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New Quay Local History Pages

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The History of New Quay

In the early days New Quay was a fishing and smuggling port. Later a burgeoning shipbuilding industry developed, reaching its peak in the middle of the nineteenth century. Towards the end of that century shipbuilding died out and tourism gradually filled the void. Today New Quay has little industry - just a little fishing and a shellfish processing plant. By far the majority of residents now are associated with Tourism and its associated services.
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The Life of Dylan Thomas

Thomas is remembered by most for his final play 'Under Milk Wood'. Started in New Quay and partially written at Southleigh near Oxford, then finally completed in New York minutes before its first public performance, 'Under Milk Wood' has stimulated a long-running debate as to which town is the model for 'Llareggub'. Local Author David Thomas notes that many of the characters (from New Quay) were written in long before Dylan Thomas ever visited Laugharne. He has clearly established a strong case for New Quay being the model for 'Llareggub' while the name 'Under Milk Wood'  is probably taken from the farm called 'Wernllaeth' where Dylan was taken by his good friend, the Aberaeron vet Tommy Herbert. Dylan and Caitlin's  daughter Aeronwy was named after the river Aeron which flows through the Aeron valley to Aberaeron , and about which Dylan said was: 'the most precious place in the world'. Click on the photo for more information.

The History of Llanarth

Just a short distance from New Quay, Llanarth is an ancient settlement, among the oldest in Ceredigion. Set just inland from the Cardigan Bay coast, it is centred on the crossroads formed where the A487 coast road meets the B4342 to New Quay (or formerly to Llanina).

The age of a community is usually best recorded by the date when its church was established. There is record of a stone church being built in Llanarth between 1200 and 1220 to replace an earlier wooden church.  Within St. David's Church is an even older relic; the inscribed stone cross, sometimes known as the Cross of Girhurst or the Cross of Girhiret - named after an Irish chieftain of the ninth century. Click on the photo for more information.

New Quay 100 years ago

Many photographs of New Quay and Aberaeron have survived thanks to the work of local photographers specialising in post cards. Some of these are Charles H. Dierks and Shirley Brooks. They had premises at 9 George Street in New Quay and at 19 Alban Square Aberaeron around 1910. Another local photographer was Tom Desmond of Priory Street Cardigan.

The photo on the left shows a thatched cottage that once stood where Adam's Garage car park is at the bottom of Francis Street.

What were the Llanina ruins?

There has been much speculation as to the former use of the ruins at Llanina. They are in a wood called 'Coed Llanina' just opposite the gates to the Llanina Mansion and St Ina's Church. The main section of buildings surrounds part of what is now the car park for the various walks through the woods provided by Welsh Water which now owns the property.

The land now owned by the water company was once part of the extensive Llanina estate owned when the farm was newly built in 1770 by the Jones family. Later, the estate was to pass into the hands of Charles Longcroft and his descendants  who lived there for more than a hundred years.

Dating Ancient hedges in Llanarth near New Quay

The map on the left was published in 1850. It shows the road leading to our farm 'Motygido' - shown on the map as 'Bot-y-gido' with its perimeter outlined in red. On the right is the A487 - Cardigan to Aberystwyth road. 

We know the roads and hedges here are old, but just how old are they?

We sampled the hedges at 5 locations shown in red using 'Hooper's Law' -  a method devised by Dr. Max Hooper in the 1950's for dating hedges in the English Midlands. 

We found the hedges to be much older than we had imagined. Click on the photo for more information.

The Limekilns of Ceredigion

Lime has been used for building since 7000 BC ( South Galilee, Israel). It was widely used by the Egyptians and later by the Romans who invented various mixes including a waterproof lime mortar for use in aqueducts by including volcanic dust in the mix. In Ceredigion, lime was not always available and some early builders used earth and clay between the stones. However, with the advent of a busy coastal shipping industry in West Wales, Limestone, and culm - the fuel needed to convert Limestone into quicklime  became two of the more important imports to the area. 
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The Bwthyn

The earliest Cottages or 'Bwthyn' were largely constructed of clom - a mixture of clay, horse hair, and cow dung and roofed with thatch. Often they had just one room and were quite basic, having earth floors, a fire on the floor and a hole in the thatch to let the smoke escape. A 17th century traveller described one such house as: "...a dunghill modell'd into the shape of a cottage, whose outward surface was all to-be-negro'd in such swairthy plaister that it appear'd not unlike a great blot of cow turd". Click on the photo for more information.

Mr. Jacob's Lily

Roadside banks - especially those alongside ancient lanes are a natural haven for wild flowers. Here they grow without fear of ploughing, herbicides or other disturbance. They may be trimmed in the summer as rampant growth narrows the lane, but they often have time to set their seed ready for growth the following year. They survive in what amounts to a very narrow and very well protected meadow.

Most of the flowers are relicts of the old meadows and woodlands, but a few are more recent; relative newcomers remaining as clues to a way of life long gone, and to individuals and families long forgotten. Click on the photo for more information.


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