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The Blaenau Project


The Blaenau Project

This section may arguably prove the most difficult to fulfil as the farms, both existing and derelict go back to pre-Norman times. The information gathered on these should involve not just the size of the farms, ownership, tenancy, etc. but details of the buildings themselves, especially in the case of derelict farms. Those such as Cwmorthin Uchaf, Cwmorthin Isaf etc have an engaging story to tell and these should be given time and attention.
Possible sources:- Farmers
Information from present day farmers will cover the near-present history of farms currently occupied. It will take some in-depth research to pull out earlier data and information on derelict farms and smallholdings.
Estate Records
Most of the farms began life as tenant farms under the bigger estates such as the Oakley, Newborough and Vaughan estates. Others will have originated earlier before becoming parts of these more recent holdings.
Water, sewage removal, gas, electricity, policing, telephone, radio and television, ambulance service, postal services are all taken for granted these days but their introduction forms part of the growth and prosperity of ‘Stiniog. With this in mind it is necessary to plot and record the development of these services up to the present day.
Whilst water treatment and supply to current day standards is relatively recent a number of other sources such as streams and wells would have been used previous to this. Likewise for sewage disposal. Mapping early wells and the initial layout of mains water provides a starting point.
Gas and electricity mains supply information should be mapped in the same way. Local radio and TV cabling systems will also need to be researched.
Possible sources:-
Present day utility bodies Welsh water, Manweb, British Gas etc should be able to furnish major chunks of this research.
Local knowledge Should still be able to furnish details regarding non- and pre- mains water supplies.
Recording the changes of use of shops, agencies and other trade services such as milk suppliers, bakeries etc.
Possible sources:-
Trade Directories, Early publications of these directories are kept in Dolgellau Archives, County Archives in Caernarfon, National Library of Wales and catalogue the businesses and services for their year of publication.
Local knowledge and memory
Local Chamber of Commerce, Hopefully this organisation would take on this part of the project but at least provide details of previous use and ownership of their premises and possibly adjoining properties.
Representation of the people in both local and national government is another very important part of the project as it forms the backbone of the aims behind the endeavour - a record of the people. Those elected to District, Town and Community Councils need recording as well as the town’s representatives on the County councils. Members of Parliament through the ages (perhaps General Election results?) should be featured. Those killed in various wars - when, where they fell, photos etc – forms another important part of the history of the people of Blaenau. And of course stories about the man in the street. Audio recording of the older generations will need to be organised.
As an area close to nature it will be valuable for the future to catalogue the change in wildlife, natural environment and weather over the last 200years and even before. Data on the numerous lakes, including fish population types, and locations of “lost” lakes should also be featured as well as details of the local rivers.
It is hoped that Cambrian Angling would help with this side of the project and other naturalists would help catalogue the wildlife.
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