Tomi Gwilym's Talsarnau



Thomas Gwilym Williams, 1912 - 1996

My Father was born in Blaenau Ffestiniog on the  29 February, 1912.  He took great pleasure in the fact that he was born in a leap year and that he was the youngest pensioner in the community.  The family moved to Trefor Place in the village when he was very young and he and his younger brother David attended the village school.  He left school when he was 14 and went to work in the Oakeley   Quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog.  He often talked of the close community there and the keenly held competitions  in the ‘Caban’ during the lunch hour.  He joined the Army at the outbreak of the War and was there until the end of the War in 1947.  He never talked about his time there which had  a profound  effect on him.  He was called the ‘Chocolate Soldier’ by his comrades as he would swop his cigarettes for chocolate,  he much preferred a box of chocolates to the best dinner and ate pounds during his lifetime.

While in the Army he met my Mother who came from the East End of London and they married there in 1944 before moving to live in Talsarnau in 1946 when I was a few months old.  My brother Gwynfor was born in 1949 and the family was now complete.  Dad went to work on the Cambrian Coast Railway when he left the Army where he remained until his retirement.

His main interest after retiring was in Welsh History and many students from Coleg Harlech visited him in Cilfor to question him for information and facts for research for their  thesis.  He took great pleasure in meeting different people from the community who came to see him in his home.

His other main interest was gardening.  How fortunate we  were to have fresh vegetables from the garden and fish from the traeth.  He carried sacks of seaweed up the hill to his garden  below Bryn Awel  (before the road was widened)  and he used to take great pleasure from chatting to whoever happened to be passing.

His  great love of children must be mentioned.  He had a special humorous way when around them  and endless patience.   He was ecstatic when Meinir, his first grandchild was born and pushed her  in her pram around Talsarnau with great pride.  His cup was overflowing when Gwion, Caryl and Geraint were born.  It was a great loss to his great grandchildren that they never met their great grandfather.

Dad had much enjoyment writing this history and I hope you have as much enjoyment when reading it.