Sunday, January 30, 2011

Green Green Grass

I suppose most informed Welsh people will already know that Mrs Mubarak's mother was born in Llwynypia, although obviously not Welsh Office dinosaur David Jones. It's even been said that she once lived in Laura Street, Pontypridd, previously only noted for being the old home of retired hip shaker Tom Jones.

A Google search wouldn't reveal it but Mrs M's nain was a slate worker's daughter from Llanddeiniolen, one Lily Parry, the family originating from Anglesey. Who knows they might even be related to the distaff side of another celebrity couple who have done rather well at the expense of the public purse.

UPDATE: Bit of bad timing here, the Eisteddfod ask Suzanne Mubarak for a pair of shoes for a charity auction. No seriously!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Penny Note Book - part 2

The first three extracts are from 1899. The Gramophone appears in Aberedw in 1901, probably a model like this. The pretty bird appeared in 1906 - I guess it's too late to report to the Radnor bird blog. In the same year the pious old lady of Llanbadarn y Garreg met with her accident.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Agony Aunt

W.G. of Llanyre writes:

A friend of mine was recently reading a post from Llandod blogger and former Lib Dem councillor David Peter. Ever since she has been fretting about the upcoming referendum on more powers for the Welsh Assembly. Is there anything I can do to set her mind at rest?

Radnorian replies:

Dear W.G. tell your friend not to worry. Although Mr Peter needs "to be convinced that more powers for the Assembly is not merely a milestone on the way to full independence for Wales" the referendum is just about more powers for the Assembly. It could equally be a milestone on the way to the fully federal Britain that the poster advocates. The present vote has nothing at all to do with full independence. Unionists should remember that they were responsible for breaking up the original United Kingdom by continually standing in the way of devolution for Ireland.

Mr Peter also worries that the Assembly has no revising chamber. Well tell your friend that many countries get along fine with a single chamber legislature - New Zealand, Sweden, Finland and Norway for example. Also all the Australian, Canadian and German federal states.

Mr Peter does have a point when he complains about East Wales not having much influence within the current Welsh Assembly Government. No doubt this wouldn't have been the case if the Lib Dems hadn't pulled the plug on the proposed Rainbow coalition. Perhaps local voters should cast their ballot for parties who want to participate in government rather than putting their own internal party bickering before the interests of the people of Powys.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bees and Bonnets

A few months ago in the Western Mail, historian Dai Smith worried that what was described as the Renaissance of Welsh History in the second half of the 20C had run out of steam. One author who has certainly courted the controversy and debate which Dai Smith cites as a positive feature of that renaissance is the author of this little book.

Dr Breeze believes that the Four Branches of the Mabinogi were written by a woman and that the author can be identified as Gwenllian, the daughter of King Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd and wife of Gruffydd ap Rhys, Prince of Dyfed.

Now as one of the mere consumers of history I'm in no position to comment on the validity of Dr Breeze's theory and it certainly hasn't been accepted by his academic contemporaries. At the same time the author makes a lucid, circumstantial case and, although he cannot prove it, challenges his detractors to come up with detail that proves him wrong.

The book is published by a Leominster company called Gracewing who seem to specialize in works of Roman Catholic interest.

Dr Breeze has been described as having a bee in his bonnet about Gwenllian. Perhaps a few of our Welsh academics could be persuaded to unleash some of the bees lurking in their own headgear rather than retreating to what Dai Smith describes as "the cloister of the Learned Journal."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dorothy Levitt, Update

Dorothy Levitt was a secretary at the Napier Motor Company around 1903 when proprietor Selwyn Edge hit upon the idea of entering a woman in early Motoring events. Edge probably hoped that this would popularise the car with women and Dorothy soon proved herself an able and spirited driver. You can read about her on the excellent Speedqueens blog - here.

Soon Dorothy was an Edwardian celebrity but around the end of the decade she seems to have disappeared as quickly as she came into view. Despite being something of a feminist icon - check out my post on her only sporting foray into Radnorshire - and the subject of recent television shows, no-one really seemed bothered as to who she was or what became of her.

A couple of years ago I came up with the theory that Dorothy was actually a Jewish typist born Elizabeth Levi - my comment on this post sets out the reasons for the identification.

Now some genealogists with access to the probate records have confirmed the identification (see illustration above) - Elsie Ruby Lewis being shown through the BMD records to be Dorothy's or rather Elizabeth Levi's sister.

What became of Dorothy between 1913, when she had an apartment in Portman Mansions, and her death in 1922 remains a mystery.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Fed up with no longer being able to bore your workmates and relations with talk of how much your house has gone up in value? Well I don't suppose many Radnorians spent the 1970s buying Welsh language LPs, but if you did you might just have a new topic of conversation. Say about this or this or this or even this.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Did You Ever

Cardiff blogger Babylon Wales has come up with visual proof of Radnorshire songbird Maralene Powell's 1972 musical adventure with Gareth Edwards. I'm guessing Gareth has a better singing voice than current Welsh scrum-half Mike Phillips.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Penny Note Book

Yesterday while helping to clear out a house, I found a liitle penny note book. It contains occasional diary entries starting on January 17th 1899 and ending on September 23rd 1908. The author was a Nina Price of Pencraig, Llanbadarn y Garreg. At the time of the first entry she was a 15 year old pupil at Llandrindod County School and lodging in the town, the last entry records her father's funeral. The other entries include visits to fairs, concerts and church services, together with reports of local elections, fires, accidents and tragic deaths. Maybe I should send it to the county record office.

I doubt if there's been much skating on Llandrindod Lake this winter - Health & Safety has made cowards of us all - perhaps to the relief of the birds on the excellent Radnor bird blog.