Unit 10 - Poachers

In October and November when the salmon go up to spawn you  would see  the river under Soar like Piccadily with all the lights  and then  they  had cycle lamps or some had bigger  ones  from  motor bikes  working  with carbide. 

I was talking  with  Morris  Jones about the men that worked on the farms and he reckoned that there were  over 50 servants on the farms in Talsarnau before the  last war  and a maid as well.  Today there is only a  couple.   Morris said  that the wages then were around a £1.00 a week and  your  keep for a man with a lot of experience. 

The farmers used to help one another  then and when the threshing machine went up the hill  by Ship  Aground they had seven or eight horses to pull it  and  the men used to shout as they went up and after they had finished  in Ty  Mawr they would go along to Cefn Trefor and on again to  Plas and Ty Newydd.  I remember when they were threshing in Ty Mawr  a lot of us children were watching, as the stack neared the  bottom we were ready with our sticks and a couple of dogs as there was a lot of rats which had been feeding on the corn.

In  the Summer we went to the traeth quite often with the  tryfar after flat fish, we called this kind of fishing `tryfera' and  we would  walk down towards Borth y Gest to look for a `llac'  (that was  the  old  bed of the river) and the tide  would  leave  fish behind and we would use the tryfar (harpoon) to catch them, but if we could not find a llac, we would go in the river Dwyryd  oposite Porthmadog and walk in a straight line across the river and  keep on  proding.   As we went along and we knew that  the  fish  were moving as we could see bubbles coming to the top as we fought our way  against the current, and often walking and swimming  when  it was too deep, they would suddenly stop if there was a point turning out of the river and that would sometimes be very shallow and you  could hardly move without a flatfish under your feet.  I can say that I've caught thousands like that in my time.  The men went in the water in an old suit and of course after being in the water  there was a lot of weight to carry.  There were no  plastic bags then and we had a thick fence wire over our shoulders with a kind of a hook each end to put the fish on and they were  hanging down  to  your heels.  The other way of fishing was to  set  long lines  on the sand with two pegs but we had to be down  early  in the  morning after the tide had cleared, or the birds  would  have them, especially if there was a bass on it.  Hugh Owen Hughes,  an old sailor from Bryn Street, always had an old hat on and when he went in the water with his harpoon he kept his tobacco under  his hat  in case he would step in one of the deep pools that  are  in the Dwyryd. 

When Motor Bikes came on the market, Morgan Price, Tynbwlch had  a B.S.A.,   Edward  Roberts, Plas had a Triumph,  Willie  Williams, Crydd  had  a W. E. Lloyd, Griffith Davy, Felin Rhyd Fawr  had  a Sparbrook,   J. F. Roberts had a Wesland.  I think they were  the first bikes in Talsarnau.

It was a good day out to go for cockles on a nice summer day,  but to  carry them back was hard work and still is as the cockle  bed is between Borth y Gest and Trwyn Glanmor.  But the old people were wiser than us; they would go early in the morning, walk across the traeth then they would pick the cockles and take them to a little stream near the rocks, wash them, then boil the lot and leave  the shells  behind  and that made their load so much lighter  and  of course  they  had  a picnic with the children  and  they  enjoyed themselves so much that they looked forward to going again.  That was  part  of their holiday.  They boiled the water in  a  little kettle to make tea and had the firewood on the high tide mark.  I very often think what Talsarnau was like at the beginning of  the last century as there is only Cefntrefor Fawr and Cefntrefor Bach on the map, Draenogau and Penbryn and the old place where the new Caerffynnon was built but where was the `Talysarnau'.  Some people think  it  was where the Ship Aground is, or could  it  have  been where Caerffynnon is now as it must have been a farm?