Tregaron market square
Farmers came from far and wide to Tregaron’s monthly Tuesday market. By 1850 £10,000 worth of sheep alone were sold each year at the market (over £1.1m in today’s money). Women came here to sell home-made garments. Stocking sales were worth £50 per week by 1850.
Drovers were offered free dinner on the day of the April 1872 market. Prizes were given for livestock in various categories, for the best pair of stockings in any colour, and to the drovers who bought the most animals.
In April 1866 four farmers were taken to court and cautioned for trying to sell pigs at Tregaron market while the Cattle Plague Act was still in force. Rinderpest, or cattle plague, had broken out in Britain in 1865.
The hiring fair each November was a social highlight, as well as enabling farmers and householders to choose young servants and labourers. In 1905 the hiring fair was “well attended by pleasure seekers”. Stalls lined the road between the square and bridge. Amusements in the square included hobby horses and shooting galleries. There was great demand for servant girls that year, and wages were high as there weren’t enough girls.
The Talbot Hotel, facing the square, is thought to date from c.1800. The section to the right of the entrance was the stables and coach house.
The 1875 market hall became the village’s Memorial Hall in 1922 with plaques listing local First World War dead.
The statue of Henry Richard MP (1812-1888) was unveiled in 1893. The event is shown in the upper photo, and the statue and hotel in the lower. Both photos are by John Thomas and shown here courtesy of the National Library of Wales.
Henry was born in Tŷ Gwyn, Tregaron. He was a Nonconformist minister in London before becoming a major figure in the international peace movement. He was MP for Merthyr Tydfil and involved with the university college in Aberystwyth.
The wooden sculpture in the square depicts the 16th-century folk hero Thomas Jones, better known as Twm Siôn Cati. According to legend, he led a double life as a gentleman farmer in the Tregaron area and as a highwayman who stashed his loot in a cave.
About the place-name:
Tregaron denotes the ‘hamlet on the river Caron’, writes Prof Dai Thorne. The original name of the parish and hamlet was Caron, recorded in 1281. The name Caron was probably taken from the river Caron which rises at Blaencaron and flows past Tregaron to the river Teifi. The church here is dedicated to Caron, possibly Caron (Carawn) of Deheubarth, but the personal name may derive from the river name
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