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The New Magazine for Mid-Wales

Taking Mid-Wales as its theme, these are the subjects to be covered by this new magazine, to be launched in the Spring.

  • History
  • Heritage
  • Traditional & Contemporary Culture
  • Biography
  • Autobiography
  • Fiction & Creative Writing

Everything in it will be written by and for the people of Mid-Wales.

Llanidloes based, the area covered in the first instance will be the valleys of the Hafren and the Wye, i.e. Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire as far south as Builth Wells.

One of the main features of PenCambria will be detailed reports from the Arwystli Society of Llanidloes. This is a cultural society with a very similar agenda, arranging outings and events with speakers who are both knowledgeable and entertaining with their presentations and talks, which are greatly enjoyed by the members.

All Mid-Wales societies of a similar nature will be invited to participate and it is greatly hoped that they will be keen to contribute.

Books, both non-fiction and fiction, published by local authors will be featured and there will be section devoted to fiction by Mid-Wales writers. New writers will be particularly encouraged.

Buildings and other places of interest will feature prominently with a look at the architecture, the history and traditions of an individual building in each issue.

Many interesting people or people with interesting lives live in or come from Mid-Wales and, as biography and autobiography, these will also feature strongly in the magazine.

The magazine will be word-based, non-glossy and black and white, although bearing these features in mind, illustrations may be included to enhance the text. All in all, it is a magazine aimed at people who like a good read.

Deadline for issue no. 1 is 28th February and for more information as regards submissions and subscriptions, etc, please see details on submitting an article.

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Synopses of articles - Issue 1

The Gaol-breakers of Presteigne · 15 February 05

With one gaoler and his wife to watch the 7 cells of Presteigne gaol, prisoners, their families and friends found it relatively easy to break out of gaol. However, with the advent of a second warden, who was an ex-prize fighter, things weren’t quite so straightforward for the would-be escapees. In this interview with Gay Roberts, Keith Parker tells us all abut the gaol-breakers of Presteigne and their fates as in his talk given at the Judge’s Lodgings on 9th February as part of his fund-raising activities for this Presteigne Museum.

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A Child’s Wartime in Wales · 15 February 05

Grenades on the top of the wardrobe, the billiard room ripped to pieces, his pet dog lost to the soldiers, Carol Davies was 6 years old when the Second World War was declared. His parents owned the Trewythen Arms Hotel in Llanidloes when it was taken over by the army. His remembrances of that period were very clear for him. As Living History, these are not military memoirs but the recollections of a child living through that time and whose priorities give a vivid picture of the town that, although not on the front line as such, nevertheless did undergo privations as a result of the conflict. These anecdotes were to be part of Carol’s autobiography. Unfortunately he died in December 2004 and because of all the help and encouragement he gave me in my historical and cultural pursuits in Mid-Wales, this first edition of PenCambria is dedicated to him. Gay Roberts.

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The Pantydwr Patient · 21 February 05

Diagnosed with cancer in November 2004, Jonathan Sleigh has just embarked on a course of treatment, which has brought him into dependence on the National Health Service – arguably the greatest 20th century contribution to Britain’s heritage – for the course of his treatment and recovery. An unusual perspective for a former civil servant, he decided to writean account of his experience of the NHS especially as it operates in Mid-Wales. As an element of biography, today’s diary is tomorrow’s primary resource and this should provide an interesting record for any historian researching these two interconnected subjects in the future.

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In Search of General Jones · 21 February 05

Even the most casual visitor to Llanidloes cannot have failed to remark the tall, distinctive red brick building that stands opposite the arcaded Town Hall on Great Oak Street. Doubtless, all will have read the name of the building, The Trewythen Arms Hotel, picked out in bold proud letters, which are in such marked contrast to the boarded up windows and otherwise decaying facade of this once noble structure, an hotel no more, but rather a symbol of a towen undergoing difficult times.

Perhaps the visitor will have read the plaque upon the wall of the building that makes mention of its role in the Chartist Riot of 1839, an event which, along with the longevity of the Old Market Hall, forms Llanidloes’ main claim to fame. A visit to the town museum may have enlightened the curious to the leading events of the Riot, but what else would they learn about the building and of the man resoinsible for its construction?

In this article in PenCambria No. 1, Nick Venti reviews our knowledge of the historical record of the building and goes in search of the enigmatic General Valentine Jones

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Newtown Museum · 21 February 05

The importance of urine cannot be overestimated in the economy of Newtown up to the 19th century. Newtown depended on the wool trade for centuries and urine was a vital element for cleaning fleeces and thickening the woven fabric. Newtown Museum traces the history of wool from the 3000 BC sheep to the 19th century cloth and with the aid of a video and model display, gives an insight into the life of a 19th century weaver and his family in Newtown at that time The museum is housed in a row of former weavers cottages that were bought for the purpose with lottery money and there are many fascinating artefacts of the period and a history which includes the extraordinary life of Thomas Price-Jone of the department store fame. Read about this in PenCambria No. 1

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The Mystery of Mathraval · 3 March 05

Towards the north-east part of old Montgomeryshire, on a spur of land overlooking the point at which the River Banwy joins the Vyrnwy to flow through the Vale of Meifod, sits an earthern mound a few metres high, adjacent to a low rectangular earthwork enclosure, now all grassed over. This all but forgotten place was, many centuries ago, known throughout the land as one of the three chief courts of Wales, the centre of the kingdom of Powys. stretching from Pumlumon in the west to almost to the gates of Chester. But the history of Mathraval is full of baffling problems and tantalising gaps. Here Dr. David Stephenson, a historiuan of medieval Wales seeks to shed light on its enigmatic story.

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Anchorage · 21 February 05

A re-union is not the happy, care-free event our nameless story-teller hopes it will be. Adrift on a sea of emotional despair, what hopes are there that a visit to the abbey ruins and the grave of an ancient Welsh hero will give his friend the inspiratinal grounding he craves? Find out in this beautiful and sensitive story by Tyler Keevil

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Blaidd Spirit · 21 February 05

(For those of you who do not know Welsh, “Blaidd” is pronounced “Blithe”)

There’s something lurking in the woods, and it is no Elvira. If only Madame Arcati had been on hand to forewarn… Prepared to be thrilled and chilled in this short but ingenious cautionary tale by Mid-Wales’ very own Matt Maus.

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About some of our writers & contributors this month · 21 February 05


Dr. Stephenson is an authority on Welsh Medieval History. He has a B.A., an M.A. and a Doctorate from Oxford University and he is a former Bowrie Senior Research Fellow from Wadham College, Oxford. He was Principal of Cambridge Seminars for 23 years. He is now Honorary Research Fellow in Welsh History at the University of Wales Bangor. He has had books published by Cambridge University, the University of Wales, Longmans etc. and articles in all leading Welsh history journals. He now lives in Llanidloes with his partner Jan, and we are very privileged to have him the team of PenCambria.


An ex-civil servant from London and Birmingham, Jonathan came to Wales 30 years ago to get away from the rat race into the countryside. He is well-known in Mid-Wales for his lectures to local groups on modern history for the WEA, now called the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church of Wales in 1984 and is a part-time minister at the chapel at Sychnant, near Pant-y-dwr. As well as writing for the civil service in his erstwhile career, he has also written a number of short stories.


Keith is a native of Kington and a graduate of Birmingham and London Universities. He lives in Presteigne where he was formerly the deputy head of John Beddoes School. For many years he has lectured on local history for the Extra-mural Department of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and for the Workers Educational Association. His popularly acclaimed “A History of Presteigne” was published in 1997 by Logaston Press. His main interest is in the history of local government and he currently gives lectures once a year at the Judge’s Lodgings in Presteigne as a fund-raising exercise for this building for the restoration and promotion of which he has provided active support for several years.


Tyler was raised in Vancouver, Canada. He first came to the UK in 1999 to study English at Lancaster University. Since graduation, he has spent his time writing and travelling. This past summer he was placed first in the Frome Festival Story Competition and was fortunate enough to receive a Writer of the Year Award from Writers Inc. of London. His fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Thirteen, Scribble and Countryside Tales. He lives currently in Llanidloes, and hopes to attend Aberystwyth’s Creative Writing MA programme in the near future.


Maus, Matt, a practising lycanthrope, is approaching (from the wrong side) the latter stages of his early middle age. Somewhat earlier in his life before this, he graduated from the University of Bolton with a third class honours degree in post-feminist misogyny, but prior to this he spent his childhood in Abject Misery, an understated hamlet in Buckinghamshire, after being born to two parents of Autro-Hungarian rootage. His hobbies include addition, freshwater drinking and collecting letters,. He now has a complete set and has used all twenty six of them in his story in PenCambria No. !

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