The name Crymych has existed since the dark Ages although the village itself only developed following the construction of the Railway. Over the centuries the name has been spelt in many different ways and there are a number of theories regarding its origin. In popular translation Crym means hunched up and ych means an ox. An alternative origin is that Crymych, Crummuch or Crymig was the name of a stream. The first mention comes in an account of the Cemais Hundreds of 1468.
Agriculture has always been a significant part of the local economy. The first agricultural show took place in 1909 with the largest class being the Welsh Black Cattle.
The Crymych and District Farmers Association began in 1908. The store was located in the building which is now the Rugby Club. The aim of the business was to ‘Provide Co-op members and the general public necessaries as near as possible to wholesale prices’. William Jenkins was appointed as the working manager a position he held for nearly 40 years. Goods for the Co-op were brought in by rail. In 1936 the Potato marketing Board introduced a scheme for producing seed potatoes in the Crymych and Boncath areas. This was a supported by the Co-op manager who visited farms to encourage farmers to sign up. In 1976 Crymych and District Co-op combined with Clynderwen Farmers. The store was moved to new premises on the Hermon Road.
Enterprising local farmers and businessmen formed the ‘Market Hall Company Ltd’ in 1911. Their aim was to build a hall sufficiently large for the holding of markets, public meetings, amusements and gatherings of all descriptions’. Land was acquired by the company in 1914 and the hall was opened officially on the 23rd of June 1919. Older inhabitants of the village remember bustling monthly markets, huge eisteddfodau, grand concerts, political meetings and regular auctions. During the Second World War the hall functioned as a centre for allocating homes for evacuee children from Bristol and Hythe in Kent. It also served as a shooting range for the Home Guard and villagers welcomed the American GI’s for coffee and cakes on a daily basis. Over the years the structure has been well maintained and a tribute to the skills of the original builders Messrs Young Bros of Llangolman.
Antioch Welsh Congregationalist Chapel was built in 1845 on land donated by a local farmer; its mother church was Pen-y-groes. The vestry was used to educate children in reading and writing for 2 hours on a Sunday. It was not until 1922 that the chapel was equipped with an organ. Antioch is now a private dwelling and services are held in the vestry. Seion Baptist Chapel was built in 1900. Prior to that, the congregation met in local houses, at London Terrace and Villa Farm. Its mother church was Blaenffos Chapel. A new cemetery was opened in 1926 and the vestry was built in 1930.
Prior to 1921 children attended Blaenffos and Hermon schools. Crymych’s first school was held in the market hall and officially opened on 3rd January 1921 with 33 pupils. A partition wall was erected, with classes taking place in the ante room and the main hall was used as a play area during wet weather. Older boys played on the Fair Field when it was dry. A purpose built school was officially opened in December 1933 at its present site on the Crymych/Hermon road. The building cost £3,200 and provided accommodation for 85 children with three classrooms, a Headmaster’s room, 2 cloakrooms, a kitchen, scullery and a drying room. Children who passed the 11+ went to Cardigan or Narberth Grammar Schools, others stayed at the school and went to Cilgerran one day a week for domestic science or woodwork. In 2006 the school was enlarged and named Ysgol y Frenni to incorporate pupils from Blaenffos and Hermon schools.
In October 1956 building work started on a comprehensive school for the Preseli area. The building cost £160,000 and opened in September 1958 providing many facilities to cover a broad curriculum.
Designated as a community school from the outset it offered a number of evening courses in various subjects and became home for a variety of community organizations. Ysgol y Preseli was designated an official bilingual school in 1990/1.
The Community Education centre opened in 1974. Later the swimming pool, leisure centre, Theatr y Gromlech, Library and E-Learning Centre were added to the facilities.
Crymych is proud of its traditionally Welsh way of life and culture. A mural on the Market Hall depicts the Cardi Bach train, Twm Carnabwth, a hero of the Rebecca Riots; as well as abstract images from ‘Dail Pren’ a volume of poetry written by Waldo Williams.
On the square a slate sculpture celebrates the twinning between Crymych and Ploveilh in Brittany. Also carved in slate, are poems by local poets W.R. Evans, Tomi Evans and Wyn Owens.
Two nationally acclaimed poets born in Pentregalar Crymych were D.J. Davies who won the bardic chair in 1932 and T.E. Nicholas an uncompromising pacifist who spent periods in jail because of his beliefs.
Aelwyd /Adran yr urdd Crymych are active members of Urdd Gobaith Cymru(Welsh League of Youth). Activities include choral singing, rock and folk music, and drama productions. Members perform regularly on television and radio, are constant winners at the Urdd National Eisteddfod and take part in international work camps and events.
The Crymych and District Mixed Choir has successfully completed at local and National Eisteddfodau and has performed internationally. Bois y Frenni was established during the Second World War and still performs regularly.
Theatr y Gromlech provides a venue for touring and local theatre/drama groups. In 2007, Crymych was twinned with Hlotse in Lesotho.
ANCIENT HISTORY OF CRYMYCH
Several stone axes dating from the Neolithic period(4400-2300BC) have been found in the area. Within the village lies a Bronze Age(2300-700BC) barrow or funerary monument which would have been the resting place of an important figure of the time. The surrounding hills are dotted with evidence of early settlement of the area. To the north east of Crymych three tumili can be seen on Frenni Fawr with two more barrows either side. To the west is Foel Drigarn and its summit an Iron Age (700BC – AD 43) Hillfort encircles three large cairns which are likely to date from the bronze Age. There are also a number of standing stones dating from this period. These sites are of national importance and are protected as Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The Castle Mound or Motte known as ‘Castell Dyffryn Mawr’ or ‘Parc-y-Domen’ just north west of the village is evidence od settlement during the medieval period. At Croes Mihangel a middle Bronze Age tumulus was excavated in 1958/9. Four cinerary urns were discovered and are held a Tenby Museum.
MABINOGI – CADAIR FACSEN
One of the early Welsh stories or mabinogi tells the tale of the Dream of Maxen Wledig the Emperor of Rome, ‘Magnus Maximus’. In his dream Maxen Wledig had a vision of a beautiful young woman with whom he fell in love. He sent out messengers from Rome to find this beauty. They finally located her in Caernarfon in North Wales. Maxen travelled to Wales to make her his wife. While staying in Wales the Emperor the Emperor went to hunt at Carmarthen. On his way he made camp at Frenni Fawr and to this day it is known as Cadair Facsen the Chair of Maxen. In another of the mabinogi Cilhwch and Olwen, King Arthur leads an expedition across the Preselis hunting the Twrch Trwyth, an Irish King who has turned into a boar.
DROVERS AND FAIRS
As Crymych was located at the intersection of six roads, drovers would have gathered there before driving their cattle in a number of possible directions. From Crymych routes went north east through Newcastle Emlyn and on to Mid Wales and the Midlands and south east through Carmarthen and on to London and Southern England. The Crymych Arms first appears on the 1861 census although a building is shown on the 1812 enclosure map. Here the drovers would have bartered and struck deals during the Crymych Fair which took place twice a year on the 21st May and the 8th September. As the village grew so did the number of fairs. By 1999 there were twelve important fairs held at Crymych annually, including the hiring fairs. Markets were held on the last Tuesday of every month. The current fair and food festival takes place on the last Tuesday of August.
COMING OF THE RAILWAY
Although many tracks and roads met in the place now known as Crymych the village hardly existed until the arrival of the railway and was known as ‘Iet y Bwlch’. Construction of the railway started at Whitland in November 1870 and the line reached Crymych in July 1874. However it was not until September 1886 that the line was finally opened all the way to Cardigan. The train was known locally as the Cardi Bach and the line was 27½ miles long. The line was originally constructed to carry slate from Glôg and lead ore from Llanfyrnach,although agriculture produce provided the business which kept the railway running for many years. It is thought that the railway employed over 80 people, drivers, firemen, station staff, maintenance men for the rolling stock and gangers to maintain the line, clerks and crossing keepers. Freight was moved by wagon to the outlying areas. The village of Crymych developed around the railway. The market and the mart grew rapidly with the expanding community and the improved transport links. The line was closed in 1963 and was completely dismantled but the route is still clearly visible in many places.
The village expanded rapidly as local entrepreneurs developed many businesses including a draper, ironmonger, grocer, barber, milliner, cobbler and saddler. Many of the businesses had verandas to which the horses could be tied. Crymych resembled a town in the Wild West and this gave the village the nickname ‘Cowboy Town’. This name gave rise to the popular song ‘Cowbois Crymych’ by Geraint Griffiths. The village had its own electricity supply as early as 1928.