History of a Wenvoe Farmer – Part 2
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF TOWYN WILLIAMS – CONTINUED
Towyn went to Rhoose Primary School and joined the school choir which came second in an Eisteddfod in Cardiff. After 12 months in Rhoose School Towyn moved to the Grammar School in Barry. He left when he was 14 – Towyn said he did not so much as leave, he just stopped going and it was the happiest day in his life. Towyn worked at home for his father at Ford Farm and at this time he became interested in bell ringing at Llancarfan church until he became less keen when the Vicar suggested that he came to church!.
In June 1946 Towyn saw an advert in a London paper inviting farmworkers to work on the land in Canada. Encouraged by the stories of Towyn's parents, on September 8th he sailed for Canada on the S.S.Moralgia with his friend Jim Bryer, They travelled by train to London, flew from Notrtholt, put down in Shannon then to Gander in Newfoundland. Stopped for 6 hours for an engine change then to Toronto. The long last leg was without food or drink supplied – there were no Air Hostesses on this long and tedious journey.
Towyn worked on a dairy farm near Lyndsey, Ontario, before moving on to a lumber camp with Jim. They worked with all nationalities, including indians.. A day's work would be to walk three miles through three foot of snow, cut down 60 trees using a cross cut saw – no chain saws then.Jim and Towyn had Xmas dinner on a farm about 80 miles from the lumber camp. To return they caught a bus to Whittin about 15 miles from the camp. They decided to walk hoping to get a lift from a passing motorist. They were out of luck.When they were within a mile from the camp they heard and saw a pack of wolves behind them. Not daring to stop they kept going. Later the older men at the camp told them if they had stopped to rest that would have been the 'end of them'. They were so tired and frightened that it took them a week to recover.
Jim continued to work at the lumber camp until 1938 when he came home to work on a farm near Swindon. Towyn stayed on in Canada moving out west to Saskatchewan. The following Spring Towyn left Ontario to work on the Priaries in Saskatchewan He worked on the Homestead that his father had left 25 years previously. The Homestead now belonged to another family. Everything here was big. Huge tractors were used to plough fields a mile long and it was difficult to keep awake while discing and ploughing.
Towyn had the chance of a trip home on a cattle boat, from Montreal to Manchester. Living conditions onboard were primitive. His quarters were at the stern of the ship and it was quite peaceful – when the propeller occasionally stopped ! There were 250 cattle on board, heifers in calf to be placed on farms all over the country.
In September 1950 Towyn married Audrey Taylor of Leach Farm near Carmel Chapel. They lived in a wooden bungalow just up the road from Ford Farm where Towyn continued to work for his father.
In 1953 Towyn took on Ballas Farm, Wenvoe where he stayed for the next 30 years bringing up his family – three girls and a boy. By 1978 Towyn, tired of milking 120 cows a day, decided to make a change. He sold the herd and bought Whitehall Farm near St. Lythans. Whitehall Farm brought a new adventure open to the public – Pick your Own fruit. He planted raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries. red and black currants with a back-up of potatoes and broad beans. This is what Towyn and Audrey did for the next 20 years finally concentrating on stabling and feeding around 15 ponies. At almost 80 he remained the 'hands on' farmer very attached to his old tractor.
Towyn's interests outside of farming included membership of the 'Glamorgan Flying Club'.After obtaining his pilot's license around 1960 he flew a number of single engined aircraft including a Tiger Moth. The cost when he started was £3 an hour and when inflation rose to over £20 an hour, and with the price of milk falling something had to give.
In the late 70's Towyn's brother, Edward, was exporting various breeds of horses to New Zealand and asked Towyn to help to look after 50 horses on a cargo plane. Towyn eagerly accepted the opportunity to meet up with his son Gareth who was working there at the time. The flight took him via Anchorage in Hawaii to Auckland, New Zealand. Towyn enjoyed flying as a passenger and flew across the Atlantic 39 times visiting Canada, U.S.A., Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain , Portugal, Poland (a farm visit) and Ireland. He had also sat in Concorde, been up in a balloon, and flown a helicopter with an instructor.
Towyn's varied and interesting life came to an end peacefully at Whitehall Farm on 14 August 2016 at the good age of 90.What a fascinating life!
Allan Jenkins (February 2017)