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Reminisces [Temporary]

Lloyd Thomas: Transport (2007)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin


Oh, Aberaeron’s changed a lot since my day, when I was a kid. It was quite a busy town. A lot of people used to come in then, in horse and cart. There were cars, of course, but the old-fashioned cars.

My father was on sea and he used to send telegrams in those days. (Remember the little, yellow little envelopes?) They used to come through the post office to say ‘Arrived safe in Liverpool, home on the 8:15 train tonight.’ There used to be trains then, and I used to run up to the station then to meet him and then, if he‟d been away for six months, he‟d probably be home for a month or five weeks and then be waiting for another ship. Then they‟d send for him then when his five weeks was up to join another ship, off again to Liverpool or Southampton or Glasgow, wherever the ship was. He always used to go by train from Aberaeron no matter where he went, or Aberystwyth. The first train from Aberaeron used to go out at quarter to seven in the morning and I used to go up with him as a kid before going to school to see him off on the train. I can see him waving now going beyond the signals from the station [and] going out of sight towards Llanerchaeron, and I probably wouldn‟t see him again for 8 or 9 months.

I suppose most people know of Mr Byron Lloyd, the school dentist. I used to be a big friend of Mr Byron Lloyd, I used to drive him here and there in his car when he had to travel long distances and I used to drive round the school for dental work, but I remember one morning quite clearly – I was a steward in the yacht club, on this particular Sunday morning and Mr Gareth Owen came in and said,…

“Have you seen your friend Byron Lloyd today? I’ve only just past his house and he’s made a tunnel down to his garden … the car has gone right through the garage!” Anyway, after I got home my wife said that Byron Lloyd had phoned. I‟d recommended him to buy an automatic car, because he had kept burning clutches and so he’d he bought an automatic car. Previous to this, I’d been with him for 2 or 3 days telling him how to drive it and he thought it was marvellous to sit down, forget his left leg, etc

and all this and that. It was marvellous! He’d driven it round Mydroilyn and everything had been fine. Anyway, he’d left a message asking me to go and see him because there something had gone wrong with the car. I went u to his house, and, true, as I went down the drive, the car had gone right through the garage, right down to his lawn where he had a turntable sun house, and that had spun right around, so I said ‘What happened here?” “Well,” he said, “I only put it in gear.” You know with an automatic car, once you put your foot down, it revs up straight away, and of course, Byron’s foot was heavy, and he’d put it in drive – put his foot down – and , whoosh, straight through! It was a wooden garage, mind you! ……. Wyn Aberarth a carpenter, came down and repaired the garage. Anyway, I went up and saw him the following day and I said to him, “Now listen, reverse into the garage, so that you‟ll be coming out head first and take a bit more time to put it in”. “I‟ll do that Lloyd,” he said. “I’ll do that”. A few nights went past now and Byron came down to the house. “I’m doing it now, Lloyd,’ he said. “I’m reversing it in and of course, if I’m a little bit heavy on the throttle coming out in the morning, I’m going to just shoot up to the main road and then stop” Lo and behold, a couple of days later, the garage was in the same state. He’d made a tunnel again. He’d gone into reverse and he‟d gone right back, and – this is the gospel truth – he’d gone right back into the lawn and he’d taken the whole pine end of the garage and it had landed on top of the car….”

Posted in Reminiscences.

Glyn Roberts: Extract from I Take This City (1933)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

Extract from Glyn Roberts, I Take This City (Jarrolds, 1933)

‘Between my home town and Lampeter there runs a little branch line, thirteen miles long, and the single coach the train pulls is just like a London tube train…..

The seven-fifteen train, except on very rare occasions, Easter, Christmas and Whitsun, served chiefly to take up to their locations for the day the men employed by the railway to look after the line, doing whatever it is they do.’

(Glyn Roberts was a journalist and son L J Roberts, Manchester House family.
Roedd Glyn Roberts yn newyddiadurwr ac yn fab i L J Roberts, teulu Manchester House.)

Posted in Reminiscences.

E.D. Parry: Transport in the early 20th Century (2011)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin


– E.D. Parry

Being of an old age and having lived in Aberaeron throughout my life, my thoughts often bring back memories of those days of childhood in the 20s and 30s which make me realise the colossal changes that have happened in transport services during my lifetime and which have led up to the hectic lifestyle of the present era.

In those far-off days the horse and cart were to be seen prominently on the roads; the railway was in existence, and the shipping trade continued to bring cargoes into the harbour. However, during this period mechanised vehicles were slowly emerging and the old services declining, to be later replaced by the motorised vehicles. Over the years these have increased to such an extent that, as we all know, they have by today swamped the roads of the cities, towns and countryside, causing immense problems in relation to safety in travelling, parking and road maintenance. It brings to mind a statement made in The House of Commons in the 1950s by a famous statesman when he said in a speech,

I have always considered that the substitution of the internal combustion engine for the horse marked a very gloomy milestone in the progress of mankind.

I wonder what would be his assessment of the situation as it is today, if he had been alive 50 years later!

During the 20s there were so few cars on the roads that we, the children, were able to play on the main streets and, should a car come along, we would step aside to let the car go by and then continue with our play! As few people owned cars in those days, public transport was the popular way to travel. Jones Bros. were one of the early bus services to Aberystwyth. Meurig Jenkins also had a service to New Quay which was taken over in 1925 by the Crossville. At this time other bus services started – James of Ammanford and the Western Welsh in 1928. JR Adams ran a service from New quay in 1932. I can also remember travelling to Cardiff on the Gough’s buses of Ammanford, leaving Aberaeron at 5.30 in the evening and arriving in Cardiff at 8.30 p.m. – return ticket costing 15/- (old money, equivalent to 75p) – a thrilling journey for a youngster in those days.

Charabancs took the Sunday school trips, which was one of the most exciting days of the year. Destinations in various years were Devils Bridge, Llandrindod, Tenby and Porthcawl. The trip to Llandrindod is well remembered because of the heavy rain and, with the nonexistence of side panels, gave a soaking to those sitting at the ends of the bench seats, but the trip was enjoyed by all.

Of course, roads in the pre-war years were dangerous. Up until then (1920s) they had been travelled on by horse-drawn vans and carts. The stony roads and dangerous bends were easier to cope with at the speed of the horse; the motorised vehicles with greater speed made bends more dangerous. There were two notorious bends on the approach roads to Aberaeron – S-bends at Allt Hengeraint on the Lampeter road and at Clogfryn on the Cardigan road. A bus containing a concert party approached the bend at too fast a speed and went over the hedge. That happened in the early 30s. Luckily it came to rest against the stump of a tree which prevented it going down over the cliffs to the sea. Fortunately, all the passengers got out safely. These bends were straightened and mad safer soon after. One of the more serious accidents that I remember occurred at Chancery. After visiting the warships at Aberystwyth in the 1920s we came on the return journey to the scene of a serious accident. Two motorcyclists with pillion passengers had collided head-on, killing three. Being the first on the scene we had to return to the nearest public phone kiosk to notify the police.

Road signs were few and far between. Driving tests were introduced about 1936 and road signs were beginning to be erected at about the same time. The local bank manager bought a new car and, on taking a trip to Aberystwyth, saw a new sign on the outskirts of Llanon – a 30 mph speed-limit sign. On his return to Aberaeron, he was heard to say in the Snooker Room, What a ridiculous sign to put up – you had to travel through the village at 30 mph. His normal travelling speed was 25 mph. He cooled down when told the true purpose of the sign!

Father bought our first family car in 1937 at Henly’s. London – an Austin 10, less than a year old and under 1,000 mileage. It cost £96.

In the 1930s four Aberaeron footballers visited the Motor Show in Earls Court, London. On the return journey suddenly they saw a wheel rolling down the road in front of them. On stopping to inspect, they found that it had come off their own car!

The never-to-be forgotten trip by my brother and myself in 1939, the day before war broke out, was on our return from a week’s visit to Bradford, where we had visited woollen mills.

As we were nearing Liverpool, we noticed that the car battery had stopped charging. As it was six o’clock in the evening, all the garages were closed. We were anxious as to whether the battery was sufficiently charged to get us home. The ‘blackout’ had been introduced and head lamps had been banned. We had to travel on the ‘dip’ lights. Luckily it was a very bright moonlit night and we got home safely around midnight.

As I have already mentioned, one of the greatest changes in our lifetime has been that relating to transport. In the period of my childhood and my schooldays the staff and many of the pupils from the surrounding areas had to have lodgings in the town, as there was no convenient transport to take them home. How different transport services are in this modern age! It has come to the point where every family has a car which provides a conveyance for every occasion. Motorised vehicles have transformed public transport, business requirements and all essential services and even changed funeral procedures.

Some of us can remember the time of horse-drawn hearses, and also have the memory of the funeral of a well-known and highly respected citizen in the mid-20s. Only men attended public funerals in those days. As the funeral service in the house drew to a close, men gathered in front of the horse-drawn hears and led the way to the cemetery with the cortege following. Immediately, on moving off the ‘codwr canu’ (leader of the singing) would start off the singing of the hymn O fryniau Caersalem ceir gweled…etc. and all the other men would join in. They would then walk along the silent streets – few cars in those days – and proceed towards the cemetery, with houses having their blinds drawn as a mark of respect. Every so often the singing would be repeated as the procession made the way up the hill towards Clogfryn corner. As they turned the corner the sound of singing would gradually fade away and went out of the hearing of the town below.

Also comes back the memory of laying straw outside a house in Alban Square to lessen the noise of clattering horses and carts passing the house where the resident lay seriously ill and was not expected to survive.

3 June 2011

Extract from transcript of recorded interview with ED Parry, 2007

We played a lot of that on the main road. There was no traffic – very few cars around. We

used to play on the roads and, if a car came, we stood on one side and then went back to the game.

The farmers all brought their horse and carts into the town. Every pub had stables and the horse was put in the stables and the carts parked outside. There was a pub next to the Black Lion in my day, the White Lion. (now Lyndhurst) and I don’t know if people notice it but there is a ring on the pavement opposite the house and I often wonder why and I guess it was a ring to fasten the horse to park outside the pub and it is still there.

Posted in Reminiscences.

E.D. Parry: Going to Llandysul (2007)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

Extract from Down by the River / Lan’rafon by E.D. Parry.i
Pwyllgor 200 mlwyddiant Aberaeron cyf., 2007.

I remember as a young schoolboy in the 1920s travelling to Llandyssul with my father
by train to where the shirts and ‘drosis’ were made up. Catching the 7.00am train with about 4-5 rolls of 45 yards each of flannel, changing in Lampeter, and again in Pencader, and arriving at Llandyssul by 10.15am. Giving the order for the various sizes to the manager of the Pontwelly Shirt Factory near the station, then spending the day around various factories … returning back to the shirt factory at 5.00pm with the order completed and returning back by train and arriving at 8.20pm at Aberaeron with the packages. A great feat even in those days to complete the order in one day!

i E.D. Parry, Down by the River / Lan’rafon. Pwyllgor 200 mlwyddiant Aberaeron cyf., 2007. A copy of the book can be seen on the reading table in the exhibition.

Posted in Reminiscences.

John Osborne: When the Trains Came By (1998)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

We used to live within a couple of hundred yards of the railway line and we didn’t need watches, we could tell the time by the trains. We used to take the kids to watch them go by. In fact, our neighbour just across the road was Evans the Ganger. He was the fellow that built the railway when it came in 1911, and he lived to see it taken up.

I remember the circus coming to Aberaeron, it must have been 1957. The elephants came on the train of course. The circus came to the field where the council flats are now on the front. The circus was very popular and I was sitting in the field watching the people come to the circus, and I remember seeing a man, dressed in his Sunday black, a picture of black, with a little girl by the hand wearing a flowery dress. The fellow doing the western lasso — he did a fair bit, but kept on too long and tripped over the rope. He swept off his hat for a big bow, to show his completely bald head as if to say. “I could do it when I was younger.”

It was very hot that year and when we’d finished work we’d go down to the beach and watch what was going on. There was a terrible hullabaloo because the elephants were getting in amongst the other caravans, nicking things out of the windows. The circus people were batting them with brooms and shouting at them, to no effect, the elephants were doing just whatever they wanted to. Then this little kid of about seven came, took hold of one of the elephants by its lip near the tusk and just led it away. And the other two each put their trunk round the tail in front and followed.

Extract from Memories (ed. Clive Hopwood, 1998)

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Margaret Makin: Transport (2007)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin


Rina Rhiwgoch used to come on a little trap and pony and we used to go to the door with a jug ready, and she used to measure the pint. She always had a spotless white overall. That was how the milk was delivered

I remember a crew from a cargo boat going right across a plank to Red Lion, which is now the Harbourmaster and we children then ran on to the ship and ran around but didn’t do any harm! That all stopped, of course, when the railway came. Then railways stopped and the buses took over, but the worst thing that ever happened was the Beeching closure of the small stations because now it would have been such a money-spinner for the visitors to go down the Aeron Vale. My father thought that was the most beautiful in the world.

Owen the Van used to drive the big GWR horse wagon to deliver parcels and things like that. It was a big boxy affair with three steps at the back and children used to run behind and get a ride, you know. Well, quite honestly I don’t remember many motorised wagons and cars as a child. My father did have an AC, a very long pointed thing that he’d bought from my uncle, and a dicky seat at the back that we loved having a ride in. But what I was going to say now was that there weren’t many cars about. As children we used to play in Market Street from City House (now Jibinc) to the butcher’s shop where Costcutters is now and we used to play games …….in the street, and I never remember having to stop for any car. One of them was a chanting game which began like this

‘Three Jolly Welshmen looking for some work… ‘

and the people at the other side of the street said, ‘What work can you do sir?’ ‘Anything to please you’. ‘Well show me one or two’, and then we’d mime and, when they guessed correctly, we’d run back to the other side of the road and try to get there before them You couldn’t do that now could you?

Posted in Reminiscences.

Iona Lockton (née Williams): The Aberayron Railway (2011)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

My memories of Aberayron Station as a child are vivid. My friend, Jean Thomas’s father was the Station Master, so we would often go to the station. There was a Waiting Room and a window through which you purchased your tickets. I think there was a staff of 3 in the office. We used to watch the engine driver stoke the fire on the locomotive which, to two little girls was quite frightening. The goods trains used to come in with coal and other goods and the lorries would come up to collect them for delivery.

It was a very busy station with a great deal of activity throughout the Second World War with the arrival and departure of evacuees, and British and American troops stationed at the camp. Sometime we would buy a single ticket to Llanerchaeron Halt and walk back along the railway line picking wild daffodils on the way and having a lot of fun. When I went to College, I used to send my trunk “Passenger Luggage in Advance” (PAL). It was collected from my home and delivered to my College. It was a very reliable service.

Iona Lockton (née Williams).

Posted in Reminiscences.

Jennie Lloyd (neé Davies, Brynog): The Aberayron Railway (2011)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

I was born in October, 1924, at Brynog Home Farm. My father and his three brothers had bought part of the Brynog Estate when it was sold in 1921. My uncle Will lived at Brynog Mansion, my father, Tim, had the next door Brynog Home Farm, as well as the farm where he and his family had been born and brought up; Gwrthwynt Isaf. Uncle Dafydd built a new farmhouse nearby, Tŷ Newydd, and Uncle Simon moved to Greengrove, which was a mile or so down the valley, near the road. In 1936 I started at Aberayron County School and had to catch the train every day from what was Felin Fach station, but we always called it Ystrad. We had a long walk along a country lane up to the crossing and then walked along the railway line to the station, it must have been a mile and a quarter all told. I don’t suppose you would be allowed to walk along a railway line now. In those days we had heavy leather satchels but we rarely complained about the walk as that is what we all did. When the river was in flood my father would put us on the back of Charlie, our big shire horse, and carry my sister and me over the flooded road on its back – floods were no excuse for missing school.

Three years after I started at the County School my sister, Eunice, joined me there. One day we were rather late and as we were running along the road we heard the train’s whistle, while we still some way from the crossing, and knew that we had missed the train, as the whistle signalled it was leaving Ystrad station. I told Eunice we might as well stop and watch the train passing then go home. To our surprise the train driver, Mr Griffiths, Gilvin, (Wellington Street, Aberaeron) stopped the train at the crossing and Mr Williams, the guard, opened the door and put down the steps and gestured at us to run. We sprinted as fast as we could with the satchels getting heavier and slowing us down.

We were two shy country girls and were mortified as all the children on the train were looking out of the windows cheering and clapping. We were never late again! Looking back there was such a lovely feeling of community in those days – everyone would help one another.

Sadly in 1941 we were told that we could no longer travel to school by train but had to go by bus. I did not understand the reason then, but presumably the bus company had undercut the railway, which I suppose was another small nail towards the closure of the railway.

I did miss those train journeys. The train had two compartments, a small one for passengers and a large one which we schoolchildren used. In my day about five or six pupils came from Lampeter but none from Silian, Blaenplwyf or Talsarn. Seven joined at Ystrad and seven from Ciliau, two joined at Crossways Halt and two at Llanerchaeron. The compartment had seating but there was plenty of room to move about. My two cousins from Greengrove went to the County School by bus, I suppose because their house was nearer the road and the halt at Greengrove did not open until after the passenger train stopped. We all had harmless fun, often watching the bus and trying to will the train to get to Aberayron first. When we arrived at Aberayron station we would run like mad up Bro Allt y Graig and up the back road to school to get there before the pupils on the bus. Looking back it was very childish but great fun!We lost all that when we went by bus. We would get on and sit quietly in the seats only talking to the person sitting in the seat next to you. All the fun had gone. I have such fond memories of the train journey and now there are only four Ystrad girls left to reminisce with; myself, Eunice, Megan and Mair Gwastod. Then there is Bessie from Cilcennin, who got on at Ciliau, Jane Crossways and from Lampeter; Nana and Kathleen.

I am so pleased that Cymdeithas Aberaeron are celebrating this event as it has brought back so many happy memories of my childhood six miles up the valley, after having lived in Aberaeron for 62 years.

Jennie Lloyd

Y Beudy Llyswen

July 2011

Posted in Reminiscences.

Tecwyn Jones: The Aberayron Railway in the 1940s (2011)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

Professor Tecwyn Jones, CMG, OBE

When in August 1939 I came to Cardiganshire, as it was then known, it was by road rather than by rail which I would have preferred. Fortunately, however, during my subsequent six years here as an evacuee with the kind James family at Rhiwbren Fawr farm Mydroilyn, I had the opportunity to make, albeit only a few, memorable journeys on the Aberayron-Lampeter Railway.

I made my first journey – a three-week return trip to Paddington, London in August 1943, when I was allowed to go home to my parents for a holiday. I was 14 years old. My second trip was an identical return journey when I was 15. My final trip was a single journey to Paddington in August 1945, when I finally went home at the end of World War II at the age of 16. The under 14 return fare from Aberayron to Paddington throughout that time was £1.1s.9d. I have good and grateful cause to remember this detail, because the then very kindly Aberaeron Station Master allowed me to undertake my return journeys to London at this under 14 rate because I was, in his words, ‘small enough to get away with it’!!

At the time the Aberayron outward bound train consisted of one carriage hooked to the rear of a short, shunting-type steam engine which pulled the carriage along in the usual way, with the Driver and Fireman on the footplate. On the return journey from Lampeter to Aberayron the train simply ran in reverse, with the carriage in front being pushed by the engine behind. The train was controlled by the driver operating driving equipment in a special compartment at the front of the carriage and the Fireman alone working on the footplate of the engine at the rear.

My travel to London involved catching the early train at about 8 a.m. at Llanerchaeron Halt. Then after a short wait at Lampeter Station I caught the longer and faster Aberystwyth to Carmarthen train. Finally after a very long three-hour wait on Carmarthen Station I boarded the fast and exciting Fishguard to Paddington Express arriving in London, I believe, about 5 p.m. This train on my last journey in 1945 was, if my memory serves me correctly, pulled by the renowned locomotive King George V.

My return journey from London involved catching the Fishguard Express at Paddington around 9-10 o’clock, changing After an hour or so at Carmarthen to the Aberystwyth train and then at Lampeter boarding the virtually empty Lampeter to Aberaeron single carriage train. But the final leg was particularly exciting for me, because on the two occasions that I made the journey I was invited by the driver, a Mr Griffiths, to sit beside him in the special driving compartment at the very front of the carriage. This was a wonderful experience – and was given to me by Mr Griffiths because he knew me to be a fellow-pupil of his own sons – Stewart and Gordon – at the Aberayron County School. Only once was I in danger of being relegated to the rear of the carriage – and that was when I referred to Stewart as ‘Stew Griffiths’. I was sharply reminded by Mr Griffiths that the boy’s name was Stewart!!

On the return journey to London, the 3-hour wait on my own at Carmarthen Station would have been a long and lonely episode, were it not for the kindly railwaymen at the station taking pity on me. One young railway man put my suitcase in his office and took me to see the engines in the sidings and most interestingly got me involved in re-positioning an engine using the locomotive turn-table. Another took me to a signal-box and showed me various shunting exercises. Yet another kept me amused by telling me what he claimed were true stories. He persuaded me that the large and very prominent buildings, quite close to the station –which I later came to know as the Carmarthen County Office – was the asylum. This he said was full of the craziest people, some of whom spent the days standing inside the railings next to the main road offering boxes of safety matches and Swan Vestas at half the normal retail price. The trouble was, as the railway man explained, that when you had bought the matches and walked away to use them, you discovered the boxes were full of used matches. Worse than that, if you took them back to the vendor and complained, his response was to say, ‘You bought a box of dead matches from me – so which one of us should be inside here – you or me?’ As for stations I’ve known – I have one vivid memory of an incident involving Aberayron Station which involved three of us, students from the County School and some Yankee soldiers and our Headmaster’s car. It was at the time when Cilfforch Camp was full of GIs – 1944 perhaps and it was their practice to bring water tankers down to the riverside by the bridge near to and on the opposite side of the road to the Railway Station. These tankers and their crew of GIs were often there as we three students, John (Non) Rees of Brynawel, Neuaddlwyd, Maldwyn Price of Lluest, Neuaddlwyd and I collected our bikes after school from the cowsheds where Lloyd Motors now stands and prepared to cycle up Vicarage Hill and Lampeter Road. We often stopped to talk to the GIs in the hope of being given chewing gum or cigarettes. On this particular day we had been given both of these commodities and were preparing to leave when one GI offered us a packet of condoms, with an alluring picture on the packet and the trade name ‘My Lady’. He asked us if we knew what they were and we strenuously claimed that we didn’t!! – at which he opened the packet, removed the condom, told us it was a balloon and proceeded to inflate it. he blew it up to an enormous size before tying up its end and handing it to me. ‘Take it son,’ he said, ‘and have some fun’. I did not know what to do with it as I stood there among my laughing friends and giggling GIs. But then – as if to prove the old adage, ‘the devil always finds mischief for idle hands to do’, along came our Headmaster, Mr Howell Evans in his Armstrong-Sidley car, quite oblivious of our presence and predicament, and drove at some speed into the Station yard. There he parked his car and strode off to the Stationmaster’s Office. Without a word being said, or so it seemed, John, Maldwyn and I knew where our condom had to go. With Maldwyn as look-out to warn us if our headmaster emerged from the office, John and I raced across to the car and John somehow managed to fix the condom to the rear of the car, and we retreated to the company of our GIs. Almost instantly, Howell Evans emerged from the office, walked along the platform down to his car and without noticing the condom, got in and drove off up the hill to Lampeter Road. The sight of the giant condom flapping away behind the car was truly hilarious – a harmless schoolboy prank that still causes me to smile. It must have burst along the way – or the Headmaster saw it and removed it, because it wasn’t there on the car when we passed his house, Maesgwyn, some ten minutes later.

June, 2011.

Posted in Reminiscences.

Emlyn Jones: Transport in the mid-20th Century (2011)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

(Based on an interview with Emlyn Jones)

When I was 6 years old, as a result of scarlet fever, I developed an enlarged heart and my mother was warned that I should not take part in any taxing physical activities. When I returned home from hospital, my grandfather, Thomas John Jones, who had been a ganger on the railway, presented me with a toy train, which he had bought in Siop Loyn (now the New Celtic). It had a locomotive (which I still have), two coal trucks, two cattle trucks, two goods vans and a guard’s van which ran in a circle. Trevor James, a bus driver and our nextdoor neighbour in Regent Street, made a base for the rails. This was the beginning of a lifelong interest in railways and transport.

Because my grandfather had a free pass to travel on the railway, he and my grandmother would often go to Lampeter to shop. My mother, on the other hand, travelled by bus to Aberystwyth to do her shopping, because my father, Dai Jones, was a bus conductor. I always preferred to travel by train with my grandparents. As a small boy, I often travelled to Lampeter with them and was then put in the charge of the guard (and travelled in the van with him) from Lampeter to Aberystwyth, where I was met by my mother. I never wanted to return to Aberaeron by bus and so, after shopping, my mother would take me to Aberystwyth Station, where I was known to the staff and I would be returned safely to my grandparents in Lampeter for the second leg of the journey back to Aberaeron. I remember making longer journeys by rail too – from Aberaeron to Reading and Oxford to visit relatives, and I particularly remember being fascinated by Cocket Tunnel near Swansea and enjoyed travelling through it. Needless to say, I spent much of my childhood playing at Aberayron station. It was not only the trains which took my attention. On Sundays, when all the shops were closed, I would go from Sunday School with a group of children who lived in Pant-teg or Lampeter Road over to the station where we were able to buy 1d bars of Five Boys from the slot machine on the platform.

The signal-man, Bill Bowen, had a black spaniel which he took to work with him. The spaniel spent most of the day in the signal box but, as soon as he heard a train approaching – always before the signal man himself knew – he would rush out to the platform and bark outside the office of Mr Thomas, the station master. Later, as the guard raised the flag for the train to depart again, the dog would notice and would run to the driver and bark, as though to alert him that it was time to go.

The railway brought some unusual benefits to Aberaeron. For instance, the train was often overloaded with coal and so, when it braked as it passed Mrs Poole’s cottage in the Cwmins, it supplied Mrs Poole with extra coal for her fire! During the war years the first train to Lampeter in the morning always arrived late, because the staff on the last train the previous night would have set traps along the way to catch rabbits and the morning staff would check the traps, as they travelled back towards Lampeter. Railway staff never lacked paint to paint their houses – you could tell a railwayman’s house from the colour of the gate: it was usually painted with surplus GWR black paint. In the same way the bus crews painted their doors with Crossville green. At a later date but before the station had been demolished, local boys had the benefit of using the station water tank as a diving pool.

As I have already said, my father was a bus conductor and so my interest was not limited to trains. I was not the only one – Crosville was a major employer in Aberaeron when I was young. I remember a representative of the Church Missionary Society visiting our Sunday school and asking the children what CMS stood for. The quick reply from one little boy was not exactly what was expected – Crosville Motor Service! His father was a bus conductor. During forty years on the buses my father saw some changes. At first he worked from the depot behind the Monachty on the site where Toad Hall now stands. The bus stops were along Market Street, with the Lampeter bus departing from the Crown Bakery (near the Castle Hotel), the Cardigan bus left from Manchester House and the Aberystwyth bus stopped outside the old Celtic (now Naturally Scrumptious). The New Quay bus did not head out immediately towards Cardigan – it travelled via the station for the benefit of train. passengers. The depot became too small and buses were often left parked in Pwll Cam, so a new depot was built at the bottom of Regent Street (where the County Council car park is situated).

My father had some amusing tales to tell of his time as a conductor. For example, during the war when parcels were often delivered by bus, a regular stop was the GI camp south of Aberaeron. When my father delivered a parcel, he invariably came away with another – our family was never short of butter during the war.

By the fifties the bus stops had moved to the lower end of the Square Field, where they are today. When football matches were held in the Square Field, off-duty Crosville staff would take a double-decker up to the stop, mark it ‘out of service’ and then climb to the upper deck to watch the match. Their grandstand view was not free for long: entrance fees to the field were collected by Dai John Davies (Dai John Kate), who was a Crosville bus cleaner. After collecting fees in the field, he would go out to the bus to collect payment from the Crosville staff in the bus!

In the 1950s students were often employed as conductors during the summer vacation. My father was given the unenviable task of training a young student from Aberarth by the name of Hywel Teifi Edwards. He showed him how to operate the ticket machine and then let him collect the fares between Aberaeron and Llanrhystud. A few passengers got on in Aberaeron, three more in Aberarth, four in Llanon and a couple more in Llanrhystud. Just beyond Llanrhystud a bus inspector boarded the bus and discovered that all was not in order – the passengers from Aberarth had no tickets!At one time the local manager, Ianto Edwards, uncle to Hywel Teifi Edwards and a staunch Methodist, received a request from Crosville headquarters in Chester, to introduce a Sunday service. Some of the staff were pleased at the prospect of double time payments but their hopes were soon dashed by Ianto’s reply, ‘My boys don’t work on Sundays’.

Crosville buses were not the only ones which were important to me. Llyseinon buses, run by the Evans family and kept down in Waterloo Street, were the ones which always took us on our Sunday school trips. They also took passengers to the villages around Aberaeron, and James buses of Llangeitho travelled once a week between Aberaeron and Tregaron.

I remember many other forms of transport. Moc Jenkins, Doris Jones’s uncle, had a taxi which he kept in a garage behind the Victoria, and Tom Evans, the undertaker and father of John Elwyn Evans, kept his hearse there at one time too. As a boy, I remember Mr Whitlock Davies at the garage which is now Lloyd Motors, Lyn Davies’s father at Gwrthwynt Garage on Vicarage Hill, now demolished to make way for a house and Llyseinon Garage in Waterloo Street. Not all the transport of my childhood was motorised: George Grimley sold fish from his handcart, Sal from Drenewydd Farm sold milk in the same way. Frankie from Aberarth drove around with his horse and cart to sell paraffin, while Griff Jones, Allt-y-Graig, collected the rubbish on his cart and carried it to the open rubbish tip between the North beach and what is now the Aeron Coast campsite. There were, however, some traders who travelled around by van. Josiah Jones was a familiar sight in his large, battered van with the floor of the van scraping the surface of the road, as he took groceries to the surrounding villages. Trevor James and Jack Evans, Porth House, both delivered Sunday newspapers by van to houses and farms around Aberaeron. Trevor James, a deacon in Peniel, delivered papers between services, quite a bold move at a time when chapel goers frowned on any non-religious activities on a Sunday. Jack Porth House was more adventurous – he carried a crate of beer in his black van and carefully concealed the bottles he sold in newspaper!

June 2011

Posted in Reminiscences.

Gwynne Griffiths: Transport in Aberaeron – A Different Perspective (2011)

Posted on Thursday March 21st, 2013 by admin

Transport has always been vital for the development of the town and its prosperity. Much has been written about sea and land transport vehicles and two recent excellent publications by Eddie Parry and Roger Bryan are well documented and illustrate the development of wind and horse transport to those driven by modern fuelled engines. Hence it is the purpose here to examine the more unusual mode of transport in the Aberaeron area.

Aberaeron has always boasted of having residents in the community that had the ability to be both creative and innovative. Examples are the achievements of Davies y Gof who manufactured the famous “long-handed, heart shaped” Aberaeron shovel and the Parry family’s new designs of the tweeds, in the 1930’s, that won many competitions at the National Eisteddfod; the building and operation of the electric generating station at the site of the old Llyswen Mill by Eric Richards; the creation of “The Aeron Express”; producers of different types of food and beverage; the works of artists (both portraits and landscapes painters), authors and poets, etc., etc.. Additionally the feature of Aberaeron is the ability of its residents to be able to adapt existing modes of transport to meet the needs of the community. Whilst at school, the groundsman was known as Dai “Fakes”. He was so named because he was renowned as being an “engineer” that would make any machine work, adapt it for a different use or retool a replacement part. This is a further example of what people in Aberaeron were capable of doing.

Before the introduction of the motorised mode of transport to the area the only alternative methods available were those powered by horsepower or human muscle – the latter being the bicycle. The use of the horse was for the more affluent, particularly if speed and/or distance were the important factors, and these were only suitable for a type of cob or pony for a small trap. To transport a heavy load, a larger and stronger type of horse, was required. In most cases carts had to be adapted to meet a specific need. Even after theWW2, carts were still used for the delivery of milk around the houses using their own urn and measuring jugs and Griff “Allt-y-Graig” was using his own cart for the removal of disposable household rubbish whilst being an employee of the then Aberaeron U.D.C.

In contrast the potential for the use of a bicycle was limited but nevertheless, a considerable varied use was achieved. Whilst the primary use of the bicycle was the method of transport to work or school, it was also used for leisure. This resulted in the formation of a local cycling club and later a cycle track was built around the Square Field, which was also used for competitive cycle races. Having large baskets in front of large bicycles was not unusual. They were used by the shopkeepers to deliver ordered goods to local houses. Such bicycles were provided by two of the local butchers to provide a service to its customers. These were used by schoolboys at week-ends – two of these later in life created very successful businesses of their own. In more recent years the local ice-cream maker had its own bicycle but this was probably used more for its promotional value as opposed to being an ice cream selling point.

Bicycles could also be used as a support as used by a nice old gentlemen named “No complaints” Jenkins. On his way home on a Saturday evening after attending a social evening at one of the town’s hostelries leant and pushed his bicycle home. Likewise,

“ Sioni Winwns”, the French onion seller, who yearly was seen in the area with his bicycle and using the same technique.

John Davies, a former Wasps London Rugby Player and a regular participant at the local swimming regattas in the harbour and an expert on the greasy pole! He lived in a farm along the steep hill on the New Quay road and used a bicycle to travel home. This was very physical task and as an aid, a small machine was attached to the front wheel of his bicycle. To try this out Howard Lewis (“JR”) had a go, but unfortunately the front wheel jammed and its rider as sent head first over the handlebars. Obviously it was not a great success! To solve the problem John bought a small Ferguson tractor that was primarily used for farming purposes, but it was also used as a means for travelling home along the road. Most pre-war tractors were not capable of achieving speeds of 15 miles per hour, whilst the post WW2 tractors were capable of making much greater speed. It was claimed that John, when on his tractor, overtook a car driven by a senior bank officer on the hill outside the town.

After the WW2 the availability and cost of surplus MOD vehicles were comparatively cheap and could have been used for a range of different uses. Dai “Diesel” obtained a Duck (DUKW), an amphibious truck that was used for the transportation of goods and troops for use on both land and water. It was used at Aberaeron for fishing, trips around the bay and on occasions had been hired as an extra for filming making purposes. An army armoured vehicle, missing its guns had been used for farming purposes; an American Jeep was used as a personal car and a motorbike and a sidecar was used to transport building material and tools. Later, new motorcycles with sidecar, were produced by the AA for use by their patrolmen. At one time the local patrolman was Teifi Jones.

For over a 100 years or more gipsy horse drawn caravans have been periodically seen in the Aberaeron area. One favourable site was the Aberaeron Cwmins. Probably the last user was Ted Morris, who casually worked for local farmers during the harvest season. He was a most competent fisherman probably using an unorthodox technique for catching sewin.

Another caravan that was frequently seen in the area was one that was somewhat similar, but bigger and drawn by a steamroller. The driver of the steamroller was involved in the maintenance of the County’s highways and lived in the caravan. These caravans provided only the basic amenities, such as sheltering, sleeping and cooking and not comparable with the present caravans with all their modern technology and luxury. For many years a gipsy caravan was parked outside Llysaeron at Lampeter Road.

The creation of The Aeron Express to transport workers and residents across the harbour was suspended in 1931 when the owner failed to obtain adequate insurance cover at an acceptable premium. With the initiative of two young entrepreneurs – Peter Harvey and Bob Griffin, The Aeron Express was recreated in 1988. It resulted in an immediate positive reaction from both local residents and tourist. It was evident that the product had the potential for it to be used as a promotional tool attracting additional visitors and hence providing an economical benefit to the area. Unfortunately, The Council being somewhat short-sighted and unsympathetic for the project, presented the operators with a large business rating charge that affected the project’s viability. Regrettably, The Aeron Express closed in 1992.

The various crafts mooring in the harbour is always a good indication that people are attracted to participate at water based activities. Two yachts were

built by John Osborne and David Sinnett-Jones, the well renowned yachtsman. In the first yacht David successfully sailed it across the Atlantic to South America. A great achievement! The building of rafts for racing down the Aeron at the then annual Regattas were of a different quality. Problems were encountered with the low level of the water in the river, and the idea was soon shelved after the first year.

Airborne crafts are not on a regular schedule to Aberaeron. These are normally restricted to the use of a helicopter – VIP visitors to the area or to rescue activities relating to the work of the Welsh Air Ambulance or the Police’s own helicopter. A venture, which offered people trips in a hot air balloon from a field near the North Beach, was short lived – due probably to the unpredictable weather and the proximity of the local hills.

Over the past 100 years various modes of transport have been used in Aberaeron either in its original form or an adapted one to meet a changed need. With the advancement in modern technology, one cannot forecast what new forms of transport will be used in Aberaeron in the future.

Gwynne Griffiths. June 2011.

Posted in Reminiscences.

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