Monday, 23 July 2012

More from Penrhos

A dull day with some light rain in the morning and some drizzle; Eddie and I went for a local walk - to Pwllheli along the beach, by bus from Pwllheli to Llanbedrog, on foot from there via Rhyd-y-Clafdy back to Penrhos.

Above: the sign for the Polish village from the main road (the A499), the eagle proudly wearing its crown since post-war days. Note three languages - Polish, Welsh and English. 'Cartref Pwyliaid' means 'Polish Home'.

Above: passing through some revetments, visible from the road leading from the A499 into the centre of the Polish village. What's through here? Let's have a look... Below: it's another ammunition store, this one kept nearer the runway. Today, the building stands at the end of a golf driving range, a mecca for people looking for golf balls (I found 19 here in the space of a few minutes). A shame about the graffiti on the walls - not there last time I was here.

Below: "Kiedyś było tu lotnisko, teraz jest pole golfowe!" This is the centre of what was a large circular airfield, with a grass runway, allowing aircraft to take off into the wind. RAF Penrhos was a training base for bombers; several miles away at Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth) there was a bombing and gunnery range for aircrews to practice their weapons skills. The plateau that formed the runway is just to the south of the Polish village.

Below: housing from the 1980s forms the northern edge of the Polish village; most of the elderly residents today are housed in modern accommodation rather than in pre-war barracks, now kept for holiday visitors like us...

...and (below), for cub scouts (zuchy i zuszki) who still come here every summer, children today of second and third generation Poles living in North-West England as well as children of recent Polish migrants. Moni and Eddie came here as cub scouts for many years, Eddie returned to a tent in a nearby field as a fully-fledged scout last summer.

Below: rabbits from the fields between the Polish village and Rhyd-y-Clafdy across the hill have been breeding prodigiously since livestock has stopped grazing up there. The rabbits have made their way down to Penrhos and, not finding any natural predators here, have began to multiply in large numbers. They add to the charm of the place, sitting around on the lawns, and scampering off when humans approach too close. 

Below: many thanks to Dyspozytor for e-mailing me this link to a fascinating home movie made here at Penrhos some 50 years ago (it cannot be older because of the 1962 Ford Cortina that appears). Originally uploaded by Andy Bereza.

The biggest difference between 1962 and today is the trees have grown high, making many of the familiar vistas look quite strange. Otherwise, the barracks have been painted white - half a century ago they were still bare wood. The residents are of the same age as today's ones but a different generation - the old folks in this movie would have been veterans of two world wars and may well have also fought the Bolsheviks in 1920. Many are buried at Pwllheli cemetery (photo in this post from 2007). A wonderful slice of Polish history in the UK.

Some interesting photos of surviving military installations around Penrhos here, while on this WW2 forum, details of German air raids on RAF Penrhos here.

Nothing posted on 23 July in previous years.

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