Stori Fawr Dre-fach Felindre



Below is a piece by Mr Gwilym G Howells who wrote about his recollections of the Commercial life of Drefach. The Stori Fawr has a collection of photographs of shops on the People's Collection Wales website, click on the photo to see the collection.

Recollections of the Commercial life of Drefach

by Gwilym G Howells

I recall the commercial life of the village of Drefach as I remember it before the War.

As you travel from Henllan Bridge towards Drefach, there is an empty derelict cottage called Aberbudrell. An old gentleman by the name of David Thomas lived there. The cottage had a very good orchard and produced a brand of apples known as "wern Fach". If the harvest was good, Mr. Thomas would sell the apples to the villagers.

Coming up to the village, I remember seeing the local folk walking to and from their work daily at Cambrian Woollen Mill. Mr. Samuel Jones had a butcher's business at Parc Cerrig, and at Parkesty my parents sold dairy produce, eggs and poultry. Mrs. Griffiths worked as a dressmaker at Parc y Gors, and taught many a young lady the delicate skills of needlework. At Brogynydd milk was sold to the villagers. Next door there was a shoe shop and repairs at Gwynfa. Across the road at Geler View there was a sweet shop, where home made ginger beer was sold at one old penny a bottle. At Glasdir there were tea and coffee rooms and a bakery shop.

“Siop Llewelyn” was at the house now known as Tygwyn. It was a general stores and sold a variety of items, from maize to tobacco and confectionery. I tried to get sweets there “on tick”, but without success. Across the road is the Red Lion, and I recently found that my paternal grand-parents ran this pub before the turn of the century. At the Red Lion coach house, Mr. Daniel Tom James sold fish and chips in the evening; I seem to remember that, during the day, he also sold fruit and vegetables from a barrow. Up the road at Llwynduris, my aunt Caroline sold pop and crisps; as I was her favourite nephew, I always had a good supply free. At Dancapel they had Magic Lantern shows; admission was one old penny or half penny, depending on how well off you were.

Across the road from Llwynduris, down by the river, Mr. Rees Jones had a base for his butchery business. He will remember that he was a good friend of my parents and bought most of their young stock. He paid a good price and a fair one, and seemed pleased with the animals that my parents reared. Also nearby, you could not miss the sound of the looms working at Square Hall Mill, today the furniture stores. Upstairs in the building next to Pantawel there were shoe repairs; most of the machinery had come from Gwynfa when that house became a private dwelling.

The house known as Llysaeron now stands on the site of what was once a private billiard saloon; the upstairs of an old mill building had been converted into a recreation room where billiards, snooker, cards and draughts were played. Adjacent to Awelfor, then Anvil House, was the Smithy, to me the most fascinating place in the village. For hours during the school holidays I watched Mr. David Jones at work shoeing the big farm horses; they were powerful animals but he was a skilful man and master of his trade. I was often given the job of operating the bellows while Mr. Jones hammered the horse-shoes into shape. Petrol was sold from hand operated pumps, at Anvil House also.

Across the road at Bargod Villa there was a grocery shop run by Mrs. Phillips and later by Mr. and Mrs. Eynon, Newspapers were sold there, but most of the magazines came from Newcastle Emlyn, brought by Mr. D. J. Davies, Gwendraeth. I remember how, on Thursdays, I listened with anticipation for Mr. Davies' motor cycle to come, bringing my favourite comic 'Film Fun', featuring heroes such as Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy.

At Brohyfryd and Greenfield there were good quality tailors. Mr. John Jones at Greenfield was an expert at Crossword puzzles; when I knew him he was an elderly gentleman, he had a sharp mind and read a lot. Mr. Samuel Evans and family ran a bakery business at Pensungrug; they must have sold a variety of items, as I remember buying my fireworks there. They later moved to Tivy Stores where they carried on the same business plus a cafe; whilst Mrs. Phillips moved from Bargod Villa to Pensungrug and established a grocery business there.

At “Sgwar Penbont” there was a shop at Castle Square, now Annedd-wen; this shop sold a variety of items from clothing to cigarettes. Milk was sold at Pensarn, Shop Pensarn and Cnwc. The butcher's shop at Dolwerdd was run by Mr. David Lewis, and there was a shoe shop and repairs at Rhandir.

I must not venture across the bridge but I do remember Dr. Jenkins' surgery at the Reading Room. He was an excellent family physician, and I earned many a threepenny bit carrying water from the village pump for his medicines. It was good medicine, good water and good money!

These are recollections of schooldays long ago and there may be omissions or slight inaccuracies, but I have enjoyed the journey down 'Memory Lane' and I hope that you have, too.  


Recollections 1 gan GG Howells
recollections 2 gan G G Howells

Gwilym was born in Parcesty, a smallholding on the outskirts of Drefach-Felindre in 1900. He worked at Lloyds Bank all his life. He spent part of his working life in Newbridge and whilst there he took an interest in the local rugby club and became their treasurer for many years.  Gwilym returned to West Wales on being appointed manager of Lloyd's branches at Llandyssul and Newcastle Emlyn.  Following his retirement Gwilym and his wife Nesta (the daughter of Tyhen farm, Penboyr) retired to Armerydd Drefach. Gwilym died in 1977 aged 77 and is buried in St Barnabus churchyard, Felindre.