Previously, this website belonged to RHAYADER & DISTRICT HISTORY ARCHIVES.
The Archives (as this website was previously called) were able to supply information on the following areas; Rhayader, Elan Valley, Nantmel, Cwmdauddwr, Abbeycwmhir, and Llanwrthwl. And on the following subjects; family trees, including a database of over 4000 local people who lived in the 1800-1900s, with their occupations, dates of birth, etc., our own church burial records, old industries, tanning, mills, and millers, farms and farming of days gone by, fire service records, lists of books relating to the area, including a large section on the Elan Valley, before, during, and after the construction of the Birmingham Corporation Waterworks, hundreds of prints, maps, and photographs, newspaper cuttings, etc., (our earliest print is dated 1792, map,—1829, photograph,—1865), to give a small selection.
Rhayader has had a highly colourful history, which thankfully to many of the older members of the town has been recorded for all time. Most of that heritage was documented on this website when it was alive. ‘Rhayader & District History Archives‘ had been set up to help in this task. As books, postcards, and records relating to the area became increasingly rare, the need to document and organize the last of the existing ones becomes all the more important. It would be a crying shame if these valuable records of Rhayader’s past became ‘extinct’.
Some of the Interesting features in Rhayader include:
The castle, which was built around 1178 by Rhys ap Gruffydd, covered most of the town. The only remains are the ‘Moat,’ this is a large trench cut into the rock near the gates of Waun Capel Parc, and the area known locally as the ‘Castle,’ was originally the Keep and north-west lookout point. No known plan or visual representation exists of the castle.
The next feature is the bridge. The earliest known was wooden recorded by John Ogilby in 1675, this being replaced in 1780 by a more substantial stone bridge. The town’s Welsh name is ‘Rhaiader Gwy,’ translates into English as ‘Cataract of the Wye’, the Wye is the river which winds its way around the town. The cataract refers to the waterfall, which is a little way downstream.
The Bwgey Brook
The third feature, is the ‘Bwgey Brook’. This brook, which starts high up on the north side of the town, before 1877 used to run down through the streets. An old Welsh adage goes:-Adarn Bwgey, glanha ynghymry, freely translated,— The fairest children Wales can have,are those that drink bright Bwgey’s wave
THE WAR MEMORIAL CLOCK TOWER
After the terrible losses of the 1914-18 war, it was decided by the local people to erect a permanent memorial to those who paid the Supreme Sacrifice from the area. The Rhayader and District War Memorial Clock Tower recorded on its stone tablets those men from the parishes of Rhayader, Abbeycwmhir Cwmdauddwr, Llanwrthwl, Nantmel, and St. Harmon who lost their life in the Great War.
On the 7th November, 1948, a stone tablet was unveiled, adding to the memorial the names of those from the above parishes who lost their lives in the Second World War. This monument was built on the site of the Market or Town Hall as it was known. This old building, which had stood for just over 160 years, was intentionally demolished to make way for the War Memorial Clock Tower, which was unveiled on the 18th September 1924, by Lord Ormathwaite.
The Somme July 1st 1916:-The early morning attack saw 30,000 casualties between 7.30am. and 8.30am. Over the course of that first day 60,000 British soldiers were injured, 20,000 of which lost their lives. Many of the injured drown in mud filled craters. Five months after the ‘Somme Offensive’ started, which involved attacking just five miles of the German front line, the loss of life amounted to 420,000 British, 195,000 French, along with 650,000 of the defending Germans.
The Battle of Verdun, which lasted from February to November 1916, was just as costly in human lives, with the total losses amounting to over 400,000 French and 350,000 Germans. Gallipoli between 1915-1916 saw 250,000 out of the 480,000 allied troops killed the vast majority from Australia and New Zealand. The 10th November 1917 saw the end of the fighting at Passchendaele in Belgium, with 300,000 allied and a similar number of Germans.
The War Memorial was designed by local mason Ben Lloyd, it incorporates four beautiful sculptures. The soldier on the western side of the memorial represents the locals who readily ‘joined up’ and went to fight, many of whom lost their lives. The northern group signifies all of those who were left at home, the mother and child, the Welsh Dragon is shown on the eastern side beating the Prussian Eagle into submission, whilst the heraldic shield is a copy of the Rhayader Coat of Arms.
The south-facing scene is of an angel placing the Wreath of Victory on the memorial, but sadly the cross below reminds us of the many that made the Supreme Sacrifice. The clock mechanism was donated by Mrs. M. A. Lewis, of the Royal Oak, in memory of her late husband Evan. The memorial was paid for out of donations and public subscription, one very generous donation of £250 came from the local Midland Bank. The local quarry supplied the blue granite, whilst the remainder of the masonry consists of blocks of Portland Stone.
THE TOWN HALL 1762-1922
The Town Hall had stood in the middle of the town of Rhayader since 1762 before it was demolished to make way for the War Memorial. The building was very similar to the one that still exists in Llanidloes to this day. The Town Hall was taken down between 1922 and 1924 and the site was used for the War Memorial Clock Tower. The clock in the tower is proving much more reliable than the sundial that once adorned the East Street end of the old hall.
A description from The History of Radnorshire — “The Town-hall, which is a handsome, modern, square building, strengthened at both ends, east and west, by a strong work of stone masonry, and having two commodious rooms above, supported by arches resting on massy oak pillars, is situated in the center of the town, and was erected in the year 1762, by subscription. The east and west ends have each a circular arch of stonework, and over the former is affixed a sun-dial, made by that celebrated arithmetician, the Rev. Llewelyn Davies, vicar of St. Harmon.”
I’ve decided to bring this website back to life and I will be publishing interesting posts about bird watching trips. Already there are several posts that I’ve published and you can access them by clicking through various posts below.