Why build a stone bridge in 1760?
Was this a justifiable development or misuse of public money ?
Improving communications in this part of the county was hardly going to change many people’s lives. The only traffic through the village was that of local inhabitants, and they were thin on the ground. There were no prominent landed gentry living close to the village to insist on a decent access to their stately homes. Following the death of the last of the Stedman dynasty in 1747, the only notable mansion close to the village (see the 1741 drawing below) soon lapsed into a common farmhouse
The geographical remoteness of the area and the limited traffic meant that the roads received little attention or care. In winter, most were wet and muddy or buried in snow, while in summer they were littered with huge potholes. Those which cut across mountain slopes were, usually, when dry, just a mass of projecting rocks, hard, dusty and uneven. In reality, the upland roads around Rhydfendigaid were nothing more than rough tracks and bridle-
There were very few wheeled vehicles in Ceredigion before about 1780. The majority of people walked, or rode on horses or ponies.
Upland roads around Rhydfendigaid were nothing more than rough tracks and bridle-
. . . most dangerous to travellers . . . sloughs sometimes able to bury both man and horse’
The town of Llanarch consists of a few straggling cottages, but the name served us as a guide to Aberystwith : for we soon found it necessary, to be previously acquainted with every place in our route ; as we could seldom get any farther intelligence, from the few people we met on the road, than to the next town or village.
. . . never in his life travelled further than to Carmarthen and to Radnorshire.
|||D. G. Osborne-Jones, Edward Richard of Ystrad Meurig, Carmarthen, 1934|
|||Edward Jevoise, The Ancient Bridges of England and Wales, Architectural Press, 1936|
|||Ceredigion County Council, Museum Collections, Transport in Ceredigion.
|||From the appendix to volume 2 of Daniel Defoe’s Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, first published between 1724 and 1726|
|||H. P. Wyndham, A gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales : in the months of June and July, 1774, London, 1781|
In 1801, the population of Cardiganshire was 42,956. Prior to 1801, there are no reliable figures available, but it has been estimated that Cardiganshire’s population in 1750 was 32,000. The combined population of Caron and Gwnnws in 1801 was roughly 800 – see article by J.W. Aitchison and Harold Carter, The Population of Cardiganshire, Cardigan County History, Volume 3, 1998. Assuming the combined population of Caron and Gwnnws underwent a similar change to that of Cardiganshire in the period from 1750 to 1801, then the number of people living in Caron and Gwnnws in 1750 would be around 600.
In the mid 18th century, Rhydfendigaid would have been a small linear settlement of thatched houses (running north south), surrounded by dispersed farmsteads, smallholdings and poor cottages. The number of people actually living within, what might be called, the ‘village boundary’ would be, at a guess, around 15% of the total inhabitants of Caron and Gwnnws, that is, roughly 100. There is some evidence to suggest that small households were the norm for England and Wales at the time. If it is assumed that the mean household size was 4 to 5, this indicates a village of roughly 20 to 25 houses
|||Saunders Lewis, A School of Welsh Augustans, Wrexham, 1924|
|||NLW, Cardiganshire County Roads Board, records, Minute books of the Aberystwyth district of the Cardiganshire Turnpike Trust, 1779-1845.|
To read more about why a stone bridge was built in Bont in 1760, click Page 2