Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Forgotten War

The Sixties are supposed to have been a time of khaftans and flower power, but in Radnorshire the whiff of high explosives impacted more on the senses than cannabis.

Nowadays the bombing campaign against the Elan Valley pipeline has been largely forgotten or dismissed as part of the comic-book saga of the Free Wales Army. In reality it was a serious business, as this photograph of the results of an attack at West Hagley in 1968 shows. This after all was the main water supply to England's second city and followed less successful bombings within Radnorshire itself, at Nantmel and Crossgates.

Reading through old newspaper reports it comes as something of a surprise to discover that two convicted Welsh bombers were suspected of having learnt how to assembly their devices at a farm in Llandegle. Was Llandegle really such a hot bed of physical force nationalism, or was this an example of the activities of that familiar figure on the Sixties scene, the agent provocateur?


An earlier threat to the pipeline came during the IRA's futile mainland campaign of 1939. In January of that year the Birmingham Evening Dispatch received the following message from the bombers:

"WARNING: London, Manchester and Liverpool; Battersea, Rhyadder and Coventry are next, and there will be no mistakes next time."

Over 300 explosions occurred during the campaign but thankfully the Bwgyites remained untouched, perhaps the IRA's inability to spell the name of the town meant they failed to find it on the map.


Anonymous said...

Ah Llandegle, or should that be Llandeglau or Llandegley or even Llandegla??

Anonymous said...

A reasonable question. The usual spelling in Radnorshire has been Llandegley (earliest reference 1513). I'm usually guided by the bard Lewis Glyn Cothi in these matters and he used Llandegle (earliest reference was infact1291). The saint is usually called Tegla. so I guess you could make an argument for Llandegla. Llandeglau and Llandeglai we'll leave to the North Walians.

A good book on the subject is "A Study of Radnorshire Place-Names" by Richard Morgan, published by Carreg Gwalch.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could lend your copy to Powys County Council who are using the -au and -ey forms. ;)

Do you know the reasoning behind the -au forms recommended by Elwyn Davies? Neither Morgan nor the new Dictionary of Welsh Place-names list any forms ending in -au. If the name is Tegla or Tegle why that extra u?

Anonymous said...

Googling around I can see that there is some move to bring conformity to the official spellings of Welsh placenames by following Elwyn Davies' book. All well and good but only if the book is accurate in the first place.

I'm afraid i haven't got access to the book and I do wonder if it perpetuates some of the other mispellings inflicted on Radnorshire from the Welsh speaking side Cwmdauddwr, Llanhir, Ffynnon Gynydd, NantmĂȘl ....

I think these spellings arise from Welsh speakers having a rather low opinion of Radnorshire's Welsh credentials and then just assuming that they know what the spelling should be.

The Llandeglau effort is a particular disgrace when you remember that this was the home village of that fine scholar of the Welsh language and Radnorshire, Ffransis Payne ... he certainly used Llandegle.

dafydd said...

"Cwmdauddwr" is not one "of the other mispellings inflicted on Radnorshire from the Welsh speaking side" - it is the result of misunderstanding on the part of English-speakers as to the origins of the name. It derives from 'cwmwd' = 'commote', NOT 'cwm' = 'valley', so its correct name is Cwmteuddwr (as pronounced to this day by natives of Rhaeadr and Cwmteuddwr. If it were derived from 'cwm' (which it ain't), it would then have to be 'Cwmdeuddwr', anyway)

Llan-hir is certainly not a mis-spelling. The Radnorshire Society's Executive has decided unanimously to campaign for the version'Llan-hir' and this has been endorsed by a number of scholars and Llanyre residents. The spelling 'Lanllyr' is certainly a so-called 'factoid' - something wrongly and widely believed to be a fact on the basis of a chain of assumptions based on a false premise. Unfortunately the format of this blog does not permit words of the lenght of the Society's paper on this subject, but it can be obtained from

radnorian said...

Dafydd - I've emailed you. Yes I'm perfectly aware of the origins of Cwmteuddwr. I'll be intersted in reading the justification for Llan-hir as it certainly contradicts F G Payne and Richard Morgan. What about NantmĂȘl, any thoughts?

radnorian said...

OK I've now been kindly sent the arguments in favour of Llanhir. I'm pleased that there is a recognition that the local pronounciation is Welsh in origin and not an anglicism. I'm parly convinced but will look into it further and probably put up a blog entry.