Nantlle Valley History

Clynnog Fawr


Hywel Tudur ~ 1840 - 1922

Hywel Tudur (second from the left, front row)
Hywel Tudur (second from the left, front row)

Poet, preacher and inventor. Originally from Pandy Tudur. His father was a builder. He received teacher-training at the Caernarfon Training college and came as a teacher to Clynnog because he wanted to be close to his idol, Eben Fardd. His name appears in the Clynnog School records in 1863 (the year of Eben Fardd's death). He married a daughter of Hafod-y-wern, Clynnog. He subsequently became headmaster at Llanllyfni School. He left in 1874 because the inspector was not satisfied with the school's results. (An Englishman was appointed in his place but the villagers turned against him.) He went to farm at Hafod y Wern and started to preach on Sundays. By 1879 he became responsible for the chapel at Capel Uchaf.

In 1873, he and William Jones, Bryngwydion edited the book 'Casgliad o Weithiau Barddonol Eben Fardd'. (The Collected Works of Eben Fardd.)

He was the winner in the pryddest (a long poem in free metre) competition at the National Eisteddfod at Conwy in 1897. He wrote many examples of the englyn (a four-line alliterative stanza), particularly ones in remembrance of the district's departed.

He devoted himself to two things: designing a flying-machine, and making a machine based on the principle of "self-motion" - as he described "perpetual motion". He invented various machines with the help of carpenters and blacksmiths. But his chief interest was the principle of flight. He worked for a quarter of a century grappling with the problem. He spent months on end closely watching the movements of birds, beetles and bees through a magnifying glass. The problem which faced him was - why are their bodies so heavy and their wings so tiny?

He had the idea to invent a propellor and applied himself to putting the plan on paper for sending to the Patents Office in London. An answer came, telling him that they had accepted his preliminary designs for 'A Propellor or Driving Wheel to put in motion vehicles, boats and flying machines' on 14 October 1916.

He had the intention of designing a glider, but due to lack of financial backing, this was never fulfilled. (see pp 12-13 Hywel Tudur 1840-1922. Edited by Catrin Parri Huws, 1993).

Bryn Eisteddfod (about 1918-1920)
Bryn Eisteddfod (about 1918-1920).

He was an architect. He himself designed Bryn Eisteddfod and his family moved from Hafod y Wern to live there. It was he also who designed the third chapel at Capel Uchaf (this was demolished in 2002). It is said that he based the design of Capel Uchaf on that of Gwytherin - the central seats on the same level as the ones around them (like an island). From around the aisles, the side and back seats sloped. A plan such as this meant that it was easy to preach in this chapel because the members sat together in the middle.

When Hywel Tudur died in June 1922, the following paragraph about him by Rev. John Owen appeared in the Calvanistict Methodists' Year-book.

"Rarely would one find someone with more reliable advice in every circumstance. If one wanted to make a will - Hywel Tudur. If there were need of legal advice without going to town and paying a lawyer - Hywel Tudur. If help were needed to design a house or to survey land - Hywel Tudur. If a verse were needed for a memorial card or gravestone - Hywel Tudur. If an article were needed for Y Drysorfa (a Calvanistic Methodist magazine) to immortalise a deacon - Hywel Tudur. If a pryddest or an awdl (ode) were needed adjudication - Hywel Tudur. And should no-one to require anything, Hywel would take the time to perfect his flying machine, to shape a poem, or write a sermon."

He was buried in Clynnog Cemetery. A competition to write a memorial englyn was set for the National Eisteddfod in Pwllheli in 1925; the winner was D. Jones of Penrhyndeudraeth. But there is no stone to mark his resting place.

Many thanks to Sally Davies, great-granddaughter of Hywel Tudur, for the photographs.

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