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A must have publication on the history of Droving in Southern Wales,
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This review is from: The Drovers' Roads of Wales Book Two: Pembrokeshire and the South (Paperback)
The story of these hardy men, all of whom had to be married and over the age of 30, were amongst the first to establish Welsh banking currency,with the establishment of the Bank of the Black Ox at Llandovery,and the equally famous Aberystwyth Tregaron Bank of Bridge St Aberystwyth.
Tregaron,Cayo,Carno,Llanidloes,the remote mountain road over the Abergwesyn Common,Llandovery,Mynydd Epynt,all spring to mind when the Drovers are discussed in the southern uplands of Wales.
Unlike their counterparts in the North,the Drovers of Southern Wales were following a different route to kent and the South East, eventually reaching their destination of Smithfield and Barnett Fair having travelled for nearly three weeks.
The Johnathans of Pembroke West Wales,a famous family of Drovers have left us with valuable written documentaion of expenditure and life on the roads towards the SE, taking their beast towards Northampton and eventually Smithfield.
The Johnathans, also account for the various public houses and dwellings along the route, many of which have been demolished or have become dwellings other than public houses.
Following the routes they took is not always easy,with the longest distance any animal was expected to travel was around 20miles a day or 3 miles an hour.
The Drovers had to ensure pasture was available when they eventually came to rest for the evening,and depending on the financial power of the men herding the animals,some rested in the public houseswhilst others slept with their animals.
According to historical documentation,the average wage of a drover was a shilling a day,but many didnot receive payment until either the animals were delivered to market,or on their return home.
The 19C was a century of great change,with the Drovers being amongst the first to actually travel huge distances,when the average person never went much further than a few miles from their place of birth.
Sir John Wynn of North Wales entrusted huge fortunes in cash to trusted Drovers in his employment,with two recorded instances of one of his trusted men taking nearly £5000 in cash to be deposited in the London financial houses.
With the advent of the railways in the late 1840s,many Drovers, the Johnathans amongst them, took advantage of a far speedier mode of transport to market.
Even though the use of the old Drovers roads became less frequent during the latter half of the 19C, the railways did not remove all road traffic, it continued as recently as 1890, but it was all down to cost, if a owner could reach a market quicker by train,at a favourable cost, they would usually do so.
This book will be a magnificent read for those really interested in the history of Droving in Southern Wales during the early 19C, and its the only book having been published in living memory, to devote itself to the Drovers in Southern Wales.
Apart from the small and enjoyable Shire publication on The Drovers,there are no current books in publication,which is a real shame.
This book is a superb accompanying guide to the definite work on the subject,The Welsh Cattle Drovers, by Richard Moore Collier, but it's unfortunate that both of these magnificent books are long out of print, but if one does an extensive search,one can pick up a copy of both publications.
If you are able to purchase a copy of MR Colliers book,it's a must read if your interest lies in the history of Droving in Wales.