Skip Navigation|


Smithfield drover by W.H. Pyne, 1805

exhibition number: Agriculture 25

Before the coming of the railways, much of Ceredigion bred cattle which were sold for fattening in England. Drovers took them across the hills to England on tracks which kept them off busier roads and avoided payment at toll gates. Horses, sheep and geese were also transported in this way.

Tregaron became a centre for gathering animals from all over Ceredigion. It is said that up to 2,000 cattle passed through Tregaron each year in droves of about 200 from about 1820 to 1860. They were then driven east through the Abergwesyn Pass (where there was no toll gate), through Llandrindod Wells and on to Northampton or Rugby (in the spring and summer for fattening, taking three weeks) or to the counties north of London for manure making (taking 4 weeks).

Cattle were shoed with CUES or CIW, two on each hoof. There were blacksmiths in Tregaron to make and fit these. The feet of geese were dipped in tar and sand.

Droving became a large scale enterprise from about 1820 and came to an end when the railway arrived in 1866. Tregaron expanded during this period to serve the needs of the drovers and the number of inns in the town increased dramatically.

Drovers also acted as bankers and used to carry cash from place to place, despite threats of highway robbery. They were also the carriers of news.

Blacksmiths in Tregaron 1837: 6; 1850: 3; 1861(?): 4; 1875: 3

Inns and public houses in Tregaron listed in Trade directories 1850: 7; 1861: 12; 1875: 13

Accounts of David Jonathen, drover, of Pencarlifry Ystrad, near Lampeter, 1838-1852, and later of Ffwrneithin, Llanarth, 1852-1882,

NLW, MSS 9600-9614

Davies, J Llefelys, (1934), The Livestock Trade in west Wales in the nineteenth century, Aberystwyth Studies, 85-105

Waton, Rowan, (1981), Droving and Farm Economy in 18th century Wales, some documents from Allt y Cadno Estate papers, 1767-1780, Carmarthen Antiquary, XVII, 35-

Moore-Colyer, Richard, (1976), The Welsh Cattle Drovers (Cardiff, 1976)

Hughes, Philip Gwyn, (1943), Wales and the Drovers (reprinted with introduction and bibliography by Richard Moore-Collier in 1988, Gomer Press)

Goodwin, F., and Toulson, Shirley, (), The Drovers' Roads of Wales

Toulson, Shirley, (1980), The Drovers (Shire Album no 45)

The whole county of Cardigan is so full of Cattle that 'tis said to be the Nursery, the Breeding-Place for the whole Kingdom of England'

Defoe, D.,