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LOCAL GOSSIP. In reference to Marie Trevelyan's request for information as to the existence of rag wells in the Vale, Gwilym Glan Ogwy writes to say that there is a well of that description near Middle Tremains, Bridgend, known by the name of Ffynon-Cae-Moch (the Well of the Fig's Field). "I remember rags being on the hawthorn bush overhanging the well when I was a little boy—a great many years ago now—and there are still some there, I believe. People used to bathe regularly in the well in the old days, and they were al- ways exhorted to tie a rag on to the bush whenever a cure was effected. In the Vale of Glamorgan, as all over the country generally, in these matter-of-fact times, the quaint, good-hearted rural cus- toms are dying out. The rollicking harvest home is now almost a thing of the past. and the gleaners have all gone. Twenty or thirty years ago, before general use was made of agricultural machinery, the gleaning was a much-prized perquisite of the poorer cot- tagers. Sow, however, the mechanical binder, avariciously efficient, takes up every- thing in the true spirit of commercial economy, leaving naught behind. Years ago. too, farmers used to leave a corner of the field unreaped. so that the poor and the stranger might carry the corn away. The custom of leaving the corner of the field and the gleanings is based upon the 9th and 10th verses of the 19th chapter of Leviticus, "And -when ye reap the harvest of your land thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger." William Edwards, the famous bridge builder and preacher of the 18th century, to whom a bronze statue was recently unveiled at Groeswen, was according to tradition the builder of the old bridge at Bridgend, which is erected on oak piles. Edwards was born in the parish of Eglwysilan in 1719. In ad- dition to doing the usual work on his father's farm, he applied himself as a youth to the occupation of a fence-builder, and his ser- vices in that capacity were eagerly sought after by the neighbouring farmers. Gradu- ally he applied himself entirely to that kind of employment, and was thus able to contri- bute from his earnings to the family funds. At this time he knew nothing of masonry proper, such as the dressing of stones and the use of mortar, his fences consisting merely of loose stones dexterously piled up so as to present the appearance of a built wall. Ed- wards by degrees became acquainted with the mason's art, and learnt how to trim stones and turn lime into mortar as a sine qua non in masonry. His first attempt in work of this descrip- tion was a small mill in his native parish. Some time in 1740 Edwards was employed by a Cardiff iron-smelter to build a large forge, and while at Cardiff the mason lodged with a blind baker, named Walter Rosser, from whom he learnt English. During his stay at Cardiff, also, he acquired some knowledge of arithmetic and in other ways improved himself. Soon afterwards we hear of him building many good houses and several forges and smelting-houses. His fame as a builder rapidly spread over the county of Glamorgan. Sir John Morris, of Clasemont, near Swan- sea: at that time was laying the foundations of the flourishing town which afterwards was to perpetuate his name. and he called in the assistance of the Eglwysilan builder to erect some of the more important buildings. The Squire of Clasemont, as befitted his order, was a Churchman, and his first care was to provide the people with a church. The new church was put up. the architect and builder being William Edwards. The church, of course, was built in the orthodox style, with the tower at the west end. Afterwards. Sir John provided for the spiritual needs of the Nonconformists. In 1746, when twenty-seven year of age, Edwards applied himself to the great mis- sion of his life, viz.. the building of bridges. His services were in request first at Ponty- pridd, where the gentlemen of Glamorgan f wished to put up a stone bridge, instead of the ugly pontbren" that had been in use there for centuries, and William Edwards had the contract. At this time he had no ex- perience to guide him. as he found out to his cost. He put up his bridge, a very fine struc- ture of three arches, it is said. but these did not afford a sufficient passage for the accu- mulation of mountain torrents during high floods. The consequence was it was carried away before it had stood three years, and Ed- wards, according to the terms of the con- tract, was obliged to put up another bridge at his own expense. He now decided to con- struct a bridge of one arch, of 140ft. span, and 3oft. high from the chord. Before, how- ever, the parapets were reached the pressure upon the haunches caused the crown to spring This second failure was another lesson to Edwards, and taught him more practical science than if he had been able to read all the authors in architecture from Alberti to Hutton. With the courage of a Bruce. Edwards immediately applied him- self to building a third bridge (all for the simple contract of the first). To preserve equilibration, the want of which caused the downfall of his second bridge, he contrived three cylindrical apertures over the haunches at each end. the lowest aperture being 9ft., the second 6ft., and the uppermost 3ft. in diameter. These were so disposed that the periphery of a. circle passing through the centre of each aperture was parallel to the centre of the arch, whose chord was 140ft. This bridge was completed in 175o, and at the time was the largest stone arch in the world, exceeding in width even the Rialto in Venice. Edwards's career as a bridge-constructor was most successful from this time on. He built no fewer than nine important bridges, which stand to this day as monuments to his architectural genius and cleverness as a builder. Here is a list:—Pontypridd, Usk, Ynys, Pontardawe, Bettws, Llandovery, Mor- riston, Aberavon. Glasbury. It is said that Edwards was a Calvinist in doctrine he lived during a very stormy time in the religious history of Wales. The great Methodist movement had commenced. Row- lands and Harris thundered their anathemas against the Arminians, and Jenkin Jones, of Llwynrhydowen, and other Arminian leaders paid them back with interests. At Ynvsgau, Merthyr. the Calvinists and Arminians, red in tooth and claw," fought unto blood. But Edwards took no notice of the theo- logical wranglings of his day. The Calvinis- tic Methodists were holding their meetings at Watford, close by, where Captain and Grace Price kept open house for them. But Ed- wards kept the even tenour of his way. When his contemporaries were fighting about theological conundrums he was busy putting up his bridges and thinking out his sermons for Sunday. A distinguished contemporary of his was Iolo Morganwg. Indeed, they were bosom friends, men of similar tastes to a great extent. Both were bridge-builders in a way, only Edwards spanned rivers, whereas t-id 1010," by his historical and archaeological researches, spanned the cen- turies.






NEW CHAPEL AT HEOLYCUE.\ -------------------...--









Brothers Drowned at Aberthaw.

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