Sunday, April 24, 2011

Old Soldier

I thought this was quite an interesting cutting (click to enlarge) when I originally posted it back in 2007, but it hasn't attracted many hits. I guess that's because there weren't enough key words in the post for the search engines to pick up.

The Zulu prince who Joe Davenport and his companions from the 24th Foot captured was Dabulamanzi kaMpande who commanded the Zulu force at Rorke's Drift and fought at Isandlwana. The capture of Cetshwayo caused something of a controversy as Lord Giifard was awarded a £300 gratuity by Parliament which many felt should have gone to Major Marter, whose patrol actually captured the Zulu king.

Mr Davenport's three sons who were killed in the First World War are commemorated on this plaque in Howey Church. Unfortunately their name is spelt incorrectly. To compound that error the website has reassigned St David's church to St George. Heaven forbid!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

For Sale

Bankers with £500K+ to spare might be interested in this Aston Martin DB 2/4 Cabriolet which Bonhams will be selling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Did Innes Ireland once own the car? Well Bonhams say he did, so it must be true.

I know Ireland drove Aston Martin roadcars for many years while Sir David Brown was involved with the company. Employed as a Consulting Engineer his onerous task was to use the latest Aston as his daily transport and report back occasionally on the car's performance.

Innes was particularly fond of a Bahama Yellow DBS V8 which, like the others he drove, was actually the property of the company, not Ireland himself. Eventually the car had to be swapped for a less colourful version, it had became too well known to speed cops up and down the country.

The car driven by Roger Moore in the youtube clip above taken from the 1970s TV show The Persuaders is actually a faux version of Innes's car, an older six cylinder version badged up to look like the V8.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Beautiful Prison?

How many of our local councillors and administrators ever use a local bus service? I'd hazard a guess that it would be a fairly rare event, although they might find it instructive to occasionally leave the comfort zone of the car.

For example I remember overhearing some elderly widows on a once-a-week Radnorshire bus service discussing the problems of being stuck in the countryside without transport. Having retired to the area from England, with no relatives within a hundred miles and their car driving husbands having subsequently kicked the bucket, Radnorshire was indeed their beautiful prison.

Some Belfast academics have been examining migration into the community council areas of Diserth and Llanyre. You can download a summary of their findings here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

From Melbourne to Monte Carlo

The posh and not-so-posh totty who raced around Brooklands and other pre-war motor circuits really were a remarkable bunch. Adventurers, mistresses, devourers of family fortunes, serial divorcees, admirers of Hitler, consumers of toyboys and members of the aristocracy competed against the top male racers of the day and sometimes beat them. One who did just that was the Australian Joan Richmond who drove her Riley to the start of the 1932 Monte Carlo Rally ..... from Melbourne! Later that year, with co-driver Elsie Wisdom, she took on the men in the Brooklands 1000 Mile race and won.

It's a shame that the exploits of these ladies have escaped much attention. Miranda Seymour wrote a book about the French racer Helle-Nice which gained a lot of media attention, having been written by a famous author; and Fay Taylour merited a biography which mainly concentrated on her speedway career. Meanwhile the likes of the stylish Kay Petre and Gwenda Hawkes, two of just sixteen racers to have lapped Brooklands at more than 130mph, are forgotten. Indeed Barbara Cartland's pathetic faux-race at Brooklands is better remembered than their real achievements.

Anyway it seems that a short book about Joan Richmond is being published in Australia, see here.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Llananno Girl?

I think my favourite Radnorian poem is Lewis Glyn Cothi's 15C request for a bed, made to four local good women. Here's a short extract followed by my attempted at a translation:

Y nos y câr fy nisyn,
Fwrw ei led ar gylched gwyn,
Cysgu awr, o cwsg erof
Estynnu uwch sidan of.
Tew o led, motlai ydyw,
Tyner rhag y tanrhew yw.
Lle meddal mal y plu man
Lle esmyth oll i hwsman.
Dis ysgwâr o gadas gwyn
Dôr uchel rhwng dau erchwyn,
Erw o ddillad werdd wellwell,
Allor gwsg yn llawr y gell.

My little dice loves the night, he throws himself on the white coverlet, to sleep an hour, stretched out on pure silk, away from me. It is thick and many coloured, tender against the scorching frost, a soft place of small feathers, a place of rest for a labourer. Square dice of white braid, a high door between two bed walls, an acre of superior green bedding, an altar of sleep on the cell floor.

Of course what the bard is really describing is the grave, in a poem which recalls, by the use of the words fy nisyn - my little dice, the well known elergy to his small son Siôn y Glyn:

Fy nwy ais, farw fy nisyn,
Y sy'n glaf am Siôn y Glyn.
Udo fyth yr ydwyf i
Am benaig mabinogi.

My ribs ache for Siôn y Glyn, my little dice is dead. I'll weep for evermore for a chieftain of childhood games.

So who were the four goodwomen? The editor of the 1995 edition of the bard's work identifies them as Gwenllian, the daughter of Owain Glyndwr who lived at Cenarth, St Harmon; Efa vz Llywelyn of Rhayader and Elen, a daughter of one Gruffudd Goch. His fourth identification Mallt, the daughter of Ieuan Fychan of the descent group of Rhys ap Tewdwr doesn't seem right at all to me. That Mallt came from Bryn Coch in Llansantffraid-yn-Elfael whereas the Mallt of this poem is described as:

Mallt ferch Ieuan Fychan fydd
Moliannus ym Maelienydd;
Elystan yn Llananno,
Hon yw y ferch o'i hyn fo.

Mallt the daughter of Ieuan Fychan will be praised in Maelienydd; this girl in Llananno is formed from the being of Elystan.

Now I don't know how accurate my translation is, but it seems to me that the bard is saying that she comes from Llananno and is descended from Elystan Glodrydd. A candidate might be an unnamed daughter of Ieuan Fychan of the small local descent group of Y Dean Du, her mother would have been from one of the many families claiming descent from Elystan.

Radnor Lad in a Daft Hat

A great snap of Innes Ireland pursuing one of his favourite hobbies, stalking game birds. In 1962 Innes earned £32,000 - anywhere between £500K and a million in present day terms. Mind you he did earn it, as his record for that year shows:

11/2, Daytona, 3 Hr, Ferrari 250 SWB, No7, retired lap 59
23/3, Sebring, 3 Hr, Austin Healey Sprite, No17, 7th
24/3, Sebring, GP d'Endurance Ferrari 250 TRI, No26, disq lap 128
1/4, Heysel, Brussels GP, Lotus 18/21, No2, 3rd
7/4, Oulton Park, GT Race, Ferrari 250 GTO, No3, 4th
7/4, Oulton Park, SC Race, Lotus 19, 1st
14/4, Snetterton, Lombank Tphy, Lotus 18/21, No6, retired lap 7
23/4, Goodwood, Glover Trophy, Lotus 18/21-Climax, No8, 3rd
23/4, Sussex Trophy, Lotus 19, No71, 1st
28/4, Aintree, 200, Lotus 18/21-Climax, No8, retired
28/4, Aintree, SC Race, Lotus 19, 1st
1/5, Circuit of Garda, Abarth 1000, No52, 2nd
12/5, Silverstone, Ferrari 156, No9, 4th
12/5, Silverstone, SC Race, Lotus 19, 1st
12/5, Silverstone, Saloon Car Race, Ford Zodiac, 1st in class
20/5, Zandvoort, Dutch GP, Lotus 24-Climax, No9, retired lap 61
27/5, Brands Hatch, BRSCC, Ferrari 250 GTO, 1st
3/6, Monaco GP, Lotus 24-Climax, No34, retired lap 63
9/6, Mosport, Players 200, Ferrari 246S, retired
11/6, Crystal Palace, Trophy, Lotus 24_BRM, 1st
17/6, Spa, Belgian GP, Lotus 24-Climax, No20, retired lap 8
23.24/6, Le Mans, 24 Hour Race, Ferrari 250 GTO, No20, retired lap 165, with Masten Gregory
1/7, Reims Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No30, 3rd
8/7, Rouen, French Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No36, retired lap 1
21/7, Aintree, British Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No32, retired lap 16
29/7. Indianapolis, Hoosier Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No11, retired
5/8, Brands Hatch, Guards Tphy, Lotus 19, 2nd
5/8, Brands Hatch, Peco Tphy, Ferrari 250 GTO, No76, 3rd
12/8, Karlskoga, Kannonloppet, Lotus 24-Climax, No4, 4th
18/8, Goodwood, Tourist Trophy, Ferrari 250 GTO, No15, 1st
18/8, Goodwood, SC Race, Lotus Monte Carlo, No11, 1st
26/8, Roskilde, Danish GP, Lotus 24-Climax, No10, 3rd
1/9, Oulton Park, Gold Cup, Lotus 24-Climax, No14, retired
1/9, Oulton Park, SC Race, Lotus 19, No15, 1st
11/9, Monza, Italian Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No40, retired lap45
22/9, Mosport, Canadian GP, Lotus 19, retired
30/9, Kent, Pacific NW GP, Lotus 19, retired
7/10, Watkins Glen, American Grand Prix, No15, 8th
14/10, Riverside LA Times GP, Lotus 19, 5th overall, 1st in class
21/10 Laguna Seca, Pacific GP, Lotus 19, retired
4/11, Mexico City, Mexican Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No15, 3rd
2/12, Nassau, TT prelim, Ferrari 250 GTO, No4, 2nd
2/12, Nassau Tourist Trphy, Ferrari 250 GTO, No 4, 3rd
8/12, Nassau, Texas Race, Ferrari 250 GTO, No4, 3rd
9/12, Nassau, Governor's Trophy, Lotus 19, No 6, 1st
16/12, Kyalami, Rand Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No5, retired
29/12, East London, South African Grand Prix, Lotus 24-Climax, No11, 5th

This was at the start of the jet set age with Innes able to race in Canada on a Saturday afternoon and still make it back for a Formula One race at Crystal Palace on Whit Monday - no time to practice though, Ireland started at the back of the grid, passed everyone and won the race. Making the Rand Grand Prix in South Africa, however, meant missing the prize-giving evening at Nassau in the Bahamas. The organisers were so pleased they withheld Ireland's race winnings.

At a time when most of our rock-stars were still pimply faced youths, racing drivers like Innes and actors such as Burton were pioneering the hell-raising lifestyle emulated by so many in the years to come. A good thing? Check out your local High Street on a Friday night.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Little Local Colour

What a pleasure, after the minus 20C temperatures of December, to find the hedgerows and fields of Radnorshire festooned once again with colour. Yes, the Assembly Election approaches and our Liberal and Tory supporters have been out in the sunshine planting their bright Kirsty and Chris placards.

How different things are today, with both parties in happy union at Westminster, compared to the bitter rivalries of the 1890s. Then the Welsh Land Commission was set up by Gladstone to conduct "a thorough, searching, impartial and dispassionate inquiry" into Welsh agriculture and its problems. For the Tories this meant extolling the virtues of landlordism, while the Liberals were able to once again relate the iniquities of tenants being evicted for voting Liberal or for attending the wrong church.

Whereas in much of Wales this all harked back to the last non-secret vote of 1868, in Radnorshire the accusations were of a more recent nature. Evan Bufton, a Llandrindod auctioneer who had recently lost his Liberal seat on Radnorshire County Council to a Tory, accused J P Severn of Penybont Hall and his elderly sister of evicting tenants for refusing to say which way they would vote.

The tenants were unwilling to testify in person but Jeffrey Jones, a thirty something Llandovery born haulier and prominent Llandrindod Liberal - he was later proprietor of the Brynawel (now the Glen Usk) Hotel - was willing to stand up and be counted. Interestingly Thomas Owen, the 78 year old Abbeycwmhir born gardener Miss Severn was accused of dismissing from her employ, was recorded in the 1891 Census as being a Welsh speaker.