A Poem about Llansawel from the 1940’s

Mrs S G Evans, from a family photograph taken around 1950.

Mrs S G Evans, from a family photograph taken around 1950.

Mrs S G Evans lived at Castell, Llansawel, the farm house toward Abergorlech now the home of Lon and Howard Riley.  Mrs Evans died at the early age of 44 in 1955. She wrote a number of poems in Welsh, including the one below, about Llansawel. It was probably written in the early forties. Thanks to Jane Morgan, Talley, for passing it to us and to Mrs Ceinwen Davies Carmarthen, one of Mrs Evans’ two surviving children (she had six) for the biographical details. Thanks also to Mrs Beti Davies, Blaenyresgair, for help with the translation.

Mrs Evans’ poem may not challenge Dylan Thomas, but it contains a number of highly interesting details for the local historian, and a picture of village life very different from today.

Pentre Llansawel
I bentre bach Llansawel
Dechreuaf ganu can
Ond peidiwch chwi a chwerthin
Os methaf fynd ymlàn
Mae yma Go-operative
A thair o grocers shop
A shop i werthi fish and chips
Ac hefyd werthi pop

Os bydd eisiau dillad arnoch
Mae teiliwr yn y lle
Shop sgidie Jones y Gwalia*
Drws nesaf iddo fe
Y bwtchwr y pen pella
Yn mwthyn bach Llwynon
A’r ysgol y pen arall
Yn llawn o blant bach llon

Mae yma dri dafarndy
I’ch di-sychedu chwi
Ond peidiwch yfed gormod
Rhag Williams y P.C.
Os gwnewch chwi gyd fihafio
Ni ddaw ef ar eich ôl
Ond cofiwch os troseddwch
Mae yma un Town Hall.**

Os heibio afon Livy***
Digwyddwch fynd am dro
Cewch glywed tonc y morthwyl
O hyd gan Gom y Gò
A Mrs Williams Coop
Sydd yn chargo’r batteries
Nis gwn pa beth awnawn heb hon
Er gwrando y newsreels.****

Os byddwch chwi rhyw fore
Yn llesgedd iawn eich bron
Gwell i chwi fynd ar unwaith
At Doctor Burniston*****
Mae ef yn siwr och gwella
A hynny’r fuan iawn
Fel gallwch fynd am dro da’s bws
I Lambed y prynhawn

Ac hefyd yn y pentre
Mae Nyrs fach net yw gael
Fe ddaw i’ch gweld bob amser
Boed eira neu boed haul
Mae yma dri addoldÿ
I dderbyn gras y ne
Nid oes na bentre mwy complete
Yw gael yn unrhyw le.


Llansawel Village
Little village of Llansawel
I’m starting to sing a song.
Don’t you laugh
If I can’t get far with it.
Here is the co-op
And three grocers
And a fish and chip shop
Also selling pop.

If you need clothes
The tailor’s in his place.
Farther on is Gwalia – Jones’ shoe shop.*
Next door
Is the butcher
In dear Llwynon’s cottage.
The school at the other end
Full of small happy children.

Here are three pubs
To quench your thirst.
But don’t have too much.
For PC Williams’ sake.
If you all behave,
He won’t come after you.
But remember if you misbehave
Here is the magistrate’s court.***

If beyond the river Livy **
You happen to stroll
You’ll hear the tinkle of the hammer
From the blacksmith.
At Mrs Williams’ Co-op,
She charges batteries.
Without her, we wouldn’t know what to do,
To listen to newsreels.****

If one morning
You are feeling out of sorts,
Better go at once
To Doctor Burniston
He is sure to make you better quickly
So that you can catch the bus
For Lampeter in the afternoon.

And also in the village
The dear nurse walks
She has time to see everybody
Be it snow, or be it sun
Here come the three places of worship*******
Receiving God’s blessing.
Not a village more complete
To be found in any land

The Town Hall from the business end, showing the stairs and door to the schoolroom, court or dining hall, according to need.

The Town Hall from the business end, showing the stairs and door to the schoolroom, court or dining hall, according to need.

* It is likely that this is Evan Jones, who was the first secretary of the hall, died in 1963 and was succeeded by his son, Glyn, who continued in the role for an extraordinary 34 years until his death in 1997.  There is a plaque to both of them in the village hall.

** The three pubs would at this time have been The Swan, the Black Lion Hotel and the Angel Inn.  The Black Lion and the Angel are still going.  The Swan closed as a pub some years ago but is still the home of its last proprietors Mr and Mrs Colin Hayward.

***The Town Hall stands between the Black Lion Hotel and the Angel Inn.  Today it is a private dwelling, known as The Old Courthouse.  It was used as the Magistrate’s Court or Petty Sessions until the 1960’s.  Previously it was used also as an auction room and function room.  It served as a schoolroom, alongside these other uses, for ten years or so before 1876, when the present school was built.

****The River Marlais runs through the middle of the village, passing close by the village hall. It is joined a half mile or so beyond the church by another small river which passes Sawel Mill (opposite the bus stop on the Talley road) having risen somewhere beyond Rhydcymerau. Mrs Evans calls this river the Livy. This is believed to be an informal name, derived from the fact that it rises near Esgairliving. However both the ordnance survey map and the History of Llansawel by Mr Fred Price (published 1898) call the river the Melinddwr. Melinddwr means “mill water”.

*****Grid electricity did not reach Llansawel until the nineteen fifties. In war time, the main source of information was the radio. The radios were powered by large batteries, so taking discharged batteries to the shop and fetching back charged ones was an everyday household chore.   Mrs Williams would have been busy, keeping the village supplied.

******  The doctor’s house was Castle Green, the large white house opposite the Swan, now the home of Mr and Mrs Dale Hudson, and a listed building.   In those days it was painted brown.

*******The three places of worship are of course St Sawyls church, Bethel Chapel and Shiloh Chapel.