Site of first doctor’s surgery, Caerphilly

Site of first doctor’s surgery, Caerphilly

Here stood Tŷ Meddyg, where Caerphilly’s first qualified doctor lived and practised. It had three storeys and attic rooms. Patients entered at first-floor level, through a porticoed entrance facing what’s now the Twyn car park. The road descending between the Twyn and castle was colloquially known as “Doctor’s Hill”.

Dr John Llewelyn (1808-1895) had studied with the eccentric Welsh medic Dr William Price, also at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and in Paris. He moved to Caerphilly in 1830 and initially lived in a smaller house near Tŷ Meddyg.

Residents from across the lower Rhymney Valley were already coming to Tŷ Meddyg to see Dr Evan Edwards, who was a skilled surgeon despite having no formal qualifications. He was related to William Edwards, builder of Pontypridd’s famous bridge, and died in 1848.

The practice and Tŷ Meddyg then passed to Dr Llewelyn, who would ride on horseback if necessary to visit the sick. His long period as Caerphilly’s main doctor coincided with the rapid growth of heavy industry after construction of the Rhymney Railway from the valley to Cardiff. This brought an influx of people to the area. He was the local collieries’ medical officer and a director of a colliery company and the Caerphilly Gas & Coke Company.

Dr Llewelyn was the district’s “public vaccinator” and the medical officer of workhouses (homes where poor people lived and worked) in Newport, Cardiff and Pontypridd. His first wife died in childbirth, along with their baby. He later married Henrietta Woodruff, whose father owned the Machen tinplate factory. After his death, the surgery moved to nearby Tŷ Vaughan.

Dr Llewelyn’s sister Joan married Zephania Williams, who was a leader of the Chartist protest in Newport in November 1839. The Chartists campaigned for democratic reforms, such as votes for all men and salaries for all MPs. The Newport protest ended with soldiers firing into the crowd, killing at least 22. It was said that Zephania was sheltered at Tŷ Meddyg before being arrested and exiled to Australia.

Joan joined him there in 1854, having been landlady for several years of the Boar’s Head Inn, a stone’s throw from Tŷ Meddyg.

Tŷ Meddyg was demolished shortly before the Second World War as many buildings east of the castle were cleared away.

Postcode: CF83 1JL    View Location Map

Sources include the National Library of Wales and journals of the Caerphilly Local History Society

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