The Eisteddfod’s History
The first recorded Eisteddfod in Llanwrtyd was held on Wednesday, 12th August 1863 on the John Pugh meadow. At that time, the Eisteddfod was held in a marquee but sometimes held in a chapel as in 1887 when it was held at Gelynos Chapel – the first Congregational Chapel in the area.
After the Victoria Hall was built in 1887, the annual Eisteddfod was held there mostly on New Year’s Day. At that time, Llanwrtyd was a very popular place and visitors would come here in the summer in their hundreds to take the ‘healing water’ in the spa wells. As entertainment, weekly eisteddfodau were held in the Victoria Wells Pavilion which was full long before the time of commencement.
After a lull in the 1940’s, the annual eisteddfod was revived in 1951 by Madam Elizabeth Carlton-Jones, a native of Llanwrtyd. At one time, she lived in Cadoxton, Neath when she used to conduct the Pontarddulais Ladies Choir. She was very musical and gave voice training lessons to many and it was she who founded and conducted the Llanwrtyd Ladies Choir.
At that time, the Victoria Hall proved too small particularly for the evening session so for the next five years the eisteddfod was held in a marquee in a field near the present Lasswade Hotel on Station Road. One year, the weather proved unkind and the lights went out during the competitions!
In 1957 the eisteddfod returned to the Victoria Hall. The juvenile eisteddfod was held in July and the adult eisteddfod in August but in 1978 the two eisteddfodau came together and were held on the same day in late September.
The 50th eisteddfod was held in the first year of the new century when the committee decided to stage a chairing ceremony during the evening session for the first time in the history of the eisteddfod. By a strange coincidence, this was the year that Iwan Price, Pant teg was completing his ‘A’ level course with one of his subjects being Design and Technology, so as his project in this subject, Iwan made a grand chair and presented it to the Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod committee to be used in the chairing ceremony – a ceremony which has taken place in every eisteddfod ever since.
The president of the 2003 Eisteddfod was hundred year old Mrs Bet Richards, Hafod Villa, Llanwrtyd – a faithful friend and supporter of the eisteddfod and what an honour it was for us when she accepted the invitation to be president. Accompanying Mrs Bet Richards on that day were Glyn and Mair Davies of Aberaeron (formerly of Llanwrtyd) and Glyn, as friend and past chairman of the eisteddfod, gave a suitable speech on behalf of Mrs Bet Richards.
Past accompanists of Llanwrtyd eisteddfod include Madam Florence Holloway and Madam Gloria Lloyd but since 2007 we are fortunate to have had the expertise of Mr Gareth Wyn Thomas of Capel Hendre as accompanist in the afternoon and evening sessions. Mrs Heather Davis of Beulah is the official accompanist in the local session.
In order to ensure the success of the eisteddfod every year the committee relies heavily on support from the stewards; the competitors; the adjudicators and accompanists; those who make prize bags; those who donate prizes and those who donate and serve refreshments in the hall on the day of the eisteddfod.
In addition, the eisteddfod committee appreciates every donation from all vice-patrons but above all, we are greatly indebted to Paul and June Newman of Charcroft Electronics Ltd, Dôl y Coed, Llanwrtyd who have contributed so generously to the eisteddfod every year since 1997.