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A brief history of Derwen Gam (Oakford)

March 2006 News Story

A Brief History of the Village

Updated: 17th, March 2006
A picture of the "big snow" fall of 1982The whole of Oakford village was built during the early part of the 19th, Century (1800's) by Mr Morgan Evans, son of Mr Evans of Pontbrenddu.

A student of business studies may find this short introduction and insight into the development, rise and fall of a village of interest.

Mr Evans then transferred the shop that existed at Pontbrenddu, a farm situated a 1/4 mile north west of the settlement, to the new premises facing the road junction which he named Rhydwyn-llanau. The shop sold everything for the needs of the community including drapery, ironmongery, ships sails and tar. Steel was shipped from Bristol to Aberaeron, transported to the shop and sold to the smithy opposite. Customers came from a wide area including Aberaeron, New Quay, Cilliau Aeron and Cilcennin. There are invoices that date back to 1830. Mr Morgan Evans, an educated man, was the first chairman of Cardiganshire Education Committee, a justice of the peace, Chairman of Aberaeron Magistrates and became a lay preacher at Llyncelyn Chapel.

Oakford became the center for the locality mainly due to the shop and the enterprise of its proprietor.

The Smithy adjoined "Ty Tailwr" housing the tailors and now called Rose Cottage; the Carpenter lived at "Ty Saer", now Alion. The minister of Llyncelyn Chapel was also the minister of Mydroilin Chapel and he was allocated Llynfell, next to the shop, by Mr Morgan Evans because Oakford was mid-way between the two villages of Mydroilin and Llyncelyn.

In the center of the main terrace is an archway known as "The Arcade" which led to "Ty-ffwrn", the communal bakery. This was used in turn by all villagers to the turn of the 20th, Century. The builder was thus saved from putting ovens in each house. At Felinfach, about 1/2 mile north west stood the flour mill with two wheels - one for wheat and one for barley. Nearby, at Refail-isaf, clocks were made. Ropeyard Cottage, now Oakleigh, about 2/3 mile south-west of Oakford, provided a further connection with ships. Catrefle was once a public house - the "Red Lion" and Parc Villa, burnt down many years ago was once the "Royal Oak" public house.

The original name of the village was Derwen Gam. The was changed to Oakford by Mr Morgan Evans "because of commercial travellers", according to his obituary in a local newspaper. He died of 15th, January 1915 and his son Daniel, who was not a public man, took over the shop.

After the chapel and schools were built at Llyncelyn that village became the center for the area and further development took place there. Oakford subsequently passed into the ownership of Mrs Elizabeth Jones, the grand daughter of Morgan Evans. After the second world war the village gradually declined. Rents of the dwellings remained at pre-war levels, e.g two shillings and siz pence (12 1/2p) a week and £5 per annum, etc. The dwellings were allowed to deteriorate by the land-lord and were not repaired or modernised. Tenants left for better accommodation elsewhere.

Mrs Elizabeth Jones who lived at Darfal, the shop having been let to tenants, died July 1971. Her will divided the estate among a dozen beneficiaries who started arranging sales of the properties. By 1973 six dwellings had already been been sold, three more were to be sold and the owners intended the sale of the rest which were tenanted. There were only 8 families left in 1973 and they feared their houses would be sold over their heads and they would lose their homes. Most tenants wished to stay in the village in suitable houses. Fears were expressed that dwellings would be bought by buyers from the cities as "second homes" and local people wouild be priced out of the market. Oakford would become a "dead" village and would lose its Welsh character. Yhe matter was given much publicity in the local press and on television and a society for the protection of the village was formed called "Cwmdeithas Amddiffyn Derwen Gam". The society presented a detailed report on the village to the Aberaeron Rural District Council in 1973 and requested that Oakford be designated a General Improvement Area under the Housing Act 1969. This request was refused by the Rural District Council mainly because there was no mains sewerage in the settlement and there was no school, no chapel or village hall. These facilities were available at Llyncelyn and the Rural District Council built 16 dwellings there in 1974 which re-housed some of the Oakford families. Around 1979 many of the dwellings had been renovated, some with improvement grants. Several were occupied by people from England but there were only 2 "second homes". Only 3 of the original households remained and 3 houses were empty. Since 1973 significant changes had taken place in legislation and attitudes and with the benefit of hindsight it is possible to conjecture that a different course of action in 1973 could have been desirable.

At the turn of the 20th, Century the settlement consisted of the main terrace of shop and 10 dwellings on the south-eastern side of the class iii road no.41 to Neuaddlywd. It extended from the junction with the class iii road no.17 north-eastwards, then a short gap from the end of the terrace were the two dwellings, Alion and Noddfa that formed the north-eastern extremety of the settlement. On the north-eastern side of the class iii road no.17 to Llyncelyn at the junction with class iii road no.41 stood Rose Cottage with the adjoining smithy and Darfal stood on its own forming the north-eastern extremety. Opposite the smithy was Tygwyn with the adjoining Catrefle at the road junction. On the north-western side of the class iii road no.41 (towards Llanarth) stood the terrace of four dwellings south-west of Catrefle. About 35 yards south-west of the terrace were the semi-detached tegfan and Minafon. South of the latter on the opposite side

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