Dolgellau.Wales
Dolgellau Station in the Early 1960s

Dolgellau Station in the Early 1960s

Dolgellau Memories
These are emails I have been sent over the years. Many of them are over ten years old now, but make interesting reading.
The Dolgellau Army Cadet Force by Chris Hughes
Cadet Corporals
Dolgellau Cadets
David M. Hughes
The Dolgellau Army Cadet Force by Chris Hughes

I was sent this photo by Chris Thomas, son of George Thomas, who was our Sergeant Instructor and is on the left of the photo. The Cadets are from left to right: Peter Thomas (son of Dr Norman Thomas), Chris Hughes and Michael Kiederer. The occasion was Remembrance Day, 1968 and was our first parade in uniform. We had only just acquired them and I have a suspicion that we'd collected them either the weekend before or even the day before the parade! The day was rainy and wet and when the battledress was exposed to moisture, it gave off a distinctive smell of mothballs! This probably accounts for the distance between George and we Cadets and the glum expressions on our faces!

In the summer of 1968, the High Sheriff of Meirionydd, Lt Col Edward Nanney-Wynne, asked my father to raise an Army Cadet Force unit for the boys of Dolgellau. This was a two-pronged request; firstly, Lt Col Nanney-Wynne was the County Commandant of the 7th (Merioneth and Montgomery) Cadet Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and to have a platoon in Dolgellau would fill a void that existed between Tywyn and Barmouth. Secondly, as my father was a member of the Gwynedd Constabulary (as it was back then) he could keep an eye on the local lads who might otherwise be tempted into wrongdoing, due to boredom, and appear at the local Assizes!

So, PC 97 Dafydd Hughes became Mr D M Hughes, Adult Under Officer and Officer Commanding of the Dolgellau Platoon. I was despatched back to Ysgol y Gader at the end of the summer holidays as the "recruiting sergeant" to see if there was any interest. We had to limit the numbers at first, due to a typically military problem - logistics (ie transport) - so I was tasked with recruiting three other lads to get things off the ground.

It didn't take me too long to find the first three and one Tuesday evening, Peter Thomas, Dewi Owen and Michael Kiederer joined us for the drive over to Barmouth. As we were a new detachment, we didn't have anywhere to meet in Dolgellau and the wheeling and dealing to find premises for us was still underway. So, we found ourselves joining in with the Barmouth detachment, commanded by Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Peter Crabtree. Our first evening was spent getting to grips with the various weapons then used by the Army Cadet Force!

We were taught the safety drills for the Lee Enfield Number 4 rifle, the STEN submachine gun and, wonder of wonders, the BREN light machine gun. Our first lesson was the very sobering instruction - "Never point a weapon at anyone unless you mean to kill them!". This was designed to put the fear of God into enthusiastic 14 year old Cadets, and was reinforced on numerous occasions, to ensure that we had a healthy respect for the weapons whenever we took them onto the rifle range.

Buoyed up after such a heady evening, we soon put the word around that "Cadets" was well worth joining and that we were going to have lots of fun! Our trips to Barmouth continued for a few weeks, until we finally had permission to use the Dolgellau Drill Hall behind the Court House. By this time, there were a number of new recruits eager to join us. Some names that spring to mind include Gwyndaf Hughes, Aled Thomas, Andrew Wolfe, Victor Morgan, Denzil Roberts, Ian Riches, Eric Reading and Trevor Davies. If there are any other names from the early days, then please write in and I'll add them to the list.

We were boosted by the addition of two more adult instructors, Sgt George Thomas and Sgt Jimmy Parkes. George and Jimmy had both been members of the TA and were instrumental in teaching us drill, fieldcraft and all the other skills required to turn us all into "Cadets".

There was quite a rush to get us issued with uniforms in readiness for Remembrance Day. This entailed a trip across to Newtown, to the Battalion HQ, where we met Major Peter Lumsden and became familiar with the Drill Hall, where we would stay on weekend courses. Our uniform in those days was "Battledress" and "Shirts, hairy". The Battledress was similar to that worn during the Second World War and was made of incredibly rough and itchy serge. Not only that, it had been treated with an anti-moth agent and smelled somewhat strange. The "shirts, hairy" were torture to wear and didn't improve until they'd been washed a couple of dozen times. The sizes were something of a problem as well. Designed for burly Guardsmen, not 14-year-old schoolboys, I recall at least one Cadet wearing a safety pin at the back of his collar so that his shirt would fit!

So, Remembrance Day 1968 arrived and we made our first debut in front of the public. It rained, only as it can rain in Dolgellau in November. The anti-moth treatment in our Battledress began to give off noxious vapours. If you look at the photo of the Detachment on parade at the top of this article you'll see that the smell probably accounts for the pained expressions on our faces and the distance between us and Sgt George Thomas!

We trained hard throughout that winter and by the summer of 1969, we were beginning to shape up as a formidable fighting force! The then-owners of Nannau had allowed us a patch of land behind some outbuildings and we began to build an outdoor rifle range. We had a number of marksmen and our foot drill was worth watching. We drilled on the Marian car park, under the tutelage of Sgt George Thomas, an ex-Welsh Guardsman, who really put us through our paces and had us doing drill that wasn't in the Army Cadet Force drill book! We could do all the evolutions seen on Trooping the Colour and we regularly had an appreciative audience of "regulars" of the Blades Bar at the Lion!

Peter Thomas and myself were selected (names drawn from a hat) to go on the UK Army Cadet Force visit to the British Army of the Rhine over in Germany during the Easter Holidays. We had a memorable time with other Cadets from our Battalion and some Cadets from Kent, staying with the Queen's Regiment in Lemgo. The visit included exercises with the Regulars, including roaring around the German countryside in armoured vehicles, driving Centurion tanks, firing all the modern Army weapons at Sennelager and some "cultural" visits to Munster and Hanover. I have some vivid recollections of the troop trains pulled by huge steam engines, which conveyed us to our host units and the return trip. Continental steam trains were very smoky and the windows in the carriages opened so that one could lean right out - my unrehearsed sooty-faced "Al Jolson" impersonation went down well! Less well received was the mug of cold tea thrown into the slipstream, followed by screams of rage from further down the train!

After the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in July 1969, we all went up to Blaenau Ffestiniog by coach to take part in a Battalion parade and Royal Inspection. We were inspected by Prince Charles, who "looked bigger on the telly" and whizzed by us all at a fast pace, but the highlight of the day was a "blue light" escort into Blaenau, provided by my father in his patrol car!

In July, it was off by coach to Penally, near Tenby, for "Annual Camp". This was a great experience and the first time away from home for many of the Detachment. My father, by now a Second Lieutenant, was able to join us for a few days. Our range-work and field craft was the talk of the Battalion and our keenness and willingness to learn impressed the Regular Army "Cadet Training Team". Perhaps the highlight of the camp was a trip to the Cardiff Tattoo, where we saw the band of the US Air Force and their amazing drill to Glenn Miller tunes!

Throughout 1969, the Dolgellau Detachment, now some 30 strong, had been training to take part in a competition held annually in the autumn, the Kitchin Cup. Six teams from the three North Wales Army Cadet Force Battalions took part in the event, held at Kinmel Park Camp near Rhyl. We were the youngest, newest team in the competition and we gave a good account of ourselves. In fact, we performed above and beyond what was expected of us and won the trophy, beating the veteran Tywyn Detachment and the crack team from Lindisfarne School, Ruabon. Talk about "Band of Brothers"…we were like a well-oiled machine.

Sadly for me, this was to be my swan song with the Detachment. My father was promoted to police Sergeant and posted to Caernarfon and we moved away from Dolgellau in November 1969. T he Detachment was by far the best in the Battalion; the Corps of Drums was forming under Sgt George Thomas; the number of Cadets was increasing and there were strong rumours of getting our very own Cadet Hut, complete with an Armoury, so that we wouldn't have to borrow the Barmouth rifles if we wanted to do rifle drill!

My father continued in the ACF, working with the Penygroes Detachment, where I ended my service as a Cadet in the dizzy rank of Cadet Sergeant Major. Further Police-related moves saw us involved with the Llandudno and Colwyn Bay detachments, my father commanding the former, re-badged as a Royal Artillery Captain and me serving with the latter as an adult Sergeant Instructor before I joined the Regular Army in 1973. My brother Stephen became a Cadet in due course, also ending his Cadet service as a Cadet Sergeant Major. Now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, he recently commanded the Wales University Officer Training Corps and is now doing a staff job at HQ Land Command in Salisbury. I served for 22 years in the Army, retiring in 1995 as a Warrant Officer Class 2 in the Intelligence Corps. A few years ago, I was commissioned into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and served with our local ATC unit in Peterborough, but the increasing pressures of the "day job", working for the MOD in London, meant that I couldn't meet my commitment and I regretfully had to resign. I really enjoyed working with the Cadets and the added novelty of wearing a blue uniform, having worn khaki from 1969 – 1995! However, I still have my "original" cap badge.

Finally, I have to report that my father, our "Founder,” passed away on 8th September 2004, peacefully after a short illness. He was in great demand in Wrexham as a speaker to local groups and amongst his papers, I found a number of notes on the Detachment and some good stories from those far-off days. Does John Felton still remember losing his false teeth and getting a parcel from home whilst on summer camp? My Dad did, especially John's reaction on unwrapping a huge set of sugar joke "dentures" bought from one of the "rock" shops in Barmouth! And the raids on some local garden ponds, resulting in goldfish swimming in the fire buckets… I'm sure there are many more stories out there!

If this short article has awakened any memories of the Dolgellau Army Cadet Force Detachment, I would love to hear from you, especially if you have any photos. So far, I've had emails from Trevor Davies and Eric Reading, now in Australia and in the TA there! I understand that the Detachment has recently been resurrected and if there are any former soldiers or Cadets living locally, I'd ask you to please give them maximum support!

Chris Hughes - Cjm.Hughes@btinternet.com
Marianne Fenning
Exactly 40 years ago I fell in love with Wales. It was a bright sunny day, the 10th of March 1965, when I left Utrecht in the Netherlands, the town of my birth and where I grew up, on my way to Wales.

I was 18 and ready for adventure. I had written to the YHA Head Office in England asking if they needed a Youth Hostel Assistant for four months - anywhere. To my surprise they replied that they did….in Wales, in a place named Dolgellau. We tried to find information on Dolgellau, but did not find very much. How different life was in 1965!

All I had was a picture postcard of Kings Youth Hostel with Cader Idris in the background. It looked impressive.

The night of my departure my mother saw us off to the train that took me and my father to the overnight ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich. My father travelled with me, to escort me through London. A taxi took us from Liverpool Street Station, past Buckingham Palace, to Paddington Station, where my journey began in earnest. Alone on the train with a huge suitcase, first to Shrewsbury and then on – into Wales. After Shrewsbury the landscape began to change. I did not find it very impressive, all these round little hills everywhere – in retrospect, exactly the landscape portrayed in “Postman Pat”, much later my daughter’s favourite tv programme. After hours on the train it got very quiet and empty, people got off, no one got on and I heard people speak in a language I did not understand. The train arrived at the Dovey Estuary; the sun in the clear cloudless sky was bright and low, it looked and felt like I had come to the end of the world. My arrival time was 6.15 pm and the name of the station was Fairbourne. An elderly man and a boy, the only two people on the platform, were there to meet me. They said my English was very good. I said I had learned it in school. It was encouraging.

Upon my arrival at Kings my first task was to pour out the tea. And the first thing I learned was: milk first! Kings was everything it promised to be from its photograph and much more. A beautiful stream ran through the grounds in front of the house. The permanent sound of running water was new to me. And so was everything else. It was overwhelming for an 18 year old big-town girl who found that she was a country girl at heart. The hostel was run by Mr and Mrs Reynolds, a dedicated and very hard working English couple. Their 16 year old son David lived at home and daughter Jane had gone to Aberystwyth University.

Life centred around the kitchen. There was a big table, a sink, a huge AGA, run on coal and a pantry. Work started at 7 am and in the busy month of May when the hostel was almost permanently full, we often worked on until midnight, day in day out without a break. There was room for 80 hostellers who often wanted 80 breakfasts and the same number of evening meals! It was done with military precision, in the busy times assisted by friends and volunteers who stayed for longer or shorter periods and lent a helping hand. For me, a Dutch girl, the food was a revelation, in particular the cooked breakfasts and the puddings. I could not get enough of it and never stopped eating. Usually, after lunch I had time off, varying from 2 to 3 hours, when I started to discover and roam my beautiful valley, exploring the hills, Cader, the Estuary.

I made friends with the farmers who came to Mrs. Reynolds’ pantry to buy cigarettes and other necessities. Many happy hours I spent at Nancy and Will Ellis’ farm at Hafod Dywyll. It was a warm, cosy and friendly Welsh haven. In those days Welsh was the family language. A language that sounded like music to me.

The boys at Islawrdref taught me two ‘useful’ Welsh phrases: one polite and another quite the opposite, just in case. I learned them by heart and remember them until this day. The book I bought with the title “Welsh in a Week” did not fulfil its promise….

Every morning Will the postman called in at Kings, delivering the mail, walking from farm to farm on his daily round. I remember him with his walking stick (and his dog ?). With a happy grin and in his singing Welsh voice he would say: “Are you happy now Marianne ?” whenever he had brought me a letter. And not only did he deliver the post; every bit of news and gossip was exchanged over the kitchen table and cups of coffee. At Kings, the kettle was always on.

The first day after my arrival I was told about the old Roman Road, up in the hills above the farm. I ventured out on my first walk and managed to find it. It was a drizzling, grey and misty day and absolutely desolate. I was totally alone up there and so scared I turned back.

But it did not stop me. For the next four months I roamed the hills around Kings every free moment I had, afternoon or evening, often without meeting another human soul. I climbed endless stone walls, never held back by a fence (there weren’t any) or even the fear of bulls in the corner of a field. I knew every path, every shrub, every stone around Kings. Sometimes I was so tired I just fell asleep where I lay down.

Exactly after one month – I still know where it happened – I had the sudden notion that I loved this place. And when, after another month at one point I felt very low and contemplated leaving, I realised I just did not want to leave this beautiful valley and the friendly people I got to know.

Food shopping for up to 80 hostellers was done in Dolgellau on almost a daily basis. I was introduced to the shopkeepers and other friends and loved meeting and greeting my new acquaintances in the street whenever I ventured into town, particularly on busy market days and Saturdays. It gave a feeling of belonging, something I had never known where I came from, not surprisingly in a town of 250.000 inhabitants. Dolgellau was strangely beautiful, even when it rained. The stone houses became almost black. The other thing I remember vividly was the smell. To me that was Dolgellau. I suppose it was the smell of coal fires..

Two days after my 19th birthday, I undertook a “big walk”, from Kings down to the estuary, where I tried to negotiate the recently discarded railway track, which I soon gave up as the railway sleepers were impossible to walk on, then on to Arthog and over the railway bridge with spectacular views of the Mawddach Estuary, to Barmouth. From there, where possible through the salt marshes and along the muddy shores of the estuary all the way back and across the toll bridge to Penmaenpool, where I landed in the George, quite exhausted. It was my first acquaintance with a British pub, with its different bars. Of course I was in the wrong bar, engaging in interesting conversation with some local farmers and was “rescued” by the friendly owner who introduced me to her daughter who showed me around the house.

Towards the end of May things were looking up, I could take a “holiday”, a few free days saved up, when I hitched, hiked and bussed through North Wales, staying in other youth hostels, discovering beautiful Snowdonia. The ‘maps’ I used were two postcards and the first meal I cooked was a tin of Ambrosia. What comes most to mind is the ultimate feeling of freedom, the unexpected encounters, the grandeur of the landscape, the deserted roads with few or no cars. On the eastern shore of lake Bala I walked for two hours without a car passing. Even though there were cars, you could walk on any road without being in danger of your life.

I saw the valley change, from the dead of winter to finally opening up into spring and summer. Sheep were dipped and sheered, foxes were hunted, girls were chased, cars were raced and I walked through fields of flowers. Cader turned red in the setting sun.

One light night in June I was awake, unable to sleep any more and decided to go out and see the sun rise over the estuary. I made my way down the fire escape and at 4 am set off to climb the hill that would allow me to see the sunrise in all its splendour. An hour later I enjoyed the most glorious and moving spectacle, of which I took a photograph. I made it back by 7 am, in time for work….that day in the kitchen my feet hurt with every step, like walking on daggers, punished like the mermaid in the famous fairy tale.

And then there was entertainment….or perhaps too big a word ? The Cinema was marvellous. You could see two films (unknown phenomenon where I came from) for the price of one and for very little money. A few I remember: “A taste of honey” with Rita Tushingham, “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning”, and several exciting Bond movies, …. Goldfinger ! But the most memorable night was when I saw a horror film, of the gruesome kind, heads being cut off by the dozen….I knew I should go and cycle home before it got dark, but sat there glued to my seat, unable to move, through the whole of the film, mesmerised …. It was full moon that night, which was lucky, as the bike had no light, pointed out to me in a friendly and fatherly fashion by the local policeman on the road to Penmaenpool. But when I reached the thickly wooded Gwynant valley, every oddly shaped tree suddenly showed a ghostly shadow, which transformed into a creature trying to grab and kill me and when an owl started to hoot repeatedly…. I cycled like my life depended on it. When I made it to Kings’ light, safe and sane kitchen, visibly out of breath, they asked me why I looked so pale….

The horse riding was a bonus, a little girl’s dream come true, made possible just like that, with a few hard earned shillings, especially saved up, no fuss, you got on the horse and off you went ! With Mr. Jones, down at Abergwynant Farm. It was an absolute thrill going high into the mountains on a horse ! Some horses would not trot, whatever you undertook, but others with certain encouragement, would try and loose you…This girl never fell off, I must have been a natural.

And then, there was

the book I read : “How green was my valley”
the song I heard (repeatedly) : “Mrs. Brown you got a lovely daughter”
the singer I heard (while on my travels) : Donovan
the singer I heard of (a lot) : Tom Jones

The 10th of July I got on a bus in Dolgellau’s Eldon Square which was to take me to Liverpool, and from there to the Lake District, the place I had wanted to see ever since I learned about the Lake Poets in school. Then to London, and finally home. When the bus drove away from Dolgellau I looked back in a haze and saw the town and the mountains disappear in the distance. It was not the end but a beginning.

fenning@zeelandnet.nl
Ian Christie
I am so glad that someone has taken the time to provide a platform for ex-Dols to express their affection for 'Dol ..' Da Iawn!!

I am proud to say I am Welsh, and am glad that I now have a link to the town that I have grown up in but 'never really left'!! I currently work for COGENT, a financial services company in the city, and live right next to LORDS Cricket Ground in St John's Wood, North West London (prior to that in Celeb's Paradise - Hampstead).

My fondest memories of Dol probably go back to my school days (surprise surprise) ... It was just after the long hot summer of '76 that little old me took the huge step from the Primary School over 'Bont Fawr', to Ysgol-Y-Gader, a mere 200 yards from my house.

I can remember the first day clearly, sitting uncomfortably in the hall in my new blazer with all the other newbies waiting to be told who would be your form teacher and who else would be in your class. I was very short at that age (nothing much has changed!), and was surprised to be sitting next to another pupil who would have put Jonah Lomu to shame even back then in the first year - Jason Morgan.

Jason was an English guy standing 6 foot 2 or more, who had move to the Friog area with his parents from Warrington (I think). Compared to me at 4 foot 10 the difference in size was bordering on the hysterical. Anyway, despite this, we became mates and ended up in the same form. Through Jason I also made friends with a load of guys from the Fairbourne area (Paul and Stephen Gwynne, Shaun Nunn, Jono Kirkham to name a few).

I think our form teacher was Art Teacher Mr Alun Williams (Van Goch to all the pupils), and he remained so for the first three years of my school life...

It was at Ysgol Y Gader that I met Music Teachers Mrs Eirian Owen and Mrs Miercinzka (spelling!!), and it was here they nurtured my voice into something vaguely pleasant. Through their encouragement I found myself being put forward for various internal and external solo and choir competitions (we love the Eisteddfod more than Helen (Big Brother) loves blinking!!

Now, as my first language at home was English, it was a little unusual to see someone such as myself competing on an even level with the Welsh Speakers, and sometimes even beating them!!!

This bring back fond memories of another dear friend of mine, Micheal Horan, who sadly is no longer with us. Now Mike was the equivalent of your all-round handsome captain of the rugby team, highly proficient in everything he did (singing, violin, acting, athletics etc). Mike and I grew up together even before Ysgol Y Gader, as my father had done a great deal of work for his family, but it was not until I saw Mike in Ysgol Y Gader that I realised just how talented he was. We would regularly compete at school, local, or County solo singing competitions (Unawd Bechgyn 12-15), with me claiming FIRST and him SECOND or vice versa. We even ventured down to the Welsh Finals on one occasion. But that wasn't enough for him , he would be captaining the rugby team at county level, playing football for Dolgellau Town, and if that wasn't enough he would still find time to play violin, be a member of the local Army Cadet Force, and be actively involved in school plays!!

Alongside Mike, I must mention another three great 'cantorion' (singers), namely 'Big' Bedwyr Evans (Gwanas), his brother Tudur, and who can forget little Dylan 'Twrchyn' (a nickname he got after appearing as the Mole in a school production of Toad of Toad Hall - Broga Plas Brog). Bedwyr stood 6 foot 3 and was from a great family of singers as his father was still a renowned soloist, and Tudur was not that far behind in the singing nor the height department!!).

I was also an active member of the school plays (in Welsh, naturally), and what begun as an easy way out of lessons turned into a fantastic experience allowing me to learn more about the language and people it enveloped) - Who can forget the welsh adaptation of the Samson story (Samson Sigl a Swae), Oliver!!, and the untouchable Dewin yr Os in which I played the Mayor of the Munchkins!!

As I moved up through the forms I can recollect so many memories that warm my heart - trips with the choir, tricks played on the teachers, smoker's corner, duckings (given and received), spitting and throwing water on the first years out of the six form window, playing football with a tennis ball in the quad.

Even outside school there was plenty to get up to - swimming in Cae Chwech at the slightest hint of sun, fishing in Llyn Cynwch, snooker in the Free Library, Cubs, Cadets, Youth Club, Junior League Football (who can forget the infamous clashes between Dolgellau Cubs and Inter Arran), I can still hear Reg Thomas now coaxing us to 'pass the ball more ...', and not try and beat all 11 players TWICE before scoring!!

The Piggly Wiggly (Video game initiations often took place here), Celfi Diddan (or the only place to buy music for 10 miles!!), it seems even the Neuadd Idris is only used for Bingo now, when back when I was youg we used to put on our glad rags and go down the disco (SPOT-On was the name) - either the 6-8 slot for the young 'uns, or the preferred 8-11pm adults only version. There would always be the odd scuffle, but to me that was where my love of music began. If it wasn't Motown blaring out of the speakers, then it would be Disco or Punk!!

I don't go back to Dol as often as I like, probably twice a year ... but it doesn't take long before the locals stop you in the street asking 'When are you going back!!!' are they trying to tell me something!! My sister, Fiona, now runs the hairdressers TOP STYLE at the top of Eldon Square, if you see her, pop in and say hello!! Fiona moved to London for a short time, but longed for the boyfriend and lifestyle she left behind, so it was not a surprise to see her returning home to where she belongs.

Oh! Well I've reminisced enough for one day, but before I go I would just like to say to anyone reading this:

We may have travelled to the far reaches of the earth, we may have worked for many different organisations, we may even have made a name for ourselves in our respective fields of expertise but in my opinion there is not a lot to compare with waking up in the morning, the birds singing not suffocating, inhaling the pure, fresh morning air, strolling down to the quaint town centre after months of choking and sweating on overcrowded tubes populated by rude, self-opinionated strangers. Picking up a newspaper from Siop James or Wilikins and meandering past at least a dozen people whose histories zoom into your head as you pass , to the Park nearby whilst watching the senior citizens playing bowls - relaxing, I'd say so!!

Ian Christie - Ian.Christie@cogent.com

Felicity Enblom (formerly Montague)
My memories of Dolgellau go quite a while back. We moved there around 1956, to a house called "Dolronwy". I went to school and had Mr. H.G. Williams for class teacher, I never did learn the language.

The town was nice and small and each morning we woke up to the nice smell of baking as our house was beside a small bakery, so each morning I would go and pick up fresh bread.

The walks around the area were great and on Saturdays we hung out of the back window to watch the football match and went to the Pughs sweetshop.

Quite a lot of people came to visit us, either to order a "little miss dress" (mum called them) that she used to sew, or to have a piano lesson (as she also taught).

After a while we moved up to 3 Mount Pleasant and a while later my brother moved back from Manchester and bought himself a studio for painting. I often went to "The Studio" to watch him paint. Sometimes you could see him on the street with his easel as he was always doing sketches.

After a while my brother came over from Sweden and asked Mum to let me go there to be a nanny, so in 1961 I left for Stockholm. The last time I came back to Dolgellau was in 1963. We did come over to Manchester a few years back, but we only passed close by, as it was in the middle of the night.

I often remember the town and would like to come back, if not next year, then the next. Since we got a computer a while back, I often visit the Dolgellau website and read about it. After I moved to Sweden my mum and brother lived here a while, but then moved to Ireland.

If anybody remembers me or my family, it would be nice to hear from you and hear about the changes in Dolgellau.

Kind Regards, Felicity Enblom (formerly Montague) - felicity.enblom@bredband.net
Craig Parry Hughes

Y Twrpeg / The Turnpike


The tolls are coming back. But this time there will be no snug little houses with windows that looked both ways to see the horses and carts, and no toll-keepers to gossip with or to curse. The new generation of highwaymen will be beady eyed cameras and automatic debits waiting for you at the month end... and the new tolls won't be pennies. Look at the modest charges listed in the Chronology of Dolgellau. Look at them and weep. And here is something to ponder. The tolls into Dolgellau were not lifted until 1875 but The Rebekkah Riots which forced the Government to end tolls were in 1843.
Be that as it may, passing the Toll-house at the top of Y Lawnt was a daily event in my early years when we lived at The Rock. I paid a token fee... I would say "Bore da" to Mr Evans if he was sitting outside with his dog and his canary... and he gave me his memories in change. He was a small man. He said his table in the kitchen had been made from the hollow oak where Hywel Sele's body had been hidden for forty years. I saw the table once. Hywel Sele must have been even smaller than Mr Evans.

Across the road was the Old Grammar School and sometimes Mr Evans , seeing a hint of disbelief in my innocent face, would point and say "Hughes bach... if I am not telling you the truth the bell in the Old School yonder will ring. "The school bell must have been stone deaf.
But Mrs Evans wasn't. She would rap the window and cut him down..."Chwilydd... for shame... such stories".
The house was so small they had to come outside to bicker... all five of them... Mr. E... Mrs E... The son who had been bitten by a Zambezi when he was fighting the Zulus.....turned him yellow and he got a pension for being pregnant and two daughters, the dog, the cat, the canary, a blind goldfinch..." they sing better if you blind them" and sometimes there was a small boy the neighbours called 'pili-pala'.

If they wanted water, or needed to make it, they scurried round the corner into the lane which led to a corner where I never ventured. Mr Evans said there was a giant white rat there and if it saw you it would squeal and all the white rats in Wales would come to eat you. The School bell never rang.
There was another toll-house at the top of The Bridge... Y Bont Fawr... it watched for funerals and farm carts and over-enterprising school boys who filched sweets from the counter by the kitchen door... Only the Vaughans didn't have to pay... Mr. Evans would spit...' The Vaughans"
The lady at the top of the bridge had a huge goitre which she covered with a frantic piece of lace when she came into THE SHOP. Poor woman....she hated us... " I saw you, I saw you, I know you..." It was a test of manhood... to recoup the licorice she had shorted you the previous week.
Dolgellau was the metropolis, humming with farm carts, and summer flies which paid no toll, a world where people had time for gossip that could be retold as news until the next hiring day. And the clapped-out school bell would never ring.

Up the valley on the Bala Road at Y Garneddwen there was a toll-house for travellers who could still walk after stopping at Y Hywel Dda. Next door to the toll-house was Y Tyddyn Un Nos built by friends in one night to house an evicted farmer who had voted against the landowner's candidate. "You had to have smoke coming out of the chimney in the morning before the big people found out . Then the law was on your side and no rent to pay...." Mr Evans would spit twice.

I hear Mrs Evans rapping at the window... "Chwilydd"...

The Fire Brigade


Little boys will remain little boys, even after they are grown up and are my age. Some things are cast in concrete, like throwing stones better than little girls. Our taunts and war chants circled the globe: "Our dog can fight your dog", "Dolgellau can beat Barmouth", "Our car is faster than your car, "Our Dad can beat your Dad"... Parochial assertions which confirmed our conceits. As debatable as a public house argument... Usually without damage.

There was however, one activity where Dolgellau was indisputably superior... viz. and to wit... The Fire Brigade. Other towns might be dedicated arsonists but we were the people who could, quick as a wink, snuff out chimney fires, the town dump, Christmas trees and other incendiary excitements.

At the risk of an understatement, let me say, The Dolgellau Fire Brigade was the best in Wales, the best in Britain, the best in the world and especially better than Barmouth. The Great Fire of London would never have happened if Capten Jones y Dwr, that is to say, Jones the Water, had been there with our engine and our men.

And the proof? Look at the buildings in the town... hundreds of years old... tight as a sporran... dry as a Sunday. And the trees all round... everything waiting to go POOF if we ever had a fine day. Our boys were ready.

We felt quite sorry for Barmouth... three quarters of the town was drowning in Cardigan Bay twice a day, no chance for a decent fire there. It was just as well because, every time there was a whiff of smoke from the Cambrian Railway someone had to go running up Panorama Walk behind the Church to lassoe the horses. Their Council was too mingy to buy a real fire-engine, although they were always running after the visitors with collecting boxes. So it was poor Dobbin who had to go galloping to places as far away as Cutiau Kennels while Dolgellau dowsed every conflagration this side of Hell.

We had a gas-works with steam ready for the fire siren. Barmouth had an old man on a three-wheel bicycle and carbide lamp to go knocking the houses for volunteers. Sometimes they would fire a rocket and explode a maroon but then everybody would rush to the slip-way to watch the life-boat getting launched by mistake. And with the noise of the rocket and all the shouting the horses had to be fetched down from the mountain again.

Think I'm inventing? Do you remember the fire at St. David's in Harlech? Famous it was. The Dolgellau boys drove twenty miles... right through Barmouth, who couldn't find their horses, RIGHT THROUGH and TEN MILES BEYOND. Do you remember the two fires at Brunton's factory? Nobody from Barmouth came to help... not that we needed them and how about the thirteen fires with the wet hay at Cymer Abbey farm? Nobody from Barmouth. Not even when Y Popty Lawnt a.k.a. the Bakehouse caught fire. What a lovely smell of fresh bread and sparks as high as Cader Idris.

And the medals in the window of Richard Jones, New Shop. Trophies like you wouldn't imagine. Only missed one fire, the Buckley Mansion in Llanymawddwy... the operator in Machynlleth wouldn't reverse the charges! Pity, everyone said it was a lovely fire. You can still see the lodge gates. Digon...

…Craig Parry Hughes - chughes@sympatico.ca
Mike Bowyer
I have taken a short part of a story of our life in North Wales, which commenced as a family record, but which, I suppose is really an autobiography. I wont bore you with a lot, just sufficient to let you see what life was like in the valley some sixty years ago.

My mother, myself and brother and an Aunt lived on Dol-y-clochydd Farm in the early 1940's. We lived there with Mr & Mrs Williams who ran sheep, grew potatoes and wheat, had a small dairy herd, some pigs and chickens. My brother and I had a wonderful time roaming the nearby mountains and streams, and I caught my first trout in the fast water to the west of the farm house.

My love of the outdoors and especially of fishing stems from that time and sixty two years later I am still fly fishing for trout and salmon here in Tasmania, Australia. Life was very basic, with drinking water having to be carried some three hundred yards across the field from a wonderfully clear spring. Washing water came from the rain water barrels and the river and as there was no electricity, lighting was by paraffin lamps.

Mrs Williams used to bake bread in the domed brick oven built into the wall of the kitchen, she made butter to sell at the markets and for home consumption, and to this day I can still taste the wonderfully salty butter, the crusty bread and the home made plum jam.

We would assist the farmer, John Williams, in the work around the farm, such as threshing, hay making, planting and picking potatoes cutting trees and splitting logs for fence posts and firewood. They had a wonderful cart horse named Lion who loved nothing better than a crust of bread and would wedge his huge shoulders in the kitchen back door until he was given a hunk of bread. I learned to use a cross cut saw including sharpening the teeth which was very necessary to make sawing the logs a lot easier.

We also learned to work with the two sheep dogs, Megan the youngest was very clever and John Williams would sent her up the mountain to bring sheep down, threading their way through the holes in the amazing stone walls while he stood in the yard outside the farm house. The older dog, Blacken was also very smart and we were sure that he used to deliberately misunderstand the commands so that the younger dog would be sent on the mission. He used to raid the bran bin in the barn and if he was lucky we would see the tell tale bran dust on his nose and wipe it off before John Williams saw it.

There is a lot more, triggered by writing about one event and the domino effect as other memories come flooding back. Keep up the good work and try and preserve Wales. Do not let the developers have their way as it is such a beautiful land.

Regards, Mike Bowyer - mikebowyer@bigpond.com
More…

The Best Place In The World


Reading your website has brought back so many happy memories for me. My father, Arthur Hughes was born in Fairbourne but had to leave to find work before WWII. However he came home at every available opportunity, until he and Mum eventually returned in 1975, which meant all our holidays were spent in Wales. My aunt and uncle, Sis and Ted Rees ran Braich y Ceunant, Brithdir and that is where we stayed. I loved being with them and I loved being in Wales, in fact I still do. I was friends with John Hughes, who worked on the farm back then. He was a great fan of motor racing and rallying and I spent many happy hours whizzing around the area in John’s Cortina, with him pretending to be Jim Clark and me pretending not to be terrified! My teenage years were really fun thanks to the people I met in Dolgellau, I was only really sad when I had to go home to England. Then we grew up and life took over. I married Colin, a Welshman from Cardiff and have two daughter, Samantha, 34 and Sian, 29. Circumstances still dictate that I must live in Hertfordshire but I come back as often as I can. Both Mum and Dad have passed away now but fortunately Sam loves Wales as much as I do and we can always find and excuse for a trip home. I am going to be a Grandmother (how did I get to be that old?) in August, and will be able to introduce another generation to the best place in the world.

Jan (Hughes) Wilson - caderidris110@btinternet.com


The Pugh Family


I have just discovered your website...! Amazing…! So many interesting stories, My grandfather and great grandfather were from dolgellau and lived in Forden House for many years. The Pugh family were well known in Dolgellau and had shops in the Square including a bike/cycle shop. My mum has lots of memories having spent lots of holidays here with her grandparents and lots of stories to tell.

Pam Edwards, Staffordshire


Coed y Fronallt - Anerin Lloyd


I'm Aneurin Lloyd and I was born and bred in Dol. I no longer live there since joining the army 11 years ago, however I miss my old friends who I used to knock about with. When I do go home to visit my parents I very rarely go into town for a drink, to me it seems like the town pubs have given up making an effort running their bars. Anyway I have so many fond memories of my childhood in that small town. I spent most of my summer holidays up Coed y Fronallt, building dams in the streams, making dens and messing about down the farmers mart (swinging on the gates!).

The friends I used to knock about with were Huw Roberts, Gerwyn Breeze, Geraint Edwards, Elwyn Evans (who sadly passed away in 2004). Most of my school mates have moved on, some living down in sunny South Wales earning and making a good living down there. Others are either abroad or living elsewhere in the UK. I'm not going to harp on anymore as much as I would like to though, its great to have found this website… DA IAWN, HWYL FAWR!


Ray Heath


My name is ray heath and I lived in a boys home in the mid seventies on the outskirts of Dolgellau. I made many friends in the town through playing football and boxing and the great local disco. Although I was from London, the local people made me feel very welcome and I never felt like an outsider. It is a great place and I have some brilliant memories of the friends I made there. It would be good to hear from anyone that remembers me.

Ray Heath - jennyheath20@yahoo.co.uk


Heather Gorton


I have just discovered this site whilst looking up the Hall family from Dolgellau. I worked at the Bontddu Hall Hotel in the summer of 1962 as the hotel receptionist. Bill Hall was the proprietor and he employed summer staff. The kitchen staff were mostly Austrians and I shared a room with Sonia who came from Suffolk/Norfolk - lost touch. We had an idyllic summer working hard in the hotel and enjoying our days off in the surrounding countryside. We used to visit the Golden Lion in Dolgellau and the George III run by the Halls. I would love to know what happened to anyone who was around at that time. I married soon after and moved to Gloucestershire but I have family in North Wales and Mid Wales so still visit the area. Thanks.

Heather Gorton - hjgorton@supanet.com


Graham Seal-Jones


What a wonderful place to grow up, I attended Ysgol Y Gader from 1959 to 1964 and have very fond memories of the school, in fact I enjoyed going to school with chemistry, physics and mathematics being my favorite subjects. I left home, went to college emigrated to Canada and presently manage an underground mine in British Columbia. The teachers were great in their own ways and they all were very genuine and dedicated to their students in sharing their knowledge. Some of the teachers I remember well, most from the nicknames we called them. JED, well he was the headmaster then there was Bonzo, the Welsh teacher, now there was Daisy the physics teacher and the one who I enjoyed the most was the math teacher, can't remember his name.

Lots of trips and adventures, what a great time, mam and dad still live there, now in their 80's but still going strong,, going back in the spring for a visit and always meet old friends.

sealjones@shaw.ca


Nadine (USA)


I just found this website on my Blackberry and woke my husband up at 4am Chicago time USA. I became instantly excited to see several people that I am familiar with have given a fantastic description of the town, that is, and always will be my home. I have not been home for 10 years but it is what they say, home is where the heart is. I have been sending my son of 11, Kaylum and daughter Kaorie 7 to stay with their Nain and Taid Gwyn and Nancy Blake and my brother Shane Blake who now lives in South port with his fiance Carol. I want them to learn our culture and enjoy the warmth and comfort that the people of the town share freely. This sight has made me feel that much closer to home and I recommend it to anyone who misses home.

nwalls1911@vzw.blackberry.net


John Gorton - Dolgelly Grammar School



Thank you for your web site - it brings back many memories. I am very grateful for having attended the Grammar School from 1944 to 1947 and the fine grounding it gave me. Even today, when I write a letter, I recall Rees, the 5th Form master in my last year who taught English and History and was born in Matabeleland. And Lotwig our brilliant maths teacher who had been "in radar" during the War. I learn't my French from Miss Jones - little did I know I was to live in France and Belgium before long!

We came from Birmingham and lived in Barmouth. A small group of us took the bus daily to Dolgelley. We were accompanied on the bus by a bevy of beautiful girls attending Dr Williams School and, in the winter months, everybody prayed for serious rain so the river would flood the road and the bus would have to turn back!

My best friend was Sidney Clark, also from Barmouth (originally from Wrexham). Others on the bus I remember were Shiela Jeffs from Barmouth, Brian Williams, his younger brother and Margaret Owen from Bontddu.

After leaving school, I went into the RAF and stayed for 9 years - also "in radar". Then I went into the defence industry, 10 years with The Marconi Co followed by 30 years with California based Hughes Aircraft Co. After retiring I started a Video Production Co which I have run for 17 years on an island off the coast of Washington State, just south of the Canadian border.

Is there a written history of the Grammar School and if so, how can I get a copy. When was it closed and why? Thank you.

John Gorton - jbgorton@rockisland.com

Peter Mitchell


Hi there just recently found this site and thought i would pop a letter up i used to visit dolgellau between 1990 to 1995 up till i was 16 sadly i haven't been back for twelve years my name is peter mitchell me and my cousin Micheal Rycraft used to come about twice a year and stay in mr and mrs Owens cottages they also owned a shop in the town centre were both from liverpool i have many great memories of that amazing village i was also wondering if anyone remembers us as my cousin used to go out with a girl called lisa not sure of her second name and if anyone could find the time to email me back and tell me if the place has changed much as i am hoping to visit early april next year you can email me anytime at the above address thank you it would be much appreciated.

dvd@blueyonder.co.uk


Tina Parkes


Firstly I would like to say, what a great site. I was born and bred in Dolgellau, but left in 1979 when I joined the Army. I have recognised a few people that have sent in emails and its wonderful reading their memories. I go home at least twice a year as my parents Jimmy and Margaret Parkes still live there. If I don't get home at least once a year I am home sick. Those of us who grew up in Dolgellau I think would agree that we were privileged to have spent our childhood there. It is one of the safest places I know. My children love it there and always look forward to seeing their Nain and Taid and the rest of our family.

The majority of us would have attended Sunday school; I believe the reason for this would have been to give our parents a bit of peace and quiet. I remember getting very excited when the time came round to going on the Sunday school trip, which was normally a day out in Rhyl or Llandudno. It was a big deal for a lot of us because not many families had a car in them days. The summers were fantastic; swimming in cae chwech, running around in the park and the Marian, going on long walks up around the dam and white stone quarry, there was not a lot in the way of entertainment, but we made our own fun, this meant sometimes sneaking in to the swimming pool in the grounds of Dr William's boarding school which was not open to the public; and having to run like the clappers if the police came. There was of course the Spot on Disco every Friday, our very own Saturday night fever.

I think most of us had jobs to earn a bit of pocket money, especially when the fair came to town in April and September. I remember working in the Golden Lion Royal Hotel for Mr and Mrs Gilbert Hall. Sadly the Hotel is no more, it has been converted in to flats.

I went to Ysgol Y Gader secondary school; I have some wonderful memories of that place and the teachers there. Mr Evans (Bouncer to us) was the head master at the time; he was firm, but fair (although I didn't think so at the time). The deputy head was Broth (I cannot remember his real name at the moment), now there was a man who put the fear of God in to everybody. His subject was woodwork which Girls were not allowed to do; and at the time I was thankful for that, I was petrified of him lol. It took me a long enough to pluck up the courage to go and ask him for a new rough book.

I could go on forever, but will not bore you. I look forward to reading many more memories from Dolgellau.

Tina Parkes - tinaparkes@tesco.net


Michelle Pocock


Hello all in dolgellau. i was born and bred in this beautiful town and finding this web site is brilliant it brings back so many memories for me. i left dol at the age of 18 to seek fame and fortune in london ( didnt find either) but i always go back to dol as often as i can to see my family. sadly my dad mike pocock passed away last november 2006 it is a great loss to myself; my mum pam my sister niccola my brother micheal and his grandson jak. he and dad were the best of mates although my dad was australian he moved to dol in 1959 and learnt all about the history of dol and he used to talk to jak for hours about the town and his many years as a merchant seamanwhen i was a child and my dad was home on leave from the navy he used to take my brother and i for walks up tirstent, presipice walk even half way up cader. just seeing this website has brought it all back to me thank you for a great site.

Cymrupokie@aol.com


Angela



Hello there in Dolgellau. Congratulations' on providing a wonderful site, so full of memories'. My Great Grandmother was from Dolgellau and one day I am returning to find some of my family members' hopefully.

My families name was Lewis, if anyone should remember, please email me.

SIDDOROWLEY@aol.com


Lindsey (Lou) Harrison


Hi my name is Lindsey Harrison, It is fantastic to read the messages on this site. It brings back some brilliant memories, I lived in Dolgellau in the late seventies until the early eighties.I went to the primary and junior school I made some great friends and would love to find them again. Especially Daryllyn Griffiths she took me under her wing until I moved back to the Midlands.

I still visit the place I call home, and it will always be close to my heart. If anyone can remember anything please email me.

lindsey@lindseyharrison.wanadoo.co.uk


Alison Price


It was a wet July the 14th 1998 when I made the 11 mile journey by bike with my classmates from Arthog to Dolgellau. We rode along Morfa Mawddach and the skies were grey and my bike had the squeakiest chain EVER!... But oh my god it was worth it...

I remember arriving across Bont Fawr over a fast flowing Afon Wnion in a mist caused by catastrophic yet majestic and awe inspiring rainstorm that has ceased to leave my memories and have flooded my imagination for eight years since my visit.

Dolgellau is a truly awe inspiring town. I have never forgotten its (and I'm not been dramatic here) hypnotic lure and captivating allure as I walked through the many streets in admiration. Its stone buildings, unrivalled beauty and lovely craft shops have mesmerised me for years and I yearn to return. Dolgellau has a hold on me that very few places I have visited have yet to surpass. I bought a lucky Welsh Pixie as a moment.

Only the weather let us down as we were to rode over the Cader Idris range but the mist stopped us from doing that. And so I rode up a hill in soaking wet jeans in a rainstorm that I had never had the honor to ride through before. It should have been difficult, weighing two stone heavier due to sodden denim and hills that turned into insurmountable mountains as lactic acid and the fatigue of the long bike ride on our approach to Dolgellau, but the scenery, the grandeur and dare I say it Magic of Dolgellau and the Morfa Mawdacch estuary carried me forward.

My visit to you town was a brief two hour visit amongst a weeks stay that incorporated Arthog, the Blue Lake, Cader Idris, Fairbourne and Barmouth. However, even as the weather cleared up later on that Tuesday evening and we played amongst the sand dunes between Fairbourne and Barmouth and watched the sun go down over the horizon of the Irish Sea, I knew that my precious memories of Dolgellau in particular would remain with me forever... And indeed they have.

Thank you Dolgellau, and its wonderful people for the memories!

Yours Kindly...
Alison Price (Wolverhampton, West Midlands) - phoenixflames@btinternet.com


Ann Hughes


I was born in Dolgellau in 1951 and lived in the village of LLanelltyd until I went to Wrexham Technical College and then worked as a residential childcare officer in Wrexham. I married John Alf of Brithdir, have six children; Darren 34, Paul 32, Julie 28, Steven 26, David 20, Donna 16, our surname is Hughes. We still live locally and two of the children participate in tarmac stage rallies on the Trawsfynydd Ranges and various other places. My parents live locally Mr and Mrs Collett. My dad was a delivery driver for the local bakery Maes and Williams and used to go around all the villages. I have a brother David and sister Hazene.

ann.hughes9@btinternet.com


Phil Atkinson - The Golden Lion Hotel


Before the additions were made to this wonderful hotel, the building comprised of just the one unit which was the actual hotel. Round the corner was a non-descript double door which was the entrance to the 'back bar'. Residents, however, could access the bar to the left of the main entrance to the hotel but local etiquette created an unwritten rule that no one could use this means of entry.

What was singularly astounding about the Golden Lion back bar was the singing sessions frequently held on Wednesday and Saturday nights. They were legendary and in my formative drinking days I learnt a thing or two about choral singing.

What I remember about the sessions was the ritual. It did not begin as a free-for-all induced by customers who had reached the merry stage, but it was orchestrated. The late Jack Evans, chief barman at the time, would begin the session when all the recognised participants had arrived and were ready to start. The back bar was very small and I remember hotel residents squeezing through the annex door to witness the singing.

Even before I was legally allowed to imbibe alcohol at the Golden Lion I was very much aware of the reputation it had for its singing because I was approached by tourists asking me for directions to the feste of singing. Many of them had American accents declaring the place had been recommended by friends. When the Lion extended its premises there was an effort to maintain the singing but the impact was lost and so was a large part of Dolgellau's cultural heritage.

PandCAtkinson@aol.com


Phil Atkinson - The Railway


THE RAILWAY: I don't know if anyone has pointed this out but, until the Railway network was nationalised, Dolgellau station served two 'masters'; namely the Great Western and the Cambrian railways, so the station was divided in half (not sure whether it was across the tracks or if the tracks were the division) and porters and other workers wore the livery of whichever company they worked for. There may be some elderly residents of Dolgellau who still remember this strange arrangement.

There were difficulties at the station. These days it is unheard of to have your luggage taken for you to the train without charge. When the railway was in its heydey, customer care was the highest consideration of any station. Porters would be on hand to carry the passenger's luggage to either the luggage van or the carriage of the passenger's choice. In most cases the porter actually found a place on the train for the passenger to sit, even if a booking had not been made in advance.

It would be interesting to know if the rival porters had a few tricks up their sleeves to outdo each other. Some of the elderly inhabitants of Dolgellau may be able to relate some entertaining stories from this era.

PandCAtkinson@aol.com


Phil Atkinson - The Church Primary School


The first two photographs in your gallery of railway photographs show the distinctive oriel window of the Church primary school situated across the way from Penarlag. I remember it well because I was a pupil there.

The far classroom with the oriel window did benefit from the abundant natural light, but the other two classrooms did not enjoy the same airy environment. In fact, I do not remember the lights ever being switched off. The toilets were outside and quite forbidding.

The entrance to the school housed a washroom and cloakroom. Not very pleasant when it was wet outside. In many ways I was quite envious of my brother who attended the school across the road. Whatever, come the winter and snow! Battles royal commenced between us and them.The road between the two schools became no man's land as snowballs were hurled. Although the larger school had advantage in number, we had the advantage of a wall to duck behind.

Again, I'm sure that there are a few of my contemporaries who would vouch for the stirring battles we had.

PandCAtkinson@aol.com


Wilma Visscher (Holland)


Eleven years ago I drove around on my bike in Wales in the rain. I was cold and wet I met Barbara Lasham and she took me back home and a long warm friendship began and we still write and I will visit next year. Great place great people.

Wilma from Holland - wil.visscher@planet.nl


Moira Attrill (nee Jones)


Here is a photo of my Great Grandfather Cadwaladr Jones with the Eisteddfod chair he made for the Workers Eisteddfod of 1932 at Dolgellau. He lived at Llys Cadwen in Dolgellau. I would like to know where the chair is today and who won the chair in 1932.

My Mother Mairwen Jones was born in Dolgellau although I was born at Machynlleth. I am now living at Motygido Farm, Llanarth having taught abroad for many years.

There are a number of Welsh articles and stories on our website at www.motygido.co.uk

info@motygido.co.uk


Teresa Wainwright (Adelaide, Australia)


I was so pleased to find this site. My great-grandmother, Helena Roberts, lived at Cambrian Cottage, Wells St, Dolgellau. It was a tiny stone-fronted little house, with a front room, scullery and toilet downstairs (you bathed in a tin tub!) and just one huge bedroom upstairs. From the village square you walked past the sweet shop and there were a set of stone steps that led down to Wells Street. The cottage was joined in some way to the bakery next door (which was owned by my great-aunt and her husband, Vio and Bryn Francis who lived in a house called "Danesfield"). They had two daughters, Faye and Enid. I think they also owned the sweetshop in the Square.

This was in the early 1960's and my family used to go and stay with my Great-Gran for the Summer. In the mornings I would go into the bakery next to the cottage to say hello to the bakers and collect the fruit pies that we often had for breakfast. How kind those bakers were - on one memorable occasion they let me make a gingerbread man. I remember rolling out the dough and decorating him, and they put him the vast oven to bake him for me. Our family used to go for walks up into the hills, the countryside there is so beautiful. On day trips we visited Cader Idris and the Torrent Walk, or went to the seaside at Barmouth. Thanks again for the site, it brought back some happy memories.

Teresa Wainwright, Adelaide, Australia - wainwrt@adam.com.au


Corina Van Zuijlen (The Netherlands)



We visited Dolgellau several times in the last 10 years. We love the place and it's beautiful surroundings. The first time we went, we stayed at Broneinion in Rhydymain. Richard, the owner of the house, made us feel very welcome and told us a lot about the area and even took the time to take my sister and her boyfriend for a walk trough the fields and the mountains, besides all the busy work at the farm. Broneinion was paradise for us. The children often didn't like to join us when we left the place to discover more of this beautiful country.

At that time we met Huw who lived nearby on a farm named Ysgubor Newydd. Like Richard he taught us a lot about the welsh way of life and took us to places we never had found without him. What we have seen are hard working people, very hospitable and with a great sense of humour, like everyone we met. I remember Dolgellau as a friendly place with a lot of people who speak welsh as their main language and above all, people who are proud at their country and history. I will keep coming back to join this beautiful place, people, nature, mountains, farms, pubs, darts and everything else. Thanks for everything.

Corina from the Netherlands - cvanzuijlen@casema.nl


Barbara Lasham (for Guy Meacham)


Was great to see the letter Guy Meacham wrote regarding his old home in Dolgellau. My parents bought no 13 from his parents in 1973, it was my childhood home until I finally left my Mum and Dad's comfort zone in my 22nd year.

I did try and email him to give him some answers to his questions, however, it was unsuccessful for some reason. If you read this message Guy email me at babslash@tiscali.co.uk. Would be interesting to hear from you. If not my parents send their regards to yours and hope that their move from Ffordd y Felin was as happy as their move to your old home.

babslash@tiscali.co.uk


Yvonne Burke (At the Primary School pre-1980)


Hello I am lived in Dolgellau from age 6 to age 10, I loved it there!! I remember spending most of my days playing on The Marian, with my sisters and our dog, we always had so much fun. I used to attend the Primary school, and would love to hear from anyone who was there pre 1980. My last year was 1980, and my teacher was Mrs Glynn, she was a brilliant teacher!! I can't remember everyone's names when I was in that school, but you might remember me, My name was Yvonne Burke. My friend at that school was Suzie Wadsworth, is she still around, I would love to hear from her!

I don't live in Dolgellau now, but still love the place, it is very special to me.

griffandco@tiscali.co.uk


Graham 'Ted' Cutler


I am Graham Cutler and I was a boarder at the school in the period 1955-1961, what an experience that was! We were not allowed out of the school grounds except on Saturday afternoons and then only into the town until 4.30pm. We had to wear our school uniform and cap! whilst in town, we would have been reported to "JEJJ", John Eurfyl James Jones, the headmaster at the time! Occasionally we escaped to the hills especially Mynydd Moel hiking at speed, Frank Pearson was particularly good at this.

We were allowed to go to the pictures on Saturday night, first house only, if you had played Rugby for the 1st or 2nd School teams and it was an 'away' fixture, then you were allowed to attend 2nd House. The long green 'crocodile' that snaked its way to the town after lunch on Saturdays was a delight to all boys, it meant that Dr Williams School girls were on the move and heading for town! We were not allowed to talk to them, there was always a member of staff with them ushering them on. That same 'crocodile' would appear again on Sundays as they went to Church in the town from their school situated at the opposite end of the town and well away from the Boys Grammar School! There were occasions, during the Winter, when we would 'break out' of school at midnight to go sledging down the forest track that comes down to the Old Mill at the back of town, we used to 'convert' old wooden folding chairs into makeshift sledges, some even had the luxury of a torch on the front so that we didn't collide with the Pine trees, I have many more stories about incidents and characters that were part of our life at DGS. Any ex-pupils viewing this web-site and can relate to this story please get in touch.

graham.cutler@mac.com


Chris Finney (Nannau Hall)


I visited lovely Dolgellau with my father and step-mother in the summer of 1984. Her cousins live in Wolverhampton and they used to stay in Dolgellau with their caravan, so they knew the way there. (Her family names were Bowen and Llowarch.) My grandmother was a Nanny, descended from the Nanneys of Nannau, so I really wanted to see Nannau Hall and the grounds.

We had a beautiful, sunny day to look around the town (visit St. Mary's, an antique store, and some other places), up to the Hall (which we hope will one day be a B&B), and to Llanfachreth parish.

I have a family of my own now, and we look forward to visiting in the near future.

cervenfinn@comcast.net


John Jackson (Gilfach in the 1930's)


I was born in Dolgellau on the 4th November 1930 but moved away some 2/3 years later. My father had a chicken farm near Dolgellau called Gilfach. I remember little about it of course, but in the course of my childhood heard so much about the farm and the cottage that I've always had a wish to return and see for myself exactly where we lived and the surrounding country side.

I believe that the cottage was owned by another farming family by the name of Pugh and my father rented it. Of course being in the 1930's there was the depression and I believe that is why we had to move away.

Anyway if there is anyone who remembers the Jackson family or the farm or can tell me what it's like now, I would love to hear from them.

mail@jacko.biz


Michael Garner


What wonderful days they where. Before I became an invalid, I and my friends spent every year for about 12 years fishing the Mawddach and Wnion for sea trout. We used to fish Trawsfynnedd lake at the start of the season then always ended up fishing for sea trout from June onwards. What wonderful evenings--nights--and early mornings they where and how I miss them. What I would give to be able to fish the pil pool at night time again.

I was lucky in my life to fish all over the UK but nothing was ever better than that wonderful river Mawddach and Wnion, even if no fish where caught it still was worth the trip every week from the Wirral. We went that many times, the car knew it's own way there!

But to everyone who are lucky enough to visit and live there, try and enjoy every moment as I now have to go for walks in my mind and memory about that wonderful place. Thanks for the memories... Mike Garner.

PS. I remember one evening a worm hunting trip in the dark and rain for worms from your rugby pitch. I am glad nobody spotted us on hands and knees as they would have thought we where mad.

michael.garner7@ntlworld.com


Alice & Joesph Hayes & Tamara Stephens


My husband, daughter, and I visited my ancestorial home that is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones at Tyddlyn Sheffrey on the week of the infamous strike against our country (9-11). Mrs. Jones was gracious enough to show us through the house of my (many "greats") grandfather David Pugh who left to come to America in 1695.

We shall never forget standing in the front yard and looking out to the Irish Sea. The country is glorious in it's unique beauty, and we're really wishing to return.

We left and went on to Isle of Skye in Scotland where we learned our country had been attacked. The people were wonderful to us during the days we waited to be allowed to return home..

Alice & Joseph Hayes, and daughter Tamara Stephens. Dothan, Al., USA - joal@ala.net


Gareth Higgins


Hello and congratulations on a great site. I used live near dolgellau between 1949 and 1956. we lived at nannau lodge for some time. my mother worked at nannau for general vaughn then by brigadier pritchard. we also lived at ty bil, and bron haul llanfachreth. i attended Llanfachreth school.happy days. mr and mrs pugh ran the school. i used to walk a lot in the deer park and fish at llyn cynwch with my father. he worked at rhydymain building new houses. used to gather bilberries on the precipice walk. and fish in the pond at nannau for eels and for perch in deer park lake. if brenda barnes is reading this or anyone who remembers me... gareth higgins, would like to talk about the good old days.

Cheers, Gareth (From Rhosgadfan, nr. Caernarfon) - garethhiggins@hotpop.com


Katie Davidson


I would like to thank those who have contributed to this website. It has brought back wonderful memories of my childhood. My parents owned a static caravan and it was in a caravan site just outside dolgellau. It was run by Mr Jones and it would be great if anyone could tell me the name of it! I come from the wirral peninsula and used to travel in the car every weekend to this little peaceful haven. Me and my sisters used to spend all our pocket money in a great shop (I hope its still there) Francesca's. Well if anyone could help me it would be great.

Katie x x x - ktd2u@hotmail.com


Kline Pugh (Cleveland, Georgia, USA)


Have just viewed your web page, and it has brought back fond memories. My ancestor lived at Tyddyn Sheffrey farm south of town near what is now Friog. He came to America in 1695, but returned in 1731 to claim an inheritance. My wife and I were there in 1995-96-97 and visited the farm. Once we stayed in the Clifton House Hotel and ate in the excellent restaurant in the basement. Also has beer, fish and chips at the Unicorn Pub on several occasions email: ClydeOrange@aol.com

I lived there between 1982 and 1988 but these were formative years and even though I hated it when I was there I miss it now. I'm now a fireman in New York, something I could only vaguely dream of back in Dolgellau. But I still miss the idiotic crew I met at Ysgol--y-Gader: Darren and Donald and Fothergill and Richard Harries and Lynne Wadsworth and Dewi Owen, the Napoleon of crime. I think I actually only spent about six months at school in total as most of our schooldays were spent skiving off in the hills. This quiet valley found it hard to contain our energy but we pretty much used it all up running wild over the hills. Teenage heaven. It's a place like no other. See you out there.

CLP - kopugh@hemc.net



Kay Dorrance


I visited Dolgellau, with my 2 sisters, in 1987 and 1992. I LOVE the town!!! Some of my ancestors came from Northern Wales to settle in the U.S. (outside of Syracuse NY in a community called Nelson). We visited Northern Wales to do some touring of the area and a bit of family research. We found our ancestors cottage in a valley near Bontddu and we visited our ancestors church in Llanegryn. Anyway, we fell in love with Dolgellau and I believe we stayed at The Golden Lion Inn in 1987 but found the inn closed in 1992. I just loved walking about the town. I love the stone buildings. At first I found the town to be rather dark and somewhat dreary but it grows on you. Somewhere among those narrow streets we came across a print shop and now I have two watercolors of Dolgellau which I have proudly hanging in my condo.

We hope to make a return trip to Wales (if I can convince my sisters that it is safe to fly!!!). Next time, we hope to stay in Dolgellau for a longer period. Perhaps renting a cottage and taking full advantage of all the town has to offer.



Gert Rosken (from Holland)


Some years ago, my friend and me went for 5 days to Dolgellau. As we stayed in the Dolserau Hall Hotel, me and my friend decided to climb the Cader Idris.

Mr. Peter Kaye wanted to help us with sandwiches, etc. but we decided to buy some food on the way. So early in the morning we walked the road in he direction of that mountain. No shops for buying any food or drinks. We missed the path which should lead us to the bottom of the mountain. After more than 15 miles walking (no drinks, no food) we arrived at a lake (forgot the name) and some policemen who where just passing buy, we asked the road to the Cader Idris. They explained it to us and we had to make a turn and walk back for about 10 miles. Finally we found the small path leading to the mountain. And we did climb the Cader Idris. Still no food and no drinks. And it became very warm that day. After reaching the top we went down the mountain and thirsty and hungry as we where, we finally reached the village of Dolgellau. The first pub we saw we went in and bought us a pint Guinness. At the road to the hotel there was a restaurant, near a little shop and gas station. In the gas station was a policeman staring at us and he said, ‘Are you two the guys from Holland?’ Yes sir we are. The police is looking for you, because the hotel owner was afraid that you where getting lost on the mountain. In the hotel, the guests where sitting at the bar and when we arrived we had to tell the whole story. You have to know that we both are no sportsmen en two oldies, by that time we aged above 55 years. Never walked that far or climb a mountain. But most off all the kindness of the Wales people who cared that much off their guests.

In 2004 we’ll do this again.

grosken1@chello.nl



Edmund Lee (Hong Kong)


I, Edmund Lee from Hong Kong, found your web site in the internet and was amazed to find that you have gathered so much information about Dolgellau that help me to refresh my memory about this small Welsh town. You must be surprised to receive this e-mail from somebody in Hong Kong. I was one of the few Chinese boarding students studying at Dolgellau Grammar School (Ysgol Uwchradd Dolgellau) from 1963-1966, that is 37 years ago. At that time, there were two high schools in Dolgellau, the other one is Dr. Williams Girls School and it is near the old railway station.

Your beautiful pictures about Dolgellau really refresh my old memories. Looking at the pictures, the town has not changed much over the past 37 years. The bridge and the road leading into the town square are still the same and there are no tall buildings around.

I enjoyed my boarding school life in Dolgellau, as this town is very beautiful and it is a quiet place for studying. The only entertainment was the cinema near the railway station and it only opened after 5:30 pm daily. As a boarding student, we could only go to cinema on Sundays.

The people were very nice to us and we were the only foreigners in town in those days. On Sundays and holidays I loved walking through the narrow paths at the foot of Cader Idris. Since my departure in 1966, I have not had the opportunity to visit Dolgellau again but hopefully I may have the opportunity after my retirement.

My appreciation for your effort in preparing such a good web site about Dolgellau and this really makes a lot of people happy.

ehslee@mail.hongkong.com



Annette Hannah


Just wanted to say well done for setting up this website, its brought back lovely memories for me.

I had a summer job there twenty years ago, working in the Royal ship hotel as a cook and waitress. A lady called Mrs Parry was the manageress at the time, I made some lovely friends there who I've unfortunately lost touch with a long time ago, there was Sarah a local girl in the kitchen,I think she married someone called Huw, the receptionist was called Mary, another girl Rosaleen who married a local lad Geraint, and a Liverpool lad called Billy who married a local girl called Jenny and last I heard they were working in the saddlery. We often went to the milk bar and I also remember the rugby club disco, where I met a local boy (Glen Harris) and went out with him for a while, but it fizzled out after I went back to Liverpool.

One funny memory I have is of an older lady who came to work there for a while and did a moonlight flit out of the window one night (very strange). I also had a lovely view from my bedroom window there. I now live in Hertfordshire, where I have been for 16 years, but if anyone remembers me Id love to hear from them.

...Annette Hannah - ahannah@btinternet.com

PS/ I did learn a tiny snippet of welsh while I was there but the spelling is probably terrible: "Tid a suss e vee Carriad"



Guy Meacham (See Above Email from Barbara Lasham)


A lovely site - bringing back lots of memories :^).

I used to live at 13 Fordd y Felin. Attended the Primary School in the 60's and Ysgol Y Gader until 1973 (Age 11), then moved to Lincolnshire in 1974. Old friends Ariel Jones and Paul Kraidner - Are you still there?

I am currently living in Oregon USA. Dolgellau will always be a part of my life. Aloha...

Guy Meacham - guy@rippingale.com



Evelyn Morris


My parents came to live in Bryncoedifor in 1935,where my father was the Vicar. The Vicarage was a lovely old house with a huge garden with an enormous beech tree in the drive where the red squirels used to play, and my pony used to wander about ...I remember the village school,and walking down the road in all weathers...not like the kids these days..mind you it was safe and in the middle of the country.....When I was about 7yrs old I went to Bedgbury School at Nannau Hall and we used to play various brutal matches against Dr Williams school, Dolgellau.... know that I have not exactly written about Dol, but I do remember going into town with my parents,I even went into the local hospital? is it still there ? and I* used to go to Barmouth a lot to ride on the beach. In1992 I was working in Bray Berkshire when Cor Godre'r Aran came to sing and I had a nice chat yn Cymraeg with some of the choir including Iwan Wynn Parry and their brilliant conductor Eirian Owen, needless to say I felt very homesick but it was a wonderful evening,and brought back many happy memories of speaking Cymraeg Sir Merionydd, I now live in retirement in Hereford, but still miss what i consider my roots.

Cofion cyne to anyone who might remember me.

evelynmorris@btinternet.com



John Arnfield


Thanks for a great site. I was born in Greenwich in Feb 1944 and immediately evacuated to Dolgellau to escape the bombing in London. My grandparents owned the newsagent the Wilkens now own in Bridge Street, as well as the local hotel and music store. A search of the parish records shows the Arnfield family lived in the town before the early 1800's and there were a large number of them living in 19 Bridge Street in 1890.

My parents emigrated to Australia in 1949 and we have lived around Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland most of the time. I have been back to Dolgellau a couple of times, the last in 1999 when I was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study in the UK. I am currently working as a funeral director in Brisbane. I have a number of old photos of the Town which I will scan and send to you. Keep up the good work.

vk4dee@aapt.net.au



Alison Alder


I first visited Dolgellau in about 1970 at the age of 15, I was a girl guide at the time and spent a week camping near the precipice walk. The first year we were visited by David Morgan (then the local butcher and also scout master) and his wife jenny (the cub mistress). This was the start of a wonderful friendship, which still exists today between my family and the Morgans (although David sadly died two years ago after a long illness). The next year the guides returned to Dolgellau again, this time to be washed out by dreadful rain, we spent our last two days sleeping in the drill hall. I have been to Dolgellau on a regular basis ever since, taking first my boyfriend, who later become my husband and then our two sons. They now visit with their wives and children. We all think of Dolgellau as our second home and hope to visit for many years to come.

Alison.Alder@uhb.nhs.uk



David Jones


I lived at Llanelltyd and attended Dolgellau Grammar School until I left school at 18 (1996).

I visit the area on a regular basis since my elderly parents still live at Llanelltyd. I now live in Nottinghamshire and fluent in the Welsh language.It is my intention to move back to the area when I retire.

davidjones@tiscali.net



Phelps & Judy Bell


My family and I rented a stone cottage near Dolgellau in August 1983 and spent one memorable evening at a banquet and songfest in the town hall(?). We all sat at long tables and shared a leg of succulent Welsh lamb with those at the same table. We have often recalled the pitcher of excellent sauce also on each table made from honey, wine, orange juice, herbs and spices. The question: is there any way of finding the recipe? Can you help us out to relive this Welsh experience? Will much appreciate any help.

jpbell@sympatico.ca



John Wilburn


Wonderful to find your website for Dolgellau. I am American and spent a few months in your lovely town back around 1982. I was aquainted with Chris and Errol Jones/Williams who owned the Cross Keys Pub at the time. It was quite an adventure for a young American!

I'd met a gentleman in the Cross Keys who challenged me to a race up Cader Idris, the stakes were to be a case of fine whiskey for the winner. I raced to the top and the gentleman never showed up! When I returned to the pub, I found that he had never left and just sat there and laughed and laughed with his mates. Seems I was the victim of a local practical joke. It still gives me a chuckle from time to time.

Anyway thank you for your website, it brought back a lot of fond memories of my stay in the U.K.

johny@snowcrest.net
Where to Stay in Dolgellau
  • Cross Foxes
  • Gwernan Hotel
  • Ty Seren
  • Dolgun Uchaf
  • Borthwnog
  • Penmaenuchaf
Dolgellau.Wales

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