Saturday, July 29, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems. 19

This is a praise poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi for Llywelyn ap Rhys of New Radnor. It makes some interesting points about buying and selling land - an alien concept under Welsh law - Y Draethen seems to have been some kind of administrative district in the Vale of Radnor.

No 164 Praise to Llywelyn ap Rhys

In a feast Llywelyn is an angel,
If a man can be an angel;
He has given his bards Rasbi wine,
The hawk of Rhys ap John,
The grandson of Einion, from the men of old,
Son of Hywel Fain with the fir stake;
Captain of the fair town and its wall,
A constable who beautifies any regiment.

The man’s nature, an ash through the rock,
Who loves land and fair words.
Land inherited through descent
Is the fourth gift to mankind;
Lewis is a second Elias of old
Belonging to the earth.
Whosoever sells land about the house,
In the end he will fail.
He who buys land will be honoured,
Who never sells back the smallest copse.
He has and will have profit;
Are there a hundred men with such profit?
His great store of money is no less
Than that of a thousand from Anglesey and Maelor,
Nor his estate than the two fair lands of Gwent,
Nor his taxes in Y Draethen.

Llywelyn is one member
Of Y Dref Wen, it vexes me that he is;
Namely what he has made in Maesyfaidd,
Laying a foundation and sealing a root,
Desiring a feast and watching over all
On the commons against transgression,
Keeping the franchise more like
Great Cedewain than Windsor Fair,
Breaking down the kindred hatreds,
Every day treating for peace,
Yet if there is war, Llywelyn’s
Hand is not less than any man’s.
Edward, when he came home
Through the sea to the land of mead,
The lion Rhys, by giving many gifts
To every quarter, received him.
And his ready task to create Easter work
In the early morning in Barnet,
And in the Tewkesbury to lay out the day
And win it with his ash spear.

It would be only proper for a very generous lion
To have reward for the work of his blade point.
It will be known before the feast of Mariaith,
The lion from Rouen will benefit our nation.
King Edward will share land with his men
And two kinds of wine.
When the head shares out the island
He will save a share for the son of Rhys.

Philip Turner, Welsh Racing Driver

Plenty of Welsh born racers starred on the pre-war Brooklands banking. Most famously of course there was Parry Thomas, but also the Eccles brothers, Rose-Richards, Charley Martin, Captain Marendaz, Penn-Hughes and racing as "Tim D. Davies" Dudley Folland.

Now, due to the researches of some of the guys on the TNF forum, we can add another name to that distinguished list, Philip Turner. Turner, who was also an accomplished power-boat racer and point-to-point rider, appeared at Brooklands between 1924 and 1933. Mysteriously he often raced using a nom de course such as "J. Taylor", "S. Bird", "R. Wilson", J. Sinclair" and "J. Philip". His great successes came in the major event of the year the Brooklands 500 races, retiring while in second place in 1931, finishing second in the following year's race as "J. Philip" and third in 1933 using his own name.

Born Joshua Philip Tanchan in Abergavenny in 1897, he changed his name to Turner in 1919. The Tanchans were a Jewish family who came into South Wales from Prussia via America in the middle years of the nineteenth century. Turner's family were originally in the clothing trade but young Philip was soon to become one of the leading car dealers in London, specialising in Rolls Royce and other top of the range motors. In 1935 Turner's businesses ran into financial trouble and he was declared bankrupt with liabilities of £30000 (at least a million in modern terms) and assets of only £10. Turner blamed his demise on share dealing and heavy racing expenses, the court's verdict was "rash and hazardous speculations and unjustifiable extravagance in living." Like so many of the racing crowd Turner was above all else a risk-taker.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Courts of Great Sessions

The Welsh media are reporting that today's Government of Wales Act will give birth to the first separate Welsh legal system since the time Henry VIII. The truth is that the Courts of Great Sessions, which were finally abolished in 1830, were the last independent Welsh courts. It's said that these courts were ended because of their popularity with Welsh litigants and because the English lawyers wanted to get their hands on the fees.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Innes Ireland Memorabilia

An interesting item for sale on ebay at the moment is a visitors book from a Goodwood hotel, signed by various celebrities of the 1950s and 60s. From the date we can see that Innes Ireland stayed the night before the 1960 Tourist Trophy race. Starting price £1100, happy bidding! Oh and Innes finished third in the race driving an Aston Martin

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Attack on the Birmingham Water Pipeline, 1952

Many people are aware of the bomb attacks in Wales during the 1960s, far less well known is an earlier incident which occured in Radnorshire on Sunday 19th October 1952.

The explosion at the Fron aquaduct near Crossgates caused a good deal of damage but failed to destroy the pipeline itself. Happening as it did just a few days before the Queen was due to open the new Claerwen reservoir on Thursday 23rd October, the explosion led to increased police activity against the Welsh Republican Movement, a small but influential group of left-wing nationalists. In May 1953, a 29 year old machine operator from Bangor, Peter Lewis, was convicted of sentenced to 18 months in jail for possesing explosives but no-one was ever convicted of the attack..


This little article from the January 1959 edition of the Ecurie Ecosse magazine "News From The Mews" must have been one of Innes's first journalistic assignments. It's fitting that it should mention three of the more influential characters in the Scotsman's life. Chapman and Lotus, of course, gave Innes his break into Grand Prix racing while Ireland eventually ended up married to Hawthorn's girlfriend.

The third of the trio is legendary spannerman Brit Pearce. Pearce originally worked as racing mechanic for the Hawthorns at their TT Garage in Farnham. With Leslie Hawthorn dead and Mike driving full time for Ferrari, Brit moved on to work for Innes at his Golden Acres establishment near Elstead, Surrey. By 1957 this had developed into a team that maintained Lotus Elevens for a variety of private owner-drivers.

When Innes joined Lotus in 1959, Brit was taken on by one of these privateers, Mike Taylor who crashed disasterously in the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix when the steering wheel of his Lotus came off in his hands. Brit Pearce was none too pleased with Chapman who had a reputation for slap-dash work where driver safety was concerned. Grasping Chapman by the throat, it took several on-lookers to pull Pearce away and allow the purple faced Team Lotus boss to catch breath. Brit's accusation "You've killed my f.....g driver!" turned out to be untrue as Taylor survived the crash, although he never drove again. Was Chapman to blame? Well he paid Mike Taylor substantial damages for negligence, a reported £10000.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 18

This request poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi is no doubt addressed to the Men of Elfael. This seems to have been some sort of assembly or council, perhaps similar to the type of government found in some Swiss cantons - a body comprised of all the free men of the cantref. The cross of Tyfaelog can still be seen in Llowes Church.

No 143, To Request a stallion from the Men of Elfael

Blessed God, ‘til my last day,
To the generous land that chases a stag.
Once, long ago, I was young and cheerful,
That was then, today I’m old,
And with age comes bad temper,
I’m an unwelcome pedestrian.

Although I’ve had the gold of the fair lands of Elfael,
Now I desire something more.
I desire a stallion,
One with a coat as black as charcoal.
From the manor to the van, I’m not interested
In some wild-tempered bay,
A slim lion is what I desire,
A strong giant or a rounded stag,
As fair as that great stallion, his sire,
As tame towards me as a sheep.
Today it’s easy work to find him
In the pound of the two Elfaels;
And then like swan feathers,
A smooth saddle to cover the horse,
And a short bit in his nostril
To stop him from jumping.
I am as gentle as a swan,
My stallion is gentle on my backside.
Up top, my saddle is smooth,
Like the van, I’m bald.

The two best lands in all the world,
The cultivated lands of Elfael,
Idnerth Hir and Elystan turned them
Into a land of fields,
And then, full of riches,
They were Einion Clud’s yard.
Elfael has never lent her shoulder,
Like so many lands, to an English tune.
Elfael is greater than a thousand myriad,
More than the fair of Man and her roads.
Troy was broader than Greece,
Wide in one fair whorl,
Yet the Greeks and their turmoil
Broke through the walls of Troy;
The men of Elfael also go
Through the wide lands of the earth.

If there is a musician without
A share of silver or mead,
Let him drop his prices, let him search the Wye
For silver, as far as Clyro;
From Clyro, calling for strength
In his heels, back to Diserth;
From Diserth, and being honoured,
Let him come to the land of Aberedw.
In strength he will have cattle,
In minted gold, in kind words,
In corn, on the banks of the Edw,
In great stallions, in greater happiness.

Over Elfael, the Cross of Tyfaelog,
And the Virgin, and the Cross and the Holy Rood,
Let Dwynwen extend her cross
Over the land of Mael, over fair Elfael,
God’s will be done, below the land of Mael,
And Sulfedd bless Elfael!