child Edward Davies had two accidents which affected his life. The first was when gunpowder exploded in his face damaging his eyesight and then he had measles which left him partly blind for life. A local priest inspired him to take an interest in religion. He spent a year in Christ College, Brecon where he learnt Latin, Greek and French. He spoke Welsh, if not particularly well, and English. He became a school teacher in Hay, took holy orders and became a curate in Herefordshire and then a teacher at a Grammar School in Chipping Sodbury. His love of Wales and its language was inspired by living among English people who despised the Welsh and by dis-


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covering Barddoniaeth Dafydd ap Gwilym (1789) a volume of poems by Dafydd ap Gwilym published by William Owen (Pughe). The book also included Iolo Morganwg forgeries and it was not until over a century later that it was proven that the volume contained poems not written by Dafydd but by Iolo. He began translating poems from the book. Of the nine poems he translated, five were Iolo forgeries. By accident Iolo saw the translations and praised them – in particular the translations of his own poems! Iolo offered to provide Davies with more from his “researches” – more forgeries – which he might care to translate. Iolo often offered his forgeries to innocent enthusiasts who would pass them on in turn as their own researches. As a result Iolo’s forgeries would appear from many sources – adding to their “authenticity”. It is one reason why it took Welsh scholars so long to realise what Iolo had been doing. Edward Davies was inspired by the interest shown by Iolo giving further impetus to his enthusiasm and during the 1790s he began collecting and translating and publishing his translations of the ancient poems. As he was sending this material to the Gwyneddigion Society in London and to other individuals, copies – as before - fell into the hands of Iolo. Some of his researches were published in the first two volumes of the Myvyrian Archaiology, collections of material collected from old manuscripts and edited by Iolo Morganwg and William Owen (Pughe). Davies’s name appears alongside the two greats. Even before he published the two great volumes of his life

Edward Davies was being seen as a poor cleric whose scholarship was worthy of patronage. All this work was having an adverse effect on his sight. He hoped his researches would gain a position and status for him within the Church, which would support him if he became blind. The harder he worked the more likely he would attain such a position, but lose his sight at the same time. He left Chipping Sodbury and became a curate in Olveston, Gloucestershire. An old friend from his days at Christ College, Brecon, the historian Theophilus Jones, spoke on his behalf to the influential Judge George Hardinge. Hardinge set about asking his circle of rich friends to send contributions to Edward Davies to enable him to carry on with his work: 2,257 people agreed to subscribe to the book and 30 guineas were received in contributions to enable him to continue with his researches. Celtic Researches on the Origin, Traditions & Language of the Ancient Britons was published in 1804. He was building on an idea, which was popular in 19th Century philology circles that Welsh, Irish and Hebrew all sprang from the same source. He writes much about the Druids portraying them as philosophers with a deep insight in the nature of god, the soul and life after death. He suggested that they retained more of the ancient religion that had been revealed by the true god than any other group of pagans, and in spite of numerous misunderstandings they had retained many of the basic principles of that god. Davies was greatly influenced by Iolo. But he was also the first

to conclude that Iolo’s Gorsedd owed more to the early ideals of the French Revolution than to any remnants of ancient Druidism. As an Anglican cleric he did his best to set out what was known about the Druids in a context acceptable to orthodox Christians of the time. Their relationship became more complex. Iolo sent him copies of some of his forged Triads and other works. Davies began to suspect that something was not right, some of the material he was receiving from Iolo did not conform to what he himself was finding in the old manuscripts. The difficulty was that Iolo was so learned in the ancient poems that it was dangerous to enter into debate with him or to separate, for example, the forgeries of Iolo from the poems of Dafydd ap Gwilym. Davies ventured to include some aspects of Iolo’s descriptions of the Druids and compared them with his own views of the Druids. When Celtic Researches, which contains Iolo’s mixture of myth and history, with references to Hu Gadarn, Prydein and Dyfnwal, and Iolo’s alphabet, Coelbren y Beirdd, was published Iolo may have become worried. Edward Davies was reaping the fruits of the forgeries sown by Iolo Morganwg. Iolo wrote to George Hardinge protesting that it was he – Iolo – alone who held the true “secrets”. Hardinge sent the letter on to Davies with a short note referring to Iolo as a knave. In 1809, Edward Davies published his most famous book, The Mythology and Rites of the British Druids. It cast doubts on Iolo’s version of the history of the ancient bards and the Druids and accuses Iolo of misrepresentation, if not of down-right forgery. Davies’s Mythology and Rites, became one of the most influential books published on Druidism in the 19th century. Much of the mate-

rial came from the private libraries of Gloucestershire gentlemen, Bristol antiquarians as well as Welsh manuscripts. He concluded that the Druidic religion was centred on two gods – the god Hu and the goddess Ceridwen. Her name in the medieval sources was Cyrridwen or Kerritwen. According to Sir Ifor Williams, over a hundred years later, the name came from cyrrid (crooked) and bun (woman). A crooked woman, or a selfish witch. According to Edward Davies the meaning was cariad + wen, a pure love! The Mythology and Rites of the British Druids provided Davies with the reputation to secure what he needed, a good living in Bishopston, Gower. In 1823 he went blind, and a pension was provided for him by the Royal Literary Society. Davies was quite right in accusing Iolo of forgery and creating a splendid past in an attempt to create a finer future. Iolo realised that Davies’s understanding of the ancient manuscripts was very

superficial and that future academics would make fun of him. Yet both made a deep impression on the imagination of their contemporaries. And in spite of the often very public quarrels they complemented each other while muddying the waters wonderfully! An anonymous correspondent in The Cambrian Register (1811) considered the contributions of both and came to the conclusion that both had been found wanting. Yet both deserved praise. Neither could be accused of being impartial. On the one hand we had Iolo the radical, Unitarian with his enthusiasm for freedom and human rights; on the other we had “Celtic”, the conservative Anglican cleric. And yet, wrote the correspondent to The Cambrian Register, both had contributed to the sum of our knowledge of British antiquities. Samuel Rush Meyrick and Charles Hamilton Smith relied heavily on Iolo – and Davies – in a beautiful volume The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Islands published in 1815. Iolo and Davies’s


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Chris Kinsey interpretation of Stonehenge was presented in a book entitled The Beauties of England and Wales, a travel guide published in 1814. Both were influencing how others saw Wales and British early history. Or at least in popular publications. “Celtic” Davies’s influences go further. We see references to his books in the works of French historians. Jules Michelet acknowledges his debt to him in his Histoire de France (1835), likewise Amédée Thierry in his Histoire des Gaulois (1827) and Henri Martin in his Histoire de France (1856). Pursuing the subject of Druidism in Gaul it was easier to read his – often incorrect – English translations of the ancient Welsh poems than to tackle them in the original, or for that matter in the Myvyrian Archaiology. Amédée Thierry claims to have been familiar with the Myvyrian Archaiology. A splendid picture of the Celts was charming French historians and romantics and, through the French language, Europe. Nobody took notice of D. W. Nash when he referred in his Taliesin, or the Bards and Druids of Britain (1856), to Edward Davies’s “misapplied learning” and complained that his influences were “extensive”. His influence on Charles-MarieRené Leconte de Lisle (1818 – 1894), particularly on the Celtic section of Poèmes Barbares, poems inspired by primitive societies and published in 1862 is clear. The most famous of Leconte de Lisle’s Poèmes Barbares is Le Massacre de Mona. The poem paints a picture of the Celtic religion – Druidism – which is similar to that of Edward Davies’s. One of Leconte de Lisle’s sources was Roujoux, author of the Histoire des Rois et des Ducs de Bretagne published in 1828. Roujoux acknowledges Celtic Researches and Mythology and Rites as two of his main sources and

his portrayal of the condition and the destiny of Druidism in the 4th century is similar to that found in Leconte de Lisle’s Le Massacre de Mona, a description of the religion, its condemnation by Rome, and the massacre on Île de Sein. Leconte de Lisle had considered giving his poem the title Les Vierges de Sein but he adapted Tacitus’s description of the massacre of the Druids on the Isle of Anglesey in 60 AD – and changed the title. Roujoux’s pedigree as a historian is doubtful. Leconte de Lisle, born in the West Indies, was neither a historian nor a Celticist. We can dismiss – as history – the prose of Roujoux and the poetry of Leconte de Lisle. But their colourful Let us celebrate Iolo Morganwg and Edward “Celtic” Davies. They stood up for Wales and the Celts. We need more of them in these Anglo-centric times.

descriptions of Druidic rites and traditions are not necessarily all nonsense. Leconte de Lisle probably read Davies in the original – there is evidence that he could read English and Roujoux was certainly not his only source. Davies’s arguments had persuaded Leconte de Lisle that the Celts were peaceful, wise and reflective – at least according to the evidence of Le Massacre de Mona. In this poem, the barbarians are the leaders of the new Christian religion and the Druids are the civilized people. It was a view of Druidism that was not uncommon in mid-19th century France. Ernest Renan in his essay on La Poésie des Races Celtiques (1854) wrote: “Compare the Teuton and the Celt – Beowulf and Percival, for

example. What a difference there is. In the one all the horror of disgusting and blood-imbrued barbarism, the drunkenness of carnage, the disinterested taste … for destruction and death; in the other a profound sense of justice, a great height of personal pride it is true, but also a great capacity for devotion, an exquisite loyalty.” Was Renan familiar with the works of Edward Davies? I would suggest he may have been although he does not acknowledge it in his essay. He does, however, refer to the Myvyrian Archaiology and Thomas Stephens’s The Literature of the Kymry. He also mentions Amédée Thierry, who had read Davies. There is a chapter - and more – on the Druids in the novel Les Martyrs by François-René de Chateaubriand, published for the first time in 1809 and he, too, may have been relying on Edward Davies for his sources. Nor should we forget the Breton Hersart de la Villemarqué and his influential Barzaz Breiz. He makes many references to the Myvyrian Archaiology – but does not mention Edward Davies. English writers, such as William Stukeley, had been arguing that Druidism was a part of English history and mythology – as they also tried to do with the King Arthur tales. One of the successes of Iolo and Edward “Celtic” Davies was to create a body of pseudo-history which restored Druidism to the Celts. Nowadays it is the English and the Scots who ignore this aspect of Celtic mythology – not so the Welsh, Irish, Bretons or the French even. Many of Edward Davies’s theories have been disproved. The first to do so was Thomas Stephens in his Literature of the Kymry (1849). But let us not forget that historians are rarely objective.

Nature Diary


n 24th February I woke up in Llandudno. Momentary disorientation came not from the keen and cackle of gulls for Newtown now has a gang that ransack bins for chip papers; it was the radiance of the blue scored by contrails or edged by foam and the ghost of my geography teacher whispering ‘sea influence’. As we travelled the Abergele straight to Rhuddlan the rich green fields testified to a milder climate than landlocked Powys. Jac-y-do – jackdaws are the hip hop stars of the bird world. Four super glossy ones swaggered for possession of my friend’s chimney and the dominant one was beatboxing with the flue. Rhuddlan Castle’s substantial walls ricocheted with their ‘tchack’ calls. Looking out over the ox-bow lake, up the valley of the Elwy from Twt Hill, every field was trumped with jackdaw aces. Two and a half weeks later and back in Newtown, I thought someone had stuck a Busby on the chapel Fleur de Lys but it was a perfect perch for two fluffy jackdaws’ crooning courtship. Blackthorn has also blossomed later in Powys. On the 13th March many trees in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire were white, but the ones in Newtown stayed as bud pinpricks until 30th when an unusually lamb-like March went out with a lion’s lash. April has come in with blizzards of petals and shuddering wood anemones – Blodyn y Gwynt. Every name for this plant pays homage to the wind apart from Woodland Ghost. When it appears in meadows and hedge banks it often indicates the site of a vanished wood. Its very flexible flower stem allows it to bend with the wind. On dull days it hangs its head and seems to sulk but a tiny bit of sun sends it to stardom. Many trips from north to south Wales have put me in a good position to sample spring’s varied timings. At approximately 450 metres above sea level Big Pit, Blaenafon was stuck like Powys with winter’s greyscale and bronzed bracken. On the 24th March martins skimmed the Inland Sea between Ynys Môn and Holy Island. Arriva Trains Wales

run a pretty good hurtling bird hide. Just across the tracks from R.A.F. Valley I was dazzled by a little egret, crëyr bach, coming in to land beside Llyn Penrhyn. Further along the line two flocks of whimbrel took flight from the marsh around Llyn Padrig and by Mostyn Docks shellducks were swaffing sunset from the sands. Wherever I wander my default setting is by water. At Maesbury Marsh, along some of the oozier edges of the Montgomery Canal, I got all nostalgic about rashes of

butterbur. The flower heads are like mucky pink toilet brushes sticking out of the ground. They precede the grey-green elephant’s ear-like leaves. As a child, on hot day safaris, I used to camouflage myself with a giant leaf fan-cum-sunshade. Another lone head reared from the bank. There was a lull whilst my brain rattled through to recognition by rejecting: reptile, snake, alien and said horsetail or erwain, a.k.a. snake grass. The spore-bearing first shoots are also pale sludgy and pinkish - quite different from the lush green brush of the later plant. Horsetails are “living fossils” - the only remaining vascular plants that reproduce by spores rather than seeds. They’re also the last relatives of the huge tree ferns which gave Wales such rich coal deposits. The day I returned from all my travels I had a strong sense of being watched as I emptied ashes. A basking toad, most welcome yard visitor, hypnotised me with its golden eyes. photographs:


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Liz Hinkley


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David Brodie explores

Bryn Eglwys

with photography by

John Keates


oose stones slide beneath my feet as I climb terraces, through a scrub of vegetation. Huge drystone walls and ramps block my intended route so that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m forced to pick my way carefully over rough ground, and more than once I must retrace my steps. In thick forest I find a hole quarried deep and wide â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a damp green place of echoes where trees reach for the light but are still not as high as the ground around. Further down the valley a stream rushes past ruins of workshops that present less resistance than the quarry rockface to the relentless dance of wind and water. The scarred hillside is the size of a small city, but it is an empty city. There is not a person anywhere amongst the tangle of forest and broken rock. The Acropolis and other such places of the past may teem with tourists, but nobody cares much for the remote slopes of Bryn Eglwys. The stones here are monuments not to celebrated ancients


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but to more recent human effort, to the toil of the powerless poor, to anonymous sweat and unknown blood that yielded little but more of the same. Time after time those labourers returned until the ground took them in again, and they vanished from fickle human memory. They heard the stream, though, that like time itself is always there and always moving. The water carries away the

land grain by grain, not so quickly as men with their shovels and picks and their trucks on the criss-cross rails, but more certainly, more relentlessly. Obedient to ancient stimuli, lichen spreads its flaky colour across the stones. Tree roots burrow through darkness to probe unseen crags and crevasses. Buds burst. Leaves open to face the Sun and to shake in the breeze. Rain and

ice tease the rock while the planet spins on its long, long journey to nowhere. Change is the greatest reality. Everything else is just passing through. By way of little merit of my own, but riding on backs long since broken, I have an easy time and can wander through the debris for amusement. Like the old quarrymen, and like the sheep that I found decayed on a grassy slope, I will

have to repay my debt and one day nourish the ground. The world will continue its untouchable progress carelessly through the shifting now, from a past that overwhelms all memory, and on into the unlit future. Click by click, I snatch at the light. I make my little frames of little moments, my illusions that I can capture change and hold it still. My flat and stagnant photographs carry

meaning of some sort, perhaps. Such is the scale of my ignorance, of what is, that they can sometimes even offer fresh insights. But the world knows no frozen moments, and they are poor things when held against the mountain and the stream and the dynamic immersing light. My actions are flickers in a universal blaze. I may be only passing through. My visit to Bryn Eglwys is a brief

one, but I am made, and must be unmade, by the same entanglement as I see here, of light and stone and water. I belong here as much as I belong anywhere. As a thing of earth sustained by light for a little while I have no choice but to be part of it all. My little spark that glows and dies, as did those of the quarry labourers, may not be much. But it has to be enough for now, and now is all I have.


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75 Art


Steven Stokes


n Swansea’s Alexandra Road there stands a century-old, Italian-style building which - for 75 years - has harboured the influential ‘Swansea Stained Glass Mafia’. Cold concrete steps and entry through an electronic security door lead visitors into a broad, cathedral-like corridor, where every footstep offers an eerie echo of one’s presence. Each of the building’s many doors will guide you through a labyrinth of interconnected rooms, every one unique in its size and shape, so offering its ‘Mafioso’ inhabitants the space to plan and execute their every task with absolute precision. However, this is not home to a quirky Celtic branch of the Sicilian criminal society, but the world’s most lauded educational department for glass art: the Welsh School of Architectural Glass, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010. The playful underworld comparison was made by former student and prominent glass practitioner Martin Donlin, who expressed great pride in being “part of the Swansea Stained Glass Mafia” in a tribute to the ever-expanding family of Swansea-educated glass-art virtuosos who have infiltrated nations across the world by way of their teachings and commissions. The extensive roll-call of luminaries includes Alexander Beleschenko, David Pearl,

Sachiko Yamamoto, Amber Hiscott and Catrin Jones. But this is a relatively recent phenomenon. During the Middle Ages, the Welsh embraced the Cistercian philosophy that natural light was a representation of God’s physical presence and therefore the lavish window creations favoured by some Catholic orders were deemed inappropriate and disrespectful distractions. Thus many Welsh monasteries and nunneries of this time were modest in their appearance, and in the centuries that followed much of the stained glass installed in Wales was imported from Europe: it wasn’t until the eighteenth century – and the emergence of David Evans from Llanllwchaearn near Newtown - that any Welsh involvement in the discipline was recorded. The ‘Mafia’s’ original ‘Godfather’ was William Grant Murray, a Glaswegian who was appointed headmaster of the Swansea School of Art in 1909 (it became the College of Art in 1958). Then, tradition of glass teaching in Scotland far surpassed that of Wales, and when Murray first arrived he exclaimed it was an “insult” that no stained glass was being made in the country. His passion for the craft came from his native Glasgow where, in the 1890s, there had been an upsurge of interest in the use

of glass for interior decoration by the religious and the wealthy. The subsequent demand for commissions resulted in the formation of numerous companies who employed many of the talented designers from Scotland’s second city. Murray saw this potential in Swansea, Wales’ heir apparent second city, and after sixteen years of persistent persuasion, he was finally allowed to start a stained glass evening class in 1935. And it was a self-taught amateur from this class who really brought the School to prominence. Howard Martin and his cousin Hubert Thomas were the first students of Murray’s evening class, having already set-up a studio of their own one year earlier. Martin was a modest man who lived in the industrialised Swansea suburb

William Murray


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of Morriston and, prior to Grant Murray’s class, was self-taught in the metier of stained glass. Under the knowledgeable guidance of Murray, it wasn’t long before Martin’s undoubted talent as a glass craftsman was recognised outside of South Wales. In 1937, he became a Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters and was awarded a prestigious scholarship by the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass, an historic London-based Livery Company. Even today, annual competitions and scholarships are administered by the Company and,

over the past 75 years, Swansea students have been consistently honoured. It was Howard Martin who would formalise the glass education programme in Swansea after undertaking a teaching role within the School of Art. Following the Second World War he introduced a National Diploma in Design (NDD) and, replicating the evolution of Glasgow’s glass industry, a studio was opened which employed some of the successful graduates. For many years the Celtic Studios worked as an independent venture but with close ties to the

glass department. As Wales’ first stained glass company it became one of the most prolific studios of the twentieth century, producing work that was shipped across the world. Regrettably, the studio produced its last commission several years ago but external projects are still taken by the Welsh School of Architectural Glass via its commercial arm, the Architectural Glass Centre. As well as accepting original commissions, it is fast becoming a vital resource for the restoration and conservation of centuries-old stained glass, with urgent requests flooding in from across the UK. The restoration of any historical object has to be respectful of the materials and techniques used by its originator and can be a painstaking process. One of the Centre’s most demanding assignments came as part of the delicate 20-year transportation and restoration of St Teilo’s Church, originally located in Llandeilo Tal-y-Bont, near Swansea, which has now been re-sited fifty miles east at the National History Museum in St Fagans. The Church was initially built in the twelfth century but its restoration has focused on the building as it would have been in 1520, blending original features with carefully researched refurbishment. In 1520, before the Reformation, the Church and its congregation would have been Catholic and it is believed that every inch of the interior walls would have been awash with garishly col-

Alexandra Road 1890's


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St Teilo's Church

oured murals and carvings. Yet, the preferred windows of the sixteenth century were not so ostentatious, as the glass of the period was pale green (which appears colourless to the naked eye) and the windows were unadorned so that the internal fresco could be viewed from the outside. For the Centre, this project involved years of exhaustive research, a global pursuit for the appropriate glass composition, and a problematic installation within an unconventional structure. This remarkable venture was finally completed in 2007 and was opened by the Swansea-born Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Besides enhancing his own reputation through global commissions, Howard Martin inspired a generation of Swansea-educated artists who not only gained employment at the Celtic Studios but with companies across the UK, and who were accepted by two of the world’s most distinguished London-based artistic institutions, the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy of Art. This London calling was answered by a promising craftsman called Tim Lewis, from Pontarddulais, who attended the Royal College of Art and established himself as a flourishing glass artist prior to

his return to Swansea, in 1963, as a part-time lecturer. Following Howard Martin’s death in 1972, Tim Lewis became the department’s new patriarch and, while maintaining the high standards and traditional craft values instilled by Martin, he would revolutionise not just the course in Swansea, but the direction of glass art in the UK. With the closure of Britain’s only other stained glass course at the Royal College of Art in the early1970s, all eyes turned to Swansea for leadership and direction and, as Lewis become interested in the increasingly abstract German contribution to the discipline, it wasn’t long before the European influence was taking hold across Britain. Glass was no longer just a form of ecclesiastical embellishment but a substance used in secular commissions and modern architecture. This contemporary definition prompted a change of course title from ‘Stained Glass’ to ‘Architectural Stained Glass’ and, more recently, to ‘Architectural Glass’. Not only was Swansea watching the world at this time, but the world was starting to watch Swansea, and increasing numbers of overseas students were arriving in south-west Wales, including an

Australian called Rodney Bender. Currently a Research Fellow within the Welsh School of Architectural Glass, Bender initially came to Swansea in the early-1980s to work at the Celtic Studios before joining the teaching staff in 1989, working alongside Tim Lewis and one of Wales’ greatest colourists, Glenys Cour. In 1996, Bender added his name to the illustrious list of Mafia ‘Godfathers’ when he succeeded Lewis as head of the department. As a multi-award-winning craftsman, Bender worked on commissions with the likes of Sydney Opera House architect Jorn Ultzon and patented a new glass product called ‘Kilolux’, which was first used in the facade walls of the armadillo-shaped Wales Millennium Centre. There have been some significant changes around the department in the past three decades, starting in 1976 when the College of Art, along with Swansea’s College of Education and Technical College, morphed into the newly established West Glamorgan Institute of

Higher Education. In 1992, the rebranded Swansea Institute became a higher education corporation which allowed for the introduction of an undergraduate degree in architectural stained glass, followed six years later by a Masters degree. Bender’s appointment as departmental head resulted in another change of direction for Swansea glass, as he identified a need for the programmes to acknowledge the increasingly technical aspects of the subject, utilising the expertise of Swansea Institute’s engineering and technology programmes.

Since the start of the new Millennium, the School of Architectural Glass has undergone a renaissance, with a new generation of talented glass practitioners - and former students, re-joining the School as tutors. The relocation of the city’s former central library out the Alexandra Road building has allowed the School to spread itself across the two floors, so offering scope to further enhance its facilities. And it is no longer just Alexandra Road which harbours this powerful family of artists. The School enjoys a permanent exhibition space at the city’s ultra-modern National Waterfront Museum, displaying the work of current students as well as the world’s most established practitioners. This evolution was matched by the wider institution as, in 2008, Swansea Institute became Swansea Metropolitan University. But what about the future? “It’s the balance of contemporary and traditional practice which makes Swansea so special and, as the only purely architecturally-based glass school in the world, truly unique,” says current head of school Dr Ian Walsh. “It’s this appeal that we want to maintain, both nationally

and internationally, with Swansea remaining a major global centre for the discipline.” With such extensive experience, a global ‘Mafiosi network’ - and the promise even better facilities - who would dare argue against Swansea’s domination of the field for another seventy-five years? The author would like to pay tribute to the research of the late Maurice Broady and thank the staff and students of the Welsh School of Architectural Glass for their cooperation. Images courtesy of Swansea Metropolitan University, Gill Fildes and Rob Mitchell.

Howard Martin with student


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Overview Meic Stephens

Cautionary Tale Young Poppy’s mum was not a fool, enrolling her at two At Meakin’s Montessori school, the feeder stream she knew, For Beaudesert and onward, to Cheltenham Ladies College, The route to social standing and a modicum of knowledge. So a rich investment banker, would duly come her way And while she waited, trendy jobs: party planner, posh P.A. But Poppy was oblivious to how she ought to strive. Though her father was ambitious, and her mother full of drive. At Meakin’s, Poppy never put her books and toys away She didn’t care for reading, though she did like squidging clay. Not numerate, nor literate, the child was doomed at four Psychiatrists and tutors beat a pathway to her door. She got some diagnoses like dyspraxic and dyslexic Her remedial attention was expensive, and eclectic. Her mother took to alcohol, her father left his wife, Your playschool years aren’t funny, they’re the fulcrum of your life.

Caroline Palmer

Barddoniaeth The publishers are most grateful to the trustees of the Harri Webb Fund who have generously sponsored this page. A fee will be paid for every poem published. Poems for consideration should be sent to: Dr Meic Stephens, 10 Heol Don, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 2AU. Please send a stamped address envelope if you want your poems to be returned.

Meic Stephens also recommends • Jim Perrin, West (Atlantic Books, £18.99) • Hilda Vaughan, The Battle to the Weak (Parthian, £8.99) • Chris Evans, Slave Wales: the Welsh and Atlantic Slavery 1660-1850 (UWP, £19.99) • Elinor Wyn Reynolds (gol.), Mwy o Hoff Gerddi Cymru (Gomer, £7.99) • Howard Marks (with Alun Gibbard), Two Dragons (Lolfa, £7.95) • Nickie Charles & Charlotte Aull Davies (ed.), Gender and Social Justice in Wales (UWP, £24.99) • Richard Gwyn, The Vagabond’s Breakfast (Alcemi, £9.99) • John R.Kenyon, The Medieval Castles of Wales (UWP, £12.99) • Rob Mimpriss, For his Warriors (Bwthyn, £7) • Mari Emlyn, Stori’r Wladfa (Gomer, £5.99) • Felix Aubel, Fy Ffordd fy Hunan (Carreg Gwalch, £8.50


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asterpieces that help to build the nation

It’s been quiet on the publishing front these last few weeks, between the Christmas rush and St David’s Day, but at least I’ve had a chance to read some important new books about Wales that will appeal to Cambria readers who keep abreast of literary and political developments in our country. Whatever we may think about religious matters, and regardless of how few of us attend a place of worship these days, it is undeniable that the Christian faith has had an enormous influence on the Welsh down the centuries, moulding us into the people we are today. This is particularly true of Nonconformity and the various versions of it dispensed by the chapels of our land. M.Wynn Thomas has written a major study of literature in Nonconformist Wales, In the Shadow of the Pulpit (University of Wales Press, £24.99). This book, one of the most trenchant and informative on Welsh writing in English ever to have addressed its subject, is also one of the most readable and entertaining. From ‘A Bluffer’s Guide to Nonconformity’ to ‘The Chapels Write Back’, and in its chapters about Dylan Thomas, Emyr Humphreys, Roland Mathias and Glyn Jones, it is a critical but sympathetic analysis of the origins,

meaning and influence of Welsh Nonconformity. It does not shirk the narrower aspects of chapel culture but shows how it kept alive a radical spirit, even among those who rebelled against their upbringing. The chapter on Dylan Thomas, who was related to a Unitarian minister named Gwilym Marles, will do much to persuade critics to reconsider him in a new light. Wynn Thomas is the pre-eminent critic of Welsh writing in English and this is his masterpiece. Dai Smith takes a more secularist view of society in In the Frame: Memory in Society 1910 to 2010 (Parthian, £20). Here we are in typical Dai Country, a landscape teeming with rioters, boxers, writers, photographers, sportsmen, colliers, painters and historians, a veritable gallimaufry of colourful, and often conflicting characters who make up a sort of collective biography of industrial Wales that is not nostalgic but based on traditional values. The chapter on the Tonypandy riots of 1910 is the best account I’ve read of that disturbance. These books by Wynn Thomas and Dai Smith are essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the Wales of the last hundred years and to reflect on what might yet become of the Welsh workingclass. There is little of proletarian south Wales in Ned Thomas’s autobiography, Bydoedd (Y Lolfa, £9.95). The ‘worlds’ of his title are Germany, Switzerland Rome, Oxford, Spain, London, Russia, Ceredigion and then wherever a minority language

is spoken. Ned has a fondness for the Basques and is familiar with those who have struggled for the freedom of Euzkadi. He has had a most unusual career. Academic, editor of Angliya, the British government’s Russian magazine, correspondent for The Times, author of The Welsh Extremist, Director of the University of Wales Press, founder of the Mercator project which carries out research into minority languages, the first editor of Planet, and language activist, he has brought a rare intelligence and steely determination to all that he has done. It still rankles with many of us that his well-researched plan to publish a daily newspaper in Welsh, namely Y Byd (The world), was denied grant-aid by the LabourPlaid coalition in Cardiff Bay, and the story of how this catastrophe happened is meticulously set out in this magnificent book. Lastly, a very elegant edition of Waldo Williams’s Dail Pren (Gomer, £7.99), first published in 1956, his only collection of verse but one which established him as a Welsh poet of the first water. With an introduction by Mererid Hopwood, it is nicely designed and contains many poems that are often quoted on patriotic occasions, none more so than those which urge his people to rise above their petty squabbling and unite to make something of themselves. As I write I see Waldo’s poem ‘Pa beth yw Dyn?’ in Jonathan Adams’ superb calligraphy hanging above my desk. Who cannot thrill to the

FOR THE COFFEE TABLE • John  K. Bollard, Tales of Arthur, photography by Anthony Griffiths (Gomer, £19.99) • David Williams, Y Cwm Tecaf: Cwm Pennant Ddoe a Heddiw (Gomer, £19.99) • Steven Jones, Llwybr Arfordirol Môn / The Anglesey Coastal Path (Carreg Gwalch, £14) • Ruth Jones (ed.), Holy Hiatus; ritual and community in public art (Parthian, £14.99) • Dewi Roberts (ed.), The Dancing Pilgrimage of Water, photography by Phil Cope (Carreg Gwalch, £15) • Matthew Rhys, Patagonia (Gomer, £19.99) • Christopher Howells, Caldey Island, photography by Ross Grieve (Graffeg, £14.99)


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verse that reads: Beth yw bod yn genedl? Dawn Yn nwfn y galon. Beth yw gwladgarwch? Cadw tŷ Mewn cwmwl tystion. (What is it to be a nation? A talent deep in the heart. What is love of country? Keeping house in a cloud of witnesses.) I hope by the time you read this you will have voted to bring lawmaking powers to the Senedd, as a step towards making it a real Parliament for Wales.


till the indomitable Irishry' Meic Stephens admires Patrick Crotty's new anthology, The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry (Penguin, hardback, £40)



atrick Crotty, now Head of the School of Language and Literature at the University of Aberdeen, is an Irishman who once taught at Trinity College, Carmarthen. He has written extensively about Irish, Welsh and Scottish literature, and is currently co-editing a three-volume edition of the Complete Poems of the great Nationalist/Communist poet Hugh MacDiarmid. His new anthology is a capacious attempt to present the literature of Ireland from earliest times down to the present, beginning with the Old Norse of the Viking period and the Old French of the Norman conquerors, through  clerical Latin and the English of the settlers and the


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Scots of the Ulster Presbyterians, to our own day. In the modern period two names stand tall: W.B.Yeats and Seamus Heaney, the second of whom has contributed a typically charming and informative preface. This is an ambitious book, but its 1,032 pages are a true reflection of the poetry written by the island’s poets, whatever the traditions to which they belong, and it is richly rewarding. The Gaelic, or Irish-language tradition is well represented with a selection of about eighty poems translated by such gifted poets as Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon and Kathleen Jamie. Women’s voices are to be heard in the work of Eavan Boland, Medbh McGuckian and Colette Brice from the modern period, though there are fewer from the centuries when Irish was the language of Gaeldom. It was just as Irish was going into full retreat as an everyday language that patriots started writing ballads that were meant to rouse the people to political and cultural resistance to English rule. This book, cleverly arranged by theme, devotes two whole sections to this kind of verse. Here will be found such old favourites as Dion Boucicault’s ‘The Wearing of the Green’, Charles O’Neill’s ‘The Foggy Dew’, and Dominic Behan’s ‘The Patriot Game’. Some of these songs may look a bit thin on the printed page but, when sung to catchy tunes (some imported from elsewhere) they could inspire listeners like nothing else. We are reminded, too, that Irish poets have written the words of songs well known in the wider world, including ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, ‘’Tis the Last Rose of Summer’, ‘Molly Malone’, ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ and (a favourite of mine), Padraic Colum’s hauntingly beautiful ‘She Moved through the Fair’ which preserves the pristine

simplicity of folksong. Some of the earlier pieces doubtless have historical interest and that may be the main reason why they are included in Professor Crotty’s splendid anthology. But the poems about Colum Cille, the Fianna, Maeldun and Cú Chulainn, for example, seem to belong to an heroic age we can no longer appreciate, though the love poems of the 14thcentury Gearóid Iarla Mac Gearailt and a score of others still speak to us across the centuries. It is this ‘backward look’, as Frank O’Connor approvingly called it, that gives the anthology its confidence, richness and depth. Several names from this period are unknown to me and I should have liked a brief biographical note on these poets, as in Patrick Crotty’s Modern Irish Poetry (The Blackstaff Press, 1995), his earlier attempt to anthologize the verse of his country. As it is, one of the pleasures afforded by this book is to come across poems already encountered under other guises, such as the anonymous ‘Donal Óg’, which is recited in James Joyce’s story ‘The Dead’; I had always thought it was pastiche but it turns out to be a translation of a real poem done by Lady Gregory. As for the contemporary poets whose work is represented here, while I am familiar enough with Ciaran Carson, Derek Mahon, Michael Hartnett, John Montague, Richard Murphy et al, because I have their books on my shelves, I should have liked not to have had to look up, in reference books or via Google, names which are only names to me. I am nevertheless delighted to make the acquaintance here of Bernard O’Donoghue’s ‘Ter Conatus’; Nuala ní Dhomhnaill’s ‘My Father’s People’; Thomas McCarthy’s ‘The Standing Trains’; and Greg Delanty’s ‘To my Mother, Eileen’; all of these poets were born after 1945.


This book appears at a time of great uncertainty and challenge for Ireland, especially for the relationship between the British and Irish islands, and between the six counties of north-western Ireland and the Republic. There are no poems here about Gerry Adams’s recent decision to stand down from Westminster and Stormont in order to fight a seat in Dublin for Sinn Féin, nor about the crisis in the Irish economy. Romantic Ireland may be dead and gone, but given the poets’ readiness to engage with Irish politics at every level, and even their willingness to be indelibly marked by the experience, I have no doubt it is only a matter of time. It is what gives their work a relevance and vibrancy and puts them at the heart of Irish affairs. How can one forget seeing Seamus Heaney, shortly after winning the Nobel Prize in 1995, walking arm-in-arm with his old friend Mary Robinson, President of the Republic? One has only to read him, or Yeats, to understand why these people are ‘still the indomitable Irishry’.  

The Working Whippet by Helen Hansell Quiller, £20 hardback. Review by Chris Kinsey.


his handsome and handy book will appeal to anyone with an interest in sight-hounds, or, as the author prefers to call them, “running dogs”. Hansell strikes a good balance between photographs of these alert, elegant, dogs and informative text. She is good at not overloading

the reader with too much anxious detail. Her style is clear and she is not prone to rambling or repetition. I approve of what she advocates by way of general training: plenty of praise and reward for desired behaviour; refrain from any idea of punishment, anticipation of needs e.g. toileting, chewing. She emphasizes that one needs to spend time with a pup learning its particular temperament and building a relationship of trust and mutual respect. Dogs need a lot of patience, persistence and consistency, though whippets are usually intelligent, sensitive and quick to learn. It is vitally important to instil commands, particularly recall, for the dog’s safety especially when out in the field, but also for a caring owner to check the terrain in advance of unleashing for hazards and stock. Training should be fun for dog and human. There is a good chapter on building fitness. She urges restraint, gentleness and a graduated programme for a return to winter work: “...the ultimate aim of training is to produce an animal in the peak of physical fitness and one that is mentally sharp, not an animal exhausted by relentless exercise... Whippets have hardy constitutions and forgiving natures, and these are some of the most remarkable things about these working dogs.” Grooming, stroking and massage are important daily health checks. Excellent nutrition is vital to wellbeing and performance. Hansell includes an interesting chapter on the ferret as the whippet’s accomplice and a very informative one on the history of the rabbit in Britain. She makes a compelling case for the damage caused by over-populations of rabbits and her preference that these excesses be controlled by skilled, quick, whippets and their owners rather than by myxomatosis. Even though rabbits

may be regarded as pests, permission to hunt must be secured with landowners. “There are no finer companions wherever you are.” For me, this is true for dogs allied to the whippet including those who fall short of selective breeding and hunting standards who still need homes. I’ve been devoted to whippet–lurchers and rescue greyhounds for 26 years.

Bobi Jones Yr Amhortreadwy a Phortreadau Eraill (Barddas £6) Cyril Jones


he title of this book simply translated is ‘The Unportrayable and Other Portraits’. According to the blurb this will be the last book of poems to be published by the author during his lifetime. There is also a quotation by Saunders Lewis on the occasion of the publishing of Bobi’s first book of verse in 1960: ‘This is a great book and it includes poems that are masterpieces.. it launches a new era, a new style...the future belongs to Bobi Jones.’ I think it would fair to comment, with forty years hindsight, that only one third of Saunders Lewis’s prophecy bore fruit. Bobi Jones certainly brought a new style to Welsh poetry but it is highly debateable whether he launched a new era or whether he left an indelible poetic impression on readers of Welsh poetry during that period.


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The Welsh strict metre poet Gerallt Lloyd Owen once referred to Saunders Lewis as y gŵr sydd ar y gorwel (‘the man on the horizon’).This could also be an apt description of the experience of reading Bobi’s poems. The two elements in the title itself seem to reflect the dual effect of reading the book on this reader’s mind. I suppose that it is only natural that the long religious poem that refers to God as the ‘The Unportrayable’ and all the other hymn-type poems on a similar theme fail to light any fuses in the mind of the reader who is sceptical of religious and supernatural matters. After all, reading poetry is a two-way process and the reader has to meet the poet halfway – or threequarters of the way on ocassions – in order to reach that desired point where reading poetry becomes a pleasureable pastime. In my experience the poems that deal with the first half of the book’s title always appear to be one horizon too far. Nevertheless, the ‘other portraits’ in the book are based on more secular themes and are therefore more accessible once the reader grows accustomed to B.J’s multi-layered imagery and style. Here are one or two examples of portraits of two very contrasting female characters. ‘Portread o Derfysgwraig’ (Portrait of a Terrorist) Heb dwrf y dôi’r derfysgwraig. Ond cyrhaeddai’n dorf o garedigrwydd o’r tu draw i’r gorwel ymhell o’r golwg; ddisgwyliwn i ddim hunanladdwraig yn gyrru i mewn tan fwrstio o serch amhosibl. (Without noise the terrorist would come. But she would arrive like a crowd of kindness from beyond the horizon and sight.One wouldn’t expect (to see) a terrorist driving in bursting with impossible love.) Or the ‘Portread o Miss Byd’


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(Portrait of Miss World’) a poem of thirteen three-lined stanzas which opens with a very vivid image. ‘Camai o flaen camra o dan Tawelfor gwallt’ (She would step in front of the camera a Pacific of hair) Bobi’s style in some of these portraits reminds the reader of Dafydd ap Gwilym’s ‘cywyddau’. For example: ‘Ei gwallt, nid oedd dim arall a drochai’r gwawl i gyd Gwynnai’i ogoniant potel frau ddau hanner cylch y byd.’ (Her hair, there wasn’t anything else to immerse all the light. Its brittle, bottle glory used to bless(?) the two half cicles of the world.) ‘Beti’n Galw’ means ‘Betty Calling’. Betty is the poet’s wife and the poem is a portrayal of the couple’s relationship and love now that they have reached their late seventies. Throughout the poem B.J also utilises the title of the poem as a humourous pun – ‘betingalw’ means ‘what-you-call-it’ and it serves well to describe the forgetfulness that besets an elderly couple. ‘Mae’r gorffennol a’i barabl yn estyn bysedd hirion atom, i gyffwrdd, ond yn methu â chyrraedd...Trannoeth yn tocio rhuddin yw’r betingalw’. (The past and its utterance extends long fingers towards us, in order to touch, but they fail to reach....The betingalw is the next day pruning the heart of the timber.) The poet comes to the conclusion... ‘Felly daethom gyda’n gilydd i oedran betingalw lle’r ŷm wrthi’n cronni, yn ein hanghofrwydd cytûn, eigionau o’n cusanau.’ (Therefore we have arrived together at that betingalw age where we dam/collect, in our agreed forgetfulness, oceans of kisses.) Adopting the role of reviewer as referee - and accepting the fact that all referees are mortal beings

who can be very subjective in their judgememts. I have come to the conclusion that this is a book of two halves, and in my opinion the second half certainly excels on all counts.  

Think Without Limits: You CAN speak Welsh Lynda Pritchard Newcombe (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, £8.50) Meic Stephens 


earning a new language can be a daunting business. Welsh, in particular, presents the learner with substantial difficulties such as the mutations, though they are small when compared with the complexities of, say, Russian, Basque or Magyar. But there are no ‘easy’ languages and Welsh is no more ‘difficult’ than most. It is in the social context that Welsh-learners come up against problems that are not quickly resolved. Almost every adult in Wales speaks English and while this fact is sometimes used as an argument for not learning (or even not speaking) Welsh at all, it goes farther than that. Many speakers of Welsh as a first language are loth to use it when addressed by a learner, and turn to English. The best response that can be expected from some Cymry Cymraeg is that they raise their voices, say everything twice, gesticulate, or otherwise treat their interlocutors as twp. Ask them to speak more slowly and clearly and they lose patience.


Even so, there are myriad ways in which Welsh-learners make difficulties for themselves. They give up almost from the off, speak English to people whom they know to be Welsh-speakers, make little attempt to master the basic grammar or acquire vocabulary and idioms, complain about dialectal features and the discrepancy between spoken forms and the written language, are shy about using Welsh and do not seek domains in which their knowledge, however slight or imperfect, might be practised. They must ask themselves just how badly they want to learn the language. It is largely a matter of motivation. If you are not prepared to make a real effort over, say, a year or two, you are not likely to make much progress. Half-heartedness or intermittent bouts of enthusiasm will get you nowhere. You need a concentrated period in which you can master the spoken forms to a level that will allow you to socialize and make new relationships in the language. That is why the Ulpan method, pioneered in Wales by my late friend Chris Rees and now brilliantly developed in various parts of Wales, is probably the most effective method of acquiring the language in the shortest possible time. Above all, using what you know of the language at every opportunity is essential, however shaky your grasp may be. Start with children, perhaps, or people you meet only fleetingly. Bear this in mind: hardly anyone will fret if you make mistakes, grammatical or otherwise, and as long as you don’t address total strangers as ti, you will get along quite nicely. And Oh, the thrill of carrying on a conversation in Welsh with people you don’t know! Lynda Pritchard Newcombe, having been a Welsh-learner herself, is now a teacher at Cardiff University and with the Open University.

Her book is full of sensible, wellinformed, practical advice for learners and native speakers alike. She concentrates on situations in which learners traditionally find difficulty in using their Welsh but writes as much for the tutor and the firstlanguage speaker as for those struggling to find a new linguistic identity. Hers is a most useful handbook that I warmly recommend. The only advice I can offer the Welsh-learner that is not mentioned here is: find yourself a lover/ spouse who speaks the language and is willing to speak it with you at breakfast/lunch/tea/supper/on the phone and in bed. Such a salami approach worked wonders for me half a century ago!  

An Tiredh Ughel / The High Territory Downloaded free


etween the rivers Camel and Tamar lies North Cornwall, known in Cornish as An Tiredh Ughel or 'The High Territory'. It covers the Shires of Trigg, Lesnewth, and Stratton, together with the most northerly parts of the Shires of West and East Wivel. From the perspective of the Tinners, this is the northern half of the Stannary of Foymore. It is a territory of bare slopes and green valleys, of a weave of countless hedges and abundant furze. There are trees that have bowed before the wind, narrow roads, and windows that fill with warm yellow light as evening

draws on. This is a place of standing stones and of sand and of slates, of light washed clean by the rain and of strong winds. And here there are people who have become steadfast and tough, courageous and warmhearted. They have followed the pathways of the sea to the four quarters of the world, and sometimes they have succeeded in finding their way home again. They possess memories from every age, and a rich and powerful heritage covering the arts and the practical skills, together with physical courage whenever required. The eglyn (or englyn) is a short poem of three, or sometimes four, lines. It is popular in both Cornish and in Welsh. Even though it is so short, this poetic form can concemtrate numerous experiences, feelings, and thoughts into just a few syllables. The eglyn can easily handle joy or sadness, the comical or the serious. Three kinds of eglyn have been included in this collection, namely, the teyrlinenn, the teyrlinenn vaghek, and the besontenn. I am grateful to my friend Chris Hore, seafarer, firefighter, photographer, and webmaster, for casting a critical eye over the draft of this little book. The shortcomings, however, are entirely mine.


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Some Day My Prince will come. An excerpt from Three Journeys by Byron Rogers Published by Gomer Press


hat did he look like? He looked as I had hoped he might, as a warlord of the Middle Ages should look. The man was huge. Cradling a battle axe, he would not have seemed out of place in the great hall of any castle. The shock was seeing him in shorts, framed in the doorway of a bungalow in a seaside resort at the end of Wales. “How would you have reacted had I gone down on one knee?” I asked him later. “I was wondering whether you would,” said a maths master gloomily. But then Evan Vaughan Anwyl B.Sc. of Tywyn is not just a maths master. He has only to switch on Google to be reminded of this. Here, on page after page, web-site after geneaological web-site, men he has never met are excitedly discussing the fact he and his family are “a surviving fragment of mediaeval Welsh royalty.” Another web-site goes even further. “He, his son, and two cousins are the ONLY people who can prove a direct male ancestry to any reigning Welsh prince.” Or, as somebody, preferring longer words, put it, “the only known direct patrilinear descendant of Rhodri the Great.” Dear God, Rhodri the Great ruled in Wales in the 9th century. Mr Anwyl has been identified as the head of the House of Aberffraw, the last Royal Family of Wales. And then it begins, the long wistful inventory of the titles to which he might lay claim. King of Gwynedd, Prince of Aberffraw, Lord of Snowdon. But these are titles in the safe past, for inevitably the inventory ends in the real minefield of Prince of Wales, a title once held by a member of his family. On at least one site he has been identified as the Claimant to Wales. Only Mr Anwyl has never laid claim to anything. All he has ever wanted to be is a maths master in a bungalow, a private man in middle age, playing golf in his retirement. Until very recently that other identity had been unknown, for while others proudly lay claim to descent from minor princes in Wales nobody thought that anyone existed with a descent from the grandest dynasty of all. The very possibility was the stuff of daydream. Except it wasn’t to one man. The only thing is, Mr Anwyl couldn’t give a damn. What follows would make a wonderful film, as the


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stuff of daydream becomes the stuff of black comedy. For while the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are ? introduces people to their long-dead ancestors, provoking moments of wonder and poignance, a man in Wales, who might be the subject of the most startling programme of all, wants nothing to do with any of it. Yet out of a BBC blog-site comes the call, “From my perspective I would invite Evan Vaughan Anwyl to become Prince of Wales.” No Welshman for 600 years, not since Owain Glyndwr, has claimed the title, and, unlike Mr Anwyl, even Glyndwr was not of the old dynasty. In response to that call, there was this : “Wouldn’t that be historic justice on an epic scale, restoring the family that had fought so valiantly for Welsh independence but were disinherited by the Edwardian Conquest ?” Another contributor: “ Hopefully Charles will be the last English Prince of Wales.” Amidst the excitement there is just one doubting, and very puzzled, voice. “Do you really think the Welsh will go for it ? They have only just got the Welsh Assembly, and that took some doing.” Yet in spite of a hullabaloo that has been going on for something like two years now, nobody has ever approached Mr Anywyl, let alone asked him whether he wants to become King of Gwynedd, Prince of Aberffraw, Lord of Snowdon, or Prince of Wales. “History was never a favourite subject of mine,” he said. “We’ve always been humble farmers in our family, that is, until my two sisters and I became teachers. Yes, we’ve always been proud of our family tree, but only amongst ourselves. Beyond that, no.” The family tree hangs in the passageway of his bungalow, just as photo copies of it hang in the passageways of his two sisters’ houses, and once hung in the family farm. It is an enormous framed thing, this family tree, over three foot by two foot six, with the abbreviations of most family trees, b for born, m for married, but this one also has sln for slain. There are many slns. The tree starts with the 11th century King Gruffydd ap Cynan of North Wales, and after him his son King Owain Gwynedd, whose coat of arms, the three eagles’ heads, and whose motto Eryr Eryrod Eryri, Eagle of the Eagles of Snowdonia, the family still bears.

The centuries move like windscreen wipers. The kings become princes, the princes lords, the lords constables of castles. Then the killing stops and the farming centuries begin. The constables become squires, the squires farmers, the farmers tenant farmers, and there are no more slns. “Where are you?” There were so many columns, so many names. A huge forefinger stabbed the glass. “ That’s me.” At the very bottom, Evan Vaughan Anwyl, the latest in seven Evan Anwyls, for like any Royal Family they have kept the name in generation after generation. Mr Anwyl’s son, called the Edling, the Heir, in some sites, Dafydd V in others, is a Manchester businessman. “Is Dafydd V interested in any of this?” I asked. “Even less than me. Mind you, if it had been anything to do with cricket....” Who were the Welsh? English historians in the Middle Ages thought they knew, albeit uncomfortably. “The Welsh, formerly called the Britons, were once noble, crowned over the whole realm of England. But they were expelled by the Saxons and lost both the name and the kingdom. The fertile plains went to the Saxons, but the sterile and mountainous districts to the Welsh. But from the sayings of the prophet Merlin they still

hope to recover England..” Their main hope was that one day a Messiah might come, the one they called Y Mab Darogan, the Son of Prophecy. But as time passed, and he didn’t come, the Welsh occupied their time by fighting each other in the dreary intervals between the seed-times and the harvests. And so it might have gone on, except that the English, or at least their Norman overlords, were better at fighting. A series of piece-meal invasions began which, on the eve of the late 13th century, had left just one formidable native Welsh dynasty. In control of North and Mid Wales was the House of Aberffraw under Llywelyn, the first and only Welsh Prince of Wales to be recognised by the English State. The full-scale English invasion in 1282 under Edward I destroyed him, his dynasty and what might well have become a nation state in its shaky beginnings. But it is what happened next that is so horrible. The children of that dynasty were hunted down, the little girls put into nunneries, the boys into wooden cages where they spent the rest of their lives like rabbits in a hutch. These are not details you will not have found in any school history, but the English took the threat they represented so seriously that almost a century later a man in English pay was sent into France to murder the GregynogAdvertNoLogos:Layout 1



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one they had forgotten about, Llywelyn’s great-nephew. They were taking no chances. But say one branch of the family had survived, a branch they had also forgotten, which kept its head down, living on its estates in the countryside. And so the quiet centuries began. This is the branch from which the Anwyl family, a name they adopted in the 16th century, is said to be descended, still in Merionethshire, as they have always been. On the Internet they have no doubts. And on the Anwyl family tree there are no doubts, with name after name moving relentlessly back into the Middle Ages. But at the National Library of Wales I was told, “ The registration of births only dates from the early 19th century. Before that it’s church registers and of course this is long, long before church registers. People turn up here claiming to be descended from Owain Glyndwr, a few from King Arthur, I think we’ve even had one who claimed to be descended from Merlin. So we are sceptical about such claims, but in genealogy anything’s possible.” Professor Prys Morgan of the University of Swansea echoed this. “It is possible.” And what tethers it even more closely to possibility is the complete lack of interest on the part of the Anwyl family. If there had been enthusiasm of any kind, but

no, to them it is just matter of fact. As Janet Mostert, Vaughan Anwyl’s sister, said, “ I look at all this with a mixture of pride and embarrassment, we don’t like fuss.” Or as his other sister Margaret Williams said, “To be honest, our family tree was just something that was there, hanging on the wall. If it had been my husband, that would have been very different. He’s fascinated by history. “Only in his case he can only go back to 1700.” But there may have been a clue to their survival among the slns in what she said next. “We’re just a family that loves to pootle along quietly.” There are probably no political implications, though Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist Party, has in the past flirted with constutional monarchy. Knowing nothing about Vaughan Anwyl, they opted in the 1950’s for the late Lord Dynevor, one of the Welsh gentry with a long descent though not from royalty. He told me what happened next. “I was living in Notting Hill Gate at the time and I’d just been down to the supermarket. When I got back two men were waiting at my door. They introduced themselves and asked me to be the Pretender of Wales. I stood there with these Sainsbury’s bags and said very politely that I was going through an extreme republican phase, so I couldn’t really become the Pretender of Wales.” The

Sainsbury’s bags, he went on, had been very heavy. Things have changed a lot since then. Representatives of tthe National Eisteddfod and the Gorsedd attended the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969. The new Archdruid said earlier this year that they would not do so again. But then it has been a feature of both Investitures, the only ones ever held in Wales, that those who took part later showed a marked eagerness to distance themselves. The Duke of Windsor wrote of his “ preposterous rig”, the knee breeches and coronet in which he appeared, and had to deliver one line of Welsh, Mor o gan yw Cymru i gyd. Anyone obliged to materialise in knee breeches in a mediaeval tower and inform the crowds beneath him that all Wales was a sea of song might have thought he was just one step ahead of the men in the white coats. And the Duke had his revenge: when he abdicated and went into exile he took the coronet with him, which meant another had to be commissioned for the 1969 ceremony. Of this the Earl of Snowdon has said that the ceremony was “bogus as Hell”, and that his own costume had made him look like “a cinema usherette from the 1950’s

or the panto character Buttons”, overlooking the fact that he designed the costume himself. But more to the point, Lord Elis Thomas, Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly, has gone on record to say there should never again be an Investiture. Only he went further. He said the title of Prince of Wales was “no longer relevant in the constitutional development long shifted to Wales’s own institutions.” But that was before a home-grown candidate had been identified. “Know what that king did ?” I was trying to interest Vaughan Anwyl in his family. “He put out the eyes of one of his nephews, then castrated him. He wouldn’t have been a threat to the succession then.” “Really?” said Mr Anwyl distantly. It would make a wonderful black comedy, with Sir Anthony Hopkins as the head of the House of Aberffraw who, when a wanderer called to pay homage, did not offer him a cup of tea. I have talked about this to anyone who would listen. “I’m sure you’d have had a cup of tea off Llywelyn ap Gruffydd,” said the poet Bobi Jones. Poni welwch-chwi hynt y gwynt a’r glaw? Poni welwch-chwi’r deiri’n ymdaraw?

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welsh national opera

Die Fledermaus norma lord

Opera had a touchingly plaintive edge. Substitute satire for real vice, and you have an enactment of the Hogarth Rake’s Progress cartoons. All Deirdre Clancy’s costumes were similarly meaningful, as well as ravishingly attractive. Alan Opie and actor Desmond Barrit made much of the often clumsy comedy of the gaol scene, although I personally found the injection of local references somewhat cheap given the generally conventional European setting. I will not reveal the sartorial coup in the final scene, as I would hate to spoil the surprise for those who see this production later in the tour, but please prepare to be amused! I suspect too that the full holographic effect of Strauss’ music will emerge only after another two or three performances, as the first night had Viennese Conductor Thomas Rosner keeping both brakes and bearing rein on the orchestra.

The full flavour of the champagne was evident, but some of the bubbles had yet to materialise. Since the Cardiff season, Cambria has heard the exciting news that another of opera’s long-term luminaries, David Pountney is to take up the reins as Artistic Director and Chief Executive of WNO following the departure of John Fisher last year.

A brand new venue in the heart of Cardiff... opening 17 June Lleoliad newydd sbon yng nghanol Caerdydd… yn agor Mehefin 17 Opening season highlights: G


here will inevitably be those who claim that the newest Welsh National Opera production is a sell-out to financial threat. Plenty deprecate Viennese operetta in itself, and may well tend to accuse the company of “playing to the gallery” in choosing Die Fledermaus, and the more so because this new production is staged by opera’s GOM, John Copley, whose work has not been seen in Cardiff for many years. Critics of the last, avant garde Fledermaus were much relieved when the curtain rose on Tim Reed’s graceful, more-or-less period set with balcony, pillars and trysting-corners aplenty. Adele’s entry confirmed that the costumes too heralded a “traditional” view of this syllabub of an opera. One could almost hear the collective relief! Classic production this may have been, but it was a sparkling evening. Considerable drifts of stardust were scattered by the delicious Adele of Joanne Boag, the young Scottish soprano whom WNO has nurtured in


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roles of increasing importance since 2007, and who, in spite of a musically and dramatically strong cast, completely stole the show. Her charm was almost matched by that of David Stout as a swashbuckling Falke. The ever-reliable Nuccia Focile was a deft and winsome Rosalinde, although the first night saw her a little stressed in the very difficult music of the czardas, and Mark Stone supported her soundly as Eisenstein. Interestingly, given that Miss Focile is, in real life, married to Paul Charles Clarke who sang Alfredo, I felt there was palpable chemistry between these two, and mere propinquity between Rosalinde and Eisenstein. Readers must draw their own conclusions! Copley’s blocking, and Stuart Hopps’ choreography, of the ball scene was exemplary, with each character given exactly appropriate position and scope for his or her significance in the intrigue, and Estonian Helen Lepalaan “hosted” the ball effectively as an unusually convincing Count Orlofsky, whose champagne eulogy

r F and Co inale nce rt

Richard Burton Theatre Fri 24 June | Gwe 24 Meh 7.30pm Playing Burton

Dora Stoutzker Hall 28 June – 6 July | 28 Meh – 3 Gorf WNO Opening Residency

Dora Stoutzker Hall Sat 30 July | Sad 30 Gorf 7.30pm Only Men Aloud

Directed by Burton’s great nephew Guy Masterson, this play reincarnates both the actor and the myth.

Experience the world-class Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera in the intimate surroundings of our new purpose built recital hall.

This is a rare opportunity to hear Classical Brit Winners, OMA, in an intimate and acoustic environment.

Tickets | Tocynnau £20, £15 concessions

For more information visit

Tickets | Tocynnau 029 2039 1391

Tickets | Tocynnau £22.50

Castle Grounds, Cathays Park Maes Y Castell, Parc Cathays

A Taff in the Land of the Gogs. A diary by Tom Davies for Cambria


was born in a small house on the banks of the River Taff in Pontypridd and grew up in large house on the banks of the River Taff in Cardiff. Our capital seemed a paradise on earth then, as I blasted along those river banks as a child, taunting the lovers in the long grass and asking for a tanner to go away or else playing hide and seek with my pals in the museum – what else is a museum for? - I never thought I would leave the city and indeed, when I did end up in Fleet Street, the plan was to get back to Cardiff asap. This was a city I had loved unreservedly all my life and to this day I still feel a percussive throb of anxiety on Saturdays as I wait for the Cardiff City football result. I was also fond of nearby Penarth, where many thousands of alcoholics cling shakily to the cliff hoping not to fall into the sea, although in my coastguard tower there, where I lived, I could still see Cardiff from the top floor. Yes, I was a Taff all right. Had you pricked me you would have seen coal-stained blood. My favourite meal was faggots and peas in Cardiff Market and I wanted my ashes scattered over the floor of the Old Arcade pub when I died. But everything changed when an ageing aunt of my wife Liz died and left us a pile of money and a some-


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what derelict house in the village of Llandrillo in the rural wilds of Denbighshire in North Wales. I couldn’t even spell the name of the place – let alone pronounce it – but we decided to go and live there, do up the house and sell it for as much money as possible and then scarper back down South. My worst fears about the place were confirmed from the first day when I was awoken at the crack of dawn by a neighbour’s cockerel who, I was to learn, began blasting away as soon as a tiny sliver of light got into its even tinier brain. A bull escaped from his field and half scared me to death one morning as I was on my way to buy a newspaper and sheep kept breaking into the garden and eating anything I had just planted. I was also deeply worried by the locals because I had always hated North Walians. Indeed the only North Walian I’d ever really liked was my wife and I’d only picked her up in the union hop in Cardiff University many years before because, with her nasal twang, I thought she was a Scouser. But she was a Gog from Anglesey and we immediately bonded over a common love of the Rolling Stones. I didn’t bond over anything with her North Walian father though and it was easy to hate him because he clearly hated me. I asked him for his daughter’s hand a few times – an event which was becoming more and more urgent after she fell pregnant – and, after pouring a few relaxing pints down his throat in a pub and asking him again, he just jumped up without a word and ran for the door where, in a drizzling night in Menai Bridge, he disappeared like a ghost at dawn. When our first child did come along and he did the maths he didn’t speak to any of us for more than a year.

So there I was, menaced by wandering bulls, awoken by insomniac cockerels and surrounded by a people who, to make matters a lot worse, all spoke in their native Welsh. It barely seems credible that, five years later, I have become a proud Gog, still here, sober for many years and more settled than at any time in my life. Everything changed almost as soon as we set foot in the neighbouring town of Bala and fell in love with the place. Everyone greeted us with a warm Bore Da and the streets reeked of a warm innocence. There was also Bala Lake, the largest natural lake in Wales, which shivers with gorgeousness even on rainy days. I now want my ashes scattered on Bala Lake and not in the Old Arcade. One morning we paused outside an old butcher’s shop in the High Street which was for sale. There had been no planning or even discussion as we decided there and then to buy it and turn it into an art gallery. Now we knew nothing about running a business or art and didn’t even know what we liked but we converted the shop and sat in the middle of the glistening gallery wondering what to do next. We hadn’t the smallest clue but soon learned, visiting most of the major artists of North Wales and taking advice from them as well as their work. William Selwyn gave us immediate and amazing support. In no time at all we were even making money: eye-watering amounts on some days which enabled us to take long cruises every winter in which we visited almost every corner of the world. At first, hopeful of starting a big row somewhere, preferably with Tate Modern, I wanted to call the place Tate Bala but Liz, who is a hundred times more sensible than me and has saved me from no end of trouble over the years, ruled that out and

we called it Tan Yr Hall, its original postal name. As a writer of some 20 books over 30 years I also decided to start my own publishing company, the Berwyn Mountain Press, upstairs, certain I could do a far better job than most of the other publishers I’d had. I would give my books the best of everything I promised myself: advertising, high quality printing and an extended shelf-life in the gallery unlike some of my other books which had sometimes been remaindered even before they got into the shops. My first production, The Tyranny of Ghosts, a novel, was printed in Dubai, got advertised in The Guardian, picked up a number of good endorsements and had a ravishing portrait on the cover done for me by the artistic genius that is Harry Holland. Soon I was on my way with a memoir, The Reporter’s Tale, which is now doing very well and even starting to make a little

money which will be invested in its future growth. Skinflint publishers can’t touch me any more. In a bound we both leaped free and Liz still sends up a nightly prayer of thanks for her safe deliverance from BBC Wales. But my biggest surprise was the warm dignity of the Bala people and in five years I’ve not had a row with one of them which was more or less a weekly occurrence in nutty old Penarth. I’ve not even had a moment’s problem about the Welsh language; they’ll tell you all you need to know in English and I’m sure I’ve managed years of sobriety here because no one has ever upset me about anything. We all drink so much, I’ve often thought, to help us deal with one another. We can only handle most of our wearying, often boring, relationships with a good skinful. We laugh and be jolly when all we really want to do is cry. I am immensely proud of what Liz and I have achieved here in this small

town by a lake. Every box has been ticked. We came here as a couple of fearful pensioners with not a lot to look forward to in the autumn of our years and we were made happy by a friendly people as we put together two good businesses which we will keep working until we drop. The plan now is for me to share my diary on how we get on in the land of the Gogs in future issues of Cambria. I’m going to try and use my words as bricks to build a little bridge of understanding between the two tribes of the North and South; a bridge between the South I have always loved and the North that I have come to love. A big ambition, you cynical lot in the back row may think, but that’s always been me. No matter how old you may get, hold your God by his hand, take a deep breath and go for the big. There is no other way my lost and divided people of Wales. Come together and lift up your eyes to the hills. Go for the big and die.

All the artistic stars of the North Wales galaxy William Selwyn Keith Bowen Tina Holley Gareth Wyn Jones Kyffin Williams Irene Taylor David Pollock Barbara Goolden Malcolm Edwards Rob Piercy Elaine Jeffreys Julia Harris Huw Jones Ogwyn Davies Diana Williams

The fiery splendour of a Bala Lake sunset by Gareth Wyn Jones

Originals, prints, books, framing, cards, ceramics, jewellery

oriel Tan yr Hall gallery High Street, Bala, Gwynedd LL23 7AB


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Environment The wonders of Dave Allen


WOOFing in Wales.

his year I thought I’d try a spot of WOOFing in Wales! Before we go any further, you may be relieved to know that WOOFing is nothing to do with clandestine adult pursuits, nor is it a recent transatlantic trend in pet therapy. WOOFing is working on an organic farm, usually a smallholding, in return for board and lodging. So you can Google WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) without fear of being led away in handcuffs or being shunned by your neighbours. My apprehension about being a bit past it at 55, and being the only WOOFer who remembers Percy Thrower in black and white on the tele, hasn’t been justified. The Welsh WOOFing community genuinely seems open to everyone who has enthusiasm, is reasonably fit, doesn’t mind getting dirty or wet, respects nature, and doesn’t fondly believe that animals either have high standards of personal hygiene or that they are shy about having sex in front of whoever happens to be around! My only previous experience of the land was camping, walking or playing football on it. Now after a few Welsh WOOFs I can help catch, feed and generally look after all things with hooves, trotters, and feathers, nurture and talk to vegetables, put up the odd Polytunnel, use a rotovator, erect wobbly fences and chop wood with an axe that looked like its last owner was Goliath! I’ve also learnt the lifestyle of an organic smallholding is not quite like the sitcom, “ The Good Life”; it can be pretty tough. The whole business of producing your own food is certainly no piece of cake. I was unaware of the bewildering range of animals, birds, bugs, disease, bacteria or weather conditions that are hell bent on destroy-

ing your crop, before it gets anywhere near the kitchen. Where do all those slugs come from, and what is it about weeds, how do they do that thing of growing overnight? Nor was I aware that farm animals, in general, seem obsessed with finding unique and often bizarre ways in which they can either harm or indeed kill themselves; that’s if they manage to survive the usual threat of predators and pestilence. My most recent WOOF was in Mid Wales. Old Chapel Farm is a collection of ancient buildings nestled on a hillside over looking a green valley and stream amidst a jumble of trees. Kevin and Fran welcome WOOFers with a cup of tea and a choice of accommodation. I slept under the rafters of a barn on a wooden mezzanine - spacious, cool and shared with a couple of sparrows flitting around, though the yurt or tree house were very tempting alternatives. WOOFs are surprising things. At Old Chapel I hadn’t expected to discover that my skills of archaeological restoration work, namely lime plastering, were somewhat limited, (the barn wall taking on the appearance of clotted cheese.) Nor had I anticipated the need to pack a decent suit along with my waterproofs. However, after being invited to a Finnish wedding in the farm’s medieval chapel, there I was, toasting the bride and groom with champagne, enjoying a range of fishy Baltic delicacies, and listening to Scandinavian folk music! Nor, indeed, on an earlier WOOF at Brithdir Mawr , had I expected to discover the delights of reading back issues of “Home Farm” whilst paying a visit to their beautifully appointed compost loo; fabulous views of the valley beyond!

Environment The heart of Old Chapel Farm is the traditional kitchen drenched in the luscious smell of herbs, huge bubbling range pots and wood burning. Cooking and eating is a shared communal activity. Everyone sits down to praise the cook, enjoy the food, which is so fresh its practically still growing on the plate, and talk. It’s a return to traditional family values, the television usurped and forgotten in a corner - wonderful. Over the past year I’ve been struck by the wisdom, knowledge and skills of the hosts and fellow WOOFers I have met. Their love of the environment and their deep, sympathetic understanding of nature have been inspiring. I have had some amazing conversations, in turf roofed roundhouses, on hillsides, round campfires or Bessie’s pub hidden away in a Pembrokeshire valley, on almost every topic under the sun; from hitching to Australia, fairies, Prince Charles, home schooling, wind turbines and how to meet the global food crisis. Love of the land, good food and good people, that’s WOOFing in Wales. Go on grab your wellies and head for the country!


Venue Hire ~ Yurt Holidays ~ Courses in Prehistoric Arts OLD CHAPEL FARM LLANIDLOES POWYS SY18 6JR 01686 412744

Footnote: WOOFs can last for anything from a weekend to several months. Further information on


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My Adventurous Uncle john a edwards


ometime during the 1930s my uncle Gwilym woke up to discover a sliver of wood protruding from his abdomen. It turned out to be a fragment from the aircraft he crashed on a training flight at the very end of the First World War, some 15 years previously. He was fortunate, yet - like many survivors of the War - Gwilym appeared to find civilian life difficult: he tried a short degree course at Bangor University specially tailored for ex-servicemen, but could not settle after his war experiences. So he took to travelling but proved a rather insular explorer: once, while crossing the United States, he shared a railway compartment with a Welsh-speaking couple but did not care to introduce himself! Eventually Gwilym joined Cunard as a radio officer and served on many ocean liners: the only legacy I have from him is a collection of suitcase stickers from such exotic establishments as the Plaza Hotel, Buenos Aires, Hotel des Indes, Java and The New Grand, Yokohama. There is also a photograph of him with the Hollywood star Merle Oberon but unfortunately I don’t know the background to that story!


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He spent WWII working at the Bristol aircraft factory and then returned to Bangor where he worked in an antique shop. As a small boy I remember him visiting the family in his MG. He cut a dashing figure with his David Niven moustache, slicked back hair, scarf, tweed cap and stringbacked gloves, then obligatory wear for sports car drivers. After WWII he drove a Ford Pilot saloon, essentially an American-designed car which, with its 3.6-litre V8 85bhp engine finally lured him away from the weedy charms of cars like his 847cc, 36bhp MG J2. Gwilym’s survival in the Great War, however, was largely due to luck, because the attrition rate for pilots in WWI was truly horrendous, especially if they appeared in the gunsight of Manfred von Richthofen, nicknamed ‘the Red Baron’ after the colour of his aircraft. I’ve just been reading ‘Under the Guns of the Red Baron’ by Norman Franks, Hal Giblin and Nigel McCrery, which records the 80 allied aircraft von Richthofen shot down - and lists his victims, among them six Welshmen, only one of whom survived.

• Tom Rees was von Richthofen’s very first victim. Born in Brecon and educated at Aberystwyth University, he was commissioned into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. He was the observer in a Vickers aircraft and was killed by gunfire while the pilot Lionel Morris died when the plane crashed. As was common in that age of chivalry, Rees was buried with full military honours by members of the Jasta 4 German squadron. This was an unbelievable double tragedy for the Rees family as Tom’s brother John was killed by lightning on the very same day – the 17th of September 1916. • Guy Everingham was born in Barry but was living in Colwyn Bay when war broke out. He was training to be an observer when he married Gladys Annie Brown and set up home in Llandudno just before he was killed on April 8th 1917. His younger brother Robin had already lost his life as a Trooper with the Welsh Horse at Gallipoli in 1915. • James Allen Cunniffe of Port Tenant, Swansea, was shot down by von Richthofen when piloting a Vickers FE2b. Seriously wounded, he spent two years in hospital at Spalding, Lincolnshire, before returning to his post in the Public Analyst Laboratory, Swansea. • Allan Harold Bates was brought up over the ‘Utility Stores’, 44 St Helens Road, Swansea, and went to the nearby municipal school, and then the Technical College in Swansea before joining the RFC. He was shot down in April 1917 on a bombing mission, and he and his observer Sergeant Barnes were killed when their plane plunged into a house at Noyelles-Godault where they are buried in the local cemetery. • David Evan (Dan) Davies lived at 175 Crogan Hill, Ca-

doxton, Barry, and was a brilliant scholar who graduated as Master of Science at Cardiff University. When war broke out, he was on Government service in the West Indies but returned to join the RWF. He then transferred to the RFC and qualified as a pilot. He was shot down while carrying out Artillery Observation over the Arras battlefield. His body was never found and his name is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing. • On April 2nd 1918, Ernest David Jones from Llanfaes, Brecon, a pilot, became von Richthofen’s first victim in the new RAF service which had replaced the RFC on April 1st. His name is also on the Arras Memorial. He was just 19 years old.


n my early days as a motoring writer, listing a new car’s tally of ‘special’ equipment would take up perhaps a couple of lines. This was in the 1970s and features such as power steering, all-round disc brakes and even a radio didn’t exactly demand much space. Try the same thing today and you end up with a detailed catalogue of infinite complexity and (dare I say it) tediousness. In fact most safety and comfort equipment can now be taken for granted, but just occasionally a certain feature catches the eye, and that on the revised Renault Laguna is the 4Control four-wheel-steering. Four-wheel-steering is not exactly new and many manufacturers have dabbled with it in recent years, if only on a limited range of vehicles. The aim is to achieve the ultimate in stability and manoeuvrability and the latest active systems are linked to the car’s Electronic Stability Programmes and ABS anti-lock brakes. With 4WS, the front wheels are


The revised Renault Laguna has received more aggressive frontal styling.

steered by the driver while the rear wheels are automatically steered by an electric actuator controlled by the car’s computer system. At speeds up to 37mph, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the front, which reduces the turning circle and eases the problem of parking in small spaces. Above 37mph, the front and rear wheels steer in the same direction giving a ‘driving on rails’ effect in bends which increases safety as well as driving pleasure. I remember driving a Honda Prelude with 4-wheel-steering a few years ago and while I did not have the chance to try out the high-speed handling on a test track, I was most impressed by the cars manoeuvrability in crowded city streets, with the ability to weave effortlessly between parked vehicles. Curiously, the overall impression was that of driving a car much smaller than it really was. There is also the priceless benefit of reduced body roll in cornering and

perhaps that in itself could be a major selling point if passengers - often children - suffer from car sickness. In terms of car handling, four-wheelsteering can be considered gilding the lily, not essential perhaps, but a desirable option to enhance safety and increase driving pleasure. In the meantime, the Laguna has received a styling update for 2011 with less engine emissions, lower prices and a simplified range. It sits firmly in the medium car class with a straight choice of Hatch and Sports Tourer (estate) body styles. A choice of three diesel engines and just one petrol confirms the modern trend towards optimum economy and there is the option of one auto box. There are ‘Expression’, ‘Dynamique Tom Tom’ and ‘GT Line Tom Tom’ trim levels (Tom Tom being the satellite navigation system). 4Control four-wheel-steering is standard on the top 2.0 dCi 180 model only. Prices range from £17,795 to £24,145.

Travel & Hotel Review Landsker Pembrokeshire by author Niall Griffiths


as-blaidd, or Castle of the Wolf; such a ringing and evocative name. The origins of it are immaterial, really - mysteries explained cease to be mysteries. Better to immerse yourself in the magic of Pembrokeshire than seek explication. You don’t bring your desk with you, when you come to this place. The castle is of the motte-and-bailey type, a brackencaptured hump standing some six metres high. The building of the nearby A40 in the 1920s destroyed some sections of the bailey but the antiquity of the place is unquestionable, and palpable; potsherds found in the paler soil of the site indicate an earlier Iron Age structure, built on to strengthen the Landsker line, a string of fortifications erected by the Anglo-Normans to protect their south Pembrokeshire colony from the native Welsh. The soil here is rich with plundered blood. Owain Glyndw^ r sacked the area during his uprising and his bones are rumoured to be interred in Hill Field next to Wolfscastle Country Hotel, itself a part of an intricate and intriguing back-story, built on a site occupied for millenia, with walls from an ancient cottage still visible its superstructure. It was also once an inn, the Sealyham Arms, before William Tucker Edwardes - whose family had a finger in many a Pembrokeshire pastie - converted it into Alltyr-Afon for his brother Thomas, injured in the siege of Badajoz. It passed through many local landowning hands before becoming a hotel in 1976. And its story continues. It’s a Welsh Rarebit attraction now, and recently refurbished. Rooms with big beds and baths and window seats and slanting beams of light and bags of face-implodingly, tooth-looseningly sweet fudge (as fudge should be) on the coffee-table. And, of course, Pembrokeshire singing to you beyond the windows. We


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changed into boots and old jeans and walked out into the green and hanging drizzle. Dylan Thomas called these hills ‘loud’, and he was spot-on, as he was about many things; they talk and sing and recount histories and legends, fill your ears with stories of wars and wolves and druidic goings-on, bloodbath battles, the echoing clang of steel on steel. High mewls of kites and buzzards and the chortle of spring and brook. We climbed up to the oneiric geoglyphs of Treffgarne Rocks, the county flat and vast and open around this bizarre tall cluster of towering rocks and crags. Pareidolia is the human propensity to perceive recognisable forms in random shapes; maybe, it is mooted, a memory of when we needed to discern the hungry faces of bears and sabre-tooths in the shadows beyond the fire’s thrown light. That innate talent proves itself here; the Treffgarne Rocks change, depending on angle and quality of light, and reading them is a thrilling and absorbing activity; now Oddjob, now a snarling cat, now a pterodactyl, now a leaping salmon. Local nicknames

photographs by Philip Clarke

for these formations include ‘the lion’ and ‘the teddy bear’ but they’re kaleidoscopic, and given to instant alteration. There’s a hillfort here, too, looming over the gorge far below in the thalweg of which the Western Cleddau foams and breaknecks between tall and thickly-ranked trees. In this valley can be found Brunel’s abortive 19th century attempt to bring a railway to the area. Once there were stations at Wolfscastle Halt, Welsh Hook, Mathry Road. Noisy places still, but with sounds other than the grinding of engines and the hisses of stream. Ogham stones, mills, fountains, disused quarries. Remote chapels reachable only by foot and set in circular enclosures and wetly a-crumble due to the slow emissions from the area’s thousand holy wells. The Garne Turne capstone in the boggy field, damp sheep picking morosely for struggling green morsels between the scutellant rocks; collapsed long ago, this stone, due to the enormous weight of it. Lying aslant and undeclared in the field, massive, a wedge of beckoning shadow beneath it;

colossal, huge, of terrific mass. At each turn, Sir Benfro boggles. Good Guinness in the Wolfe pub then back to the hotel for a nap and a hot bath and lots, lots of food and wine, served by warm and knowledgeable and attentive - but never, not once, obsequious - staff. Scallops, black pudding and apple puree; pigeon breast. Hake tagine and duck. Everything locally sourced. Champagne sorbet and Welsh cheeses. Burgundy and Sancerre and port. Brandy in the bar. And perfect kedgeree at the other side of a deep and renewing sleep, lullaby’d by the singing hills. It’s wonderful how Pembrokeshire, and especially the northern Landsker part of it, given its deep background of warfare and bloody strife, can be so inducive to calm and peace. It’s not cosy, or comfortable, or safe, and if that’s what you’re after, go elsewhere. Yet it has the stillness and pacificity that I associate in memory with a bedtime story; moving and magical and re-assuring, possessed of a power to renovate and refresh.

If it’s not here, how can we recommend it?!


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TheWelsh Kitchen

dorothy davies

A terrine for all seasons

For theLarder


y favourite roads are those that in spring and summer become vaulted tunnels of green, their banks spangled with starry white stitchwort, wild garlic also loves this light speckled, shadowy, environment and the other day driving with windows wide open in the gloriously unseasonal good weather we have been luxuriating in I was sure I caught the first garlicky whiff of this year. I haven’t picked any wild garlic yet but have already started to think what I might do with it, apart from old favourites like omelettes, or using it to enhance almost anything on the barbecue. I think that this year I might play around with it as a lining for a terrine, adding flavour as well as looks. Thinking of the latter, beetroot leaves make a fabulously theatrical surround, the red veined purple leaves contrast vividly with almost any interior, becoming if anything more brilliant in colour when cooked . Terrines are wonderfully versatile and can be made from a huge variety of ingredients; vegetarian, fish or heavily carnivorous, they are very useful on stand-by in the larder for unexpected visitors, summer lunches, light suppers, picnics, manwiches! The difference between a terrine and a pate is slight and often overlapping, a pate can often be a terrine, but vice-versa not always, a pate can be made up of chicken livers fried in a healthy amount of butter with a dash of brandy and some cream, well seasoned, blitzed and then put into pots to set, or mushrooms, lentils, smoked salmon and cream cheese, the word pate means paste and it does not need to be baked. The word terrine applies to the earthenware dish in which the meat, fish or vegetable is placed and baked, this can be done in an oven or a bain-marie, it is not usually smooth. Terrines are often layered with varying textures. Once cooked they need to cool, preferably weighted down: cut a piece of thick cardboard to the right size, lay on top and place a tin (lying down) or two (standing up) on top of that, the card will help to disperse the weight evenly. Do not line the tin with foil, the salts in the meat will eat their way through it, greaseproof paper is best and clingfilm (but only if you are following the bain marie style of cooking) works surprisingly well: I have taken to poaching rougher pates, rolled into sausages in several layers of this, it is so easy. Do keep the juices, they make a wonderful dressing drizzled over an accompanying salad.


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Bwydydd Castell Howell Foods - Supporting Welsh Producers

Chicken and pork terrine wrapped in wild garlic leaves ½ lb sausage meat 4 oz chicken livers, 2 finely chopped shallots 1 oz butter 1 egg 2 oz bread crumbs A pinch of thyme 1 spoon of brandy A dash of cream 1 tsp of salt pepper 4 chicken breasts A good handful of wild garlic leaves Gas mark 4, 180C, 350F Fry the chicken livers lightly in the butter, remove and chop, in the same pan fry the shallots until soft and golden, then put all the ingredients bar the chicken breasts and garlic leaves into a bowl and knead well by hand. Trim the chicken breast; flatten it slightly to a more even thickness with a hammer. Line a 2lb loaf tin generously with cling film, line that with overlapping garlic leaves, line these with a layer of chicken, the idea is to have the sausage mixture completely encased in chicken, like a brick, press in the sausage mix and then cover in a layer of chicken breast, pull any overlapping chicken over the top and push it down well. Place the loaf tin in a baking tray containing an inch of water. Cook for 1 hour 10 minutes, allow to cool weighted down. Delicious served with a selection of salads or thinly sliced in a sandwich. Thin slices of aubergine or courgette cut lengthways fried in olive oil also make a great lining if you can’t get wild garlic.

If you would like to share any memories and recipes handed down using traditional Welsh ingredients, please send them to dorothy davies, po box 22, carmarthen, sa32 7yh

A couple of weeks ago a van arrived and a large white polystyrene box was unloaded. Seeing that it was from Rachel’s Organic, I kept it for opening when the children got back from school. High excitement ensued and the rabble were only brought under control by immediate supplies of Divine Rice. Wales is a wonderfully rich and fertile in many ways. Much of Wales (not forgetting the bread basket of Anglesey) is unsuitable for grain production or large scale market gardening but the lush grasses of the valleys give us good beef, milk and cheese, the hills, mountains and marshland breed good sheep, we have a large coastline the harvest from which is mostly appreciated in Spain and France – apparently we are not prepared to pay the prices they will. Supermarkets have a few Welsh products, not many, in their defence partly this is down to scale of production: small producers often simply can’t cope with the quantities needed by supermarkets. But only partly, if you go to Scotland or Ireland and walk into any supermarket you will see the power of national PR and pride, why is it that in supermarkets here whilst more than a passing nod is given to language, that is it, apart from the signage over the aisles perusing the shelves you could be in any English supermarket? Rachel’s is one of the few products to have really made an impact in this market. Their products are good but the fact that it can be found so widely is down to size. This is not a cottage industry, although it started out as such, the excellence of its products and their success brought them to the notice of American organic giant Horizon who bought them in 1999. Continuing success has rendered them a very desirable commodity and last year they were bought by family owned French giant Groupe Lactalis, makers of President Camembert, McLelland cheddar and Milupa to name only a few of their brands.

Rachel’s dairy is proof that even bad weather can have a silver lining. Brynllys, the Rowlands family farm near Aberystwyth was Britain’s first organic dairy farm. Rachel Rowlands’ mother became one of the earliest members of the Soil Association in 1952. In 1966 Rachel and her husband Gareth took the farm on and true to her mother’s beliefs they carried on the organic tradition. Diversification came with the snow storms that swept in the area in 1982: for ten days the farm was cut off, tankers couldn’t collect the milk. Rather than see it go to waste Rachel determined to make butter and cream, her grandmother’s old churn was fetched from an outhouse and the rest is history! Our tastings yielded some surprises: I expected the children to go for the Divine Rice with toffee, they did like that but the traditional was preferred by all. The pouring yoghurt was a favourite, so it came as a shock to find yesterday that this line has just been discontinued, there was nobody available to tell me why but perhaps they will bring it back if we lobby hard enough! They suggest using this rather than milk but we have been using it more like cream. Their butter is delicious but my favourite product is the crème fraiche. Supermarket crème fraiche is often rather sour this is not, this is what I was brought up to believe crème fraiche should be: rich and creamy with an added depth of flavour, a slight sharpness, that comes from being cultured. The coconut yoghurt is fantastic for cooking with but was not liked by any of the tasters au naturel! Not because of the flavour: light, faintly coconutty, sweet! But the texture, all those little bits of dessicated coconut, although I do know that there are some to whom this is heaven. However, it makes a fantastic marinade for chicken (yoghurt is a natural tenderiser) and a wonderful addition to a beef curry, the sweetness matters not at all as one often needs a bit of sweetness to offset the spice.


C a mbr i a

the national magazine of wales cylchgrawn cenedlaethol cymru


The National St. David's Day Parade 2011 photographs



© cambria

“The National Saint David’s Day Parade is a spectacular and uplifting event and all who come to take part or just see the parade leave with strong memories of pride and enjoyment. If you’ve not yet been, put it in your diary now for March 1 2012.”

“We’re very grateful for the continued support of our main funding partners Cardiff Council, National Assembly for Wales and the Arts Council of Wales, which has enabled us to deliver the parades and plan for the future.

“we want very much to hear from schools, brass bands, youth groups from around Wales, who are interested in showing the very best of Welsh culture on parade.”

"The Parade now gathers attention in Wales, the UK and overseas and it’s becoming an occasion with great potential to showcase what Wales offers, just as the tourism season opens. There’s increasing interest from the business community and now is the time for commercial sponsors to join us in realising this vision.”

“As the Parade goes from strength to strength, we could also do with more volunteers who have a strong interest in helping us on the day or in liaising with partners, especially in the areas of traditional music and dance.”

Alan Jobbins, Chairman of the NSDDP Board

David Petersen, Parade Arweinydd

If you are interested in taking part, volunteering or becoming a sponsor you may get in touch with us here at Cambria or with Marc Evans, Parade co-ordinator, 029 2021 3629,

What’s ^

hot in Wales

Gw yl Ifan (the annual Welsh Folk Dance Festival) will take place in Cardiff from 17th -19th June. Teams of dancers and musicians from all over Wales and beyond come together to celebrate Mid-summer. Saturday will see a grand Procession through the City Centre, the Raising of the Summer Pole and dancing in various places including the National Museum, Cathays Place, the National History Museum, St Fagans and the Lanfa in the Welsh Millennium Centre. Based in the Angel Hotel where a Twmpath will be held on Friday evening and the Taplas on Saturday evening. For more information see or call 029 2056 3989

The publication

of ‘Shropshire Butterflies’ - a fascinating poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire – is to be celebrated in poems and art at the Dower House Gardens, Morville Hall, Bridgnorth, on June 11th. Tickets for the event cost £5 and visitors are urged to bring chairs, rugs and picnics. Books, cards and artwork by the poets and artists involved will also be on sale. Proceeds from the tickets will be donated to the Butterfly Conservation charity, as will a percentage from book sales. Tickets can be bought by emailing Nadia Kingsley on fairacrepress@ or on the door on June 11th.

Every 2nd Thursday of each month there is a Farmers’ 

Market  at  Fforestmill  Garden  Centre,  Fforestfach.  Stalls include:   Welsh cheeses;  local free range eggs;  Blaencamel  farm vegetables & preserves;  free range pork, sausages and traditional, naturally cured bacon;  fresh bread & Welsh cakes, and more! The next is on Thursday, 9th June,  9.30am  to 12.30pm, car parking is free. For more information see

The Felin Fach Griffin  (between

Brecon and Hay-on-Wye) will be holding trips around their organically certified kitchen on  July 8th and September 2nd, complete with barbecue and cocktails on the lawns. The tours start from 7.30pm  with head gardener, Joe Hand, and head chef, Ross Bruce.  The July tour will focus on strawberries, garden peas and broad beans, and September on later summer vegetables such as sweetcorn, cabbage, beetroot, onions, leeks, squashes and the orchard fruit.  Joe will answer questions on the raised bed methods he uses and Ross will be able to talk about how the kitchen uses the produce.  Each tour will be followed by a selection of summer drinks made from the garden’s produce and a barbecue using meat from local producers, salad and fresh vegetables from the garden and either blackcurrant or strawberry ice cream. To book call Laura on (01874) 620 111 or email

‘trac’ and Cwmni Arad Goch

are running two one day schools in Aberystwyth on June 11th – one for singers, the other for guitarists. The singers will be looking at Welsh folk songs and the basics of Cerdd Dant with Arfon Gwilym[1][1] and Gwenan Gibbard, and will be divided into Welsh and non-Welsh=speaking groups. Dan and Gerard KilBride, will be leading the guitar acticities.Both workshops will be held at the Arad Goch Centre, Stryd y Baddon, Aberystwyth – a few minutes walk from the train and bus stations. Registration is £15.00 in advance, call 029 2031 8863, or £20 on the door.

Symphonica Tywi, under the baton of Mike Cottam, will be holding its annual sum-

mer concert on June 18th at The National Botanic Garden when the Great Glasshouse will ring to the sounds of Vienese waltzes and polkas. Tickets cost £8.50 and are available on 01558 667149.


C a mbr i a

the national magazine of wales cylchgrawn cenedlaethol cymru

Cambria Magazine Summer 2011