Caffi Beca, Efailwen

button-theme-crimebutton_lang_welshCaffi Beca, Efailwenbutton_lang_french

This café beside the A478 is named after the Rebecca Riots, which started here in 1839 when a new tollgate was destroyed three times by merched Beca (“Rebecca’s daughters”). The protest movement swept across South-west Wales and lasted until 1843. Tollgates were attacked as physical symbols of various grievances felt by the rural poor.

The tollgate at Efailwen was one of many between Narberth and Cardigan where farmers and others had to stop and pay tolls to use each section of the road. One of the aims of erecting the new Efailwen gate in 1839 was to extract money from lime workers. (Limestone was heated to produce lime for mortar, agricultural fertiliser and other uses.)

In May, June and July 1839, the Efailwen gate was destroyed at night by a mob of men disguised with women’s clothing and blackened faces. Their leader was Tomos Rees (“Twm Carnabwth”), who lived in a cottage called Carnabwth and worked as a farm labourer. He was also a pugilist (exhibition fighter) at fairs. He wasn’t involved in subsequent Rebecca Riots.

Why was the name Rebecca attached to the protests? One theory is that the ringleaders, wanting the additional disguise of pseudonyms, took the names of the women whose clothes they’d borrowed. It was said that only a large woman called Rebecca had clothing suitable for Twm Carnabwth. Another theory connects the protests with a New Testament quotation about Rebecca and gates.

The custody cells in Carmarthen where rioters were held still exist, and are open to visitors.

The design of Caffi Beca echoes the shape of toll-keepers’ houses, which usually had protruding sections with angled corner walls to enable the keeper to observe the road from inside.

The village’s name, Efailwen, means “The white smithy”. Gefail is Welsh for smithy, mutating to Efail after the definite article (yr), which here is implied by the missing G.

Postcode: SA66 7UY    View Location Map

Website of Caffi Beca – includes more information on local history

Other HiPoints relating to the Rebecca Riots:
Hendy – Toll-keeper Sarah Williams, 75, was killed in a Rebecca Riot in 1843
Pontarddulais – three Rebecca rioters sent to Australia after violent clashes at tollgate in 1843