It was good to see Geraint back with us this morning, albeit Rosemary is still not very well, and she is still in Hospital.
Geraint explained that Marion, who was due to give the talk on the Friendly Society this morning, had had to go to a funeral in Poland where she had been requested to give the address. She will be asked to give her talk in next year’s programme.
Geraint thanked Derek for stepping in to the breech and for taking on an area that has not been previously covered by the group. He pointed out that any research has only been done in the last couple of days.
Main Topic: Entrepreneurial Flair
Derek thanked Geraint and explained that most of his material came from Geraint. He did not intend to give a ‘talk’ but hoped that, as a group, we could begin to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge of the businesses that once flourished in our area.
Derek explained he would not be covering farming as this was a topic to be covered in its own right at some time in the future. He would also not be dwelling on the previous entrepreneurs connected to the Thomas Shop, Burton House, and the Post Office on Penybont.
There are two main sources of information:- Geraint’s booklet, Penybont; and a Worrall’s Gazetteer that Geraint has placed in the History Group cupboard at the Thomas Shop. Derek hoped that the Group would be a 3rd source that we might be able to draw upon.
- Geraint’s Booklet:- “Penybont – A Village History”
Geraint had interviewed Evan Richards, now deceased, about life in Penybont and Llandegley in the 1920’s. He Evan to picture walking through from his home, Waenygroes, along the Blacksmith’s Lane , up through Penybont village and on to Llandegley.
At Ffosybontbren Jim Morris was a Wheelwright at Caely. At Ty Newydd Mrs Stephens sold paraffin. Next door to Mrs Stephens was the Blacksmith’s where Tom and Bill Price worked.
Two doors down from the Blacksmith towards the bridge lived Mr. and Mrs. Tom Stephens who had a shop selling fruit , flour and other provisions. Mr Stephens also repaired clocks. In later years this shop would be referred to by people, who were children at the time, as a ‘sweet shop’.
Reaching the main road and across is Bank House where Mr. and Mrs. Glyn Thomas lived. Mr. Thomas was a builder.
Coming across the Bridge the fields behind the Chapel were owned by the Thomas Family, of the Thomas Shop, and Jack Thomas had a poultry farm. Coming along the road past the Chapel in the 2nd of the terraced cottages were Mr. and Mrs. William Davies. Mr. Davies was an agent for Fosters the Seed Merchants, but he also had a building beyond the Post Office where he stored his products, and he also took over the deliveries of coal from Penybont station.
In the next house, the last of the terraced cottages on this side of the road, were Mr. and Mrs. Scandrett who had an Ironmonger’s shop. They had recently taken this over from Mr. and Mrs. James. Geraint was able to tell us that Mr. and Mrs. Scandrett later moved their business into Llandrindod Wells.
In the terraced houses on the other side of the road lived Mr. and Mrs. Bufton who kept a shoe sales and repair shop. In another of these terraced houses lived the Miss Morrises and their brother John. John was a delivery driver for coal from Penybont Station.
The Thomas Shop comes next where there was a grocery store, draper’s shop, gentleman’s outfitters, tailors, and Jack’s Chicken Farm that was sending day old chicks to London on the train.
Across the road from the Thomas Shop was the Bank Manager and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas. The Midland Bank was just two doors up from there on the corner where the road branches to Dolau.
After the Severn Arms and the village green, now where the garage is, was the Market. Mr. R.P. Hamer ran a monthly stock-market. The monthly stock market was expanded in the early 30’s with stock pens and auctioneer’s office. Campbell and Edwards took over the market in 1947. The site was used for the May Fairs held on May 13th. Evan remembered being hired as a farm labourer there on three occasions.
On the other side of the road was the Post Office, which, at this time, was run by Mr. and Mrs. Ted Bufton. Behind the Post Office is Sunnyside where Mr. Tedstone, the mason, and Mr. Drew, the carpenter lived.
The Police Station came next, Constable Ingram, policing the whole area on his bicycle, and his wife lived there.
Coming out of the village we come to Bailey Mawr where John Mills and Albert Oakley ran a Haulage business that picked up goods from Penybont Station and took them to the farms in the area.
Mr. Oakley, from Llandrindod Wells, ran a market garden opposite Carnau.
At the Ffaldau we find John Abberley living with his mum and dad who had a dairy round, we will hear more from John below.
A bit further up the road was Login, now gone, where Mr. and Mrs. Jack Jones lived. Jack was a postman and part-time butcher.
As we come into Llandegley we find Mr. Walter Jones in Church House. Mr Jones was a shoe maker.
A few doors down is Primrose Cottage. At that time it had been two cottages. In the first one was Mr. Boulter who killed pigs and sold paraffin.
Burton House was then occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Watkins who ran a Post Office during the 2nd World War.
Two businesses were to be found in Tynllan Yard. Mr. Davies was a Blacksmith who lived at Cow Hedge. Mr. and Mrs Evans lived at Mill Cottage near the sulphur well had a Carpenter’s Shop.
Evans journey mentions other people along the way but the range of businesses is quite extraordinary through present day eyes, and while some like Mr. Tedstone, the mason, and Mr. Drew, the Carpenter, worked for the Estate at Penybont Hall, there are over 20 businesses or craft’s mentioned.
Geraint also interviewed John Abberley who talked about how the change started to happen shortly after the period so eloquently described by Evan. He tells us how, as we approach the end half of the 20th century, his mother could say that in Llandegly she did not even have to venture out of her home as delivery vans came to the door regularly. Some tradesmen, such as Mr. and Mrs. Scandrett, the Ironmonger in Penybont, after moving across the river to Tom Price, the Blacksmith, they again moved to set up their business in the bigger town of Llandrindod Wells. It was however these deliveries that heralded the end of the village shop in small villages such as Penybont and Llandegley. John’s family were also in the delivery business, delivering milk, potatoes and eggs around Llandegley and Penybont. Fish and vegetables came every Friday from Rhayader; the bakery at Crossgates delivered bread twice a week; Mr. J.O. Davies delivered bread and groceries, initially from the Fron, but later from Llandrindod; more bread came, all the way from Alfords, Newbridge, twice a week, and John remembered particularly the hot cross buns that would be delivered on Good Friday; Tuesdays and Fridays saw Mr. Idris Hughes arrive with his mobile butcher’s shop; coming from the opposite direction Arthur Williams, from New Radnor, sent a van with groceries, clothes, batteries, wireless parts, and he took orders for tailor made clothes; there was even a delivery from the Ironmonger in Llandrindod, Coombes, who brought paraffin and other ironmongery items every Friday; Nicholls of Llanddewi delivered groceries on a Thursday but they also bought eggs and rabbits.
In his section on ‘Businesses Old and New’ Geraint covers a number of the businesses that we have already mentioned and some, like the Old Mill at Llandegley, that had already stopped operating. In a more self-sufficient era local farmers would bring their grain to the Mill to be turned into flour and animal feed.
Geraint reminds us that the Blacksmith’s building at Tynllan is still there, and that it retains some of it’s features.
While the shoemaker’s building has become a private house, David Jones, the shoemaker, has left detailed records of the customers he served but also the accounts relating to the hides he bought from local farmers.
There is more detail on the Market at Penybont which needs to be the subject of one of our sessions in the future.
There is a wonderful poster photographed and in Geraint’s book that says:
(Distant about four miles from Llandrindod Wells, three of which can be travelled on the Central Wales Railway)
GENERAL & FURNISHING IRONMONGER, JEWELLER
Upholsterer and Furniture Dealer,
HARNESS & IMPLEMENT AGENT
Begs to invite the notice of persons about to furnish to his stock of General Ironmongery, Upholstery, Cabinetry, and HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, and to ask an inspection thereof previous to purchasing at any other place. The goods in each department have been selected with great care from the stock of the best manufacturers, and will be sold at the smallest remunerative profit.
HOUSES COMPLETELY FURNISHED ON THE SHORTEST NOTICE. SADDLERY AND HARNESS OF EVERY DESCRIPTION MADE TO ORDER.”
Thomas James was listed as a maker of clocks in 1945 edition of ‘Clock and Watchmakers of Wales’ – Iorwerth C Peate. This document is now in the National Museum of Wales.
Bill Brown, who has contributed so much to Penybont, had a hand in the start of the Garage, or Penybont Service Station. A Nissen hut was in the Common was moved by Bill to house cars at the Severn Arms. He later sold it to Jim Gadd who developed it as a garage, but was subsequently run by Mr Lewis from Dolau Vicarage. When David Elway took the site over he rebuilt the building as an antique centre before Robert Lewis turned it back into a garage.
What is now the Powys Highways Depot had previously been developed by Fosters the Seed Merchants from Leominster. They had previously been based at the Thomas Shop in the black, feather board, wooden building on the roadside. It is understood that they moved from the Thomas Shop because of the regular flooding that occurred in the village when the Ithon burst its banks and cut the corner flooding across the road through their building and the cottages.
Fosters had a significant presence in the village employing 10 local people, and running three delivery lorries. Dilwyn Powell was the Manager. The Highways Dept. of Powys CC took over the site in the early seventies.
As we saw above, coal was an essential fuel and having the railway station in Penybont meant that deliveries were planned from here. Jack Morris, and later A.N. Edwards operated from here. Later coal deliveries were managed from the garages, at the Post Office, by Bill Davies.
Before leaving Geraint’s book, it is worth mentioning his interview with Tom Price, the blacksmith. Tom describes that in the thirties there could be 3 or 4 horses waiting to be shod at any one time. After 1940 there were noticeably fewer horses and the challenge was to keep farm machinery going. Tom remembered vividly the urgency with which machinery needed to be repaired. The use of the machinery being seasonable when a piece broke it did need to be repaired at once. It has been sad to see the smithy not used since Tom was forced to retire, and has subsequently died. The good news is that there is now a possibility that it will be brought back to life in the not too distant future.
- Worrall’s Gazetteer 1871
Once again it was Geraint who introduced us to the Worrall’s Gazetteer. He was able to tell us that these were produced regularly and that they listed businesses, and other significant activities, across Britain. We only had access to the 1871 edition, but Geraint felt that there was an interesting piece of work for someone to look into these documents and track the changes over a period of time. The National Library for Wales has, Geraint believes, archived the complete set.
This edition entitled “PENYBONT” relates to a wider area than we currently cover:- Abbeycwmhyr, Llananno, Llanbadarnfawr, Llanbadarnfynydd, Llanbister, Llandegley, Llanddewi-Ystradenny, and Llanfihangel-Rhydithon.
The information starts:
“Penybont is an important village situated in the parishes of Llandegley and Llabadarnfawr, about 1½ miles from the Penybont station of the Central Wales Railway, and about 5 miles from Llandrindod Wells.”
It is of interest to note that Evan Evans was the Postmaster at the time, and that letters to all of the above villages “should be addressed “Near Penybont, Radnorshire”
A sign of the changing times indicates that the nearest Telegraph Office was at Llandrindod Wells.
The Businesses within our own area mentioned in the Gazetteer are:
Llandegley – John Evans
Llandegley – Ann Hughes
Penybont – Evans Evan
Penybont – William Scandrett
Penybont – William Thomas
Inns and Hotels
Llandegley – Burton Arms – John Thornhill
Penybont – Severn Arms – John Wilding
Penybont – Builders Arms – Ann Jones
Boots and Shoe Makers and Repairs
Llandegley – David Jones
Penybont – Edward Bufton
Llandegley – John O. Watkins
Radnorshire Coal, Lime & General Supply Co. Ltd. Penybont Station – Jas. Hamer Junr, Agent
South Wales Merchantile Co. Ltd. Penybont Station – John James, Agent
Penybont Station – Frederick Trantrum, Station Master
Llandegley – Richard Jones
Penybont – Richard Phillips
Penybont – Thomas James (and dealer in oils, paints and colours) plus Furniture Warehouse, Sadler; Watchmaker, Jeweller, Etc
Penybont – Thomas Burton
This, of course does not include the Farmers who are also listed. How farming practice has altered over the years is probably another separate piece of work that needs to be researched.
Of interest are the number of ‘Private Residences’ that are also listed, only 6 are listed in Penybont, with 2 at Penybont Hall, and none in Llandegley. Everyone else in the community, presumably, were in rented accommodation.
- Additional Information from Members present
Jean’s Great Aunt was Mrs. Bufton, as referred to above. Mr. and Mrs. Bufton lived in the last of the terrace houses going out of the village towards Crossgates on theThomas Shop side of the road.
In the house occupied by Steve and Luanne Price where the Ironmonger, Mr Scandrett, had his shop is a partition behind which is the shelving for the old shop.
At Ty Neuydd there were steps down to the cellar. One of the Barker twins, Mrs Ruell, missed her footing and fell into the cellar and subsequently died due to the fall and her injuries.
There was a suggestion that Brynithon had been a Smithy at one time. The District Nurse, Nurse Gittings, occupied Brynithon for some years before moving across the road.
The Police Station cells have been unoccupied for many years, but remain intact at the back of what is now a house.
Neil mentioned that there was a shoe maker at Glaneravon near the River Mithyl.
Mary remembered ‘segs’, little metal studs, being attached to the heals, and soles, of shoes to make them last longer.
In discussing the Mill, Neil remembered living there. His grandfather was a carpenter and did not manage the Mill.
There was a memory of Tom Price Senoir holding Boxing Matches at the smithy – no one could put him down!
Bill Bridgewater delivered every day from Crossgates.
Patricia mentioned that in her previous work on the census figures, frequent references to dressmaking as a cottage industry.
A number of members talked about the challenge of getting an invoice from Tom Price. Geraint said that he only sent out bills when he needed a bit of money. This could often be years after he had completed the work.
Tom had told Geraint, following the repair of a gate, to put the payment in the Church collection, only to find that Tom was the sideman with the collection plate.
Geraint referred back to Ray Price’s comment about the time when he closed his business at the Post Office and had a number of customers who had run up credit with him. Everyone repaid him within 2 years. He also made a comment to a customer who said he might not have 50p to pay him credit. Ray told him that if he would diddle him for 50p he did not need his custom!
Nichols included within their delivery servicing on battery accumulators. There was considerable concern over the management of the acid in these heavy items.
Geraint was interested to note the way in which the life of the community had changed as reflected in the changes over time that have been illustrated in the business has been conducted.
When we think that before 1730 there was no village at Penybont, the Parish centres were Llanbarnfawr and Llandegley. Previous to that there has been reference to a commercial centre at Cefn Llys that had both town and market charters by early in the 14th century. By 1871 there were 18 businesses central to community life in Penybont and Llandegley. There was a consolidation of these businesses, albeit the Mill had already gone, as we move into the first quarter of the 20th century with some businesses expanding during this period as Penybont, in particular provided some services for Llandrindod Wells. Gradually however there was a shift as Llandrindod began to provide services. The Ironmonger moved to Llandrindod and the Thomas Shop had already opened to Mid Wales Emporium.
The low price of petrol and motorised transport led to the development of delivery services and this accelerated the decline of village shops, even before the advent of supermarkets.
When we arrived in Penybont in 2000 the Post Office was the only shop left. The Market was still operating, but within a few years both had gone. Currently the Severn Arms, Midway Nursery, and the museum/café at the Thomas Shop are all that remain of that previous infrastructure. Newer initiatives have sprung up such as the roadside food outlet and sales of plants from the gate. On-line opportunities have already begun to have an impact on Llandrindod and the constancy of change. Asda are a frequent visitor to the village bringing groceries all the way from Merthyr Tydfil.
Next Session: Walk to the top of Cefn Llys, Monday 2nd July. Meet at the Thomas Shop at 10.00 a.m. for coffee and then travel by car. Quite a steep walk!