It had been a long time since I’d seen the old house. I stood in Station Road and stared. I wasn’t sure that it WAS the house it had changed so much. I had last stood in the attic of that house in 1955. Looked out of the dormer windows onto the street. a bustling street. Siop Dic and the ‘Goat’ across the road. The station down to the right. If you pressed your face to the glass and looked out, you might just see a train heading for Pwllheli. Uncl Wil Groeslon was the signalman then. Sometimes we would go down to see him. I was fascinated by the signal levers and his plate of Welsh rock (Pwllheli No 8, naturally!) Now the station was no more, converted since my last visit in 1999 to a bypass road.
Penygroes, (Or, as it was spelled then Pen-Y-Groes.) was never the same after the mad axe man closed the railway. The days when we could step off the train and be met by Taid to take the short walk to my father’s childhood home were long gone, For one they had moved to the other end of the village in 1955 and for another, Taid had passed away, aged 91 in 1961. By 2011 the only relatives I had in Penygroes lay in the cemetery.
I looked again at the house. In 1999, I had made a photo survey of the village. Now, twelve years later, I thanked God that I had. Capel Saron was gone. Station road was all but gone in the form known to me and now they had ripped the front off of Johnny Pritchard’s bakery. In 1999, I had taken a photograph of my father looking in the window of Johnny’s by then long derelict shop. Now both the shop and my father were no more.
Not that the village had fared all that much better. Y Fic was closed and shuttered leaving The Goat Hotel, (built by my Great Grandfather in the early nineteenth century) as the sole remaining public house in the village. Now it was called ‘Yr Afr’, reflecting the tendency for everything to be in Welsh nowadays.
I found a cafe where none had been on my last visit. I had coffee and a scone while I racked my brain to remember what the shop had been before. I never did remember. The talk in the shop was that there was to be some sort of wedding the following day and that they would close at one o’ clock to watch it on the television. I would not be.
When I left the café and prepared to catch the big yellow and white bus back to Caernarfon, I paused to look for one final time on 8 Station Road. The three distinctive dormer windows in the attic were gone. I thought back to 1955. I knew then that I would never pass this way again.

What were your prompts?: Dormer window, Longing.

by Jane Jones


One thought on “Hiraeth

  1. Chris Baker November 4, 2015 / 1:24 pm

    I don’t know who Jane Jones is but we must be related. I think it was Uncle Dick’s in 1955 . I wish you’d photographed Penygroes Street by Street in 1955! By the end of that year, Taid had moved to County Road!

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