Shrub – by popular demand!

I made shrub for Making History, our Explore Your Archive 2017 event last November.

The brave souls who tasted it were impressed and apparently completely unharmed! We therefore present (by popular demand) a blog all about making this very alcoholic tipple. It only needs to stand for a few days so you could be sipping your own shrub by Christmas if you so desire.


Transcript (with some added punctuation):


Take half a Pound of Lemmon Peel cut very thin and the same quantitly of Sevile orange Peel, let it infuse in two quarts of real french Brandy for twenty four hours, then strain them and by squeezeing them to the Liquor add three quarts more of the Brandy, one of Lemmon Juice and a Pint of Sevile Orange Juice, two Pound and a half of double refined Sugar. Let it stand three or four days shaking it often, filter it through a fine flannel and let it stand some hours to fine then bottle it off. You may if you like it put two quarts of Rum instead of the Brandy.

Any marmalade makers will know that Seville oranges are very seasonal and only available in January so I used grapefruit (for bitterness) and ordinary oranges (for orangey-ness) instead.

The size of the recipe had to be reduced quite a lot. Instead of 5 quarts (10 pints!) of brandy I used a mere litre of Coop’s finest, and with that, the juice of four lemons, two oranges and two grapefruit, plus a bit less than 1 lb of sugar. I was aiming for approximately one-fifth of the original quantities.

After I juiced the fruit I shredded the peel in a food processor (NB. I only used the peel of one grapefruit) then put it in a big jar with the brandy overnight, keeping the juice separate until the next step.


The following day, I removed the peel and strained the liquid, added the sugar and the juice, and let it all sit in the big jar, shaking occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.

And that’s it! I decanted it into a bottle and brought it to our event where we served it cold with optional ginger beer. The County Archivist says that it is meant to be drunk hot (I had better make another batch soon to try this out)



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The Hallworth Family of Hyde and Aberystwyth

We present the first in a series of mini-blogs exploring the Hallworth family photograph album which was generously donated to Ceredigion Archives last summer.

Thomas and Edith Hallworth were from Hyde in Cheshire, where he had been a coachman and she a seamstress. By 1911 they were living at Gwynfryn Cottages, New Cross with their young daughter Annie, Thomas then being chauffeur to Dr Roberts of Penywern.

ADX1579.02.01-02 Gwynfryn cottage garden

Following the Great War, in which Thomas served as an ambulance driver in Egypt (of which more soon!), the family moved to Aberystwyth and by 1922 they had a draper’s shop in Bridge Street, now the Wash’n Spin’n Dry launderette.


Thomas later operated the Eagle Garage at the top end of nearby Gray’s Inn Road, which still remains much as it was, and the family moved to a house in upper Buarth Road.


All the Hallworths were keen motorists and Annie was a stalwart member of the local tennis club (again, more anon!). They had all come a long way from Edwardian Hyde.

[John Wiles]

Posted in Aberystwyth, First World War, Guest blog, Motor vehicle registration, Our favourite documents | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Making History: Explore Your Archives 2017 at Ceredigion Archives

Writers, artists, knitters and cooks, composers, ceramicists, photographers… everyone who makes!

We’re inviting you to create something in response to the collections at Ceredigion Archives.

At Ceredigion Archives we have five hundred years’ of Ceredigion’s history. So many lives, so many places, so many events, recorded in words and images. We want to celebrate this year’s Explore Your Archive week with people from all over the county and beyond, who have explored, enjoyed and reacted to the collections by creating something of their own.

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This is a non-competitive enterprise, and submissions from all ages and levels of expertise are welcome. Whether you are a professional maker or whether this is your first attempt we really want you to join in. You might find that a poem or a short story emerges from your research, something you read might turn into a song in your head, perhaps the re-creation of a recipe from long ago will fascinate you into action?

We’ve put some documents and pictures up on our blog to show you some of the range that might inspire you – but don’t be restricted to just these, wondrous though we think they are. Have a look at our catalogue online or our brilliant blogs – this one, or Reporting the Great War,  or Llantood Letters, come along to the Archives to look at the documents you’ve chosen, get inspired and get making!

Your deadline is 18th November, the start of Explore Your Archives Week.  During the following week you’ll be invited to an event at Ceredigion Archives (on the 23rd of November) to exhibit and/or perform your work to an audience. There will be tea and (Cardiganshire heritage) buns, of course.

For more information about the archives look here.

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From Darkness into Light – the Ronald Everson slides collection

We present the second blog by the Project Officer, Dr. Andrew Cusworth.

We would like to thank Mr. Everson’s family for the permission to make the collection available for everyone to enjoy on-line.

The largest of the Archive’s slide collections is that of Ronald Everson, ref. ADX/1489. It extends across thirteen boxes, each containing two hundred slides. Although only the slides most relevant to the Archive’s focus on Ceredigion have been digitized and uploaded, this number still measures some hundreds of images.

It seems that Everson took up photography as a hobby around 1969, partly in order to record his travels and his family. He took the hobby quite seriously, and was soon giving slideshows to local societies and clubs such as the Anglo-Welsh Society of Llanon; the narrative notes and slide orders for at least some of these talks survive in the collection.

In a slideshow billed as ‘WALES Land of Mountains, Castles, Lakes, and Seas’, and given on the 22nd of October 1974, Everson had this to say about his pastime: ‘It seemed a shame not to have pictures of my grand daughter and all these beautiful places so I bought myself a cheap camera. My only experience of photography had been to use a box camera as a boy.’

In a passage reminiscent of the amateur photographer’s mantra that ‘the best camera is the one you have with you,’ Everson reveals himself to have been beset by the photography bug: ‘I have not visited these places with the deliberate intention of taking photographs. I have had my camera with me just in case! I have learnt that it is fatal to go anywhere without a camera. You are certain to miss the picture of a lifetime.’

‘WALES Land of Mountains, Castles, Lakes, and Seas’ was arranged as an imaginary journey, with Everson as the tour guide – ‘Let us start in Aberystwyth and as we have many miles to travel we must get up early to see the sun rise and very early morning sunshine.’


ADX/1489/3/3/132 Dawn over Danycoed

‘There is only one place from which to view the town of Aberystwyth – Constitution Hill’


ADX/1489/3/2/41 Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill


And so the slideshow continues through nearly two hundred slides, albeit that the narrative covers only a few pages. It seems that Everson gave quite a number of slideshows, though none are so thoroughly recorded as this one; rather, their remains consist of showing orders and titles of images. These other shows included ‘East Anglia, a tour along the Coast,’ ‘The English Scene,’ ‘Norway, Land of Fjords, and ’Views to please the eye, some near, some far.’ As these titles might indicate, the collection includes a wide range of images documenting landscapes, buildings, and even a Great Knaresborough Bed Race.

Returning to Ceredigion, we can be grateful that Everson’s hobby enabled him to capture some of the County’s life and scenes through his pictures, and that his family were pleased for the Archive to continue sharing them with a new audience online. Having spent quite a bit of time scanning the collection, here, in no particular order, are some of the images that I found most enjoyable.


ADX/1489/3/2/40, Devil’s Bridge train. The damage to the right hand of the frame, caused by the image being taken at the very end of a roll of film, lends the picture atmosphere and motion


ADX/1489/3/2/87, Great Hall, UCW Aberystwyth. The Great Hall looking very new indeed.


ADX/1489/3/3/15, Cycle Race Start, Aberystwyth. The race begins, and the cyclists set off, but the timing of the image creates a disconcertingly quiet and still scene.


ADX/1489/3/1/188, Gorse in bloom, Aberdyfi. An image taken at the road-side, and capturing a vehicle (perhaps the photographer’s?) and a sign warning of brush fires.


ADX/1489/3/3/161, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Aberystwyth. The band marches past the Town Hall, where the Archive is now based.


ADX/1489/3/4/179, Devil’s Bridge. Someone waits to cross the road with children outside the Hafod Arms Hotel.


ADX/1489/3/5/103, Lead mine notice, reading ‘Danger:- Mine Shaft. Any person found throwing stones etc., loosening masonry, or in any other way causing damage to the shaft and hazard to the persons working below will be prosecuted. N.C.M.C.’


ADX/1489/3/5/126, Bethel Chapel, Upper Rheidol. In this image, Everson seems to be using a wide angle lens or converter, and creates a drastic dramatic effect that is quite unusual within his collection.


ADX/1489/3/6/53, Farm sale near Lampeter. This lovely image captures a major event in the farming community and the excitement it has generated.

[Andrew Cusworth]

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“Venereal Diseases Cause More Casualties than War”: A Grim Magic Lantern Show…

We present another blog about slides digitized during the recent From Darkness into Light project.

Newly digitized and now available online, this curious collection of magic lantern slides (ADX/1262) starts with images of flowers and sculptures but quickly gets down to its principal theme which involves the horrors of syphilis.

It seems probable this magic lantern show was created during, or just after, the period of the First World War by or on behalf of the Medical Officer of Health for Cardiganshire – a post then occupied by Dr L. Meredith Davies. The slide show would have originally been accompanied by a lecture (now lost). When discovered the slides were wrapped in newspaper from 1919.

Although syphilis had been known for many centuries it was a particular problem in wartime. It was a major cause of lost man-hours during the First World War, and there were well-based fears that men who contracted syphilis would bring it home to their wives, and pass it to both the wife and through her to their unborn children.

By the time of the First World War syphilis was finally curable, but the treatments available were still significantly toxic. Until the early twentieth century most treatments were based on mercury which had terrible side-effects on the patient, but in the early years of the twentieth century a German chemist called Paul Erlich developed a drug which actually cured the disease. For this tremendous achievement he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1908. The drug, which in its commercial form was known as Salvarsan was not without complications however, being arsenic-based, and requiring long periods of sustained treatment to take effect. The slides in the magic lantern show demonstrate a wide range of the nasty symptoms and effects of syphilis including a condition known as ‘General Paralysis of the Insane’ which had only recently been identified as being caused by syphilis.

Unless further research reveals the answer, we can only speculate on the proposed audience for these images, drawn from a wide variety of sources. A cursory search of the digitized Aberystwyth Observer and Cambrian News for 1917 – 1919 does not suggest an audience, but given the nature of the slideshow this is perhaps unsurprising!

The slides themselves are a fascinating mixture: there are photographs of (unidentified, and not, I think, local) victims, tinted slides of ‘the wonders of nature’, two slides apparently indicative of the dangers of drinking in pubs…

… several slides apparently illustrative of healthy young people (a water polo match, a ladies’ bicycling race, a dance)…

… and many slides containing handwritten quotations and statistics relating to syphilis and venereal disease generally.

What this collection does appear to show is that someone in early twentieth century Cardiganshire thought it desirable and necessary to provide a detailed and informative explanation of the social and medical problem of syphilis and the necessity of professional treatment if it was diagnosed.

Perhaps the medical authorities were concerned that men returning from the war brought with them more than memories. Unfortunately our collection of the papers of Cardiganshire Medical Officer of Health has very few surviving documents from this period which might throw light on the matter.

More information about comparable collections and about any of the ‘stock’ images used would be very welcome, please!


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From Darkness into Light

We present the first blog about From Darkness into Light by the Project Officer, Dr. Andrew Cusworth. We are very grateful to him for his excellent work on this project to digitize our slides collections.

Thanks to Nigel Callaghan of Technoleg Taliesin, we are now able to incorporate images into our online catalogue. This is only the beginning; we hope it will lead to many more digitized images being available on-line.

Over the past few weeks, I have been working in Ceredigion Archives to digitize a large tranche of the Archive’s collection of photographic slides. The purpose and motive behind the work is a simple one: to make the slide collections more accessible to people. Of current photographic media, the slide suffers perhaps the most from its inconvenience – slides consume time, effort, and money in their creation, storage space, and require specialist equipment for their viewing; it is rather paradoxical that a format once highly valued for being visible to an audience on a screen – be that the family or a hall full of people listening to a talk – is now so difficult to view or share.

The work involves a range of activities: identifying images that might be relevant to the Archive’s remit, ensuring that their catalogue record matches them correctly, gently cleaning the slides, scanning them, organizing the digital files, and, finally, web-mounting the new digital images in the Archive’s catalogue.

As much of this work is essentially practical in nature, it leaves some mental space to consider the collections at hand, their history, medium, and content. Some of them are miniature in nature – ADX/1207 is a collection of just four rather disparate slides taken in the August of 1960; others, such as ADX/1489 (on which more soon!), are altogether more substantial. ADX/1362 provides a visual record of a local carnival in 1976, with images taken in a now obsolete amateur photographic format that represent snippets of a personal experience of an event; LIB/78 provides a glimpse into a more professionalised approach, in which the technical details about the image such as the light levels, exposure time, and lens aperture are recorded on each slide’s mounting card.


A group of children dressed as playing cards in a carnival in Aberystwyth, 1976.

The first slide collection that I scanned was that of Godfrey Hill (MUS/227), a local urban and industrial historian who gave presentations on these topics to local clubs and societies. His photographs are, for the most part, of architectural and industrial details: specific buildings and their features, electricity cabinets, even services access covers are among his regular subjects. However, occasionally, his images, either deliberately or accidentally, capture other things – people peering into the windows of a shop that has now vanished, the blurred image of a passing car now long out of production, or the efforts to clean up a flood in a street; as such, they capture a little of the life of the architecture and material culture that they so often record. This, then, is perhaps additional result of the project, and indeed of making any document more accessible by sharing it with a wider audience online: to allow people to look for the things that interest them, and to find shared meaning in collections of images that were, after all, originally intended to be shared on a screen in front of an audience.


Flooding on Cambrian Street, 1967

[Dr. Andrew Cusworth]

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