Road shows

The Senedd, Cardiff Bay  29th January 2008

Llanelli  – 22nd February

Monmouth – 6th March

Dolgellau – 18th March

Swansea Waterfront Museum – 19th April

Newport – 16th May

Caernarvon – 28th June

Blaenavon – 24th July

Haverfordwest – 13th September

Aberystwyth – 11th October

Llandrindod Wells – 1st November

Carmarthen – 29th November

Mold – 9th January 2009

Pontypridd – 28th February

Wrexham – 28th March

Llangefni – 25th April

Merthyr Tydfil – 16th June


On the last day of January the 13th Roadshow in our series of 17 was held in North-East Wales. The county town of Mold had been selected as the most suitable location being a bustling market town and accessible for most of Flintshire and parts of Denbighshire. The venue was the English Methodist Church which provided a warm welcome and practical help, as well as a substantial hall, foyer and coffee lounge in which to hold our event.  

The Roadshow was ready to roll by 11.00 am, with a very full hall of expectant visitors.  Professor Deirdre Beddoe, President of the Women’s Archive of Wales, introduced our special guest in her own inimitable fashion, touching on Sandie Mewies’ background, and her contribution, both as a woman and a politician.  Sandie Mewies, AM for Delyn, spoke with warmth and wit about the importance she attaches to the work being done by WAW via the roadshows.

In addition to those taking part, about 70 people attended the Roadshow, with a substantial number of them wanting to discuss items they had brought along with our attendant specialists;  in addition to Deirdre Beddoe, these included Catrin Stevens, historian and author and a member of WAW’s planning group, Claire Harrington, principal archivist for Flint Record Office, with Jenny Sabine, WAW Secretary, on deposits, and Mark Allen, also from Flint Record Office being on hand to explain the different methods of storing historical documents so that they don’t deteriorate.  Technical assistance was provided  by WAW staff and volunteers, as was front-of-house meeting and greeting, a vital role in the successful running of a Roadshow.

Whilst waiting their turn to talk to the specialists, the visitors were provided with Fair Trade refreshments prepared by members of the local Mold group of Merched y Wawr in the coffee lounge, and had mental stimulus in the form of two very able and interesting speakers.

The first was Mary Roberts from nearby Treuddyn, well-known  for her role in local education, who spoke about Lady Ruth Herbert Lewis from Caerwys, and her substantial contribution to the preservation Wales’ rich musical tradition as one of the pioneers of folk song collecting, later becoming the secretary and president of the Welsh Folk Song Society.

In complete contrast, the second talk was by Professor Cynthia Burek of the University of Chester. Professor Burek is a geologist by training and has the distinction of being the first Professor of Geoconservation in the world.  She has researched women in science, and has recently coedited a volume on the role of women in the history of geology.  Her title at the Roadshow was ‘The Role of Women in the Development of Geology in Wales’.  Both talks were well-attended and high praise was expressed regarding the interesting material covered.

Also available to interest our Roadshow visitors were a number of displays in the main hall.  David Rowe of the Mold Civic Society attracted a great deal of interest with his collection of electronic local archives. David had selected approximately 300 images pertaining to the women of Flintshire, and these were available for viewing, supported by the encyclopaedic local history that David holds at his fingertips.  Many visitors took advantage of  the opportunity to have a look at the archived images and this will hopefully benefit the Civic Society in attracting more contributions to their site.

Also the Clwyd-Flint Federation of WI’s and the regional group of Merched y Wawr both brought substantial displays of their crafts and histories to enhance the hall, and share with visitors, and Nia Wyn Jones of the Flint Library Service brought along a fascinating display about local women of note.

WAW fundraiser, Angela Brunt, brought her stall of Valentine cards, chocolate and other goodies to ensnare the passing visitor.

Mold Roadshow attracted many worthwhile deposits to the WAW collection, in fact the largest number at any Roadshow to date, which will be preserved at the relevant record office.Amongst the highlights of the material brought in were the diaries of Florence M.E. Davies from Nercwys in Flintshire, who practised as a doctor in China from 1928 to 1939, even though she had not qualified. The diary vividly describes her life in China and in Wales, and discusses her views on politics, the local flora and fauna, and in particular her many friendships with women during this period.  This fascinating document was discovered by Sylvia Jones and Alison Proctor of Holywell in a second hand bookshop, and deposited as part of the WAW collection.

Also deposited was the will of Jane Davies from the parish of Hope in Flintshire, dated September 1793. Jane Davies was a widow, and apparently such wills are relatively scarce.  She signed her name with a cross, which presumably means that she was unable to write.  It has references to leaving her feather bed and corner cupboard to various relatives, which makes for very touching reading.  Somewhat less touching was the photograph brought by Iola Wyn Jones of her aunt Kitty with gun in hand having shot two bears in northern India during the 1920’s.  She had married Mr Dickson-Abbot who was employed laying tram tracks in India at that time, and apparently lived a very different life to her previous life in Wales

Kitty Dickson-Abbot during her life in northern India

Closer to home, Rhiannon Griffiths brought in testimony of her own involvement in various societies active in Mold during the 1940’s, such as the Red Cross and St. John, the Urdd and Baptist Sunday School.  She deposited a programme for plays presented by pupils of Mold Council School to raise money for Red Cross parcels during the latter part of the Second World War, and another for the ‘Victory Garden Week’ held by the Red Cross which included a ‘Ladies Ankle Competition’ presumably for the most shapely, with silk stockings as the prize.

Ruby Roberts brought in a number of documents pertaining her family, including the certificate awarded to her grandmother, Amina Rowlands, one of 12 children, who trained as a nurse in Liverpool between 1881 and 1884, and was amongst the first to wear the District Nurse’s uniform as she worked in the slums of Liverpool at that time.

The examples give a taste of the variety and scope of the documents brought to Mold Roadshow, and testify to its success.

Rhiannon Gomer

Field Officer for North and West Wales

Extract from Florence Davies' diary while a doctor in China

Amina Rowlands' nursing certificate