ABERYSTWYTH ROADSHOW - 11 October, 2008 – Canolfan y Morlan
The second weekend of October saw the Women’s History Roadshow team, specialists
and members descend on Canolfan y Morlan in Aberystwyth for the tenth event of the
project . Canolfan y Morlan proved to be a good choice of venue, being attractive,
central, and well-known locally.
The Roadshow at Aberystwyth was linked to two other events over the same weekend,
and timed to complement them, i.e. Ceredigion Local History Forum’s conference
on the Saturday morning, and the AMC/WAW annual conference on the Sunday. The general
view seemed to be that the whole weekend’s activities were a success. Attendance
numbers at the Forum’s conference benefitted greatly from the presence of WAW members
and personnel, the Roadshow talk given by Carol Byrne-Jones was packed due to the
interest shown by Forum members, and the general buzz created was beneficial to
the atmosphere during the Roadshow.
As organiser, I was very pleased that Sue Jones-Davies, the new Mayor of Aberystwyth,
was able to open our roadshow, and her warm support and endorsement of WAW’s raison
d’etre were much appreciated. Sue Jones-Davies herself has had an interesting and
varied career on stage and in films, and feels strongly that to lose our history
as women is to lose our essence and identity. She said: “Having portrayed individual
and individualistic women on stage and screen for a living, it seems to me vital
that we are all aware of the danger of losing the sources of our history to skips
and indifference. One way of guarding against this is to visit the Women’s Archive
Roadshows, and to do so laden with material to show and deposit.”
Apart from Catrin, the other specialists at Aberystwyth were Helen Thomas, with Jenny
Sabine and Avril Rolph handling deposits, and Pamela Small from the National Library
giving advice on the best ways of conserving and preserving documents at home. Culturenet
Cymru supported each specialist by scanning the material brought in their usual professional
manner. Luned Meredith and Gail Allen greeted each new arrival and ensured they
filled in consent forms if they were intending to see one of the specialists about
items they had brought for examination.
Whilst they waited, visitors could partake of tea and cake dispensed by History Forum
volunteers, view a range of displays of historical material, watch the DVD about
the Archive’s work and aspirations, or indeed buy books from Honno’s well-stocked
stall, or Christmas gifts to support the Archive’s work from WAW member Angela Brunt.
Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press based in Aberystwyth (www.honno.co.uk) has recently
celebrated twenty years since its inception, and at the Roadshow, representatives
formally handed over some of its archives to the National Library of Wales within
the WAW collection. Said Luned Meredith, a founder member: “These archives document
how a small independent publishing company has been run, along co-operative lines,
for over 20 years now, and it’s essential that they be kept in a safe environment.”
In the 21 years since Honno Press’s first book, An Autobiography of Elizabeth Davies,
it has published the work of over 450 women and received many awards in recognition
of its efforts in getting Welsh women writers into print, many of whom have gone
on to become successful authors. Deirdre Beddoe, President of AMC/WAW describes
Honno as a “Welsh national treasure” which “continues to contribute magnificently
to the cultural history of women in Wales."
Sue is seen below being introduced by Catrin Stevens, core Archive member and specialist
Alyson Tyler representing Honno, handing over some of the company’s archives
to Sue Hamill and Rhiannon Gomer, from the Women’s Archive of Wales
One of the classic authors reprinted by Honno was Allen Raine, or Anne Adeliza Evans
from Castell Newydd Emlyn, who wrote a large number of romantic novels at the turn
of the 20th century and became one of the most popular authors of the time, selling
over a million copies of her books in Britain alone. Her stories were always based
in Wales, featuring the Cardiganshire coastal area around Tresaith and the town of
Newcastle Emlyn where she grew up. Carol Byrne-Jones, from Hanes Emlyn History Society
came along to the Roadshow with a substantial display of material illustrating the
life and work of this extraordinary author. She gave a fascinating talk to a packed
room on the topic - “Who was Allen Raine?”. For more information about this author,
see www.allenraine.com. Carol Byrne-Jones will also take the display to the Carmarthen
Roadshow on 29 November.
As well as the Honno archive, some of the other deposits at Aberystwyth were:
Photographs and other material relating to Mrs Megan J. Evans’ aunt, Anna Catherine
Jones, a teacher at Llanfihangel y Creuddyn.
Papers brought by Dr Mary Ellis – including correspondence between Dr Ellis and a
number of well-known women in public life in Wales which arose as a result of her
weekly column in ‘Y Cymro’ called ‘Tŷ Ni’
Uniform coat and dress of WRVS, c1950 belonging to Alis Llywelyn-Williams 1911-2005
(Caernarfonshire WRVS) brought in by Luned Meredith.
Other highlights amongst the material brought in by members of the public include:
Photographs and papers relating to Winifred Margaret Jones from Tregaron who went
to India between 1929 a 1934 as a missionary on behalf of the Calvinist Methodists.
Documented oral history which recounts the establishment of the ‘Playgroup Movement’
in Wales during the 1960’s
Records of Pauline Campbell’s campaign to reform the prison system following the
death of her daughter in prison.
Article from the magazine published by Pembroke Dock Grammar School which describes
the experiences of Ivy Webster (Ivy Garlick at that time) during her first term at
Cambridge University in 1949.
Aberporth WI ‘Record Book’– October 1947-1955
Various photographs from the 1920’s of a visitor’s mother playing golf and tennis.
Early images of women playing sports are quite rare.
Correspondence relating to Blodwen C Jones as one of the first female students to
enroll at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth including letters of introduction
from her tutors.