Welsh Mountains to Tunisian Molehills; Andrew Forgrave, Rural Affairs Editor, Looks at One of Wales' Oldest Mountain Sheep Societies

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), December 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

Welsh Mountains to Tunisian Molehills; Andrew Forgrave, Rural Affairs Editor, Looks at One of Wales' Oldest Mountain Sheep Societies


Byline: Andrew Forgrave, Rural Affairs Editor

LIKE most other breed societies, advocates of the Denbighshire Welsh mountain sheep were keen to spread the gospel far and wide.

In the late 1960s this commercial drive reached it peak with a successful sortie across the border to the Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate.

The delegation was headed by leading breeder WD Lloyd, of Prion, Denbigh, who ambitiously stocked his ageing van with as many rams and ewes as he could muster.

"As he drove up the M6 the van began to struggle with the big load, and he was forced to stop frequently to change oil and allow the engine to cool," said Meurig Owen, author of a new book on the breed.

"By the time he reached the Harrogate smoke was pouring from the van. Other breedersdispensed with their maps and reached the showground by following his smoke."

At the show, an impressive example of the breed was displayed prominently on the society's trade stand. Orders flooded in, as north country breeders were keen to emulate the success of the Welsh Half-Bred by buying in their own Welsh Mountain sires.

It didn't end there, with interest eventually coming from as far afield as South America, Malaya, France and Tunisia.

The Tunisians, sensing that the hardiness of the Welsh Mountain would suit their own hills, bought a batch from Wil Williams, of Hafod, Gwytherin, Abergele. Later "Wil yr Hafod" travelled tot he country to inspect their progress.

"I think he was a bit taken aback," said Mr Owen.

"The mountains there were like molehills compared with those in Wales. The sheep had settled well enough, but were being attacked by the native jackals: local shepherds were having to coral them on lower ground at night."

Mr Owen's Welsh language book Brenhines y Bryniau (Queen Of The Hills) was launched on Monday at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, Builth Wells.

On its cover is a painting of Welsh Mountain ewes by the late RG Jones - Bob Gruff - bailiff at the Hendre Garthmeilio estate, Llangwm. Dai Jones, Llanilar, provides the foreword, and he was present at Monday's launch when Wil Williams formally presented a signed copy of the book to John Edwards, 87, the society's founder chairman.

Brenhines y Bryniau charts the progress of the Denbighshire Welsh Mountain Sheep Society since its inception in September 1953. …

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