My Aunt, Myfanwy James, nee Roberts, recalls her early days in Dolgarrog.



Click here to see Cathrine's lovely selection of harp playing on YOUTUBE



I was born in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Merionethshire.

I'm pictured here on my mother's knee, sister Betty on the left.

Some of my memories of those days include the following items;

The town's men would walk to the slate quarries, with others joining them on route. They would blast the slate from the rock, but had to purchase their own dynamite to undertake the task. 

I remember my Aunty Annie dying of throat cancer. There was little treatment available in those days and people could not afford to pay for radium treatment.

A local tragedy involved a friend of mine, Eizabeth, or Betty James and her mother, who were murdered by Betty's father.


We moved to live at 26 Gwydr Road, Dolgarrog, and I recall sitting around the fire listening to my parents, Owen John and Sarah Michell Roberts talking about their early days, particularly my father, about Cae Merddyn, Penmon.

His brother Joseph had married a Boer lady after the Boer War, and returned to live in Penmon. They both died in their thirties, and their children Joseph and Madge, were raised by my grandparents at Cae Merddyn. Madge died of cancer on her 25th birthday.

Another brother, Charles Goodman Roberts, emigrated to America, and we were told that he had died of pneumonia over there. The truth however, was more sinister. He committed suicide at his Aunt Lizzie's home.

Charles' sister Aunty Kate who lived at Park Terrace. Llangoed suffered badly with depression, probably trying to cope with the reality of her brother Charles' death.

My father's eldest sister Maggie, was visited by a Revivalist minister when she had tuberculosis and her health improved slightly. She sadly had a relapse and died aged 20. Chapels were full. Meetings and services were held in fields to accommodate people to hear 'the Revivalist message'. People were healed, drunkards became sober, and sober people became drunkards! The Revival seemed to leave Wales as quickly as it came.


My mother told us about the days of her youth and read items or told us about events from papers such as the News Chronicle. There was not much radio then. We were told about the discovery of Tutenkhamun's tomb by Lord Caernarfon, and the curse of the tomb which resulted in a lot of untimely deaths of those invovled in the discovery.

I remember the story of the Titanic sinking having collided with an iceberg. A ship saw them in distress but thought they were having a party, and did not go their aid.

The Battle of the Somme was in my mothers lifetime.


As a child, I read a lot, and my mother used to urge me to  go out into the sunshine to play. Games we played included a bat and ball in our porch, rounders in the old road, and later tennis in the courts, not far from our home.

I'm on the right with Jean, Betty and Eric.

I was a member of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, (Welsh League of Youth) and we met at the Neuadd Coffa, Talybont (Memorial Hall). 

As a member of Dolgarrog Sunday School and Chapel in Tal y Bont, we went to the Gymanfa Ganu at Seion Chapel, Llanrwst. There would be a big parade walking through Llanrwst with banners being paraded in the streets. We had tea in Gwydr Cafe and then back to  Seion for the evening service.

Dad taught us verses from the Bible to read in Chapel on Sundays, which was very well attended. I understand that only about half a dozen or so go to Chapel in Talybont now. We enjoyed going on Sunday School trips to Rhyl, Dad having once again cleaned our shoes the night before.   

My sister Jean is on the swing with Betty on the left.

Form III B Llanrwst Grammar School c 1941
I'm 4th from the right, in the 2nd row from the top

I attended Llanrwst Grammar School from 1938, taking a bus from Dolgarrog every day. I got on well with a policeman's son, David Jones who later conducted the Llandudno choir. I understand he died at a young age.

We walked to Llyn Cowlyd and Llyn Eigiau above Dolgarrog. The approach to them was better from nearby Trefriw.

We went to Anglesey by bus for our holidays, changing in Bangor. Dad worked additional hours at the Aluminium Works during their fortnight's holiday period, cleaning the dirty machinery and equipment, and get paid double for us to go on holiday and to buy winter clothes. 

Taid, Charles Goodman Roberts, would go fishing and we had fresh fish to  eat. He would recite poems by Robert Burns although Taid didn't speak a lot of English. 


Dolgarrog was described as an English village in the Heart of Wales, due to the influx of workers from different areas. During the Second World War, Aluminium works' Head Office staff came to  the area, inceasing the English population there.

We had air raid practices and we all had designated houses to attend for shelter.   We listened to Lord Haw Haw and his propaganda messages on the radio. Dad built an air raid shelter just outside our kitchen.

Evacuees arrived in Dolgarrog from Liverpool and our Aunty Annie read Old Testament stories to them.


Jean on the left, with Betty. I'm standing.

Myfanwy standing right with sister Jean left, Betty seated with father Owen John mother Sarah Michell and brother Eric.

In 1948, my sister Betty married Canadian Air Force Pilot Alvin Gaetz, and I recall going with her to the ship Letitia, as she was about to set sail to Canada. While I was on board with Betty, a message came over the tannoy. "We have 20 girls going to Canada, but we have 21 on board. Will the one person please leave!" So I left! 

Finally, I recall a singer being introduced as 'Myfanwy Roberts of the Conway Valley'. I had great pleasure in going up to her later and introduce myself also, as 'Myfanwy Roberts of the Conway Valley'




And finally.........

Dr Joseph Parry

Composer of some of Wales' most well-known hymn tunes, such as Myfanwy and Aberystwyth.

 Click here to hear MYFANWY by Joseph Parry