Monday, August 27, 2007

Down the Hatch

The past, they say, is a different country and the contrast between today's binge drinking culture and the Wales of the November 1961 vote on Sunday opening of the pubs surely bears that out.

The vote in favour of opening in Radnorshire came as a surprise to the mainly chapel led opposition to Sunday drinking - the county had been expected to vote against. On a turnout of 55% the 4205 "for" votes won the day with 58% of the ballots cast. Breconshire, too, fell to the pro-drink lobby 53% to 47% with a similar breakdown of the vote but this time in favour of the antis seeing Montgomeryshire continue as a "dry" county for another seven years.

In hindsight the continuing strength of the traditional chapel vote throughout Wales is remarkable. The vote was seen as being about the "Welshness" associated with nineteenth century non-conformity - the cosmopolitan cities of the south showing least interest, while in the Welsh-speaking heartland of Merioneth less than a quarter of the voters supported modernity and the "wets". At the same time it is wrong to think that all those supporting Sunday closing did so for the same reasons. Clubs were in any case unaffected by the ban and no doubt some of their members feared the loss of revenue which would result from the pubs being allowed to compete. Another group against Sunday opening, although they had to be careful not to do so openly, were those tenant landlords and their families who resented the fact that they were to lose their only day of rest during the week.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Howey Man's Story of Zulu King's Capture

Click to enlarge

Victorian Radnorshire

Victorian Radnorshire, Chartists, Rebecca Rioters, evictions, lawlessness associated with the fisheries, the workhouse, the emigrations in the wake of agricultural depression, the links with the coalfield - none of this gets much of a look-in with Llandrindod's somewhat middle-class, somewhat English Victorian festival. Here's a glimpse of that other Radnorshire from the 1891 census, just click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Book of the Month

With hundreds of photographs and illustrations of Radnorshire pubs, past and present, this 358 page book from Logaston Press is good value for money at £12.95. A must buy for students of Radnorshire history, family history researchers will also almost certainly find something of interest here. For example one familiar photograph shows a rather cheerful gentleman who happens to have been my paternal grandfather, another photograph shows the long forgotten Clywedog Arms in Gwystre, home of my maternal great grandfather. I'm sure that most with Radnorshire connections will find similar items of interest in the pages of this excellent and fact filled book.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Buggered Up

The mention of Howey in the previous post reminds me that there was a time when the postal address for Llandrindod was near Howey. Of course Llandrindod forged ahead, especially when the owners of the new hotels in the town insisted that no railway halt be provided for the village. It seems they wanted to put a stop to the long-standing practice of visitors taking lodgings in the locality. At least that is the tale told in Howey, where the inhabitants took comfort in the following little rhyme:

Howey was Howey when Llandrindod was a pup.
Howey will be Howey when Llandrindod's buggered up.

By all accounts this prophesy has now come to pass.