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Stories from Dai Woodham’s locomotive scrap yard in Barry

You often hear people (of a certain age) reminiscing about lost institutions they used to know and love. Maybe it’s the chapel their nana used to go to that’s flats now. Or the local cinema that they used to queue up outside every Saturday that today is just a car park. However, it’s not very often that you find people waxing nostalgically about a scrap yard. But if you ask people who grew up in Barry in the 60s or 70s, very few will have nothing to say about Dai Woodham’s scrap yard. It used to occupy the old railway sidings next to the abandoned docks. It was a place that dominated the townscape. Even if you had no interest in it or what could be found there. It was difficult to ignore.

What made the place magical to so many and made it famous throughout the world was the mile after mile of decommissioned steam locomotives in various states of decay parked up there. As far as the eye could see. And even more magical if you were a curious little boy like I was the first time I visited Barry, you were allowed to climb up and play on them. What would the Health & Safety bods make of that today?

A good friend of mine suggested that I should make a programme about the yard and volunteered his expert knowledge. Great idea I thought, so I casually posted about the notion on social media, to see if I could flush out some personal recollections. I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of engagement.

How wrong could I have been. It seems that everyone has a story about Dai Woodham’s locomotive scrap yard.

I heard how children used to climb up the front of the first locomotive in a line, down the chimney into the boiler then through the cab and out the back, onto the front of the next one and so on, to see if they could clear the whole line without touching the ground. I heard how amateur film makers used to light fires next to the cabs and fan the flames so billows of smoke would swirl past them, so it looked on the film like they were driving a steam engine. Even if the one they were in didn’t even have any wheels.

Lots of people had stories about how pragmatic Dai was when it came to pricing. One person told me that he found a small green engine on the yard. He fell in love with it. But it was boxed in on all sides by far bigger locomotives, some of which were missing wheels. He asked Dai ‘how much?’ Dai looked at the engine, looked at the others around it and with an air of ambivalence said ‘£60 – if you can get it out”.

I also heard from the relatives of the great man himself and a lady who worked at the yard for most of her life. They told me about all the preservation societies who would come to the yard in their droves. Their mission? To buy locomotives to restore. Even the BBC TV’s kids programme Blue Peter came to buy one. And of course, the back story of the most famous locomotive of all – the Hogwarts Express. How the old GWR Haul Class 460 engine made its way from Barry Sidings to the silver screen.

When you think about it, nostalgia has always been the currency of Dai Woodham’s. People harking back to the golden age of steam are what kept the business viable for over 30 years. And now the yard is gone the institution itself is the stuff of relived memories.

Incidentally, I did make the programme. It will be broadcasted on Bro Radio FM on Monday 25th September 2023 after the 7pm news. But if the date and transmitter range are a barrier to you enjoying it, it is also available to watch on my YouTube channel at #like and subscribe.

Moving a 100 ton locomotive is a delicate operation – which did not always go smoothly.

If you want to know more about Dai Woodham’s scrap yard there is a fantastic article from the Western Mail archives you might be interested in. Just follow this link.

If you want to know more about Graham Loveluck-Edwards, the producer of this video, follow this one.

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The Glamorgan County Lunatic Asylum

In the 19th century a series of hospitals were built near Bridgend – specifically Glanrhyd, Parc and Penyfai. They were all part of the institution known as the Glamorgan Asylum. But what went on there? Is it the place of horrors so many of us imagine?

We have probably all heard stories that these were places where families dumped unruly children or unmarried mothers. And that once you went in, you never came out. Is there any truth in these suggestion?

It seems there are a lot of urban myths which have been spun down the years, about these places. Some of the people involved with running them were quite visionary in their approach. Others however, were bordering on barbaric. And a lot of personal tragedies can be found amongst the stories of people who were supposedly treated there.

So to find out what the real history is behind all the myths and horror stories I interviewed Louvain Rees (better know as the blogger Hello Historia) who has done extensive research into this institution and the patients and people who worked there.

This programme was first broadcast on Bro Radio on Monday 28th August 2023 and the link below plays a video of the recording. It is an episode from the series ‘History on your doorstep’. Written, presented and published by Welsh author and historian; Graham Loveluck-Edwards. Author of several titles including; Monica; the Historic Pubs of Wales and the ‘Legends and Folklore of Bridgend and the Vale’ series of books which are published by Candy Jar Books LTD (Cardiff). In this series of short videos, I examine a moment or place in Welsh history focussing predominantly on Glamorgan and especially the counties of Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan. I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please subscribe to the channel and share them on social media.

The Glamorgan Asylum video on my YouTube channel

The video is a discussion about the origins of this institution, the ethos behind it with notes on some of the people who worked there. We also look at some of the stories of the patients who were ‘treated’ there.

Graham Loveluck-Edwards and Louvain Rees talk about the Glamorgan Asylum
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The dark truth behind nursery rhymes & lullabies.

We sing them to our children because they have jaunty little tunes, and seem to be full of fluffy imagery and childhood innocence. But a lot of them, on closer examination, are pretty dark. They are about some of the most brutal and unsavoury episodes in our history. Disease, death, religious intolerance, war and torture.   It’s no wonder babies don’t sleep through the night.   So I have made a video which reveals the shocking truth about them.

You will discover, they were certainly not intended for children

In this video we answer the burning questions which must have been bothering you all these years. Questions like;

Why is rock-a-bye baby in a tree top?
What was growing in Mary Mary Quite Contrary’s garden?
Why did Goosey Goosey gander throw an old man down the stairs?
How did Humpty Dumpty fall off the wall?
Why do we all fall down in the Ring-a-ring-a-rosies?
Why was Jack Horner so pleased with his plumb?

We also look at the reason these stories were given such chirpy and memorable songs and why the essence of the stories behind them were condensed down to such simple stanzas. It was in short, a very simple form of propaganda.

I hope you enjoy the video. Just click below to watch it in full and feel free to subscribe to this YouTube channel if you have not already done so.

The dark truth behind nursery rhymes and lullabies video

Let me give you a flavour of one of these supposedly innocent, children’s, nursery rhymes.

Are you familiar with Humpty Dumpty? And do you like countless millions believe this to be a song about an egg? Oh contraire! If you are not familiar with it, here is a video. The main thing to note here though is the lyrics, and they go like this:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again 

The only reason people think this nursery rhyme is about an egg is because of a very famous illustrated, children’s story and song book from the nineteenth century. In it, the illustrator decided to depict Humpty as an egg. They did so without any integrity.    

Humpty Dumpty was a killing machine. The absolute pinnacle of military engineering of its day.   This was during the English Civil War which raged on from 1642 to 1651 between the “Cavaliers” who were  loyal to the king and the “roundheads” who were republicans revolting to overthrow the monarchy in Britain. The Cavaliers had commissioned a huge siege cannon that supposedly combined the mobility of a small cannon with the fire power of a big one. It was not particularly portable as it was so vast and made out of iron. However, if you had enough horses and men, you could transport it to where it was needed, mount it on a stone wall (as anything less substantial than that would be destroyed by its recoil) and rain hell upon your enemy with the fire power of a fixed cannon. During a siege, when you were held inside a walled town or a castle, you never knew where your enemy might attack from so fixed cannons though powerful could be outflanked by a smart enemy. With this thing though, they had fire power wherever they needed it.   As is often the case with big guns, the army had a jokey nick name for it and in this case,  it was called “Humpty Dumpty”. I have to confess; I don’t know why.

During the siege of Colchester in 1648, Humpty was hauled with some difficulty, onto the top of the church tower of St Mary on the walls. Once they managed to get it up there it proved to be phenomenally successful and for 11 weeks it thundered down on the attacking “Roundheads”, blowing up everything in its range killing hundreds of men.  

The roundheads knew that the only way they were going to subdue their enemy was if they took out this monstrous weapon, but on the battlefield,  they had nothing that could match it for range or firepower. Eventually they managed to explode charges in the walls of the church tower itself which sufficiently weakened the structure to make it incapable of supporting this vast weapon. It broke free of the masonry that had been supporting it and tumbled over the town walls and landed barrel downward in a marsh. Because of its tremendous weight, it sunk into the ground, embedding itself to such a point that no matter how many men and horses were deployed to retrieve it, they could not pull it free.

And that is how Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and why all the king’s horses and king’s men could not put him together again.

To be fair that one is not particularly dark. You should read the back story to ‘Rock-a-bye-baby’ though. That one really is dark!

If you want to watch more of my videos, my channel can be found at If you are interested in books on history, legend and folklore, please visit my online bookshop.

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New book out in October | ‘Monica’

I am excited and at the same time, intrepid about the release of my latest book.

So, what’s it about you may well ask?

Well in summary, it charts the movement of a family across Europe as they try to escape from war but who inadvertently keep getting caught up in it. They start off in Poland, settle in France, then some of the men go to fight in Spain, then France,  Africa, Italy, France again and eventually Germany. Then after the war end up in Pontypridd. Meanwhile the women of the family try and maintain some semblance of normality in the wake of disappearances, food shortages and the oppression of living in an occupied country.

The central character and narrator of the story is a character called Monica Devilliers. Her story begins by charting the unique set of circumstances that led to the family ending up in France in the first place. It introduces the reader to each member of her family of larger-than-life characters and the part they played within the family and her upbringing. It also covers what it was like day to day, living under occupation for a family of ordinary working-class people. All of whom were quite resourceful.

Her father and uncle managed to get out of France, and both fought in the Polish Free Army. A perspective of World War II which is rarely told so the book also deals with what they had to face and the impact it had on the war and more significantly on them as individuals.   We also get to relive what it was like for a 10-year-old girl to come to Britain for the first time after the war and somehow make a new life for herself in the mining communities around Pontypridd and Caerphilly in South Wales, and how she used her academic capabilities to escape everything that entrapped her.

So why the intrepidation?

Well as much as this might sound like a whim of fantasy, the fact is, this is a true story and 90% of what you read in this book, no matter how spectacular, actually happened. The other reason for the sleepless nights, is that unlike my folklore and history books where I am recording the fruits of research, on this occasion I have some skin in the game. Because the life of Monica is based on the memoirs of my own mother. And the revelations in this book lay bare to the world not just a lot of interesting and amusing stories but also a lot of skeletons and scandals.

So why have I written about them?

Good question. And I need to pause for a moment before answering. There is an oft quoted maxim that runs at the heart of the answer. And that is; if every time you read about history you feel pride then you are not reading a very thorough history. In fact, it sounds like you might be reading propaganda. Yes, history contains lots of victories, successes and heroes. But they are all equally balanced by pain and disgrace and other things that are not quite so positive.Every family tries to hold up a veneer of respectability. But the truth is every family has its fair shares of alcoholics, depressives, criminals, and vagabonds. And I really mean EVERY family. So why would it come as a surprise to anyone that mine does too?

Having said that, I have changed every body’s name in this book so none of the characters share the name of who they are based on. I also may have merged a few relatives into one or attributed what happened to one person to another. Basically, because as much as I wanted to tell this story, I do not want to embarrass or humiliate any relatives or their descendants. And for that reason I moved a few villages to neighbouring villages too. Just to make sure.

If you want to know more about the book, and the stories, people, and history in it, I am holding a public event where I will discuss all and take questions from the audience. It will be held in Cowbridge Town Hall on Saturday 7th October 2023 starting at 6pm. Tickets are £5 each but that includes entry, a glass of wine and a buffet so pretty good value I’m sure you’ll agree. Tickets are available here.

The book is now available to buy here, and at Amazon and all good bookshops.

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The shared history of Wales and Brittany

Bonjour, good morning, bore da, and demat dit

Over the past few weeks I have been researching the many historic and cultural links between Wales and Brittany. Its shown me that we have a shared history going back to the Stone Age. I find is staggering how little people seem to know about it.

So I have made a film which pulls the lid off all this shared history, culture and language and explores the following in more depth:

  • Neolithic standing stones
  • The arrival of the Celts and the tribes who settled in both places
  • The language we share and why
  • The place names you find in both countries
  • The co operation between both nations in the wars against the Saxons in Briton and the Franks in France
  • The Welsh saints who established the Breton church
  • King Arthur’s place in both nation’s history
  • What we have to show for it all today

Across 30 minutes we visit the places where all the action happened and the sources of all this information.

I also should pre-warn you that there are some beautiful beaches and pretty towns filled with mediaeval architecture in this video which might promote a need to go on holiday – I can only apologise.

Feel free to share on social media, please please please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already and if you want to find out more about any of the places or stories featured in this video, then please scroll dwon past the video it self to where I have shared all you need to know.

Click above to watch the video about Wales and Brittany and their connections in history from King Arthur to Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Further Information on the places in this video

Hopefully you have enjoyed the content of this video, but I can understand if you are curious to know more about where it was filmed and the places mentioned.


Carnac appears several times in this video. The opening beach sequences were filmed on La Grande Plage De Carnac but I also feature shots of the Kerlescan Standing Stones and Dolmen. The stones at Carnac have made the area a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a bigger concentration of neolithic monuments in the area than anywhere else in Europe. If you visit, you will need to go the the visitor centre called ‘Maison de Megalithes’ where guided tours around the different sites can be organised. These days all the sites are fenced off so wandering about isn’t an option.

For more information click here to visit the Carnac Tourism website.

Other standing stones featured

In the item about standing stones I also featured standing stones in Trellech in Monmouthshire and at Pentre Ifan. Click on the hyperlinks to see more information on those places.


Vannes (or Gwened in Breton) is a beautiful, fortified medieval town and port in southern Brittany.

It was named after the Venetti tribe who the Romans described as being the inhabitants of the area before the Roman invasion.

From a vistors perspective the town is very picturesque with loads of nice bars and restaurants. The old town walls are something special. For more information visit the toursim website by clicking here.

Places associated with Welsh Saints

Iles de St Cado is near the town of Belz in southern Brittany. It is where St Cadoc is remembered for his part in establishing the church in Brittany. You can get more information by clicking here.

I also featured the story of St Teilo and of St Gildas and included footage of the churches which now stand on the site of the medieval monastery at Llantwit Major and the Abbey and Llancarfan. Click on the links in blue in this paragraph for more information on each.

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19th Century Welsh insurrection

Between 1830 and 1844 unrest amongst the industrial workers and farmers in Wales tipped over into riot and uprising. Nineteenth Century South Wales was a tinderbox of revolt. Industrialists were making fortunes in coal and steel but their workers were treated terribly. Living conditions were inhospitable and a breeding ground for cholera and other killer diseases.

High rents and low pay (not in cash but issued in tokens which could only be spent in the shops owned by their employers) made these people little more than slaves. And the introduction of credit and debt bound the working people still further to their employers and land owners.

Outside the industrialised areas things were no better. Welsh farmers and people living in rural areas were being bled by taxes and tythes and on the back of several poor harvests they found themselves on the brink of starvation. Something had to give. And the birth of new political ideas fuelled a number of uprisings.

The Merthyr Rising in 1831, the Rebecca Riots and the Newport Chartist Rising both starting in 1839. But what caused the rebellions? How did they start? Who was behind them? How did the establishment react? What has been their legacy?

In conversation, Graham Loveluck-Edwards and Mark Lawson-Jones pull back the layers of these events and their consequences. And as ever, especially for viewers in the Vale of Glamorgan, there is a tenuous local link. Watch below to find out what it is.

First broadcast June 2023 on Bro Radio.

The Merthyr Rising, The Rebecca Riots and The Chartists March on Newport all took place in the 1830s in Wales
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A history of Porthkerry Church

This was a talk given by historian and author Graham Loveluck-edwards on 10th June 2023 entitled; the cult, the Baron, the Captain and the drowned man. It is a history of the site of the church at Porthkerry. It was delivered in St Curigs Church Porthkerry as part of the Llandaff Diocese Churches Unlocked Festival 2023 and was attended by approximately 60 guests.

The talk spans the earliest signs of life on the site which are contemporary with an Iron Age hilfort on one side and the remains of a Celtic roundhouse on the other. It’s earliest history is also linked to an old legend about Ceri, a relative of the legendary tribal king Caradog who governed the area after the Roman occupation and maintained a naval fleet ion the old port (now long gone).

In this talk I also discuss:

  1. The twelfth Century reference to a. Priest in the location
  2. The three stages of building at the church dating back to the 13th century
  3. Lost features of the church building
  4. The discovery of a skeleton and chalice under he arch and who it might have been
  5. The restoration carried out by the Romillys and who Sir Samuel Romilly and the Baron Edward Romilly were
  6. The bell tower and the Lewis family
  7. The 16 foot cross with its intricate carvings now lost for ever
  8. The visits by John Wesley and the link with Fontygary
  9. The war diary of a Rhoose farmer whose family is remembered
  10. The tomb of the Portrey family
  11. The Marian cult
  12. The grave of the unnamed drowned man
  13. The grave of the German Naval Captain and inventor

If you know this old church, this is everything you ever wanted to know and more. For website for the parish can be found at I also wrote about the Marian Cult in my book Legends and Folklore of Bridgend and the Vale available here.

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Glamorgan turnpike, tolls & riots.

The British road network in the Seventeenth Century was a disgrace. When a gentleman of South Wales was asked in parliament on the state of the local roads he replied ‘we ride around in ditches’.

In Glamorgan, the principal arterial road running from east to west was the Via Julia Maritima; the Roman road, built in the Antonine period to link up the forts at Gloucester, Caerleon, Cardiff and Neath. To an extent it still is as its course is now loosely followed by the A48. In the Eighteenth Century it was clear to observe that there had not been much in the way of maintenance done since the Romans had left. It was in a terrible state.

One of the more famous casualties of the state of this road (in folklore at least) was Richard Cromwell. The son of Oliver Cromwell; Lord Protector. Richard Cromwell was known to be very close to Colonel Philip Jones of Fonmon Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan and the story goes that after a very boozy lunch at Fonmon, he was heading home to London along the Roman Road. His coach struck a pothole with such a jolt that the impact threw him from his seat and out onto the road. Hence the nickname “Tumble-Down-Dick” and the stretch of road ever since known as ‘The Tumble’. A steep hill west of Culverhouse Cross near Cardiff.

With copies of the old Carmarthen to Cardiff Stage Coach timetables and a bit of simple arithmetic we can calculate that the average pace of traffic along this road was just 4 mph. Although to be fair, that sort of speed might seem aspirational if you have ever approached the Brynglas Tunnels on the modern day M4 .

So the solution came from an act of parliament. The first one being passed in 1663 to permit the formation of a ‘turnpike’ called ‘the Great North Road’ which ran between Wadesmill in Hertfordshire and Stilton in Huntingdonshire. Clearly the people of Wadesmill could not get cheese fast enough before 1663! Soon the model was replicated all over the country. Turnpike trusts were established which were non profit making organisations who co-ordinated the collection of tolls and the distribution of funds to engineers and contractors for the building, maintenance and repair of the roads. They did this on behalf of land owners, community councils and the church who owned the land the roads ran across.

The name ‘turnpike’ is derived from the name given to the gates which were erected across the roads at toll houses. People had to stop at these gates, pay for passage to the next one, and then ‘the pike would be turned and the gate opened’. These gates have now all gone, but many of the old toll houses still remain. Here is a selection from across the old county of Glamorgan.

Glamorgan Toll Houses

  • West Gate toll house Cowbridge
  • Penarth Road toll house Cardiff
  • Old town toll house Llantrisant
  • Llandaff toll house
  • Bridge keepers lodge Tongwynlais
  • Talbot Road toll house Llantrisant
  • Cimla Road toll house, Neath
  • Newcastle Hill toll house, Bridgend
  • The Castle Hotel Toll Hose, Derwen Road, Bridgend

There are many people who equate the scale and success of the industrial revolution in Britain to the improvements made to our road system through these schemes. It undoubtedly led to big improvements in productivity as people, materials and goods became able to move around the country quicker and easier. By the time the last act of parliament was passed in 1836, there had been 942 Acts for new turnpike trusts in England and Wales. By then, turnpikes covered around 22,000 miles of road, about a fifth of the entire road network.

Where were the Glamorgan Turnpikes?

The Via Julia Maritima became the template for The Glamorgan Turnpike in 1764 but work on rebuilding and re-routing continued for the best part of the next 100 years. For example the old 15th Century bridge in Bridgend was totally inadequate for 18th century traffic but it was not until 1821 that the trust laid the foundations of the ‘new’ bridge crossing the Ogmore at Bridgend. The improvements also involved the introduction of milestones many of which are still around like the example here which stands in Bridgend town centre. As you can see from the date stamp. These were introduced in 1836.

I’ve always loved this particular one. I love the regency style arches and flourishes. The information is also useful. It tells travelers that they are in Bridgend Town & District, that this section (at the bottom of Caroline Street) was part of the parish of Coity, also the distance to Pyle to the west and Cowbridge to the east, as well as London for those making the two day trip to the capital.

This of course was not the only turnpike. The roads were graded by importance. The old Roman Road was the principal road. The one used by post and stage coaches and the one used for longer distance travel. However there were other turnpike roads to carry local traffic north into the industrialised valleys. You will note from this map, that except for Dinas Powys (where the street name for the road concerned is still called Old Turnpike Road) there is nothing else in the Vale of Glamorgan south of the Roman Road.


The tolls charged would fluctuate dramatically and this was part of the reason why they became such a subject for hatred. Especially here in Wales.

In the industrialised areas, ordinary people were being squeezed from all sides. Low wages, high rents, taxes and church tythes took their own toll. In rural areas these same issues were confounded with a run of poor harvests in the early 19th Century which drove crippling rural poverty. Having to pay to travel by road was the last straw. Especially as costs would rack up if you were transporting livestock as the example here from the Cefnglas Gate north of Bridgend demonstrates.

These were the seeds of dissent which blew up in the form of the Rebecca Riots in 1839, although most of that action took place in rural Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys.

The Rebecca Riots

It all started with the tollgate at Efailwen between Whitland and St Clears on the Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire border. An attack was led by a man with a blackened face, wearing a wig and women’s clothes, astride a white horse and waving a sword. The stirring figure of ‘Rebecca’. There was a great deal of irony intended in the protestor’s getup: women traveling alone were exempt from paying a toll. The name Rebecca, meanwhile an allusion to the most beautiful woman in the Old Testament (her name becoming the Hebrew word for ‘alluring’) had its own barbed significance when applied to a big burly bloke in a dress. If such figurative subtleties registered with the turnpike trustees, we will never know. But they couldn’t have missed the protestors destroying the toll gate and attacking the toll collector.

Shortly after this first attack, a new tollgate was placed near the Mermaid Tavern in St Clears, on November 18th 1842. This new imposition upon the locals became the site of a four-month battle between the rioters and the authorities. The mob’s modus operandi remained consistent throughout: they would descend without warning, led by the figure of Rebecca, before just as quickly disappearing into the night. There are claims that their numbers reached as many as 100 men, armed with scythes and billhooks.

Police and troops were called in to help protect the gates, but Rebecca and her daughters were consistently one step ahead of the law. Here in Glamorgan, we had a Police force, which they didn’t have in Carmarthenshire at the time. It was Glamorgan police who were sent west to deal with the uprising. But pretty soon, the unrest started to head east towards them. On 6th September 1843 a crowd of over 100 descended onto Pontarddulais near Swansea. Chief Constable Charles Napier of the Glamorgan Constabulary however had been tipped off to expect trouble and lay in wait with his own men and a battalion of infantrymen. Shots were fired, 7 people were arrested and they were tried at the Cardiff Assizes.

Two ring leaders were identified, both Glamorgan men. Their names were John Jones and David Davies both inhabitants of Pontyberem. They were sentenced to seven years transportation. At their trial it was established beyond a reasonable doubt that the two had been present at the riot at Hendy Toll Gate where the toll collector, Sarah Davies an elderly lady of 75 years was killed.

The more I find out about these two men the more incredulous I am that they were friends as they were very different people with very different backgrounds.

The nature of John Jones meant his involvement in an act of riot and insurrection would not have come as much of a surprise to anyone. He was originally from Merthyr Tydfil where he was known to be “a heavy drinker”. He had laboured for many years in the copper works at Pontyberem, then he became a soldier. After leaving the army, for a brief period he made a living as a prize fighter.

David Davies also lived in Pontyberem and was a coal miner but he like Jones was not born locally. He was born in Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan where he had been a farm labourer. Unlike Jones, he was not a drunkard nor a fighter. In fact he was quite an artistic person who wrote poetry. He was also a lay preacher in the Weslyan chapel. So what on earth these two men had sufficiently in common to form a friendship is beyond me? It just goes to show what a uniting influence 19th century insurrection was in Wales. Because, let’s face it, we had the Merthyr Rising, The Rebecca Riots and the Chartists Revolt all in the space of a decade.

Funnily enough if you want to hear more about that, I am broadcasting a radio show about Welsh 19th Century insurrection on Monday 19th June 2023 at 7pm on Bro Radio. But if you can’t wait till then (or if you’re reading this after 19th and you missed it) it is available now on my YouTube channel at And why not subscribe while you’re there?

The protests came to an end in 1844, partly because a Commission of Inquiry was set up to reform the Turnpike Trusts, but mainly because the introduction of railways meant that the turnpikes had lost their monopoly on the movement of people and goods around the country.

If you want to read more on what it was like traveling around Wales by road in the 18th century, I dedicated quite a lot to the subject in my book Historic Pubs of Wales (which is available from all good book shops in paperback and as a Kindle download)

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Porthkerry History Talk 2pm 10th June 2023

🎤 Graham Loveluck-Edwards
📍 Porthkerry Church CF62 3BZ
🗓 Saturday 10th June
🕰 2.00-3.00pm
💰 Free

The picturesque little white washed church of St Curig in Porthkerry has a fascinating history dating back to the 13th Century. And the site has more than likely been one of spiritual significance since pre-history.

In this talk I will be walking you through all that history talking about the stages of build, the stained glass windows, the connection to John Wesley, and the clues that a secretive cult, considered heretical for many centuries has been rife here. I will also be talking about some of the fascinating people remembered or buried there.

  • Free entry and open to all who are interested
  • Teas, coffees and refreshments available
  • Parking close by
  • The talk is accompanied by slides
  • Q&A
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Owain Glyndwr and the siege of Coity Castle

It is May 1404. Pretty much the whole of Wales is now involved in the Owain Glyndwr revolt as he fights his war of independence. Cardiff is in flames, and just north of Bridgend in Glamorgan, Coity Castle, the home of Sir Lawrence Berkerolles is under siege. A siege which lasts for nearly 2 years – the longest of the entire conflict.

But what do we know of this battle? Why was Coity so important it warranted a two year siege? Who was fighting on behalf of the King of England at Coity and who was fighting for Glyndwr? What was the role of Ogmore Castle and Ewenny Priory and why were those places left in ruins? And the local families at the heart of the action; the Flemings, Berkerolles and Turbervilles, as well as Prince Hal (the future Henry V), Parliament and Owain Glyndwr himself.

In this video I discuss these events with Claire Miles (the history blogger – Hisdoryan). We talk about the origins and causes of Glyndwr’s revolt, his vision for Wales and England, the Triparteid Indenture with Mortimer and Percy, the role played by Henry IV and of course the sieges and battles of Glamorgan. We also look at the tell tale scars in the local landcsape and local buildings that show the evidence of the siege.

And we look at Glyndwr himself. Who he was, his modern legacy, how his revolt got off the ground, how it succeeded for so many years and then ultimately failed. And what was it about him that made him such a charismatic figure, a man William Shakespear described as extraordinary. In his play Henry IV (Part one) Shakespear’s characterisation of Glyndwr says this about himself:

“At my birth the front of heaven was full of fiery shapes…

These signs have marked me extraordinary.

And all the courses of my life do show

I am not in the role of common men”

For further reading, there is a chapter on the Battle of Stalling down in my book; Legends and folklore of Bridgend and the Vale