‘I Remember’ by Gwenda Lewis

I Remember… My Life in Bwlchgwyn 1939-1943, Gwenda Lewis

In the summer of 1939 a young girl was told that she was going to stay with relatives in North Wales for the whole of the summer holiday. So it was that Gwenda left London, with her mother and her older brother, and arrived in Bwlchgwyn where she was to spend the next four years.

This book, written primarily for private circulation amongst her family and friends, is a beautifully written account of the village during the war years, seen through the eyes of a city girl to whom country ways were novel and exciting experiences.

“Welcome to Wales”, Gwenda’s introduction to life at Brythonfa on Wesley Road, Bwlchgwyn

Many people have generously helped Gwenda with her research and consequently there is a good variety of pictures of the village, many from Gwenda’s own collection and some from photographs loaned to Gwenda specifically for inclusion in this book.

Gwenda’s father remained in London throughout the war and Gwenda wrote to him often. Fortunately for this book, her father kept her letters and postcards and some of these are reproduced here.Of especial interest is the letter recounting the night the bombs fell on the village – how must her father have felt when he read that letter, having sent his family to the country for their safety?

The left page is a copy of a postcard sent to Gwenda’s mother from her father, saying that he has posted four more parcels to them of extra belongings from the house that they needed for their stay in Bwlchgwyn, three pennies pocket money for Gwenda, her beloved Teddy and a request to let him know when they arrived at once.

The right hand page is a copy of Gwenda’s reply, she writes to her father and says: :Dear Daddy, thank you for the pocket money. I hope you are feeling well. I love you so much because you send three pennies and Teddy. Love from Gwenda. On the other side you will find a cow.” And, sure enough, on the unfolded paper there is a drawing, proudly entitled COW AND CALF.

I Remember reveals so much about village life at that time

  • a description of the village as it was in 1939
  • air raid precautions
  • shops and rationing
  • Chapel services at Nebo
  • Bwlchgwyn School, snow and epidemics
  • “Bombs dropped on North Wales Village”
  • Pastimes, children’s games
  • Books, comics, plays and the radio
  • The cottage on Cefn Road
  • Farms and buttermilk
  • Ffynnon-y-Cwrw
  • Holidays and Nant-y-Ffrith
  • and so much more……..

The chapters are:

  • Introduction
  • Croeso I Gymru – Welcome to Wales
  • War – All Change
  • Life in “Brythonfa”
  • Going to Chapel
  • The Village School
  • The War Comes to Bwlchgwyn
  • Passing the Time
  • Out and About
  • “Y Bwthyn” – The Cottage
  • The Farm, More About School – and a New Friend
  • Fun in the Holidays
  • Bwlchgwyn Through the Seasons
  • Epilogue

And Illustrations include:

  • Nant-y-Ffrith Hall
  • Fronheulog Hall
  • Vicarage
  • Dog & Partridge
  • Brooklyn Stores
  • King’s Head
  • Nebo
  • School
  • Moses Edward’s cottage
  • George Edwards & bus
  • Family Outing
  • Brymbo Road
  • Y Bwthyn