"Hells Mouth 1951"

From "The Cymro" Jan5th.

   "John Williams"

Will our home be there in the morning?

If building costs were not so high, Mr John Williams Siop Penrallt, Rhos Neigwl, Llyn, would move his house stone by stone and rebuild in a field closer to the main road. And the reason why in his daughter Jeanie’s own words “ One morning we may wake up amongst the rubble on the beach you know.”

In the 34 years since Mr Williams has lived at Siop Penrallt, he has seen a great change in the position of the house on the cliff top. Or to be more precise he has seen great changes in the cliff top itself. There below where the might of the south westerly storms of the Atlantic pound the shores of Hells Mouth ton after ton of clay has disappeared into the sea. Now there there’s only about twenty yards between the pigsty at the back of the house and the cliff top itself.

Thirty years ago this smallholding kept a cow and a bullock, but each year the land for them became less and less, and about ten years ago during a severe winter half an acre fell away overnight, from time to time other substantial landslips have occurred, consequently they now have to keep the cattle on land owned by a neighbouring farm.

“There’s no danger of our loosing the house now, but the sea is coming closer every day, and we’ll have to move the house at some time” said Mr Williams.

And unless the sea disappears then this certainly will be the case for the family.

It’s the same story all along the miles of cliff top from Rhiw to Cilan Head. Year after year the land slides away into the sea, but it’s at the mile and a half closest to Rhiw that this changing landscape is most noticeable. There the clay cliffs have no rock or sand to halt the destruction.

About three years ago Mr and Mrs Faulkner came to farm at Ty Mawr, which borders on to Siop Penrallt. “We bought the place, expecting that the house would be here for at least a hundred years”. But in just three years they have seen the sea at Hells Mouth  leave it’s mark.Their son Harold who farms with his father told us “When we first came here you could walk between the fence and the cliff top to the beach, now there isn’t even a fence there”.

During last summer some tourists came to the door at Ty Mawr to enquire about the road that was shown on their map that led to Llanengan. This was probably the road that the old pilgrims used to use, but today there’s no trace of it. And on the main road from Rhiw to Pwllheli they had to move the foundation of the road between Sarn Rhiw and Bryn Ffoulk closer to the mountain many times. The present road it is said is the third on that hundred yard stretch; the sea having eaten away at the other two.

"Penrallt today"

The face of the map changes often here. During the war when great emphasis was out on ploughing the land one of the officials from Arfon agriculture committee came to Treheli a 53 acre farm to advise the owner Mr Isaac Williams to plough a certain field, that according to the map was on the cliff top. By that time there was no field there and only half of the adjoining field shown on the map.

In the thirty years that Mr Williams has farmed at Treheli he has seen acres of his land disappear into the sea. Indeed it is estimated that Treheli is smaller by six acres than it was when he  came there in January 1930. He saw tons of earth fall into the sea during the winter of 1949.

That’s some of the destruction of the coastline of the last twenty years, but what about the last sixty years say? Mr Evan Jones Penrallt who is 74 and one of the oldest residents of the area, remembers fertilising fields at Penrallt that stretched well into the seashore. During his lifetime he remembers the green pastures and hedges disappearing from Penrallt and becoming cliff tops. He said that Ty Mawr had decreased by ten acres during his lifetime.

The residents say that nothing was ever done to halt the destruction. The sea continues to eat away at the land and the water from the low lying land continues to push its way through the clay causing landslides and creating new cliff tops. And of course during icy weather the problem is exacerbated. Treheli, Siop Penrallt, Ty Mawr, Bryn Cynan, Neigwl Plas, Trefollwyn Bach, Trefollwyn Fawr, Towyn, Tyn Don, these are the farms that are at the mercy of the sea, each year that passes their acreage becomes less and less,

This is where the planes dropped their bombs, where sailing ships were wrecked, this is Hells Mouth and as in the days of the sailing ships it continues to be a threat.

Thanks to Mr R Jones, for the original.


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