A look at the local Commons contribution to the War effort
The Ffynnon Gynydd article was researched and written by Fred Lloyd



The Begwyns today is owned by the National Trust and is used mainly for grazing, winter bedding for cattle and public recreation - B Bowker - 20/04/2014
Introduction

Some temporary but important events occurred during World War Two when the War Agricultural Executive Committees implemented farming changes for a second time. The effect of the "War Ags" was to increase the productive land in the UK by over 1.5 million acres between 1939 and the early 1940's and this included large areas of common land.
Cattle, sheep and pigs for meat along with milk, potatoes and cereals were considered to be essential to the food supply and the 'Warags' implemented stringent and controlling conditions on the farmers and their activities for the duration of the war.
Some local commons were commissioned and utilised by the 'Warags' and run by the farmers, with help from the Land Girls and some POW's as outlined below.

Ffynnon Gynydd Common - An article written and contributed by Fred Lloyd on June 21st 2016

I am old enough to recall the 'War Ags', as they were called, taking over the common adjacent to where I lived, I would have been about 4 or 5 years old at the time and despite my age, I do have a pretty good memory of the happenings at that time.
Sixty acres of land were set aside to be farmed in order to produce food – potatoes and corn. Machinery, the like of which we had never seen before appeared and was used in reclaiming this land. As the ploughing progressed very large stones came to light and these had to be removed. Two or maybe three Caterpillar tractors arrived and I can recall them being started up in the mornings, this was achieved by a donkey engine ( nowadays this would be an electric starter motor). The small donkey engine would be started and through a gradual clutch engagement it would turn the main power engine, I can clearly remember the roar as these engines burst into life.
It was a big task to remove these very large stones and they can still be seen at the top of the common but most of them were pulled to the bottom just below the road to Coed-y-Glas, possibly to remain there forever. A short distance away from these stones a store shed was erected, some of the concrete base still remains.
When the land was prepared the first crop to be planted was potatoes, for some reason I cannot remember the potatoes being set but I do have a fairly clear picture of the potatoes being harvested. This was done by a very labour intensive machine pulled by a tractor and at the front of the machine was a blade resembling a mooter which pushed most of the potatoes and lots of rubbish, stones etc, to the surface. This was all picked up by conveyer roughly eight feet long which was made of a mesh that vibrated and acted like a riddle getting rid of lots of stones and rubbish as it travelled to the rear of the machine. Of course lots of the larger stones would not pass through the mesh so these had to be removed by hand, this was achieved by having three Land Girls sat each side of the conveyer, you could say this was a sorting process. The much needed potatoes then went over the back end into a trailer and were taken down to the new shed from where they were dispatched by lorries.
The next crop to be produced on this 60 acre piece of common land was corn and the first Combine I had ever seen arrived. It was as I recall self propelled with the driver sat high up with good view of the corn being cut. It was a very similar machine to todays Combine but much larger and more labour intensive. At the end of the war the common was allowed to revert to its original state. Now sheep graze it and many walkers, some with dogs use it daily , a very different scene from when it was used to produce food to help the survival of our country in the years of World War Two.

Fred Lloyd
June 21st 2016

The Begwyns

During the War a large part of the Begwyns in the south west was commissioned for the grazing of cattle and the growing of mainly potatoes. Some 300 acres were fenced off and ploughed, initially for growing oats and afterwards for potatoes. These were clamped and stored on the common to be used as and when required.
Two nissen style huts with concrete bases were built to house the necessary equipment and a loading ramp constructed at GR 139 435 to service transport of the produce from the Begwyns. The huts were also used as repair sheds and shelters for lunch breaks and foul weather conditions. Land-girls were employed to work with the farmers, and also a few POW's. They all helped in the construction, planting and running of the scheme.
After the war and around 1949 the graziers held a meeting and after a spirited discussion agreed that the land should revert to common usage. Today there is little evidence left of any extensive crop growing, but there are however some remaining legacies worthy of note.

Approaching from the west the first of these can be found at GR 139 435 and is the loading ramp mentioned above.

The second can be found at GR 143 435. These are the two concrete bases; all that is left of the nissen style huts.

The third is the small dam and related water troughs which were constructed for the benefit of the cattle and can be found in the area of GR 149 436. The water was piped from the dam to the troughs to provide a reliable and safe supply.

The fourth was a post-war event and is known locally as 'The Bomb Hole' . During the war ammunition was safely stored in a variety of depots ( A large one was created at Gwernyfed ) and these became redundant with the advent of peace. After a few minor and trial explosions it was decided to dispense with the remaining ammunition in one fell swoop and the Begwyns was the favoured and chosen site. In due course the ammunition was sited at a safe distance from the road at GR 178 443 and the demolition team at a even safer distance in the ditch to the southwest. The bomb-blast was successful but ruptured the bed-rock below, allowing a spring-line to create a small lake which has remained largely full since that time.
In the aftermath there was significant structural damage to some local farm buildings and this resulted in token monetary compensation where necessary.

 

 

B Bowker
August 21st 2016

Sources

Mr Fred Lloyd
Mr Paul Greenow
Mr A A Nicholls of Croesfeilliog
Mr Aubrey Price of Llwynpenderi
Other local farmers



Showing the area of Ffynnon Gynydd Common
which was commissioned during the war
B Bowker - 04/02/2006


Fred Lloyd's bungalow on Ffynnon Gynydd Common
B Bowker - 23/01/2013


The loading ramp and the track leading off the common
B Bowker - 06/12/2014


The twin concrete bases at GR 143 435 - all that is left of the
"War Ags" Nissen style huts - B Bowker 26/03/2012


The concrete dam at GR 149 436 which was piped to
the cattle troughs below - B Bowker 22/11/2011


The remains of the cattle troughs below the dam and on
the right bank of the stream - B Bowker 22/11/2011


The Bomb Hole at GR 178 443. A permanent pond
in an unlikely location - B Bowker - 14/09/2012