Author Archives: Andie

Video: Pheasants in the garden

The pheasants vanished from my garden for the summer, but have been slowly returning for the last month.  At first there was just one, but now there are up to five – four females and an occasional male.  Pheasants are quite mind-numbingly stupid, but of the five that panic and run away every time I open the door to throw down food for them, there’s one that knows that the unlocking of the door is a good sound.  She bounces up a couple of steps in confident anticipation of a shower of peanuts.  When they haven’t been fed (or when they come back later in the day in hope of more goodies) and she sees movement in the kitchen, she comes all the way up the steps and loiters by the door, sometimes just staring at me in a rather unnerving way.  I’m a complete pushover and it works every time, and between the pheasants and the blue tits, my sack of peanuts is emptying rapidly.  Here she is yesterday, looking for an evening peanut shower after the morning one had been demolished and they had gone elsewhere to forage or be fed.

 

Video: Chaos on the goldfinch feeder

I recall that this time last year most of the birds vanished from the garden in October and November, for the reasons explained in an earlier post, returning in force in December.  This year more of them remained in the garden over that period, but it is noticeable how busy it is at the moment.  The goldfinch feeder is particularly in demand and all day today the feathers were flying as they jockeyed for position and chased each other off, some of which is captured on the video below.  A very beautiful display of bright colour on a dull day.  There were nine of them at one stage.

 

Vintage Postcards #12: The Tennis Courts

 

The tennis courts were located in front of the approach to Aberdovey railway station.  Now, it’s a bowling green, with a small section fenced off to the left that still has a tennis court.  The little tennis pavilion has now been replaced by two slightly larger structures.  It is possible that the blue X marks the house where the visitors were staying.  My excellent uncle occasionally does the same thing in the postcards he sends.  The houses in the postcard and my photographs below shows how foliage can change aspects of a scene.  The house at top left now has a tree in front of its central gable, and the one immediately above the tennis pavilion previously had Virginia creeper or similar clinging to the walls, which has now been stripped off.  There are a couple of new buildings in the picture below, but on the whole that stretch of Aberdovey retains most of its character.

The same view in November 2019

The bowling club was established in 1921.  The postcard was sent to Solihull in 1934, with an Aberdovey Merioneth postmark.  The stamp is a George V 1d red that was issued between January 1st 1912 and 1934.  I’ve seen an identical postcard with the postmark dated 1926, so this postcard had obviously been in circulation for some time.

Vintage Postcards #11: Along the promenade towards the old jetty

A quiet day in Aberdovey.  Hugh M. Lewis describes the history of the wharf and Jetty in his booklet A Riverside Story.  Aberdovey’s current jetty was built with double railway tracks and turnable in 1882 at the same time as the new wharf and storage buildings, enabling the unloading and loading of steamers directly from and into railway trucks.  Slate was the primary export, whilst coal, limestone, livestock (cattle, pigs and horses), wheat and potatoes were major imports.  During the First World War the wharf was used as a coal dump and the jetty went out of use.  Both continued to deteriorate after the war.  Beginning in 1962 British Rail entered negotiations to surrender the wharf and jetty to the Crown Estate Commissioners and Tywyn Urban District Council, together with a sum to enable the Council to carry out repairs, but there were numerous delays.  In 1965 Mr James Griffiths, the Secretary of State for Wales, intervened and the Council at last acquired the property and began to initiate a number of improvement schemes.  The first work was completed in 1968 and included a new sewage station, underground holding tanks, a sea outfall and public toilets.  The wharf was resurrected with new steel pilings and a wall with concrete coping with ladders and bollards.  A new slipway was added at the western end of the wharf area.  The jetty was found to have been attacked by Teredo worm, the bane of sea-going ships for centuries, and was riddled with holes, meaning that the existing jetty could not be repaired and had to be replaced with a shorter and narrower structure.  Funding was a difficulty, but the Outward Bound Sea School, for whom the jetty was of considerable value, provided 47% of the total cost.  The balance was paid by British Rail Board and the Aberdovey Advertising and Improvements Committee. At the same time the buildings that they used on the wharf were renovated.   The big seafront car park replaced the old rail track that led in to the wharf and on to the jetty, and was completed in 1970.  In 1971 the information centre for the Snowdonia National Park was built on the wharf, paid for by a grant from the National Parks Commission and a new clubhouse was built for the Dovey Sailing Club , which also opened in 1971.

The promenade looks brand new in this photograph, but I have been unable to find out when it was actually created.  The road is empty except for three men with bicycles and a couple of pedestrians.  The road was metalled sometime during or after 1895, when the Council Surveyor purchased a cargo of broken limestone for metalling the streets.   Up against the jetty are sailing boats together with a steamer with smoke issuing from its funnel, giving the peaceful village scene a slightly industrial air.  Beneath the Pen Y Bryn shelter, erected in 1897, a large chapel looms over the houses of Seaview Terrace, a slightly surprising sight as it was such a dominant feature and is no longer there.

The above photograph shows the view from a similar viewpoint on November 29th 2019, and I had to wait for a break in the traffic to take it.  The most obvious difference is the presence of parked vehicles, and lots of them.  On the day I took the photo there were fishing vessels in the bay, but of a very different order from the ones in the postcard:

Fishing boats in the bay at Aberdovey

The postcard, numbered A0105 was produced by E.T.W. Dennis and Sons Ltd of Scarborough and is unused.  The printing and publishing company was established in 1870 and began to mass-produce postcards in 1894.  Sadly, the company’s pre-war records were destroyed in a bombing raid in 1941.  From 1955 all postcards beginning with the letter A and the number 01 had Aberdovey as their subject matter, but many of the images used predate this time, and this particular photograph certainly predates the 1950s. The firm closed in 2000.

Vintage Postcard #10: Aberdovey from the Island

Although the postcard is entitled Aberdovey from the Island, I assume that this was taken from Ynyslas rather than a sandbank, because the tide is pretty high. Ynys means island, so perhaps that is the source of the postcard’s title.  It’s another gorgeous photograph. That single sail Aberdovey to Ynyslas ferry boat is a think of real beauty, and the placement of fractionally off-centre is sheer genius.

The following two were taken in February 2019 from the beach at Ynyslas.  Although today there are some more buildings visible on the hill, it is actually surprising how few new additions have been built.  The 1960s developments at the top of Copper Hill Street were a commercial decision and were probably good for Aberdovey’s future, as was the car park on the sea front, but it is notable that development has, for the most part, been kept under control.

 

Aberdovey from Ynyslas

The postmark is dated 26th August 1915, and was sent from Aberdovey.  The stamp shows George V (who reigned 1911 – 1936) and is known as a “½d Green,” first issued on 1st January 1912.  A frustration is that the postcard manufacturer is Gwilym Williams, and I have been unable to find out anything about him.  Do let me know if you have any information.

Another frustration is that the handwriting is, for me, almost completely undecipherable.  In the address, the first line appears to be Chetwynd but the town/village took me ages to work out (it’s West Malvern) and the message eludes me completely.  I suppose that as I (and presumably others) have become more dependent upon email and word processors, deciphering handwriting is much less of an everyday task.

This appears to be the house to which the postcard was sent:

Vintage Postcards #9: A busy Sea View Terrace

Sea View Terrace

An exceptionally engaging view of Aberdovey.  It has much more of an intimate and lively feel to it than most vintage postcards, which are usually unnaturally empty of any signs of life. It is surprising how few vintage postcards show busy scenes with lots of people, apart from later beach scenes.  I always wonder how the photographers managed to persuade people to stay out of camera shot.  The Marie Celeste approach to postcard photography. This example, with women and children in the foreground, is particularly novel.

The building on the far left is the Dovey Inn, which was first built in 1729 by Athelstan Owen, of the Ynysymanegwyn estate in Tywyn (about which I have posted here), and will have been there throughout the lives of all these women.  What I particularly like about this photograph is not only the impression of very focused activity, but the sense that these are confident women who are heading firmly towards, or from, a particular location.   Given the smartly dressed children in the background and the men in the distance, I initially wondered if they were not heading away from church attendance.  Still, if that were the case it seems odd that they were not in family units.  Another postcard mystery!

View from the Dyfi Inn along Sea View Terrace, November 2019

The postcard was unused, so I don’t have a date. I’m not an expert on early 20th Century fashion but I’m guessing that these outfits were popular in the pre-First World War years, probably in the 1910s. Skirts are long, but above the ankle, and hats are favoured.  If there are any fashion experts reading this, please let me know what you think!

The back of the card credits the postcard producer simply as “Gwilym Williams, Aberdovey.”  If anyone knows something about him, please let me know because he is responsible for quite a few Aberdovey postcards and I have been unable to discover anything at all about him.

 

Vintage Postcards #8: Penhelig

A crisp, sharp photograph of Penhelig Terrace and the row of houses beyond, a postcard produced by Judges Ltd of Hastings (postcard no.14818).  The memorial park, about which I have posted, had not been established and the ground that it now occupies looks curiously empty and rather desolate.  The roofs and gardens of Penhelig Terrace are shown in the foreground.  The 1864 railway runs past Penhelig Terrace, which was built on spoil from the excavation of the tunnels, one of which is clearly visible here.  A footpath appears to run over the top of the hill, over the tunnel entrance.  Everything looks so crisp and manicured.

The card is unusued and unmarked, so there is no stamp or postmark data to help with a date.  Even though Judge’s is still going in the guise of  Judge Sampson, and this postcard is in their archive, there is no information listed about it.  Judge’s Ltd was established in 1902 in Hastings by photographer Fred Judge, who bought an existing photography business to enter the poscard trade when postcards were accepted by the Post Office in the same year.  His business evolved from a focus on photographic comissions to  the publication of postcards the following year.  This strand of the business was so successful that in 1910 they moved into wholsesale postcard production, appointing agents all over Britain  to sell postcards. In 1927 new premises were built to enable the expansion of the company, with additonal branches established at Ludgate Hill, the West Country and the Lake District in order to facilitiate the distribution of a wide range postcards featuring new resorts and rural areas.  The EdinPhoto website says that postcards began to be numbered after 1906, starting with 50 and going up to 31782.   A history of Judge’s by Judge Sampson is available on the Wayback Machine website.

The row of houses behind the memorial park to the right of Penhelig Terrace on the main road through Aberdovey has not changed much since the above postcard.

The row of houses behind the memorial park to the right of Penhelig Terrace on the A493.

Penherlig Terrace seen from Penhelig beach: