Reprint of David Williams’ book now available

Unique old book updated and reprinted.

Over 50 years ago, in 1963, an 82 year old retired Anglican minister, David Williams, published a book, entitled Y Wladfa Fach Fynyddig which he had written. At the time it was well received in the Llanfair Clydogau and Llanddewi Brefi areas of Cardiganshire, the area it describes. The publication sold out and copies have been difficult to get since then. Now, local historians Alan and Sally Leech have revised and reprinted the book, with the support of the author's daughter. The book of 79 pages, including a large number of black and white photographs, recounts the life of people living in a remote area of the Cambrian Mountains at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, through the memories of the author. David Williams was born in 1881, and raised here, on an upland smallholding more than 1,000 feet above sea level. Farming was hard; making a living by his parents and the other scattered smallholders across the upland nearby was difficult. However, the people had land, space and independence and so the farmland was relatively well populated, with a Sunday school built and maintained by the locals and gatherings of people to share and participate in shearing and other events.

The author farmed the land, but after attending Ystrad Meurig Grammar School, at the age of 24, later managed to enrol at St David's College, Lampeter ( now Trinity St David's) where he obtained a BA degree and later, in 1912, became a priest in the Anglican Church. He went on to become a minister in several areas in north Wales, finally finishing at Llanfair, Dyffryn Clwyd in Denbighshire.

His book details the various small holdings inhabited in his youth and recounts the life of the people he remembered. He praises their industriousness as they settled on the common land, clearing the land of stones, building walls, homes and barns, as well as new roads. He describes their openness, friendliness, spirit and above all cooperation. With a note of sadness, he commented, that in 1963, as he surveyed the scene of his birth, many of the farms had been deserted, abandoned and were in ruins as the people had left, seeking a more economically rewarding life in the towns and cities of the UK.

Alan and Sally Leech have arranged for a limited edition reprint of the book of 110 copies. It is available for £5 from Llanfair Shop or direct from the authors.

New publication

New publication

Finally, our latest project, the reprint of “Y Wladfa Fach Fynyddig” (The Little Hillside Settlement), first published by the Reverend David Williams in 1963, is ready to be sent to the printers. For those of you who do not know anything about this gentleman who was born and brought up on the mountainside at Esgair-crwys, the foreword to the book, written by his daughter, Mrs Elizabeth Palmer is displayed below. FOREWORD By Elizabeth Palmer (daughter of David Williams).

Reverend David Williams (20th September 1881 – 11th May 1971) David Williams was born at Esgair-crwys, a farmstead situated on the border between the parishes of Llanddewi Brefi and Llanfair Clydogau, where his parents were farming. Esgair-crwys was first constructed as a “ty unos” built on what was then, the common land. David’s father was a carpenter as well as a farmer. Neither of his parents had much formal education, but did both attend a small school run by a local man at his home, Gwarffordd, which was situated about two miles from Esgair-crwys. David himself benefitted from the outcome of the 1870 Education Act which resulted in the establishment of Llanfair Board School, to which he was admitted in 1886. The headteacher of the day was Dan Jenkins, who later became a leading figure in not just educational circles, but also as a Liberal, a non-conformist, a campaigner for the Welsh language and in farming. From 1893 until 1895 David lived with his sister in Leicestershire, and whilst there, attended the local day school. He returned to Llanfair Board School in 1895 until 1897. His formal education suffered some breaks on occasions, such as upon the death of his father, which necessitated him spending long periods working on the family farm. It was during this time that he served as a member of Llanfair Clydogau Parish Council from 1902 until 1904. After working for several years, David joined the school in Ystrad Meurig in 1905, at the age of 24, moving on to the College School in Lampeter from 1906 until 1908, joining St. David’s from 1909 until 1911. In his late twenties he graduated with a B.A. degree in 1911, before going on to be ordained as a priest in 1912. Within the diocese of St. Asaph, he took up posts as curate of Llanfair-talhaiarn (1911-1916); Rhos-y-medre (1916-1917); Corwen (1917-1920); and then became a vicar at Bryn-eglwys from 1920, followed by vicar at Llanfair Dyffryn in Denbighshire, Clwyd. My father’s notes show that as a curate and later a priest, he officiated at many services in churches throughout North Wales, as well as in Cardiganshire in Llanfair Clydogau, Llanddewi Brefi, Cribyn, Pentrebach and Gwnws; and in Carmarthenshire, Glamorganshire, Merionethshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Lancashire and London. In Denbighshire, his interest in local political affairs saw him serve as a member of the Llangollen Rural District Council from 1928 until 1933. He was also a member of the Court of Governors of Bangor University College from 1929 until 1933. He had an enduring interest in history and wrote “A short history and guide to Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd Church”. As a relatively older man in 1963, some 60 years after leaving Llanfair Clydogau, he wrote this book, an excellent account of what he saw, assessed and observed as a boy and a young man. It describes a swathe of upland on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains, its inhabitants and their way of life as he observed it, in primarily the late 19th century. I should like to express my gratitude to Alan and Sally Leech for their interest, meticulous research and the time they have devoted to the subject of this book. I also draw attention to their work in expanding the initial publication of my father’s 1963 book through their own 2009 volume “Struggle for Survival in the Cardiganshire Hills.” My father’s book has been out of print for many years. I hope that this new reprint will be of interest to many who have a concern, curiosity and fascination for this beautiful, wild and remote area on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains. As he wrote “whatever the future will be, its past will have played a noble and a glorious part in the history of our country and the influence for good of many of those born and bred in this locality will shine and live on.” Elizabeth Palmer. Battle, East Sussex. (February 1st 2017).

Thursday evening’s talk

Thanks to everybody who attended our talk on Thursday evening about the history of Llanfair Clydogau in maps. Hopefully you all found it of interest and discovered something about the history of the area that you didn't know. There is plenty more to find out, some already documented in our earlier books, and even more to come in the History of Llanfair Clydogau Volume 2, which is work in progress at present.

Forthcoming Event

Forthcoming Event

Alan is giving an illustrated talk to the Llanfair History Group on Thursday 29th September at 7.30pm in Llanfair Village Hall. This is an open meeting, therefore all are welcome to attend. Tea and biscuits will follow the talk.