Ceiriog Uchaf Community Council is located in the upper Ceiriog Valley, one of the less well known landscape gems of Wales. It represents only about 150 dwellings and a population of about 350 people centred on two villages, Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog and Tregeiriog, so must be one of the smallest community areas in Wales.
The scenic beauty of the valley has given rise to descriptions such as “little Switzerland” and it does remain largely unspoilt and off the usual tourist trails around Llangollen a few miles along the historic A5. The Ceiriog river itself begins in the Berwyn Mountains and flows some 18 miles eastwards to spill into the River Dee. It is generally regarded as the fastest flowing river in Wales and its banks and fields are home to sheep, cattle, myriad wildlife and trout farms.
Llanarmon DC developed where a number of drovers’ roads forded the Ceiriog. The village church of St Garmon claims origins as far back as the fifth century. Any remaining medieval building was demolished when the church was rebuilt in 1846. The eminent poet John Ceiriog Hughes (1832 - 1887) was born and spent his childhood here. There is a strong Welsh culture and the 2001 census demonstrated that the language is spoken by a much higher percentage of the population than elsewhere in Wales. The village is blessed with two ancient inns, The Hand and The West Arms. Each has an excellent reputation and has won national awards for their accommodation and food.
Tregeiriog is a much smaller village. In 1165 Henry II lost the battle of Crogen to Owain Gwynedd nearby upsetting his plans to subdue Wales.
In the early 1920s the Ceiriog Valley nearly suffered the same fate as the Elland and Vyrnwy Valleys becoming reservoirs to meet the needs of large English cities for water. In 1923 the Warrington Corporation sought statutory power from Parliament to evict local people from some 13,500 acres in the valley and flood it to meet the town’s demand for water and in particular for the brewing industry there.
An intense campaign was mounted to save the valley. History best remembers the contribution of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George whose powerful and passionate oratory railed against the proposal. Famously he described the valley as “a little bit of heaven on earth/dipyn bach o’r nefoedd a’r y ddaer ” and he invoked the name of John Ceiriog Hughes in its defence.
Hon. Members may smile, but I can assure them that his name produces a thrill among hundreds of thousands of Welshmen, not merely in Wales, but wherever there are Welshmen who speak our tongue in any part, of the globe. His home is to be submerged…….The Elland Valley has gone, the Vyrnwy Valley has gone, the valley which has been taken by Birkenhead, and now comes this exquisite valley which is to be taken by Warrington. One after another all our valleys are disappearing.
The Western Mail was at the forefront of what we would call a media campaign nowadays and many other MPs including John Davies of Denbigh and all Welsh MPs gave their backing.
Tregeiriog and Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog would have been lost with a church, five chapels, two burial grounds, two elementary schools, two post offices, two inns, six shops, 45 farmhouses with farm buildings and 37 other dwelling houses.
There is little doubt that the scheme must ultimately involve the denuding of the valley of practically every human habitation throughout at least five miles of its length. A happy, industrious and contented population of some 400 souls must ultimately either be evicted or driven away. (John Davies).
In the end the necessary Act was never passed and the Ceiriog Valley survives.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the sounds of quarrying pervaded the valley. Slate, silica, dolerite, china stone, limestone, and coal were dug. The Glyn Valley Tramway carried the minerals and, later, passengers, to Chirk. From an even earlier date there was fulling, wool weaving and flannel making. All of this has now gone and hill farming and pheasant shoots underpin the local economy with tourism making a contribution too.
|| Click here to download the Mountain Bike trail around Ceiriog Uchaf, published by bike-fax.com
|| Click here to go to the Wrexham Borough Council site for the Ceiriog Valley Walk.