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The Women's Institutes and Local History

Future historians of Carmarthenshire will have good reason to be grateful to the County Federation of Women's Institutes. Some fourteen years ago the county's Institutes compiled Scrap-Books on the history of their particular districts, an extremely valuable contribution towards a chronicle of bygone Carmarthenshire. The commendable interest shown by the ladies was no transitory affair, for they have recently compiled detailed accounts of the events of the year 1965.

The importance of this undertaking lies in the fact that the material was collected by informed people living "on the spot", many of whom personally took part in the events they describe. This material often includes facets of social and economic history, and those human touches rarely to be found in the legal and more formal documents usually providing the basis of an historian's work.

The competition within the county was directed by the General Education Sub-Committee of the Carmarthenshire Federation of Women's Institutes, of which Mrs Iorwerth Howells is Chairman, and Mrs Megan Rees, Secretary. Members of the institutes set to work with that enthusiasm, thoroughness and expertise which characterise their undertakings.

Twenty-five entries were submitted by the following Institutes—Bancyfelin, Betws, Bronwydd Arms, Cilycwm, Court Henry, Cynghordy, Garnant, Johnstown, Laugharne, Llandovery, Llanddarog, Llangan, Llangyndeyrn, Llanllawddog, Llannon, Llanwrda, Myddfai, Myrddin, Pembrey, Pontyberem, Pumpsaint, Rhandirmwyn, Trapp, Tumble, and Whitland.

They were of a superior order; there was not an indifferent entry among them, not a single "also ran". Local events were efficiently described and attractively presented, accompanied by maps, plans, sketches, photographs, and newspaper cuttings. The judges derived pleasure as well as instruction when perusing them, and after careful consideration unanimously agreed that the following should be submitted for the national competition:— English section, Laugharne, Tumble and District, Betws and District : Welsh section, Llannon, Pumpsaint, Rhandirmwyn Correction: Bilingual section, Myrddin.

At the final adjudication in London, the first place for Carmarthenshire was accorded to LAUGHARNE. We heartily congratulate the ladies of the ancient Township on their well-merited distinction in achieving this outstanding success in a competition characterised by such a uniformly high quality. Laugharne's work was imaginative, lively, attractive, a work of art, which reflects the highest credit on those who had contributed to its compilation.

Exigencies of space do not allow of a detailed description of the other entries. Suffice to say that they were well-planned, competently arranged, and included the significant features of 1965, so that they constitute a unique reference source for the use of future historians and students of our county.


What old customs and traditions still survive in town and countryside? How many goose fairs and the like are held in Carmarthenshire nowadays? To what extent is communal activity, such as featherings, carried on in the rural areas? Is there a country craft practised by one last remaining craftsman? Where and when did the wheelwright make his last wheel, the cooper his last churn; or is there someone still at work? Are weddings, births and deaths still occasions for the observance of quaint customs in the remoter strongholds of tradition?

Information of this kind will be gladly received by the Local History Committee of the Carmarthenshire Community Council and individuals who have a story to tell or organisations who would like to co-operate in inquiring into these things are invited to get in touch with the Committee through the Secretary, Community Council, 16a Guildhall Square, Carmarthen.
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