Gwynedd County Council tape 11: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 7917 words speech recorded in leisure context

2 speakers recorded by respondent number C372

PS2VX Ag5 m (No name, age 79, retired forestry worker, Interviewee) unspecified
PS2VY X m (No name, age unknown, historian, Interviewer) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 103701 recorded on 1984. LocationGwynedd: Caernarfonshire () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview/reminiscences

Undivided text

(PS2VX) [1] Erm my first job was erm helping the keeper.
[2] With the pheasants.
[3] I started there when I was about fifteen and er erm they used to breed about er six hundred pheasants there you see.
[4] And my job was to going round with the keeper and feeding them every morning.
[5] They used to have a erm hens there you see, they used to go round the small farms buying hens, then for half a crown each, just for sitting on the eggs to hatch them.
[6] And then they used to put them in er er small boxes out in the field and er I used to go round in the woodlands and cut some [...] you see, put them in the ground with a small branch on them and then we used to make some string and loops out of erm wire to go round their feet you see.
[7] And then we used to put these loops the [...] through the loops and tie their legs to the string.
[8] And have them in the [...] get their feed first thing in the morning you see.
[9] And as soon as they finished their feed and they had some drinks from the small tins as well, we used to put them one by one back in these boxes where the eggs were and they used to settle down straight off then after they had their feed and [...] and they used to erm settle down no trouble at all .
[10] And then the old keeper used to come round and see that we were all right and they'd be there till the following day and carry on for about three or four weeks you see.
[11] And then as they hatched you see, you used to take them in into the incubator then.
[12] Because we had finished with the hens then you see, and they used to sell the hens for about two shillings or something like that you know.
[13] In the old time.
[14] And then erm they eggs would be in this incubator for about a week and then they used to arrange coops for them to go out do you see, we used to fence a field below the mansion,, in the field there, because there was a good in enclosure right round the two drives and then there were shelter you see.
[15] And then we used to fence it half [...] .
[16] And get a shed there or a hut anyway.
[17] And then we used to put some coops there and small runs for them and we used to carry them there, every night because they settled down better in the night than in the daytime.
[18] And the hen with [...] back again there if they hadn't sold them.
[19] Take the hens [...] .
[20] And erm we used to have about six hundred in all there they say.
[21] And then when they had come about two months old, something like that, er we used to carry them out now, into the woodlands and [...] with the rest of the hens.
[22] Into the woodlands.
[23] At night.
[24] As when it was eight to nine o'clock at night sometimes up to twelve o'clock, depends on how many was going out.
[25] Because they settled down better in the night in the woodlands.
(PS2VY) [26] Mm.
(PS2VX) [27] If you took them in the daytime, they'd come back, but taking them in the dark, when they were asleep into the woodlands, they'd settle much better do you see.
[28] In the bushes and all that.
[29] And then we used to after that, we used to go out, every in the morning and at night, taking some feed out, to them wherever they were do you see.
[30] Now then, after they cut the [...] in the farm, all the rakings erm there might be about four or five loads there do you see.
[31] They used to take the what they called the rakings, the spare [...] after they carried the sheaves in.
[32] The spare of the of the straw and there was some er seed among them do you see.
[33] Used to take a load of that to one part of the woodlands.
[34] Another one to another part there, and so on.
[35] About four or five.
[36] And then we used to call them [...] because that's where we were feeding them do you see.
[37] After they had settled down among the bushes, we used to take these do you see.
[38] And then they would walk for them do you see, do their way up for them.
[39] And then we used to feed them on these rakings there do you see.
[40] Er twice, morning and night.
[41] And er if you went quietly back after putting the feed out say before dark, put the feed down there and you went quietly back and watched them, you wouldn't believe how many would have been there.
[42] There'd be about two or three hundred.
[43] Perhaps on the same ... erm pheasant [...] .
[44] Because there were some old ones there before the young one had've gone there do you see.
[45] And erm then they settled down.
[46] There on that patch do you see.
[47] Now then my my place for feeding was the upper side of do you see.
[48] All the woodlands of the upper side, there was three three feedings there.
[49] Three erm place to feed them.
[50] And we used to watch them.
[51] Go there sometimes about four o'clock give them a feed out and then we used to I used to stay there in a small shelter there.
[52] And they'd go down right over the main road, right over the fields, over the railway, through the fields along the beach there.
[53] And about four o'clock to five o'clock, they'd be coming back.
[54] And as they were coming back they would be cawing.
[55] For used to go over the road and they used to go over the railway.
[56] You could hear them coming from the distance, back.
[57] And they make to the same place to [...] their feed.
[58] And that's in that place just round about there.
[59] That's where they were roosting overnight on the trees.
[60] Just on that path there do you see.
[61] And they'll come from oh two or three miles back to the same tree.
[62] Same tree every night.
[63] No different tree.
[64] But to the same tree.
[65] And the s the trees they would like to come was the [...] pines and the [...] pines because they they've got a mop like of of leaves do you see, and they were well sheltered there, among these.
[66] And they were hidden among them do you see.
[67] So they were quite warm there.
[68] Doesn't matter what the weather was.
[69] They were quite warm there.
[70] And they'll come to that tree every night.
[71] The same [...] about forty to fifty on that field on that tree, they'd come to that tree every night.
[72] Doesn't matter where they were.
[73] And erm the keeper, had from up towards the mountain do you see.
[74] Three er feedings there again.
[75] And then that was there, the old ones and all.
[76] From the past, used to come there do you see and feed.
[77] And roost in the same spot there.
[78] Aye.
[79] And then in between, I was to go round with him, say in the afternoons or some mornings, and he had heard about a fox somewhere.
[80] Perhaps up in the [...] or up in the mountain.
[81] We used to go after lunch, straight up to the mountain or wherever the fox was.
[82] And dig them out, young cubs and all.
(PS2VY) [83] Did you?
(PS2VX) [84] Aye.
[85] And catch them alive in the burrows.
[86] And that was a job.
[87] [laugh] And er we used to dig down, we used to put the the dogs in, used to have about two or three terriers.
[88] Put them in.
[89] And block all the holes.
[90] Perhaps you'd block all the holes.
[91] Perhaps you'd put one in.
[92] Just to mark.
[93] And then we used to listen with our ear on the ground and we could hear where the dog was do you see, and then we used to dig down there because we knew it was fighting there with the with a vixen do you see.
[94] The fox we used to we used to dig down there and come to the vixen.
[95] And then the old keeper, he was quicker than I am, because I was l erm because he was used to the job do you see.
[96] And then I was taken the dog out slowly do you see, and the old vixen coming out forward do you see.
[97] And he used to have a small piece of stick with a [...] on the end of it, cut from er a tree or a bush.
[98] And as soon as she puts her head down out for the for the dog do you see, fighting, he used to put this V on her back, right at the back of the the the neck.
[99] Just above you know on the scruff scruff anyway.
[100] And hold her down.
[101] And the he could get his hand do you see, round her nose anyway, around her snout.
[102] Catching hold of her and she couldn't get back do you seem because he had slipped this hand down this stick, got hold of her and he [...] you see, and then I let go of the dog and take the the front feet and we used to drag her out like that you see, from the burrow and put her in a bag.
[103] As soon as she was in the sack, it was a sack then, you wont get them now.
[104] Old fashioned sack.
[105] As soon as she was in the sack, she was as quiet as a lamb.
[106] Very very quiet.
[107] And then
(PS2VY) [108] Not struggling?
(PS2VX) [109] No struggling at all.
[110] As soon as she was in the bag,
(PS2VY) [111] Mm.
(PS2VX) [112] she was quiet like a lamb.
[113] No [...] at all.
[114] We used to tie her in there and get the cubs out then do you see, we used to dig for the cubs.
[115] They might be about er a month old, perhaps six weeks old and we used to get them sometimes, most of the time we would get about four there, sometimes three.
[116] And we used to catch them alive, take them out, put them in a bag together again, and off home again do you see.
[117] And then er we used to make a a big chest for her do you see.
[118] You used to have two or three old chests there.
[119] And we used to take one of them, do it up, put some straw in and everything and all that and then, tie there was a ring in the ground you see in one of the [...] .
[120] And a chain there and we used to tie her to this chain so that she could get into the box and out again, and then we used to put the cubs there first in the straw and then we used to put her there do you see.
[121] Just take take the bag, put it in and let go and then shut her there for the night, just for one night.
[122] And with a lead on and off do you see.
[123] And then in the night when it was dark, the old keeper used to come there, open the top of the lid and shut the door, because she was in a she was in a loft do you see, above the kennels, with er an iron er ladder going up and down you see, and then [...] shut the door on her there do you see and she could get in and out then from the chest.
[124] And then the job was on the following days was after [...] be shooting rabbits to feed them do you see.
[125] For about oh, three or four weeks.
[126] Till we had a customer do you see through the office in .
[127] A customer from somewhere in England, where they used to [...] hunt them do you see.
(PS2VY) [128] I see.
(PS2VX) [129] And then er perhaps they were get a customer in about two or three weeks perhaps, less than that sometimes.
[130] And then, the next job was to make a a a crate for her to go on the railway do you see.
[131] [...] erm er erm big crate with some strips of wood along the top.
[132] And then plenty of straw and everything and put the old vixen in and the cubs and some food for and then the old erm the old er [clicks fingers] erm what did they used to call it?
[133] Oh the ... not a Land Rover then. [...] .
(PS2VY) [134] Mm.
(PS2VX) [135] That's what they call it.
[136] Aye the [...] .
[137] That's when they used to come up and put it in the [...] straight on to the station.
[138] And then the depot on and off to wherever was the place like.
[139] Aye aye.
[140] And we had finished with them.
[141] Aye.
[142] Another time was ... about October, I don't know what he was doing with them, but [...] in October, middle of October, we used to go out to the beach and shoot erm ... Oh what do you call them now?
[143] They've got long beaks like that.
[144] [clicks fingers] You can hear them [...] in the Summer, just before dusk in the swamps. [...]
(PS2VY) [145] the er the curlews?
(PS2VX) [146] Curlews, that's it.
[147] The curlews.
[148] Used get as much as he could of them, I don't know was it to keep the the amount of them down or not.
[149] I'm not quite sure.
[150] Because they used to be in the swamp hours.
[151] Hours in the swamp and when they were going all thick and heavy there, he used to go round about October, just for that one day, and shoot as much as he could, and bring them into the mansion.
[152] What they were going [...] I don't know.
[153] Aye and er he had a g special gun for that job.
[154] It was a about thirty six barrel.
[155] Length of barrel.
[156] And he used to c take cartridges erm about an inch and a half thick and about three inches long.
[157] Specially made.
[158] Single barrel.
[159] And on the end of the erm stock there was the [...] to take the kick do you see.
[160] And er sometimes you'd have a stand for it because it was too long.
[161] And he used to have a small stand on it do you see, to hold the barrel, and then he could manoeuvre around just like a machine gun.
[162] Wherever the birds where, aye.
[163] And for shooting er wild erm [clicks fingers] geese.
[164] And er wild ducks as well.
[165] In fact, they used to call it the gun for the wild ducks do you see.
[166] And they used to be coming erm about the end of September through the beginning of November, they used to come to the beach from different directions, during that time.
[167] And that was the time to shoot them.
[168] Aye, different birds.
[169] Erm er different ducks erm ... [...] and [...] ducks.
[170] Aye.
[171] [...] were the small ones, all different colour.
[172] But the [...] were creamy white [...] the big ones then were the ones for eating anyway.
[173] Aye aye.
[174] Yes and I had a lot of er experience with [...] with training dogs and all that for hunting the old foxes and all that.
(PS2VY) [175] Did you?
(PS2VX) [176] Yes.
[177] Yes.
(PS2VY) [178] On f er was it on foot?
(PS2VX) [179] Yes.
[180] Oh yes, on foot aye, aye.
[181] And erm we used to carry erm ... used to have a pair of binoculars with him and I used to have the old er telescope do you see.
[182] And er we used to look if we could see some on the side of the mountains from the distances you could pick it out with a pick them out with er with this telescope it was a heck of a good telescope, aye.
[183] It was so good, this telescope, we had, when I was watching the pheasants, in the field, I used to be there all day for the [...] the carrion crows would come along do you see.
[184] Then we had to shoot them do you see.
[185] The carrion crows.
[186] And it was funny, the carrion crows use to keep away for the whole week nearly.
[187] But when the Sunday morning used to come, the old [...] and the old erm Scotch keeper used to tell me, Tom, he used to say, I you know it's Sunday again?
(PS2VY) [188] Yes, I said, [...] look at them crows, he says to me, they know it's Sunday because you'd never shoot on a Sunday.
[189] No.
(PS2VX) [190] No?
(PS2VY) [191] He was a Scotchman, he would never shoot on a Sunday.
[192] Doesn't matter if he saw his fox, he wouldn't shoot it on a Sunday.
[193] No.
[194] Aye he was very very keen er keep the Sunday clean.
[195] Aye.
[196] Aye aye.
[197] And er the only thing we could do then was to chase them away go round you know and just chase them away.
[198] [...] . But this telescope ... the field was just below .
[199] The mansion of .
[200] And I could see right across the fields and right across the Menai Straits onto Beaumarais.
[201] From there and I had this telescope.
[202] And I could see during the week this was, [...] in the mornings you know, say about eight or nine to ten in the morning, and I could see the figures of the ladies there, cleaning the windows in the morning.
[203] And the front.
[204] You couldn't see them right if you were a few yards from them, but just the figures moving you know, and their arms going backwards and fore cleaning the windows.
[205] Yes, it was so good as that.
[206] It was a good telescope.
[207] Aye, aye.
[208] One of the best I ever saw.
[209] Aye.
[210] And erm you could see a long distance with it like that you know, especially if you could see a fox from er about a mile and a half, you could see right going along the rocks in the mountains.
[211] Aye.
[212] Aye.
[213] And erm say the fox had been in the ground, and the [...] and the the young cubs, for about three or four days.
[214] And we used to hear somebody saying there was a vixen there and some and some young ones.
[215] [...] we went up there with the dogs and let them in in to the burrow.
[216] Block everywhere, let them into the burrow.
[217] One dog would go in, and she'd just shake her tail and come back, and you couldn't get her in afterwards because she knew that they'd cleared off.
(PS2VY) [218] I see.
(PS2VX) [219] They had moved.
(PS2VY) [220] Yeah.
(PS2VX) [221] Anyway the scent was there, but she was wise once she had gone through, Oh it's alright.
[222] She wouldn't go in then, and you knew then, well they've gone.
[223] What they were doing, the old vixen was walking them higher up into the mountain for safety.
[224] And the old dog knew that it was empty, no use ... digging down or anything, she had gone do you see.
[225] Aye, they were quite wise like that.
[226] Yes.
[227] And one time, I remember, er we had gone among the rocks there, and we had er two erm ... two fox terriers there.
[228] And one was [...] fox terriers.
[229] And er that one would fight, doesn't matter what was there, it'd fight its way out.
[230] Anyway, when I came in, and he [...] he didn't come out.
[231] It was oh about two to three o'clock in the afternoon.
[232] And he didn't come out.
[233] Dark when the r it came dusk and dark again and he hadn't come out.
[234] And we left him there [...] and we went home.
[235] Up there about six o'clock in the morning, ad we managed to get him out them.
[236] And he was bitten all over his face, everywhere.
[237] And of course the old keeper knew what was there alright when he saw the old dog coming out.
[238] It was erm [clicks fingers] badger.
(PS2VY) [239] A badger [...]
(PS2VX) [240] Badger den Aye.
(PS2VY) [241] Mm.
(PS2VX) [242] And that one was fighting with the dog do you see.
[243] Because they've got a shelf do you see, in the burrow, [...] for safety.
[244] If er something comes in, they can attack him on his back do you see.
[245] And that's what happened you see, he had him on.
[246] About his ears and all his face like that.
[247] But the old dog survived alright.
[248] Aye.
[249] Aye.
[250] The old keeper he knew how to treat him and he was on alright in about a month.
[251] Aye aye.
[252] But erm we set some traps then [...] .
[253] Gin was one then.
[254] You could use them.
[255] We went back with these traps, put them in a half circle right round, bout nine of them, anyway.
[256] And er a fox trap as well as the gin trap, that one's a bigger one.
[257] Anyway, the following day he was there.
[258] The third day, in the trap.
[259] Aye.
[260] Aye.
[261] He had gone to the big one and he wandered about his [...] two in his legs.
[262] Aye, of course we couldn't go near him, we [...] shoot him from a distance, [...] .
[263] Aye.
[264] And that one we were doing in the meantime.
[265] Between the feeding, the pheasants and all that, aye.
[266] And I was there for the erm ... oh about fourteen months in all with the shooting.
(PS2VY) [267] How how old were you
(PS2VX) [268] And they were starting shooting the pheasants about then, it's altered now.
[269] It used to be the twenty first of October.
(PS2VY) [270] Mm.
(PS2VX) [271] Right through to the middle of January.
[272] Yes and we used to have about two or three er days of shooting during that erm that period anyway.
[273] Aye aye.
[274] Aye.
[275] Yes and er we used to have about two hundred three hundred birds on the for the shooting and then perhaps about a hundred and fifty or so or something like that on the second.
[276] And erm we used to help er [...] in the woodlands then, used to give us a help.
[277] And they'd be all down in the cellar do you see.
[278] And up in the cellar, after the shooting, we had to make them to a brace like that, a cockerel and a hen.
[279] In a brace.
[280] And hang them up in the cellar all night.
[281] Because there was two or three rooms there do you see, a proper place for hanging up.
[282] And the following day, we had to go in and help [...] and pack them in hampers.
[283] Do you see.
[284] Specially made for them.
[285] Pack them there, the whole braces.
[286] Aye.
[287] And erm take them and down two two or three loads down to the station.
[288] Pack them off.
[289] For Manchester, Liverpool and er different places like that.
[290] Aye, aye.
[291] Aye.
[292] And of course, on the shooting, they used to have a good feed of you know in the mansion in the cellar.
[293] Aye.
[294] All tables laid out, all kinds of meat and puddings and everything. [laugh]
(PS2VY) [295] Yes?
(PS2VX) [296] Yes.
[297] And plenty of drinks, Aye aye.
(PS2VY) [298] Who would be at the shoot then?
(PS2VX) [299] Well they used to invite do you see.
[300] Lord for instance and er there used to be one [...] from this way, Portmadoc somewhere, the place was [...] the place was called [...] .
[301] And erm that one was just along beyond Caernarfon here somewhere.
[302] And Anglesey, I remember [...] from Anglesey, he was from that way somewhere.
[303] And erm Colonel from [...] .
[304] And erm some from towards er [...] that way, from the estate there somewhere.
[305] Used to be about four or five you know, aye.
[306] And the major himself of course.
[307] And er the some of the the family as well.
[308] Yes.
[309] I remember one lady there, she was only young, and she was she was only about twenty five, and er she had a ... a twelve bore, single barrel gun.
[310] I thought it was too heavy for her, she was only small.
[311] But sh she was the second best shooter there.
[312] For the day, for bringing them down.
[313] Aye.
(PS2VY) [314] Was she?
(PS2VX) [315] Aye.
[316] Everybody was surprised.
[317] She was such an accurate er shooter.
[318] Aye, aye.
[319] Aye.
[320] You see one, was close to the woodlands and in fact [...] missed, she was just in the bottom of the field, and she's sure to get the bird.
[321] [...] . And then as we were beating you see, inside, through the bushes and all, and a pheasant got up, and we used to shout, [...] , do you see, for them to know that he was coming.
[322] Aye.
[323] But the noise of him and the flapping was good enough sign too.
[324] Yes.
[325] And I had been loading for the Major the last time that I was out shooting, the last time for me like.
[326] Aye aye.
[327] Aye, the one that used to was poorly [...] .
[328] He [...] a loader for him.
[329] Aye aye.
[330] Two guns of course.
[331] And then you had to be quick at it you know.
[332] Keep two cartridges in your hand all the time, and then as soon as you'd handed your gun, and you were taking the other one, and he was [...] the empty one.
[333] They used to swing out themselves do you see, just open [...] trigger handle for the barrel to open, they used to spring out [...] , and then put the two new ones in you see and close it straight off.
[334] And you had to be quick you see, because the birds sometimes used to come and stop over.
[335] Yeah, yeah.
[336] Yes.
[337] And then and [...] used to miss you know sometimes he would be missing every one nearly and he'd be cleaning his glasses all the time [...] , Dash it [laughing] [...] [] .
[338] Aye aye.
[339] Other times he couldn't miss.
[340] Aye aye.
[341] Aye.
[342] Oh I enjoyed it.
[343] And erm then I went to the woodlands as a forester.
[344] And I started from there as a forester.
[345] I was about sixteen and a half then or going for seventeen aye.
[346] And I was there for twenty five years.
[347] Aye, in the woodlands.
[348] And I've been er erm loading for him two or three times after that.
[349] Aye aye.
[350] Aye.
[351] Yes.
[352] And er then I carried on in the woodlands then, cutting trees down and erm sawing up too.
[353] I was on the circular sa saw there for about eight or ten years.
[354] Doing nothing only sawing all day.
[355] Aye, that was during the wartime, aye aye.
[356] Aye.
[357] And erm felling, trees.
[358] Cutting trees for blocks for them, for roads.
[359] And they used to go through about oh I should say about [...] erm carts then you see, horse and carts.
[360] And they used to take about six loads a day [...] you see.
[361] Of er blocks.
[362] Er every week.
[363] They had to go through a lot of blocks.
[364] And about seven to eight, truckloads of coal.
[365] They used to have them in the Summer, ready for the Winter.
[366] And they used to stack them all in the cellar.
[367] For the twelve months like.
[368] Aye.
[369] And erm the trucks were about [break in recording]
(PS2VX) [370] Yes and I was there till ... about erm ... nineteen fifty three.
[371] I started in .
[372] August nineteen fifty three.
[373] And I was there till I was erm twenty six years in .
[374] Aye altogether.
[375] Yes.
[376] And of course my work here, I used to do in I used to plant a lot in .
[377] Of trees.
[378] But in when I came to , it was mostly erm planting threes again.
[379] And in I was planting an average, there was five of us working [...] and the students and we used to average about fourteen to sixteen thousand every year of young plants.
[380] But clearing was a job mostly.
[381] I didn't mind planting, we were quick planting, but clearing for planting, that was the worst job do you see.
[382] You [...] and open the ditches and all that.
[383] [...] . Aye aye.
[384] But erm going back to er to , twice we had an oak land fire.
[385] Twice.
[386] I remember it was oh about nineteen twenty eight something like that it was.
[387] And s it had been a heck of a storm.
[388] And we had a plantation right out in ... the erm warren.
[389] And it was a plantation of er [...] .
[390] And we didn't go there to cut them at all because they were right open, right in the open and there was ho hope for them anyway.
[391] We left them there to season, we didn't bother.
[392] And er of course we had [...] then.
[393] Anywhere we were c clearing the river up because [...] blocked that, one Summer day and it was very hot for about a month or so.
[394] And we were at it clearing this there right in in the hollow.
[395] And there were some er foresters [...] .
[396] They [...] when they had bought bought a a plantation of larches.
[397] You want them for pit props.
[398] And they they had bought them.
[399] And they had these two or three foresters there, cutting them up.
[400] And we could hear somebody calling and shouting.
[401] We couldn't make out what was wrong.
[402] And er they were still whistling and calling, so I went up on to the top of the bank and they [...] it was this plantation that fell down in the warren and caught fire.
[403] Somebody had been picnicking there do you see, in the warren and left some bottles there.
[404] And of course the sun caught the bottles and set the fire to the undergrowth of the grass do you see.
[405] And it was all peat.
[406] All these trees had been growing on peat do you see, and the peat was dry.
[407] Anyway we went up there but we couldn't do anything because the ground had taken fire do you see, all this peat.
[408] And the rabbits were bolting out from their house.
[409] And they had no single hair on.
[410] They were as clean you know, the backs of them as clean as my hand.
[411] They had not Because the ground was on fire do you see, and they were bolting out.
[412] And screaming.
[413] You could hear them squeaking off from a distance.
[414] And we were trying to kill them everything [...] .
[415] Take them out of their misery but you couldn't cope with them because the ground was moving with them.
[416] Oh we felt terrible for them.
[417] Anyway, the trees were all burnt to dust.
[418] Aye aye.
[419] It wasn't only about half an acre or less.
[420] Aye.
[421] All the trees, but they had all fall down do you see, flat.
[422] And of course, they had seasoned by then and they were just like matches going, aye.
[423] And we didn't bother, we couldn't do anything [...] much for these rabbits and try and kill them you know, as much as we could aye.
[424] Aye.
[425] Er it was better to leave it to burn out do you see.
[426] And the second fire I had was just before the last war.
[427] We had been clearing oh about six acres of woodlands.
[428] Been all been cleared f f erm ... What we used to call it, cut and clear felled you see.
[429] All cleared.
[430] Ready for planting, and of course, oh there were some twigs and everything [...] .
[431] I remember we cleaned it all up, and it was right on the boundary wall between property and .
[432] And we had a small [...] bonfire in a way of small twigs and all that.
[433] All the undergrowth.
[434] And we had put it on fire and it had died down, you could have put it on two or three shovels, when we were leaving the place do you see, and it was all quiet and all [...] all right now, and off we went home.
[435] About four o'clock in the morning, the following morning, a farmer was knocking on my door.
[436] And he said, Come here, the whole forest is on fire.
[437] I couldn't believe it till I went out.
[438] [...] dressing gown and off I went out.
[439] To the front of the house and then like we see all the side and the f on fire.
[440] So I went back, dressed, and off I went, called the [...] and I went up to try and beat it off.
[441] No hopes, it was travelling under our feet, non-stop.
[442] We were beating and beating.
[443] Anyway in the end, they called the the fire brigade.
[444] We we could see it was going out of control.
[445] Even big old trees you know, they were coming down.
(PS2VY) [446] Mm.
(PS2VX) [447] Burning and the top of them coming down you know, it was dangerous.
[448] And the fire brigade was coming along the road, we could hear it coming you know.
[449] And it came a heavy shower, thunder shower.
[450] And it lasted about three quarters an hour, and it all damped down.
[451] We were as glad as anything when we saw this rain coming down.
[452] We were soaked to the skin, we didn't care [...] .
[453] As long as we could stop the fire.
[454] Because it was travelling you know, on er oh a line of about ... ooh I'm sure about six hundred yards.
[455] Because he had gone back to the woodlands where the trees were.
[456] And it was going along through the woodlands, travelling [...] like the river [...] .
[457] And [...] covered in sweat.
[458] But when this rain came down, it was like it had been sent to stop it you know.
[459] A heavy rain, we were soaked in about five minutes, soaked to the skin.
[460] Aye.
[461] Aye.
[462] But it stopped it like that, it was only just smouldering you know.
[463] And and [...] of the fire brigade, We couldn't do anything better.
[464] [laughing] [...] [] They all turned back that was all.
[465] Aye with their tankers, aye aye.
[466] That's the only two fires I had.
[467] And what happened you see, ... the wind got up during the night, and this small fire we had you see, started spreading back among the undergrowth, and then the more it was [...] back, the bigger it was t gaining ground, and it was getting to the old stuff do you see, And then it was a good flare then.
[468] And it started, we could see where it started from, this fire.
[469] And it was like a black carpet all the way.
[470] Aye aye.
[471] If we had put some two or three stones on it you see, that'd been better.
[472] But we thought it was alright, we didn't bother.
[473] I mean it was right up to the wall, and the we'd have bothered.
[474] But you can see what will happen.
[475] [laugh] [...] and it was right through.
[476] Yes and when I came to , as I was saying we were clearing ... all half of [...] .
[477] Cos they didn't have the whole park, only I think it was three hundred er no five hundred acres in all.
[478] Taking the the front grounds and the gardens and the farmland, and the woodlands.
[479] Erm there's about two hundred acres of woodlands do you see.
[480] And erm the farm the erm Mr , timber merchant, he had bought when he came up, the whole park.
[481] You see, during the wartime.
[482] And now then, this half that the college had, do you seem he had taken most of the timber from there, do you see.
[483] There was a timber control and they had been there, controlling him.
[484] But he had cut do you see, all on the inside, and left along the roadside.
[485] All the trees along the roadside, and they had matured.
[486] And then do you see, he had taken most of the stuff from here, because he had four sawmills going do you see.
[487] The biggest one in Conway.
[488] And now then, all the small stuff was going as well do you see, for firewood, for the the [...] stuff [...] .
[489] For the stations, railway stations because they couldn't get any coal do you see.
[490] And the same from we'd been selling from there as well.
[491] To make fires in the in the waiting rooms and all that do you know.
[492] Anyway, we had cleared nearly everything, only the tops of the trees were there, left to rotten and they were been dropped on the bushes.
[493] And then all the undergrowth was there as well do you see, [...] tangled.
[494] All you wanted was the rough stuff out do you see, all the timber that was good, and the bad stuff as well, [...] get it out.
[495] Anyway, what happened do you see, the ones that he'd cut in the beginning, when he bought the place.
[496] And he was here before he bought the place.
[497] The undergrowth, rhododendrons, brambles everything, had grown through the branches do you see.
[498] So there was the [...] job of clearing.
[499] And all the water courses been blocked up and then it was swampy as well.
[500] Anyway, we cleared them and erm we started by the [...] , clearing all them.
[501] Er all that patch along the [...] and during nineteen I started in nineteen fifty three, and about the end of nineteen fifty four, before Christmas, most of the lot that he had left behind, came down.
[502] Ornamental trees and everything mixed with them.
[503] It was a heck of a gale.
[504] Er a southwestern gale.
[505] And it started about midnight.
[506] And we were down there about half past seven in the morning, and the trees were still felling then, with the wind.
[507] Do you see.
[508] And due to them taking a lot of the trees do you see, from there, and opened the wind in do you see.
(PS2VY) [509] I see [...]
(PS2VX) [510] Take them I mean along the main road, he had taken the the the trees at the back of them and they had no shelter and they were down in the main road.
[511] And all over the place.
[512] You couldn't get in or out of here.
[513] Because every entrance had been blocked with trees.
[514] Big beech trees and er pine trees and everything.
[515] Every road there was, the main drive, the drive from ... the erm ... what do they call it [...] ?
[516] Er the lodge on the main road from Caernarfon and the East Lodge, half way to , that one was blocked as well, then three blocked.
[517] The entrance from in to the woodlands was blocked.
[518] And in the h other half, of the park, them had come down as well do you see.
[519] So there was no entrance there and all they could do was clear by the main lodge.
[520] And go through the fields, open a way through the field do you see.
[521] From the mansion.
[522] And then we were clearing all the [...] for the week afterwards, opening places to go in and out do you see.
[523] Now then,, being that was working on the other side, took all the trees on the main drive do you see, and he bought them and cleared them.
[524] And the scars are still there today, the old stumps and all that.
[525] Anyway, that took a lot of our work do you see, back to clear them.
[526] And selling er most of them like.
[527] Another firm from Chester bought them er on the roadside.
[528] And erm it was mostly planting then as I was saying.
[529] And we were buying plants from er [...] .
[530] And why I went there to buy them, was because it was the same climate as , and the trees, there was no setback in the plants do you see, they were starting growing straight off cos they'd been, was the same climate.
(PS2VY) [531] Aye.
[532] Yes.
(PS2VX) [533] As .
[534] And then I had some [...] that was acquired from the forestry [...] alright again.
[535] Same climate.
[536] Then I had some from Mid Wales, and they were slow in staring, because they took about twelve months to settle in there.
[537] And get used to the climate.
[538] Most of them came on all right in the end.
[539] Some were dying back.
[540] And erm I had some beech along the roadside, main roadside.
[541] From Barrow in Furness.
[542] Er and I had about twelve thousand along there.
[543] From Barrow in Furness.
[544] I took a day to go and fetch and [...] Mid Wales, I had a lot of er of erm ... erm ... spruce er Norway, larches and [...] .
[545] The American black [...] they call it.
[546] And we had thousands from there as well.
[547] But er by the time I was ready to retire, I had planted all the half park.
[548] About two thousand acres in all.
[549] Within about two acres, by the time I retired.
(PS2VY) [550] Had had had you ever worked out how how m m how many trees that is about?
(PS2VX) [551] No I hadn't kept a a of the whole [...] like.
[552] But we were doing on average about fourteen thousand sixteen thousand each year.
[553] Yes.
(PS2VY) [554] Mm.
(PS2VX) [555] Except the first two or three years I was here.
[556] [...] we didn't plant much then.
[557] Cos I hadn't had the gang then do you see, there was only two of us then.
[558] And with a clearing and we were having the help of the students of course.
[559] But there wasn't much students then, we had about four of five in the beginning.
[560] So I couldn't get the swing of it then do you see, for about two or three years.
[561] Or two years anyway.
[562] About three years, I had some more gang to help me and the students were increasing then do you see.
[563] Yes.
[564] But erm towards about the sixth year, we used to plant about the average of fourteen, thirteen, fourteen, sixteen thousand, aye aye.
[565] Of course, it wasn't a matter being that they were plants only about [...] .
[566] They were only about nine to fifteen inch tall do you see.
[567] But the [...] they were going up from er twelve to eighteen inches.
[568] An er they were coming in er the Norways, they were coming in bundles of a hundred.
[569] The [...] being that they were taller, and older, they were coming in bundles of about fifty do you see.
[570] So we had to as soon as they come we had to open a trench and heel them in do you see.
[571] Cover them up.
[572] And make sure the frost wasn't getting at them.
[573] Make sure the wind or the frost wasn't getting at the roots.
[574] Or it killed them straight off.
[575] And that was an extra job.
[576] And then we could use them straight from that ditch [...] as we were planting do you see.
[577] Planting about ... two hundred, three hundred, four hundred a day, depend on the crowd we had, aye aye, aye.
[578] Yes.
[579] And erm as well as that, we were cutting young trees, what was left like on the plantation, for stakes do you see, for the farm.
[580] And erm selling [...] them.
[581] Of the stakes.
[582] And cutting firewood, to b to sell as firewood as well.
[583] Aye and making posts, gateposts for the farm and all that.
[584] Yes, helping the f the joiner with er with sawing as well with a big circular saw.
[585] That would keep him in in timber do you see, keep him going.
[586] Aye aye.
[587] And open the the ditches.
[588] Which was that one was a heck of a job.
[589] Being there was no ... erm what they call them now?
[590] Er erm the digger isn't it erm ...
(PS2VY) [591] J C B type thing ?
(PS2VX) [592] J C B, that's it.
(PS2VY) [593] Mm.
(PS2VX) [594] It was all done by pick and shovel then [...] .
[595] Aye and took more time.
[596] Yes, but we was to get the hand of the farm fellas to do the ... the erm the digging with the with the ditches and all that, yes.
[597] Yes.
[598] Aye, Well was different, to .
[599] was more flat, but was all side.
[600] Working on the side do you see, so all the water was running away do you see.
[601] There was not much er ditching there at all.
[602] No no.
[603] That's all on the side.
[604] Well now then you had to get different spaces for to here.
[605] The same spaces wouldn't do in that did in .
[606] For instance, ... erm because it was all side, Douglas pine, Douglas fir was doing better there than in .
[607] [...] was doing all right, but Norway spruce was doing very badly, because during the war during the Wintertime do you see, there was only the Menai Straits, there and there was not much salt in the air.
[608] Do you see.
[609] So the wind was more fierce there off the straits.
[610] And [...] , them will survive there, but during er the Winter, starting October, you could see the face of the plantation of [...] that was facing the sea, it all scorched up towards the end of O of er December.
[611] And they would be like that scorched bread.
[612] All the leaves getting off.
[613] Until well in the following Summer, they would recover again.
[614] Because the wind was so cold off the Menai Straits do you see.
[615] [...] it was scorching them right through.
[616] Could hardly get some to grow there.
[617] Larches were doing alright.
[618] But the [...] they weren't doing very well at all there.
[619] No.
[620] And erm [...] in erm , the [...] er ... yes the [...] not the Norway, the [...] er the ones that was growing in the shelter of the oak trees, they were surviving alright.
[621] Patch here and there.
[622] [...] But as soon as you cut the the oak trees, down, and the ash, they would catch the wind then and scorch do you see.
[623] Aye aye.
[624] You had to be very [...] .
[625] Beech, there wasn't much beech in , it was mostly round the mansion and at the back of the grounds.
[626] That was all.
[627] Because it didn't do at all well there.
[628] because beech likes a lot of lime in the ground you see.
[629] Well that's
(PS2VY) [630] Does it.
(PS2VX) [631] oak and ash doesn't like much of it.
[632] Erm again ... beech was doing much better in and the scotch pine, one of the best places for scotch pine and beech.
[633] But the oak, you didn't get the the good class of oak here.
[634] You could get a better class of oak in .
[635] Because of the rocks there.
[636] It was all rocky and the oak well likes the rocks do you see, and they were doing better.
[637] They were slow in growing of course, but they like the rock better.
[638] And it was a better class of oak all through.
[639] Ash, the same again.
[640] If you cut the ash in , it was whitish, but if you cut it in , most of it when you cut it down, it was more like cream colour.
[641] Red and cream colour.
[642] And erm it was a better class altogether of ash.
[643] And the bark on the outside was a yellowish colour, the bark of it.
[644] But here, it was brownish do you see, rough brownish.
[645] Aye aye.
[646] And er if you get yellowish in the ash bask, it's a good class of ash.
(PS2VY) [647] Is it?
(PS2VX) [648] Yes.
[649] One of the best, cos it's tough do you see.
[650] Whereas the ones here, it's brittle.
[651] They'll snap.
[652] Aye.
[653] Well erm ... again was very good for [...] pine.
[654] A lo lovely class of Douglas pine there, very good.
[655] Aye, er in er two or three places right in the woodlands, in , on the slope [...] we had erm Douglas fir there, going up two hundred and fifty, and two hundred feet tall.
(PS2VY) [656] Good heavens.
(PS2VX) [657] And the circumfe and erm diameter on [...] I'd been cutting a lot of them down, the diameter of them was from four foot to about six foot.
[658] In the butt like, aye aye.
[659] And erm all the timber [...] for one.
[660] And erm another one from er erm oh what do you call that place?
[661] On the way to Manchester.
[662] Mm.
[663] It's beyond Connor's Quay that way.
[664] They were buying a lot from .
[665] They were two brothers.
[666] And they reckon it was the best class of of er Douglas fir they ever had.
[667] Aye aye.
[668] , this er fellow that was [...] for in Conway told me we had to keep an extra erm [...] for [...] Douglas fir he says.
[669] We were [...] .
[670] Because it's such a good timber, he says.
[671] Aye aye.
[672] Aye it's hard to saw them.
[673] Aye aye.
[674] Yes. [recording ends]