December 2010 Archives
I understand that a proper "White Christmas" is when snow falls on Christmas Day. We didn't have any fresh falls but this was very much a White Christmas with several inches of snow in the gardens, on the pavements and on the side roads in Caernarfon and the snow clad mountains looked absolutely beautiful in the brilliant sunshine. I can't recall much snow here at all in Caernarfon since I came to lived here in 1986, and certainly not at Christmas.
In earlier days snow came after Christmas but I do recall that a few times that it came on Christmas Eve. However, the one year when I definitely know that we had snow at Christmas was 1956. My grandfather Robert Cadwaladr Williams of Gwiga, Penmachno, (brother of Tom of whom I've been writing in recent months) died on 18 December 1956. I have been very lucky in that I had known both sets of grandparents well and I was 18 when Robert Cadwaladr was the first of my grandparents to die.
I spent most of the war years in Gwiga living with my Taid and Nain when my father was in the forces and the place is very dear to me. This is where I have my earliest memories - atgofion bore oes. Gwiga was a small farm of some 13 acres with four cows and Taid was also the local postman, having left the quarries some years earlier. Although Gwiga was once on the main thoroughfare for the drovers from LlÅ·n to reach the markets in Denbigh and Rhuthun, there was no road leading to Gwiga in the twentieth century, only footpaths. All deliveries were made either to Fusach Goch where there was a narrow road or to Tyddyn Cethin to where there was a farm track. Both were about a third of a mile away. Taid used to carry supplies on his back from these locations, cattle cake, Indian corn for the hens, coal, paraffin, etc. He used to carry one sack at a time and then go back for the next. Drinking water had to carried from a well and there was no electricity until the early 50's. My grandparents had a very hard life.
The funeral had been arranged for 22 December. It had snowed heavily the night before and there was about 9 inches of snow on the fields. The hearse managed to get up the track to Tyddyn Cethin and we had to carry the coffin from the house through the small stream, where there would have been a ford in olden days, and over the fields through the snow to the hearse. It was the first time that I had been a bearer and it's an experience I'll never forget. I remember that my mother was concerned that I was wearing wellingtons and that it was not appropriate to go into the chapel in wellingtons. However, my father managed to persuade her that that was the only practical thing to do!
We had the service in Bethania Chapel and then walked behind the hearse to the New Cemetery. Fortunately they had cleared a path through the snow from the entrance gates to the grave but the rest of the cemetery was under deep snow and most of the mourners had to stand in the snow for the grave-side service. It was an unforgettable experience. This was the same grave as that in which his brother Tom had been buried in 1945 and next to that of his eldest brother, William John. His other brother, Owen who died aged 27 in1909, was buried with his parents in the St Tudclud Churchyard.
There are four cemeteries in Penmachno. There is a small Baptist cemetery next to where the Baptist Chapel, Tabor, used to stand but there are only some 20 graves. Amongst them is the grave of one of my great, great grandfather's brothers, John Jones, who in 1834 was the first man to be killed in the Penmachno quarries at the age of 21. There is a Calvinistic Methodist (now known as Presbyterian) cemetery associated with Salem Chapel which is still in use today. There is the Churchyard at St. Tudclud Church where there are 11 graves in which my ancestors are buried, the oldest grave being that of a gggg grandmother, buried in 1795.
As the St. Tudclud Churchyard was getting full, Mynwent Newydd (New Cemetery) was opened by the Archbishop of Wales on 18 July 1936. In 1956 it was still called Mynwent Newydd but it has since been named Arwelfa Cemetery. To me, however, it will still be Mynwent Newydd.
At that time I was a first year student at Aberystwyth and, like many other students at the time, obtained temporary employment with the Royal Mail to deliver the mail in the run up to Christmas. There was thick snow on the ground in Llan Ffestiniog where we lived at the time but we managed to deliver mail every day. This year, despite living on one of the main roads in Caernarfon, the present day Royal Mail only managed to deliver on one day in a period of 6 possible delivery days between the Thursday when the snow started and Christmas on the Saturday!
I hope that readers have enjoyed their Christmas, whether it was a White one or not, and I wish everyone a very happy and enjoyable 2011 which will hopefully be productive in terms of family history research.
Gwynedd Family History Society, www.gwynedd.fhs.org.uk
Meetings for the next four weeks are:
Bangor, 4 January (In English, first Tuesday of each month) 7.00pm at the Quakers Meeting Hall, Dean Street: B & J Osborne: "The Sealed Knot: Historical Re-enactments"
Caernarfon, 27 January (In Welsh, last Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Library, LÃŽn Pafiliwn: Hywel Roberts: "Chwalfa Yncl John South"
Dolgellau, 13 Ionawr (In Welsh, second Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Royal Ship Hotel: Gweithdy yn yr Archifdy
Conwy, 10 January (In English, second Monday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Ebenezer, Abergele Road, Old Colwyn: Hywel Roberts: "Downstairs at Glasgwm Hall"
Llangefni, 20 January (In English, third Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Smyrna, Ffordd Glanhwfa: Workshop in Llangefni Archives
Pwllheli, 21 Ionawr (In Wales, third Friday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Seion, Lon Dywod: Ifor ap Glyn: "Americanwyr Cymraeg eu Hiaith"
Clwyd Family History Society, www.clwydfhs.org.uk
The meetings are held on the second Saturday of each month (except August) at 2.00 pm at locations that rotate within the former county of Clwyd. The next meeting is as follows:
Saturday 8 January: at The Millennium Room, Old Colwyn Methodist Chapel, Wynn Avenue, Old Colwyn.
Hywel Roberts: "Downstairs at Glasgwm Hall"