I was born in October, 1924, at Brynog Home Farm. My father and his three brothers had bought part of the Brynog Estate when it was sold in 1921. My uncle Will lived at Brynog Mansion, my father, Tim, had the next door Brynog Home Farm, as well as the farm where he and his family had been born and brought up; Gwrthwynt Isaf. Uncle Dafydd built a new farmhouse nearby, Tŷ Newydd, and Uncle Simon moved to Greengrove, which was a mile or so down the valley, near the road. In 1936 I started at Aberayron County School and had to catch the train every day from what was Felin Fach station, but we always called it Ystrad. We had a long walk along a country lane up to the crossing and then walked along the railway line to the station, it must have been a mile and a quarter all told. I don’t suppose you would be allowed to walk along a railway line now. In those days we had heavy leather satchels but we rarely complained about the walk as that is what we all did. When the river was in flood my father would put us on the back of Charlie, our big shire horse, and carry my sister and me over the flooded road on its back – floods were no excuse for missing school.
Three years after I started at the County School my sister, Eunice, joined me there. One day we were rather late and as we were running along the road we heard the train’s whistle, while we still some way from the crossing, and knew that we had missed the train, as the whistle signalled it was leaving Ystrad station. I told Eunice we might as well stop and watch the train passing then go home. To our surprise the train driver, Mr Griffiths, Gilvin, (Wellington Street, Aberaeron) stopped the train at the crossing and Mr Williams, the guard, opened the door and put down the steps and gestured at us to run. We sprinted as fast as we could with the satchels getting heavier and slowing us down.
We were two shy country girls and were mortified as all the children on the train were looking out of the windows cheering and clapping. We were never late again! Looking back there was such a lovely feeling of community in those days – everyone would help one another.
Sadly in 1941 we were told that we could no longer travel to school by train but had to go by bus. I did not understand the reason then, but presumably the bus company had undercut the railway, which I suppose was another small nail towards the closure of the railway.
I did miss those train journeys. The train had two compartments, a small one for passengers and a large one which we schoolchildren used. In my day about five or six pupils came from Lampeter but none from Silian, Blaenplwyf or Talsarn. Seven joined at Ystrad and seven from Ciliau, two joined at Crossways Halt and two at Llanerchaeron. The compartment had seating but there was plenty of room to move about. My two cousins from Greengrove went to the County School by bus, I suppose because their house was nearer the road and the halt at Greengrove did not open until after the passenger train stopped. We all had harmless fun, often watching the bus and trying to will the train to get to Aberayron first. When we arrived at Aberayron station we would run like mad up Bro Allt y Graig and up the back road to school to get there before the pupils on the bus. Looking back it was very childish but great fun!We lost all that when we went by bus. We would get on and sit quietly in the seats only talking to the person sitting in the seat next to you. All the fun had gone. I have such fond memories of the train journey and now there are only four Ystrad girls left to reminisce with; myself, Eunice, Megan and Mair Gwastod. Then there is Bessie from Cilcennin, who got on at Ciliau, Jane Crossways and from Lampeter; Nana and Kathleen.
I am so pleased that Cymdeithas Aberaeron are celebrating this event as it has brought back so many happy memories of my childhood six miles up the valley, after having lived in Aberaeron for 62 years.
Y Beudy Llyswen