Vintage Postcards #2: Sheep herding on Trefri Road in 1903

Like the postcard #1, which was a 1910 sepia photograph, this 1903 scene really throws one back to a previous era where the threat of being run over by one of the hundreds of cars that use the A493 estuary road simply didn’t exist.  The mid-1850s Trefri Hall is again visible in the background, but this postcard gives a real sense of rural isolation.  This sense of isolation is, however, quite misleading.  An east-west turnpike was built following the Merioneth Turnpike Act of 1775, which ran from near Pennal through Cwm Maethlon (Happy Valley) towards Tywyn, and although it bypassed Aberdovey it was still an important link between the coast and the interior of mid Wales.  Most importantly, the railway was established in 1864, connecting Tywyn, Aberdovey and Machynlleth with other parts of north Wales and England.  The industrial revolution and the demand for raw materials such as copper, silver and lead, as well as the slate trade had made Aberdovey an important port and shipping was a major activity, both via river and sea, and the tourist industry was becoming increasingly important.  By the turn of the century, Aberdovey had at least six places of worship, at least one pub, a literary institute and several hotels.

1903 postcard

The stamp shows Edward VII who reigned from 1902-1910, and this particular shade of blue-green was issued between 1902 and 1904.  The stamp is postmarked Stowmarket and is dated 9.30AM, June 26th 1903.  Perhaps the purchaser bought it in Aberdovey and took it home to post.

The postcard was produced by Raphael Tuck and Sons, “fine art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen” in their “Art” series.  Queen Victoria had granted them the Royal Warrant in 1883.  According to the TuckDB website, Raphael Tuck was a Prussian who had trained as a graphic artist and started his picture frame and graphic design business with his wife Ernestine in Bishopsgate (London) in 1866.  It became one of the world’s biggest postcard producers, all based on art works, but produced a number of other products as well, as shown on the 1901 advert below.  Most of the postcards were printed in Germany up until the First World War, and this card is marked “Printed in Berlin.”  The Aberdovey card, by artist Frederick William Hayes, was sold as one of a set of six Welsh scenic views, the others showing Cader Idris, Bala, Harlech, the Dolgellau Precipice Walk and  Llyfnant Valley, Aberystwyth (all of which you can see here, on the TuckDB website).  Later, the a postcard was issued showing the same painting in full, extremely bright colour.

The artist, Frederick William Hayes (1848-1918), was born on the Wirral, trained first as an architect and then as a painter in Liverpool and London before returning to Liverpool where he established a watercolour society.  He was an Associate of the Royal College of Art.  Hayes exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1872 and 1891.  He was a prolific painter, working in pencil, watercolour and oil.  His paintings are usually very picturesque in theme, and he painted a lot of landscape and seascape scenes in Wales and Scotland.

The House of Tuck – an advert from 1901. Source: TuckDB website.

Trefri Hall today. I lacked the courage to dodge the cars in any attempt to reproduce the exact viewpoint in the postcard!



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