Idwal Glyn was my grandfather. He worked as a postman in rural North Wales, and fought in The Great War



Idwal Glyn Davies pictured on the right.
My grandfather.


'Cuckoo, cuckoo'. It was early March 1910. My grandfather Glyn Postman allowed himself a wry smile as he approached a farm on his rural postal round. He had done his annual cuckoo call, and he waited for the excited face of the farmer as he rushed out to tell Glyn that he had just heard the first cuckoo of the year.

Idwal Glyn Davies was born on the 13th June 1886, son of Edward and Ellen Davies, 3 School Bank Terrace, Llanrwst. He had three siblings, William Edward, Margaret and Ellen Maud.

In 1901, Idwal was employed as a labourer in a local mineral works.

Weekly News and Visitors' Chronicle 
For Colwyn Bay
14 December 1906
The weekly meeting of this society was held on Friday evening, presided over by Mr William Williams, County School. The subject for debate, "A ddylid gwneyd Llwyr ymwrthodiad yn amod Aelodaeth Eglwysig," drew together a good attendance of members. 
The affirmative side was championed by Mr Lloyd, whilst the negative was upheld by Mr Idwal Glyn Davies. Several members took part in the discussion, and on being put to the vote it was found that 32 were in favour of the affirmative and 23 for the negative.

He started work as a postman in 1907, and his first ever job was delivering letters and parcels on foot, in the Pandy Tudur area of Abergele. After his deliveries, he waited in a shed supplied by the Post Office until late afternoon, collecting any letters at Pandy Tudur Post Office and post boxes in the area as he walked back to Llanrwst, arriving around 7 o'clock in the evening.  

Llanrwst Post Office, left, and the sorting office below - 1st November 2007.

His working day would start by meeting the 5 o'clock train at Llanrwst from Llandudno Junction with other postmen, to collect post bags, and bring them to the Post Office for sorting on a two wheeled cart. The postmen would sort and deliver the post to their respective areas.  

Top left; Llanrwst Station looking towards Llandudno Junction.
Top right;  Looking towards Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Bottom pictures; the back of the Station. How sad it is to see it boarded up after all those days of activity.

North Wales Weekly News
9th April 1909.
The weekly entertainment held on Friday evening was presided over by Mr. Caradoc Mills. Songs were rendered by Messrs. Arthur Jones, Idwal Glyn Davies, and Herbert Roberts, and recitations by Mr. David Williams, Miss M. E. Jones, and Miss Hodgins, and a violin solo by Mr. Gwilym M. Roberts, Bridge Street, who was also the accompanist.
The programme was prepared by Mr. Herbert Roberts, Bridge-street.

Taid Llanrwst, as we called him, delivered around Melin y Coed, Nant y Rhiw and Nant Bwlch yr Haearn. He walked 12 miles a day, and during the 1950s, his wage was only £2.10.0. (£2.50) for a 48 hour week.

Glyn received two uniforms a year, a great coat and a cloak to keep himself and letters dry.

The uniform was dark blue with a thin red strip around the jacket and coat cuffs and a red line down the trousers. His hat was unique as it had peaks at the front and back. A whistle (pictured below) was supplied so that he could forewarn farmers of his impending arrival.

When calling at the home, Glyn would call 'Oes 'na bobol?' (Anyone at home?), and would receive a reply 'Dewch i mewn postman' (Come in postman)

He generally had permission to cross fields, which gave him the opportunity to share some local news, have sustenance and a cup of tea.

Each farm cared for a postman, supplying a breakfast of home cured bacon, eggs, fresh butter and home made bread.

Farmers were generous at Christmas with their tips. Glyn would invariably return home with a pocket full of money.

A blind man lived on his round. On one occasion he asked Glyn to help him pick some apples from the trees in his orchard. Glyn gladly obliged. When up  the trees, Glyn couldn't understand why the blind man was continuously  asking him question, and Glyn queried this with him. He replied that if Glyn was answering his questions, then he could tell that Glyn wasn't eating any of the apples while he was up the trees. 

This picture of Llanrwst Post Office staff was taken in either the 1920's or 1930's. Idwal Glyn Davies is second from the left, middle row. Other identified post men in the back row are Llew the Postman (second left) and Oliver Bach (second right). Picture supplied to the Daily Post by Mr William Parry Jones of Llanrwst.

Glyn sang second tenor with Llanrwst Male Voice Choir, and could often be heard singing on his way to work and when delivering his letters. During the First World War, he was attached to the Highland Artillery as a 1st Class Signalman. He was one of thousands who faced chlorine gas at Ypres.

In 1939, before the Second World War, information about people was taken for National Registration Identity Card purposes. This is the entry for 3 School Bank Terrace, Llanrwst.

He worked as a night watchman at Parc lead mines following his retirement.

He sent the following reply to Mr and Mrs Owen John Roberts of Dolgarrog. His son William Owen Davies was marrying their daughter Jean on the 9th June, 1951.

I remember visiting Taid in 3 School Bank Terrace when I was about 6 years old. Sitting by the fire, I was quite hot and moved my chair away from the heat. He told me that he knew of a man once, who was so lazy, that when he was too hot sitting by the fire, he got a builder in to move the fireplace away from him! 

In my young innocence, I believed the story!

School Bank Terrace, Llanrwst. 
No 3 was bought and converted to one house
with an adjoining house

His father Edward was born in Llanarmon yn Ial around 1856, and married Ellen Williams (born 16th November 1850). She was the daughter of William Williams and Ellen Williams, nee Hughes, of Pentre Mawr Capel Garmon.

Edward (above ) and Ellen had another three children in addition to Idwal Glyn (standing right) ;
William Edward Davies,
Ellen Davies and Margaret Davies and Idwal.

Edward, a lead miner at Nant Bwlch yr Haearn, was a successful musician and choir master in the town. He could play from memory any music which he had heard. Around 1888, Edward left home for America, with the expectation that his family would follow. This did not happen.

The last that was heard of Edward was playing a piano in a Wild West saloon, in Idaho or Idaho Springs. Rumour has it that he returned to this country, but did not go back home. Edward's grandson and Glyn's son T. Glyn Davies, wrote a Welsh language novel, 'Marged', based on the family during that period.

Ellen died around 1936.

Idwal Glyn and Winifred Myfanwy Davies, on their wedding day. 

  Sons William Owen Davies on the left, and Thomas Glynne Davies.

Glyn married Winifred Myfanwy Williams who was a daughter to Thomas and Jane Williams, Gorsedd Grucyn, Nant y Rhiw, Llanrwst.

Thomas was a character and local poet. When discussing the possibility of a school in the Nant y Rhiw area, he was told that there were not enough children to warrant one.

He demanded that a school be built, and he would supply the children! He and his wife obliged by raising 16 children, and the school was built!

Dinesydd Cymreig
30 Hydref 1918 
Saib ein Bechgyn.
Daeth Gunner Joseph Roberts, Bryn Melyn; Preifats J. Evan Thomas a Johnnie Finchet, a'r Gunner Idwal Glyn Davies, postman, gartref am ychydig seibiant o Ffrainc.

Idwal Glyn with Annie, Jo and his mother in law
Jane Williams, Gorsedd Grucyn

Glyn completed 43 years service with the Post Office, as did his eldest son, my father, William Owen Davies who married Jean Roberts of Dolgarrog. My brother Paul has continued the postal tradition, totalling some 110 years service. Glyn and Winifred also had two daughters, Glenys, who died an infant, and Ceinwen.

After Winifred's Myfanwy's death, Glyn married Gwen Williams and they had two sons David and Edward and Gwen's daughter Jean.

He retired from the Post Office in 1950, ten years after William Owen started as a sorting clerk.

On the 27th October 1961, Taid wrote the following letter to us in Dolgellau.

Dear All, Here are a few lines so that you will know that I'm better. I really felt grand Wednesday apart from feeling rather giddy. I slept the best part of yesterday, and today again, I feel better if only my legs would give me better support. I dare not stoop at all, - strict orders.

Doctor Howarth called on me this morning, and will call at a later date. He's really fine! and his green 'G' pills soothes me in a few minutes. I'm also eating better today, and I was able to tackle a good sized herring for today's dinner. I swallow 14 pills each day, 2 whites and 12 greens. If you will be writing to Ceinwen shortly, please inform her that I was very glad to receive her letter this morning and I hope to write to her soon. 

Jean and John have bought a house and things are passing through Howel Jones' hands. John's mother told A.G. (Aunty Gwen, Glyn's second wife) yesterday that the happy event will take place next March, Cofion, TAID.

Two days later, I can remember a policeman calling at our house in Dolgellau and asking to speak to Dad in private. He came to inform us that Taid had died on the 29th October 1961.  

I'm sure my grandfather's spirit still roams the beautiful open farmland around Llanrwst, and that he still smiles to himself when he hears the first cuckoo. The real cuckoo, that is.



Ken Davies.



Idwal Glyn Davies sat proudly in the audience during the Crowning ceremony of the 1951 National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst.

"A OES HEDDWCH?............"
His prophecy all those years ago had reached its ultimate climax.

He recalled the time, when going for a walk with his young son Tom to 'Coed Y Gwyllt' to fetch kindling sticks………

Tom picked some daisies and standing by a stream…

"A OES HEDDWCH?..........."
he threw them into the rushing water and silently watched the daisies float away….

Tom turned to his father and said……..

"Dad, ddaw nhw byth yn ôl" (Dad, they will never come back).

 "A OES HEDDWCH?..............."
Idwal Glyn was taken aback by this simple, yet deep comment by his son………

 They went home and he rushed to his wife, Winifred Myfanwy………

Speaking of Tom, and unable to hold back his emotion, said to her………..

"Mae gennym ni fardd fan hyn!" (We've got a bard here!)


The final call of 'Heddwch' brought him back to the Eisteddfod, and there before him, on the stage, adorning the highest poetic prize possible, was that little boy, only much older by now, winner of the Crown. The first person ever to win the Crown in his home town, T. Glynne Davies, aged 25.  

Appropriately, flowers had, that day, returned in all their glory for Tom, in the form of 'Dawns y Blodau' (The Flower Dance), performed in honour of the successful Eisteddfod bard for his piece, 'Adfeilion' (Ruins).


On his way home quietly, from the Eisteddfod field, Idwal Glyn Davies chuckled proudly to himself, remembering how Tom composed most of Adfeilion, not in the comfort of a warm room or study, but on the back of his bicycle as he travelled to and from work for The Cambrian News, between Esgairgeiliog and Aberystwyth. It had taken him some nine months and many miles, to compose. 

Idwal Glyn then pondered over the twists of fate which had occurred in his lifetime, which would well have affected today, arguably the best day in the history of our Davies family,  had they taken a different turn. 

His father Edward, born in Llanarmon yn Ial, was a lead miner at Nant Bwlch yr Haearn, a successful musician and choir master in Llanrwst. He could play from memory any music which he had heard.

His wife Ellen was the daughter of William Williams and Ellen Williams, nee Hughes, of Pentre Mawr, Capel Garmon. Edward left home to seek his fortune in America, arriving there on the 24th February 1890, having sailed on 'The City of Chester'.  

Things did not go according to plan. Edward was last heard of playing a piano in either Idaho, or Idaho Springs. He was either dead or presumed dead by the time Idwal Glyn was 5, leaving his mother a widow at the age of 50 by 1901.

Ellen and family - Idwal Glyn, his sisters Ellen, Margaret and brother William Edward were due to join him. Had they too emigrated in the early 1900's, then………..

Idwal Glyn had faced danger and poisonous chlorine gas during the Great War, at Ypres, where he was attached to The Highland Artillery as a first class signalman. Had he perished, like thousands of other brave young men, in the muddy quagmire of a foreign field, then………..  

He slowed down as he approached 64 Denbigh Street, Llanrwst, which was his first matrimonial home, where his children William Owen, Thomas Glynne, and Glenys were born. Ceinwen was born when the family had returned to 3 Schoolbank Terrace, just around the corner.

Glenys died of diptheria aged 10 months in October 1929. He recalled the doctors telling him that his son Thomas Glynne was, at the time, the more likely to have died. Had his life also been tragically taken away when only three years old, then……….

Idwal Glyn married Winifred Myfanwy Williams, a daughter to Thomas and Jane Williams, of Gorsedd Grucyn, Nant Y Rhiw. Thomas was himself a local bard of note. His poetic talents had passed through his daughter's blood to both Tom and William. Y Faner and Y Cymro published their poetry.  

Memories came flooding back to him as he left number 64 Denbigh Street and headed for home.

Turning right at the end of Denbigh Street, his eyes fell on the Grammar School, where his children had been educated. William had excelled in sport, winning the Victor Ludorum twice and runner up once. He played both football and cricket for Llanrwst and once took 8 wickets for 38 runs. Tom had thoughts of going to university, and Ceinwen's vocation became nursing.

William married Jean Roberts of Dolgarrog, Tom married Mair Jones of Esgairgeiliog, and Ceinwen married Vivian Biffin of South Wales. 

Idwal Glyn stopped outside 3 School Bank Terrace, and entered his home. There in the parlour was the foot powered sewing machine his wife had used.

Winifred Myfanwy passed away in 1947 with heart failure. He later married his housekeeper, Gwen and they had two sons David and Edward. Gwen's daughter Jean also lived with them.

He sat in his favourite armchair in the corner of their living room, by the fire. He prodded the dying embers and recalled how William had joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers in World War 2 and landed at Arromanches during the D-Day landings and had attained the rank of lance corporal. Tom had worked in the Oakdale Colliery as a Bevin Boy. He later served in Malta and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant, aiming to go to Aberystwyth University. However his life's path led him elsewhere - into journalism. He worked for the Cambrian News, Y Cymro and South Wales Evening Post. 

Idwal Glyn closed his eyes, recalling the many miles he had walked around Melin y Coed, Nant y Rhiw and Nant Bwlch yr Haearn delivering letters. He sang second tenor with Llanrwst Male Voice Choir, and could often be heard singing on his way to work and on his postal round. He worked as a night watchman at Parc lead mines following his retirement.  

Idwal dozed off comfortably into a cat nap, before finally retiring to bed after an unforgettable day.


On the 27th October 1961, following a period of ill health, Idwal Glyn Davies wrote to his son William in Dolgellau, who was very pleased to see the contents of his father's correspondence. He wrote;

Dear  All,                                                                                                                                 Here are a few lines so that you will know that I'm better. I really felt grand Wednesday, apart from feeling rather giddy.  I slept the best part of yesterday, and today again, I feel better if only my legs would give me better support. I dare not stoop at all, - strict orders.                                                                                 
Doctor Howarth called on me this morning, and will call at a later date. If you will be writing to Ceinwen shortly, please
inform her that I was very glad to receive her letter this morning and I hope to write to her soon.                                                                                                 Cofion,            Taid .

I can remember a policeman calling at our home in Dolgellau and asking to speak to Dad in private. He came to inform us that Taid had died two days after writing the letter, on the 29th October 1961, aged 75.

Time has moved us on………….  

William became Postmaster in Llandeilo in 1970. He won chairs in Eisteddfodau; Holywell in 1954 and Llansawel, Carmarthenshire, in 1974. His poetry was published in his book "Cerddi Tair Tref". He was a very kind generous man, and would go out of his way to help anyone with a problem. He died in 2002. William and Jean have two sons. Ken worked as a Civil Servant in Newtown, Powys, before retirement. Paul has continued the family tradition in the postal service. Both are married with children. Paul lives in Llandeilo.. 

Tom joined the BBC as a news reporter and presenter. Many will recall him on Radio Cymru's programme 'Bore Da'. I can still hear him telling everyone 'Mae'r cloc ar y wal yn dod i fyny at wyth o'r gloch'. This was my signal to finish breakfast and head for school. He also broadcasted on the British Forces Broadcasting Service. During the 1970's, my mother's brother Eric, listened to him regularly in Singapore, every Wednesday evening at 6.45 pm - maintaining a link with 'home' through Tom. He interviewed numerous celebrities, and was actually with the Beatles in Bangor, at the time their manager Brian Epstein died. In addition to 'Can Serch' and 'Haf Creulon', he wrote 'Marged', a Welsh novel, based on the life of Ellen Davies and her family.

Tom died in 1988. His ashes were scattered by the Gorsedd Stones near the bridge in Llanrwst. A plaque lies on the wall of his birthplace, 64 Denbigh Street, placed by the then Mayoress, Cllr Patricia Williams. Tom and Mair have four sons. Gareth Glyn, broadcaster and composer, living in Anglesey, Geraint is a hearing specialist and singer with Ar Log, living in the Conway Valley. Aled, until recently, was head of BBC Radio Cymru and is now a programme production consultant in Cardiff. Owen has his own company and travels schools with his educational programmes and lives near his mother Mair in the Caernarfon area. All are married with children.

Ceinwen received the MBE for services within the nursing profession, and worked in Morriston Hospital. She is now retired, living in South Wales and regularly visits 'yr hen gynefin'. Ceinwen and Vivian have a son Martin, who has a family and is a Principal Lecturer in Cardiff.

David is thought to be in the Liverpool area, but Edward lives in Dolwyddelen with his partner Sue and family. Today, only Jean and her husband John maintain a link with Denbigh Street.

For the rest of us, a lot of water has gone under Llanrwst Bridge since our family moved from 64, Denbigh Street. We keep loving memories of our family who have gone before us. Happy days indeed. Like the daisies Tom threw into the stream when he was a young boy, they will never come back.