Georgian terrace, Machynlleth

PWMP logoGeorgian terrace, 32-36 Heol Maengwyn, Machynlleth

This row of houses was built in the late 18th century. Previous occupants include a lead-mine owner and a man who emigrated to Canada and died in the First World War.

If you’ve just scanned the QR codes at Oriel Seren, look up to appreciate the terrace’s architecture. The original symmetry was destroyed when the house to the right was erected c.1900, but the house to the left (no.36) retains its original residential doorway. This was home to timber merchant Hugh Williams, who went into partnership with an Aberdyfi man to speculate in mining. The pair were lucky to find a good vein of lead at Dylife, south east of Machynlleth. They developed an extensive mine, which Hugh managed.

Hugh’s daughter Catherine married Richard Cobden, a leading campaigner for abolition of the Corn Laws (which pushed up food prices by restricting imports to protect wealthy grain farmers). The couple visited no.36 many times and had their daughter Kate baptised at St Peter’s Church in 1846.

Catherine’s brother Hugh (1796-1874) was a solicitor who did legal work on behalf of the Rebecca Rioters (who dressed in drag to destrmachynlleth_richard_henry_thomasoy tollgates in protest at rural living conditions)  and addressed meetings of the Chartists (campaigners for political reforms including secret ballots and votes for all men).

The terrace’s central house (no.34) was home in 1911 to Jane Thomas and family, including her son Richard Henry Thomas (pictured right). He emigrated to Canada several years before war broke out. He enlisted in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in January 1915, and arrived at the Western Front six months later.

While on home leave in spring 1916, he was optimistic about the war’s outcome. He said the Germans had given the nickname “Black Devils” to his battalion of the Canadian Infantry, after the soldiers blackened their faces before attacking the German lines. Richard was killed in action in the Somme region in September 1916, aged 33.

Oriel Seren opened here in 2017 as a not-for-profit gallery displaying and selling work by contemporary artists and makers, most of whom live in Wales.

With thanks to Rab Jones

Postcode: SY20 8DT    View Location Map

Website of Oriel Seren