The Western Mail
9th August, 1933
PUMP BUILDER OF LLANYBYTHER
in Drills. Still in Use
By GARETH JONES
a field there is, for the Welsh novelist in the old craftsmen of Wales.
Forsyte Saga telling of how father handed craft down to son, how the skill was
inherited, how the industrial revolution gradually took the bread away from
these master makers, how the nineteenth century merged into the twentieth until
in the thirties only a few gallant men were left to struggle against the
ever-growing monster, the machine, remains to be written before Wales is bereft
of all her craftsmen.
novelist might, choose the Davieses, of Abercych, who for centuries have been
woodturners; or he might, if he wished to describe three generations only,
depict the story of the family of Cledwyn Roes, pump builder, of Llanybyther
whose father made pumps and whose grandfather was in the same craft. The
last named used many of the tools his grandfather, Griffith Rees, used almost a
novelist would, however, have to be a better scientist -than myself to
understand the mechanical intricacies of Mr. Cledwyn Rees’s work which was so
technical that I could only listen to him in silence and admiration.
I entered his yard and found him sharpening an axe and surrounded by large logs
of wood I little expected to find such ingenious triumphing over the forces of
Nature. Soon, however, I saw that there was a depth of skill and science
in that simple yard and workshop.
for example, those long logs of wood through which Mr. Rees has bored a narrow
hole from one end to another to carry the water up from 23ft. below, for thirsty
dwellers in the Teify Valley. It is an art-unfortunately, nearly a past
art-to drill those holes, and I understood why when Mr. Bees showed me the old
fashioned drills with which he does the work.
shell drill, he explained, is better than the new screw drill, which is not so
accurate, although very much quicker. As happens so often in the present
period care is sacrificed for speed in the new tool. The logs of wood which a
always of larch, are plunged into the earth after hey have been fitted with
special valves, which Mr. Bees makes himself of wood, a bit of leather, and a
piece of iron. Inside the hole which runs all the way in the log there is
a long iron spindle or valve rod which has been made in a smithy.
tremble to attempt to describe what happens to that rod when the handle works,
since Mr. Bees may read this article with a critical eye and may wonder at the
ignorance of his visitor. I therefore confess in all humility that how the
water comes up to the top remains to me a mystery, although I remember learning
it in one of my first science lessons.
it to say that Mr. Cledwyn Rees succeeds in raising water from incredible
depths. He tells me that a pump built by his uncle at Glasfryn plunges 18
yards deep in the soil. Mr. Cledwyn Rees has built pumps as far as
Aberystwyth, and there are samples of his work in Strata Florida, Llanybyther,
Newcastle-Emlyn, and Llandovery, to mention but a few of his achievements.
must be very many people who have drunk their clear, cold water from his
pumps. This year he has built three pumps and usually he takes about five
days to make one. He is not only a master pump builder but also a good
cartwright and wheelwright.
is grateful to the Llanybyther Smithy for what it has done for him in the
past. Davies the smith, Lianybyther, he says was one of the best craftsmen
in the country. Athough he was very silent when Tim Hughes, millwright,
Llanllwni, the Western Mail photographer and I paid him, sudden visit, there
were wrinkles around his eyes which only come of much laughing.
he long continue to summon up water from the depths for the thirsty of West