Sent in by Roger Haigh-Jones
Summary of my memories of living in the area between about 1950 to 1963 but with the focus on Caernarfon.
My parents met during the war at RAF Llandwrog .My mother was a member of
the WAAFs and my father was a Sergeant radio fitter (at one stage, I believe,
he was involved in investigating why RAF aircraft kept crashing into the
mountains nearby, I think he had to prove it wasn't the instruments he was
servicing!) My parents got married and had a son, Quentin. Sadly, he died in
tragic circumstances at about 18 months and is buried in Llandwrog cemetery in
an unmarked grave. Money was short in those days. I came along a few months
later in 1946, but was born in
At about the age of 3 and a half, I returned to Caernarfonshire with my
mother, and stayed for a short time with friends in Saron, Llanwnda. I went to
Ysgol Felinwnda for a matter of weeks at this stage (I can still smell the
leather of my new case which I had to carry to school, heaven knows if there
was anything in it!)----We then moved to the first of 4 homes in Dinas Dinlle.
My favourite was a tin shack called Hothe. It had no hot
water, and no electricity. Light came principally from wall mantles fed by a
calor gas bottle and the heat came from an open fire. We used to collect
driftwood in a kit bag from the beach to help keep the fire going. Once, my
mother put a piece of tar on the fire to see if that would put out any heat.
She spent quite a few hours, subsequently, cleaning out the molten tar
underneath the fire and in the hearth! Weekly, we went to our landlady, a
lovely old woman called Miss Thomas , in
Although we had no pets at this stage, we were visited by the occasional
feral cat. If we left the front door open and sat quietly, they would come in a
sit by the fire. One movement from us, however, and they bolted out of the
door. One day, as my mother sat there knitting, a cat shot through the door
chased by a local dog. It took a flying leap and landed on her head. It turned around
to face the dog, dug its claws into my mother's head and squatted there hissing
at its pursuer. I don't recall us leaving the door open much after that. We
were sometimes visited by an independent
I was attending the primary school then, at Llandwrog. The teachers were Mr Davies and Mrs Banfield. Although they taught us well, drilling the math's tables and the Catechism into us each morning, the methods of discipline used would have had them in court today. I remember being dragged around the classroom by my hair, made to stand in a corner on one leg with my hands on my head and, once, having my legs thrashed with a stick for something another child had done. (Dafydd Penrhos shared the punishment with me; where are you now, Dafydd?!). Occasionally a fist in the back would send one of us to the floor. Things have improved in our schools somewhat, thank heavens!
My parents divorced in the mid fifties and my mother married a
schoolteacher from Penygroes; David John Jones. We moved into a rented semi
called Cuillins in Twthill. My bedroom was in the attic. What bliss to be so
far up away from everyone else! Our back garden had a door which opened out
onto the hill and I spent many a happy time climbing up to the top to get a
fine view of the castle and the town. I remember once attaching a piece of
string to an arrow and firing it into the apple tree of the end house, owned by
the Bryants (who were very posh and had a cleaning lady). I never managed to
hit an apple because the son of the house appeared almost immediately and
confiscated my only arrow. The only other people I recall in the street were Alan
Rothwell and his parents who lived almost opposite. At the end of the street
there was a
It was just a short stroll down the street to the Fish and Chip shop in
Twthill and to the Boys Primary, which I attended from the age of 10. I met
some nice lads there, David Smith (now a local Police Inspector) Norman Muir,
Michael Henthorne and many others. Several joined me in attending the Grammar
School, Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, later on in 1958. It was at this time that I fell
in love with Mary Elizabeth Clark. Barely had our love began to blossom at the
age of ten and a half when her parents whisked her off to live in
Further down from the Fish and Chip shop was the local playground. This was the daily haunt for most of us. Had our parents seen the dare devil antics we got up to on the high speed merry go round or witnessed the acrobatics performed at the top of the swing, we should probably have been banned. I remember once emptying the contents of at least 5 bangers onto the bottom of the slide with the intention of sending down a lighted match from the top to see if I could set it all off from a safe distance. Trevor, brother of Marcia and son of our local chimney sweep, dropped a match into it right under my nose at the last critical moment and I was blinded for at least 10 minutes. Where are you now Trevor? I want a return match for all those marbles you constantly and ruthlessly won from me. Marble champion of Twthill was Trevor in 1957/8. I managed to beat Marcia though.
In those days, my hair was cut by Mr Rees in his shop not far from the present day Stermat. My hair used to be slicked down with so much Brylcreem that it didn't even ruffle in the strongest of Caernarfon winds. Brylcreem, beloved of mothers and hated by sons. Mr Rees was married to the singer Sassie Rees and had a daughter, Olwen Rees who went on to become an actress. My claim to fame is that I was Olwen's boyfriend for a day, once. It was for political reasons though and I never even got a kiss. I think she was trying to make someone else jealous. You blew it, Olwen. You could have had me but I'm no longer available. (But tell me, what were those ONA things your dad used to sell for the weekend?)
Along from Twthill and running towards the top of Gypsy Hill (what have they done to you, Gypsy Hill, the Everest of cyclists, you have all but disappeared in the "improvements") there was a bakers shop which sold that most exquisite of delicacies; Teisen pwddin. My friend, Tony Mills, and I would often stop on our way from school to the buses in the Maes and buy one. They were a penny each then. I expect they are at least two pence now.
Descending from the end of our road was
My French teacher at the Grammar School was Mr Cemlyn Williams, who later
became Town Mayor. He was a font of stories and it didn't take much to distract
him from a lesson and get him onto some allied topic. I'm not sure how many of
us passed our French O Levels (I didn't) but I know how good the wine cellars
are in the White House in
Others have referred to the Turkey trot around the Caernarfon streets popular on a Saturday night. I recall it being known as the Monkey Run too. All I know is that it seemed to start and stop in front of Bertorelli's, the ice cream and tobacconist shop in the Square. It was a sad day when he went across to the mass manufactured ice cream. I think it was even better than the Cadwalladers of today. The Crosville bus office was next door at the time, I think. .
I also remember that one of the best Fish and Chip shops in town was Wedgwood at the bottom of Penrallt. I used to leave my weekly meeting of the ATC Cadets (managed by that Caernarfon character, Mr Ron Kirk) and pop down into Wedgwood for my supper. Chips were 3 pence but if you were rich, you could move up to the bigger bag at 4 pence. In those days, all 3 of the town's cinemas were active. Does anyone remember cheering on Hopalong Cassidy in the Guildhall at the Saturday Matinee? I think the Majestic went down hill when it stopped showing films and moved more into wrestling etc. I remember most of my school being walked down there one afternoon to see The Ten Commandments. What a treat! It didn't do much for our education but we enjoyed the escape.
Anyway, cutting a long story short, I left Caernarfon to live in Saron,
Llanwnda where I learned the gentle country pursuits of crossbow making, spear
fishing flatfish in Foryd estuary, stealing apples and learning about Doctors
and Nurses. I left the area to join the RAF in 1963 qualifying first as a Radar
Fitter in 1966 and then in 1971 as a Flying Officer in Air Traffic Control. Old
friends of ours, Mair (another Caernarfon town mayor) and Jack Williams of
Vanwil Oil came to wish me well at the Graduation Ceremony - a belated thank
you both. After leaving the RAF as a Squadron Leader in 1985 I practised
Chinese acupuncture for a few years in Trefriw, LLandudno and finally, in
If you want to get in touch with Roger go to "Say Hello to an Old Friend"