Huw Llywelyn Rees


 

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26th October

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By: Huw Llywelyn Rees
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Guto Nyth Brân 

Griffith Morgan (1700–1737), -  “the fastest man of his time”, known better as Guto Nyth Brân.  It is thought that Guto was born on 26th October 1700, at Nyth Brân farm in Llwyncelyn, a small village, near Porth.

It was said that Guto's speed was first noticed when he managed to catch a wild hare.  Another legend has it that he could run the 7 miles, to the local town of Pontypridd and back home again, before his mother's kettle had boiled. 

 Seeing his potential the local shopkeeper, Siân o'r Siop (Siân from the Shop), became his trainer and manager and organised a race on Hirwaun Common against an unbeaten English Captain, for a £400 prize.  Guto won the race won easily and kept on winning, remaining unbeaten until he was 30.  Over the years, Guto and Sian had fallen in love and Guto decided to retire to enjoy a quiet life with Sian.

However in 1737, a new champion runner had emerged, called the "Prince of Bedwas" and Sian persuaded Guto to have one last race against Prince, for a prize of 1000 guineas.  The race was over the 12 miles  from Newport to Bedwas and was a very even contest.  Nearing the finish, Prince held a slender lead, however, one last lung bursting effort from Guto saw him cross the line first.  However in the celebrations after, Guto collapsed and died in Sian's arms.

In memory of Guto, the Ras Nos Galan is run every year on New Years Eve at Mountain Ash, over the course of Guto's first ever race.  It has become a tradition of this race for a mystery runner to compete and over the years, this has included Iwan Thomas, Linford Christie and Alun Wyn Jones  At the conclusion of the race, a wreath is then placed on Guto's grave in Llanwynno graveyard.  There is also a commemorative statue of Guto in Mountain Ash.


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The first group of Welsh Mormons, led by Dan Jones from Halkin, Flintshire, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 26th October 1849 after a voyage of more than eight months. More than one-fifth of them died of cholera on route and heavy snows, delayed them and killed many of their animals.


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Today is the feast day of St Gwynno 

 According to local tradition, Gwynno was one of the disciples of the great Illtud, who founded the monastery at Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major). The church at Llantwit Fardre, south of Pontypridd, is dedicated to Illtud, and the old church at Ystradyfodwg, in the Rhondda Fawr, is dedicated to another of his followers, Tyfodwg. Illtyd, Tydodwg and Gwynno are the ‘three saints’ of Llantrisant, the old hilltop town west of Pontypridd. John Morgans, the minister at Penrhys, liked to picture the old abbot and his young followers meeting at Penrhys, the holy place between their three churches. 

Another local tradition has Gwynno hailing from Britanny. When Illtud’s followers fled Wales because of the Yellow Plague in 547, they took refuge in Britanny. Returning to Wales, they brought with them several Bretons, including Gwynno and Tyfodwg.  Buried in the churchyard of Gwynno's church of Llanwynno near Abercynon, Pontypridd, is Guto Nyth Brân.  In recent years, the church and the churchyard of Llanwynno have been used as locations for the TV series Doctor Who.  


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The Wreck of 'The Royal Charter' 

The Royal Charter was a steam clipper which was wrecked off the beach of Porth Alerth in Dulas Bay on the north-east coast of Anglesey on 26th October 1859.  With approximately 459 people killed, it is the highest loss of life in any shipwreck off the Welsh coast.

The Royal Charter was returning to Liverpool from Melbourne, when the wind rose to Hurricane force, grounding the ship on a sandbank before the rising tide, driven by 100mph winds, smashed her into rocks and she broke up.  There were only 39 survivors.  

Approximately 200 other ships were wrecked by the storm that night and it has become known as the "Royal Charter gale".

Many of the victims were buried at nearby St Gallgo's Church, Llanallgo, where there is a memorial.  There is also a memorial on the cliff top above the spot where the ship struck.

Interestingly, The Royal Charter was carrying a large cargo of Gold, much of which was washed ashore at Porth Alerth beach and the disaster was described by Charles Dickens, working as a journalist at the time, who visited the scene and spoke with the rector of Llanallgo, the Rev. Stephen Roose Hughes.  It is thought that the trauma of the incident probably led to the rector’s own premature death soon afterwards.    


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Born on this day 1947 in Chicago

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.

Both her father, Hugh Rodham, and her mother, Dorothy Howell were of Welsh descent.

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