(click on underlined date to see the meeting's write up, or relevant news letter)
|2018||TOPIC||SPEAKER OR MAIN ACTIVITY|
|May 1||Sugar & Slavery : Penrhyn Castle & Jamaica||Dr Marian Gwyn|
|June 11||Bryn Eglwys Slate Quarry||Mr Mike Green|
|July 9||Appreciating the rich history of our district||'History Hunt' Car Rally|
|August 29||Exploring mid-Wales : Lampeter, Aberaeron & Hafod||Coach excursion|
|Sept 10||The Second World War in Merioneth : communities at war?||Dr Quentin Deakin|
|Oct 8||The Second World War in Tywyn and District||Member & veteran-led contributions|
|Nov 12||The Development of Tywyn as a Resort||Mr John Hirst|
|Dec 10||As above + Start to consider programme for next year||Member's contributions|
|Christmas||Social event - meal + activity||Member & veteran-led contributions|
|First Year Summary|
|2019||TOPIC||SPEAKER OR MAIN ACTIVITY|
|Jan 14||Church and Chapel in Wales||Mr Selwyn Walters|
|Feb 11||As above - preceded by AGM||Member's contributions, including Mr Ron Marshall|
|March 11||Cantre'r Gwaelod : history, archaeology & legend||Speaker to be arranged|
|April 8||As above||Members contributions|
|May 20||'The Talyllyn Railway'||David Mitchell - from the Talyllyn Railway|
|June 17||Medieval Tywyn - 'Poets & patrons in and around medieval Tywyn'||Dylan Foster Evans - Head of Welsh Studies, Cardiff University|
|July 15||Medieval Tywyn||Member & local resident contributions|
|Aug 7||Trip to Penrhyn Castle|
|Sept 16||Trails, Roads & Buses - 'The Old Ways of Meirionnydd'||Jean Napier - photographer and writer|
|Oct 21||Trails, roads & buses||Member & local resident contributions|
|Nov 18||Neoliths & the first Celts - 'The First farmers: the Neolithic period in N W Wales'||Jane Kenney - Archaeologist, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust|
|Dec 16||Neoliths and the arrival of the first Celtic peoples||Member & local resident contributions|
|Second Year Summary|
|2020||TOPIC||SPEAKER OR MAIN ACTIVITY|
|Jan 20||Culture & the Arts - 'Tywyn Cinema and Rural Cinemas in Wales'||Annie Grundy - Tywyn Cinema|
|Feb 17||Culture & the Arts||Member & local resident contributions, including the choral tradition|
Newsletter from Tywyn & District History Society
Our December meeting is coming up. See the attached poster - please display or circulate further. Following on from John Hirst's excellent context-setting presentation on the history of the resorts of Cardigan Bay the focus will now be on Tywyn at our December meeting . There will be a 'slide' show to kick it off. Please bring your memories of the town with you (however recent) and encourage friends and neighbors to come along and share theirs. There will be artefacts on display and a theme-related quiz.
As a member you will also have the opportunity at this meeting to choose themes for the next year, up to 5, by secret ballot. We are essentially a local history society but our constitution allows us the freedom to consider any historical topic, so if 'Attempts at European unity' rocks your boat then put it down (do I hear shouts of 'No'?). I then have the tricky job of correlating the results and finding speakers. We now have one (provisionally), Professor Mike Phillips, for the last theme of the year - 'Cantre'r Gwaelod', not forgetting the informative and entertaining Selwyn Walters to lead of on 'Churches and Chapels of Wales' in January.
The First Year - the Making of Tywyn & District History Society
When, early in 2018, the possibility arose of Tywyn's main line railway building being available for use as a museum, a public meeting was called to gauge local interest. The meeting was well attended and it became obvious that not only was there a rich local history and a great story to be told, but considerable enthusiasm from collectors of suitable artefacts and photographs.
The idea has stalled as the possibility of affordable premises faded in the spring of 2018; no major grant can be sought without that solid foundation. However, expectations had been aroused and, unwilling to abandon their dream, a core group decided to launch the idea of a history society, which, while extending the range of historical knowledge and interest, might incorporate some of the aims of the museum enthusiasts.
Another public meeting was called and it was decided to go ahead with the first official meeting in March 2018. At this meeting a constitution was agreed and officers were elected from those willing to take on the extra commitment to an untried but ambitious society. Among the teething problems were the resolution of a suitable monthly date and an ideal venue, avoiding clashes with established clubs and a popular time for meetings.
It was also decided to recruit a committee for the achievement of a town trail. This would involve the production of several information boards and leaflets and extensive public liaison, a project requiring considerable and continuing commitment but attracting widespread support from residents, businesses and politicians. We succeeded in winning a National Lottery grant and additional financial support from Tywyn Town Council. We hope the fulfilment of the project will prove a valuable and lasting asset for Tywyn.
From its inception the society has been committed to the democratic decisions of its members, who, in the past year, have selected 5 major themes alternating invited speakers with members and residents own contributions, a successful formula which will continue.
Last year's themes covered the slate industry, the Talyllyn Railway, the Second World War as it affected Meirionnydd, the development of Tywyn as a town and resort, church and chapel in Wales and in Tywyn in particular and Cantre'r Gwaelod, the legendary 'Lost Atlantis' under Cardigan Bay.
While valuable contacts have been made with other history groups and academics, who have provided us with truly excellent speakers, members' contribution evenings have been equally successful and informative. In July we organised a History Hunt and in August a most enjoyable coach trip with a guided tour of St David's University in Ceredigion and a lavish high tea at the Hafod Hotel. We also had our first new year's meal at the Talyllyn Railway's Wharf Cafe.
February to March 2019
Tywyn & District History Society
Our next meeting is on Monday March 11th, 7PM in the Baptist Church. I look forward to seeing you there. It will be an ordinary meeting followed by an AGM. The topic of the ordinary meeting will be Cantre'r Gwaelod: the 'Lost Atlantis' of Cardigan Bay? More on this and the AGM after a brief recap on the last meeting.
At the February meeting we followed up January's talk by Selwyn Walters with five contributions by representatives of local churches and chapels. Speakers Ron Marshall, Patricia Gruddings, Sue Whitehouse, Hilary Harrison and Phil Malin, each with an interesting story to tell of history, evolution and continuity, making this a fascinating evening which attracted a large audience.
At the next meeting, we will start to look at the fascinating mix of colourful fiction and equally amazing facts which makes Cantre'r Gwaelod such an interesting topic to consider. We will be joined by local diver Paul Carter, whose has seen the sarnau that stretch out into the bay, which may or may not be evidence of attempts to hold back seas advancing from north and south. I will be providing an introduction to the subject and will describe surveys I have undertaken of the sites near Tywyn, including a new site the sea briefly uncovered just a week ago. A poster is in preparation and will be sent out to you shortly (as an attachment). Martin Bates, from Lampeter University, will be able to tell us about the latest research on Cantre'r Gwaelod at our April meeting.
Tywyn & District History Society
At their meeting on 11th March Quentin Deakin gave an introduction to the society's current theme, 'Legends and the Archaeology of Cantre'r Gwaelod ( the Lowland Hundred)', partly based on his own surveys of the Tywyn site. This talk was complemented by Paul Carter's fascinating account of his experiences when diving around the sarnau off our coast, providing valuable primary source material. Both contributions were much appreciated.
The society will complete this theme in April with a talk by Martin Bates of Lampeter University. Martin will update the society on the latest professional research, largely based on his field-work on shore lines south of the River Dyfi.
A second item was an update on the progress of the Tywyn Town Trail project, with a vote taken on a key image on one of the walks' leaflets. Drafts of the project's leaflets were displayed for comments. After the refreshment break the society held its first AGM. Officers and committee members were elected and there was a short discussion of the new programme. The next meeting will be at 7PM on April 8th at the Baptist Church. Members, new members and visitors will be most welcome.
March to April 2019
Tywyn & District History Society
Martin Bates is our speaker at our next meeting. He comes recommended as the current expert on Cantre'r Gwaelod, with most of his research so far being on the sites south of the River Dyfi. He is interested in extending his researches to Tywyn and further north, so I am trying to persuade him to arrive a couple of hours earlier than the meeting to see whatever may still be seen on April 8th, the day of the meeting. If he does agree to come earlier to do this I will let any of you who are interested to join us know, so that you can meet us for a small field trip.
Also at the April meeting there will be an opportunity for members to get more involved in the History Trail, work on which is on-going.
Here follows the write up of the March meeting, posted by Liz, our Press contact for reporting meetings:
'At their meeting on11th March Quentin Deakin gave an introduction to the society's current theme, 'Legends and the Archaeology of Cantre'r Gwaelod ( the Lowland Hundred)', partly based on his own surveys of the Tywyn site. This talk was complemented by Paul Carter's fascinating account of his experiences when diving around the sarnau off our coast, providing valuable primary source material. Both contributions were much appreciated.. A second item was an update on the progress of the Tywyn Town Trail project, with a vote taken on a key image on one of the walks' leaflets. Drafts of the project's leaflets were displayed for comments. After the refreshment break the society held its first AGM. Officers and committee members were elected and there was a short discussion of the new programme.' Liz has also written an article for Sybridion on the first year of the society. So look out for that. In future, Sybridion should also include accurate listings of our meetings over the next season.
Tywyn & District History Society
From the 13th to 18th May the society mounted a Preview Exhibition at Tywyn Library of their Lottery-funded Town Trail featuring templates of the display boards, leaflets and original commissioned artwork. This provided an opportunity for residents and visitors to add their comments and suggestions prior to manufacture. The exhibition was well attended and the reception of the material was extremely positive. The society thanks all who attended (including a party of teachers and students from Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn) for their support and encouragement and the library staff for their hospitality. The society now looks forward to the completion of the project and the planned opening ceremony on the 13th July.
At their meeting on the 20th May the speaker, David Mitchell, President of the Talyllyn Railway, gave a comprehensive and superbly illustrated account of the railway's history from its industrial roots to its present day position as a celebrated national attraction - a wonderful example of living history and a major asset for Tywyn. His absorbing presentation was much appreciated.
After the break, Warwick Hawkins, Director of Faith in Society, who had travelled up from London to attend the meeting, told members about their plans for an oral history project to profile the work of the many volunteers who helped in the reception and temporary resettlement of the Ugandan Asian refugees at Tonfanau (and 4 camps in southern England) in 1972/73. His proposal describing how the History Society might assist in the project was well received and it was agreed that this was something with which the society would like to be involved.
The remainder of the meeting included a report back on the Town Trail Preview Exhibition. All volunteers were thanked. Summer trips to Penrhyn, Holywell and Harlech were discussed as well as a visit to view the Town Trail by members of Harlech Historical Society to take place on July 30th.
The next meeting will be on Monday June 17th at 7pm, when we welcome Dylan Foster Evans, a native of Tywyn, now Head of Welsh at Cardiff University. His subject will be 'Poets and their Patrons in and around Tywyn'.
Tywyn & District History Society
The society's meeting of 16th July was a members' and local residents' night relating to June's talk by Dylan Foster Evans on Welsh medieval poets and the their patrons. Two members, Hilary Harrison and Liz Deakin, took up the challenge, employing complementary styles of presentation, skilfully demonstrating their enthusiasm for their chosen topic and careful research. Liz turned to the work of an English bard, Shakespeare, and with the help of Quentin Deakin read a key scene from Henry IV Part 1 featuring 'Owen Glendower' (Owain Glyndwr). She pointed out the historical innaccuracies in the play and the dangers of learning history from a playwright/bard, however brilliant. She also gave a summary of Shakespeare's other famous Welsh character 'Fluellen', the supreme Henry V loyalist from the play of that name. The historical and contemporary significance of Owain Glyndwr and his opposition to the king was explored as fully as time allowed. Hilary gave an extensively researched, beautifully illustrated account of everyday life in earlier medieval Wales in all its aspects with particular emphasis on the people of the local area and its unique history. Her enjoyment of her subject was manifest, once again knowledge outstripping the allocated time. Both contributions were well received. It is hoped that other members and residents will be emboldened to share their own particular interests or to undertake research related to the current themes in future members' meetings. The society is determined to retain this USP.
Before the member presentations the society welcomed Mari Beynon Owen, from the Snowdonia UNESCO World Heritage Bid, who consulted members on opportunities and issues relating to Listed and other historical buildings of note in Tywyn. She said the town might look to a 'Destination Plan' that would contribute to economic regeneration through projects arising from one of more heritage sites. Mari was thanked for her stimulating presentation and she expressed her gratitude to members for their contributions.
he final item of the evening was a reminder of the forthcoming trips to Holywell, Harlech and Penrhyn and the return visit of Harlech Historical Society to Tywyn on 30th July.
On Thursday 18th July a small but appreciative group of members participated in a car-share excursion to Holywell in Flintshire , suggested and organised by Julia Wilson. The long journey was more than justified by the rich historical feast on offer. The group was hosted for a full day guided tour by Gladys Harrison, Chair of the Holywell and District Society. The tour began with a walk through the centre of this extraordinary town which, as late as 1755, possessed the largest population of any town in Wales. Holywell has preserved many of its handsome Georgian and Victorian buildings. Its economy was based on industry and the substantial remains of its early industrial revolution factories were seen on a stroll along the adjacent Greenfield Industrial Heritage site. The tour continued with a visit to the magnificent remains of Basingwerk Abbey, the wonderful Heritage Lottery funded Folk Museum and finally, the world-famous St Winefride's Well, a destination for pilgrims since the saint's death in the seventh century ( often referred to as the British Lourdes).
Our regular monthly meetings will resume on16th September, when our next theme will be the development of transport in the district.
Tywyn & District History Society
The Society was pleased to welcome Tywyn's own multi-faceted, multi-talented, Jean Napier as speaker for their meeting on Monday 21st October. Jean gave an excellent talk on the history of the Rhinog mountain area of Meirionnydd, one of the least populated and most beautiful regions of the British isles, now only inhabited by sheep and wild goats. It was a fascinating account of ancient monuments and traverses across roads and now-abandoned inns and gold mines, enhanced by Jean's stunning photography.
The talk was followed by a segue of 3 of Jean's films of the area, which highlighted its wild beauty. Jean was thanked for her evocative and informative talk. After the refreshment break members voted to affiliate the society to the Merioneth Historical and Record Society. They also began the process of selecting themes for next year's programme and to take bookings for the society's New Year meal on 21st January 2020. Members absent from the October meeting will have the opportunity to vote for their choice of themes at the November meeting and to put their names down for the meal at the next two meetings. November's meeting will be on the theme of Neolithics and the arrival of the first Celtic peoples. The speaker will be Jane Kenney, Senior Archaeologist at the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust who will speak on the subject of 'The first farmers: the Neolithic period in North West Wales'. Monday November 18th at 7PM, Tywyn Baptist Church. All welcome.
Tywyn & District History Society
At the commencement of their meeting on Monday 18th November Ivor Moody led a tribute to prominent Tywyn historian Sara Eade. Many members were personal friends and her work was appreciated by all in the society. She will be much missed.
The subject of the Neoliths, the first farmers to inhabit a previously hunter-gatherer Britain, drew a large audience. The speaker, Dr Jane Kenney, Project Manager at the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, did full justice to the theme, The First Farmers in Wales: the Neolithic Period in the north- west. Beginning with an overview of the origins of the Neoliths, their spread throughout the continent and their arrival in Britain, she discussed the latest archaeological findings on their settlements, achievements and daily life. She then focused on their presence in the immediate area of north-west Wales and the evidence so far explored. The discussion which followed testified to the keen interest in this topic. Dr Kenney was thanked for her fascinating contribution.
After refreshments a last opportunity was given for members to make their proposals for next season's programme and names were taken for the festive meal on Tuesday January 21st. The December meeting will be the final opportunity to book for the meal and payment will be due by that date.
December's meeting on the 16th at 7pm at the Tywyn Baptist Church will include a follow-up to the theme of pre-documentary peoples in Wales with a short talk on technological methods of discovery. This will be followed by volunteer members giving a brief talk on an historical object selected from their own collections. All welcome. Christmas refreshments.
December 2019 meeting
The society's meeting on Monday 16th December, the members' and residents' follow-up session to Jane Kenney's lecture on Neanderthal society, was led by Edwin Salisbury, who gave a talk on the latest techniques of facial reconstruction, used both in archaeology and police forensic work. These use DNA as well as bone structure. The talk was followed by brief contributions by fifteen members who responded to the invitation to bring an item of historical interest from their own collections. This challenge proved a fascinating and effective pathway to the group's interests. Objects ranged from an impressive fossilised shell to a computer print cartridge, a glimpse of the technological litter that might remain from the present era far into the future. Two speakers presented objects related to Pharanoic Egypt, another talked about carvings of Canadian Inuits she had acquired as a nurse in Canada. Symbolic objects discussed in their historical context were a Faberge egg and a ceramic cream cow. There was a curious decorated Victorian ceramic air freshener. Items of local interest concerned the Talyllyn Railway's last journey, a village sacrificed to reservoir development at Nant y moch in 1964, a family history recorded in the family bible and the diary and rotas of her ancestor, an itinerant Methodist preacher and missionary in Shropshire. There was also a group relating to technological developments, such as the comprehensive volume of navigational tables created by the speaker's ancestor , the Reverend James Inman, a Victorian clinometer used for gun ranging and equipment used for valve testing or BBC sound effects, duly demonstrated with deafening results by Ian Dodds, one of the men who designed it. To sum up, this activity proved a hit, informative as well as enjoyable, reaching to other continents and every time period, in several cases revealing a close tie up between family history and the history of ideas.
The next meeting of the society is on Monday January 20th at 7pm in the Baptist Church back room. Annie Grundy from the Tywyn's Magic Lantern, will be talking about the history of this cinema and rural cinemas in Wales. All welcome.
The Second Year
Sibrydion's April/May 2019 issue featured an article on the establishment and first year of the Tywyn and District History Society. Now, towards the end of our second year it may be a good time to review progress. The past year has been a busy and exciting one attracting an ever-increasing membership. We are now preparing our third year's programme of five membership-chosen themes and have booked an impressive line up of speakers.
In our first year we obtained a National Heritage Lottery grant to create and install five history information boards in Tywyn and two history trails, The Town Centre and The Seaside in English and Welsh versions. This project has been successfully completed. The boards and leaflets have met with widespread approval and the latter are available from many local outlets. The professional work by Ian Clewett of Corris and Signs Workshop is excellent. The Society would like to thank the owners of the sites, Tywyn Library, the Beach Cafe and the Bro Dysynni Male Voice Choir, who contributed to the success of our pre-installation exhibition and opening ceremony. The project required a large commitment from the Society's officers and trail committee but without the enthusiasm and support of all the members and local residents we would have achieved nothing.
All the second year's invited speakers have been excellent, both those from as far away as Cardiff and others, equally eminent, from Tywyn itself. The themes were varied, each attracting extra visitors drawn by their particular interest. On our alternate members' follow-up nights some thirty members and residents have made well-researched and expert contributions to each theme.
In August we enjoyed trips to Holywell and Penrhyn Castle using public transport and car share. There was also an exchange visit with Harlech Historical Society, with whom we have also exchanged expert speakers. We will continue this valued link and forge further ties with other historical societies and associated bodies. In January we enjoyed our second year's celebratory meal at the Wharf Cafe of the Talyllyn Railway.
In our third year we will be participating in two further major projects. As part of the Llechi Cymru/Wales Slate bid for World Heritage status, the Society will be creating and installing an information board in the High Street to introduce Tywyn to visitors. Also, Tonfanau has been chosen by London-based social enterprise Faith in Society as one of three sites focusing on the experiences of the volunteers who worked with the Ugandan Asian refugees accommodated in 1972. The Society has agreed to liaise with the project in the creation of an oral history archive under the leadership of Chairperson Hilary Harrison. Our Secretary Quentin Deakin has also been working with Richard Stoner, local secretary of RAFA and Town Councillor, Marisa O'Hara, on the contribution of the parish of Bro Ystumanner to a touring exhibition on the hundredth anniversary of the Church in Wales. Bro Ystumanner's contribution covers the 1940's.
We hope that the Society will continue to provide an inclusive, informative and enjoyable forum for all with an interest in history.
Tywyn & District History Society
The society's meeting on Monday 20th January was movie night. It was therefore no surprise that there was a full house for the talk, 'The History of Tywyn Cinema' by Annie Grundy, co-director of the Magic Lantern and Sara Waddington, co-director and co-owner. The part Tywyn cinema has played and continues to play in the lives of residents was highlighted as the audience shared memories extending over seven decades. Annie and Sara explored the origins and development of cinema from magic lantern technology in the seventeenth century to the immersive experience of the present day as provided by Tywyn's own 'Magic Lantern', where films have been shown for 115 years. The magnificent Assembly Rooms, built in 1893 as a secular venue for meetings, social occasions and entertainments, was a true community hub, which the present owners continue to provide. Alongside the Talyllyn Railway the cinema has attracted UK-wide interest and is becoming a major asset both for Tywyn and for west Wales.
After refreshments the society discussed its undertaking to work alongside a Lottery-based project on the use of military bases to house Ugandan Asian refugees in the early 1970's. The camp at Tonfanau has been selected as one of the three featured sites. The focus will be on local residents who were involved as volunteers and their experiences will be sort. The society's chair, Hilary Harrison, will lead on the work and any help and participation will be appreciated.
On Tuesday 21st the society enjoyed an excellent seasonal meal at the Kings Cafe in the Wharf Station of the Talyllyn Railway, where a preview was given by secretary Quentin Deakin, of an exciting and far-ranging programme for the third year of the society, beginning in May 2020.
The next meeting on February 17th will follow up the cultural theme and will feature talks by Richard Stoner on Welsh film locations and by a member of the Bro Dysynni Male Voice Choir who will speak about its history.
Tywyn & District History Society
At their meeting on Monday 17th February the society's cinema theme was continued by Richard Stoner, who gave the first presentation of the evening on the subject of film locations in Wales illustrated by his collection of photographs taken during filming. For Richard this subject has been of long-standing interest and he gave a fascinating account. Throughout film history the beautiful Welsh landscape has been an obvious location choice for films such as the Harry Potter franchise and the legends of King Arthur - Lyonesse was created in the fields above Talyllyn Lake. However, more surprising was that Wales has stood in for India (Carry on up the Kyber) and China (Inn of the Sixth Happiness) with such conviction that natives and visitors to those countries claim to recognise specific features.
The second presentation of the evening was a talk by John Meiron Richards and Roger Duke, both members of the Bro Dysynni Male Voice Choir. Roger gave an account of the history of the tradition in Wales. John, the charismatic emcee of the Bro Dysynni, focused on the history of the choir from Village Hall to Albert Hall which resonated with many in the audience who have followed the choir's progress throughout the years. Their presentation concluded with the playing of a unique CD recorded during a performance, which held the audience spellbound. The three speakers were thanked for a lovely evening.
During the break members had a chance to study next year's programme (starting in May) and to view a draft of the additional information board for Tywyn which the society will be creating for Llechi Cymru/Wales Slate. This board, to be located in the town centre, will introduce the town and its many assets, historical, natural, sporting, shopping and gastronomic.
The next meeting will be on March 16th, when David Jenkins, from the Museum of Wales, Cardiff, will be exploring the theme of ships and shipbuilding, with a focus on Derwenlas. All welcome. Admission for non members, £3. Subscriptions (£10) will be taken at this and at the April meeting for the third season of the society beginning in May with a talk on King Arthur.