Former farm of organic pioneer Dinah Williams, Brynllys, Borth

button-theme-womenFormer farm of organic pioneer Dinah Williams, Brynllys, Borth

Photo of Dinah Williams aged 12Brynllys was Britain’s first certified organic dairy farm, thanks to the pioneering work of Dinah Williams. Her daughter Rachel later co-founded the Rachel’s Dairy business here.

Dinah Eiluned Lyon Williams was born in 1911 to Abel Jones, Professor of Agriculture at Aberystwyth University, and his wife Bessie Brown MBE, the university’s first dairy instructress. Bessie organised the Women’s Land Army in Wales during the First World War.

From the age of five, Dinah milked cows before school. Aged 12, she won the under-18s’ milking competition at the London Dairy Show (picture, right). Her father died around that time, leaving Bessie to farm on her own until Dinah joined her after a short university course in agriculture.

Dinah believed in what she termed “natural farming”. She developed a keen eye for the breeding characteristics of dairy cattle that would lead her to become a revered judge later. She inherited a strong interest in crop rotation in grassland management from her father, who under Sir George Stapledon established the Welsh Plant Breeding Station at Aberystwyth in 1919.

Quietly outspoken, Dinah held strong convictions on farming. She believed that the soil’s vitality and role in the complete food chain were fundamental to nutritious food and human health.

Photo of Dinah Williams with cows

She married Stanley Owen Williams in 1941. They farmed first at Pantydwn and then here at Brynllys, with their children John, Elizabeth, Rachel and Dinah.

In 1952 Dinah attended a lecture by Soil Association founder Lady Eve Balfour. Dinah joined the association and Brynllys subsequently became Britain’s first certified organic dairy farm, centred on its herd of pedigree Guernseys.

Dinah and Stanley were unconventional farmers for the time, prioritising the condition and welfare of their herd. They over-wintered their Guernseys outdoors and established “nurse” cows to suckle calves for much longer periods than normal. The Purple Plaque unveiled in Dinah’s honour in 2021 is on the old cowshed which she used as the calves’ nursery.

Stanley died suddenly in 1966. Dinah later entrusted Rachel with the future of Brynllys. In the 1980s Rachel and her husband Gareth Rowlands launched their organic yogurt business Rachel's Dairy, later rebranded as Rachel’s Organic.

Dinah was elected a Fellow of the Royal Agriculture Society in 1977. She was a Soil Association council member 1976-1984. As past-president of the Aberystwyth & District Grassland Society, she continued attending meetings in her 90s. She died in 2009.

With thanks to Elizabeth Jeffreys and Rachel Rowlands

Postcode: SY24 5LZ     View Location Map