Antiques series. Tim Wonnacott visits the Hay-on-Wye literary festival, where he finds a striking traditional Welsh costume and a curious object relating to pit ponies.
Browse content similar to Hay-on-Wye. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
'Britain is stuffed with places famous for their antiques
'and each object has a story to tell.'
'I'm Tim Wonnacott, and as the crowds gather
'for their favourite outdoor events around the country,
'I'll be pitching up with my silver trailer...' How do you do?
'..to meet the locals with their precious antiques and collectables.'
I'm feeling inspired myself, thank you very much.
'Their stories will reveal
'why the places we visit deserve to be on
'the Great Antiques Map of Britain.
'Today, we're in Wales, at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye.
'Lots of eager owners have come along
'to show us their intriguing items...'
The biggest thrill of all for me
is this very rare object.
'..which represent this area's unique antiques heritage.'
Of course, it's very nice,
but Huntington is a very close neighbour to Hay-on-Wye.
-It is indeed.
-Which is where we are today.
'Also, of course, they want to find out
'what their precious objects are worth...'
The top end of £5,000.
'..and here's today's mystery object.'
That's a big hint as to what this thing was used for.
'Hay-on-Wye's a tricky old place to identify.'
'Officially, it's in the Welsh county of Powys,
'but as far as the Royal Mail is concerned,
'it's in the English county of Herefordshire.'
Now, you've probably heard of Hay-on-Wye because of the books,
but I can tell you
there's more than meets the eye,
here in Hay-on-Wye.
'For ten days a year, it's positively rammed,
'with 85,000 visitors flocking to the festival
'whatever the weather.
'But in times gone by,
'it was the river which kept this place alive,
'providing a vital trading link between Wales and England.
'I've brought the old rig to Hay Castle,
'which was originally built in the 12th century.
'I don't suppose we'll find any objects as old as that today,
'but you never know!
'We're bright in spirit -
'even if the weather is dull as ditch water.
'Cheery Diana has come to see us
'wearing her grandmother's traditional Welsh costume.'
It's all over 100 years old.
I try to wear it on St David's Day if I can, in Hay.
If it's a fine day, I'm quite happy to wear it
and walk around town and cause a few people to glance at me.
Well, I must say, it looks very fetching,
-if you don't mind me saying so...
-Oh, thank you. No, I don't mind at all.
-Now, this apron is quite coarse.
What's the material?
-Flannel, Welsh flannel.
But in a rather fetching pinstripe.
The strips always went down,
because it's flattering.
-There's a fashion tip for us all.
-Now there you are.
And the shawl?
This is the everyday shawl,
I mean, the houses were very cold -
they only had the one fire in the range,
so they needed warmth,
and these are all flannel, made from sheep's wool.
-And that's Welsh again, is it?
-So they're all amazingly warm.
And your arms are covered in these cotton or linen...
The work that ladies had to do was very hard -
they had to black lead grates,
scrub stone floors
and they had, usually,
a blouse with a three-quarter sleeve,
so that when they were washing...
-You know, the sleeves wouldn't get wet.
They would put these sleeves on to look smart.
Now, the number one Welsh feature, though,
has to be the stovepipe hat.
-Can I have a look at it?
Thank you very much.
Now, I've never handled one of these -
and it is magnificent, isn't it?
the thing is covered in this silk plush...
Oh, yes - silk plush on buckram.
..and if I turn it upside down...
Oh, look - we've got the maker's name in it -
"Carver and Co, King Street, Carmarthen".
-Now, you can't get much more Welsh than that, can you?
-No, you can't.
So your family can date this hat back to the 1870s, then?
-And underneath it, you wear this cap...
..and it's trimmed with lace, is that Welsh lace?
Oh, I don't know. I hope so.
So do I. Anyway, we must replace it immediately.
You'd like me to put it on?
Please, if you wouldn't mind, cos it just completes the ensemble.
'But how much would you have to part with
'for an original costume like this?
'Find out later!
'Coal mining was once the biggest single employer in Wales.
'Among the workforce was a sure-footed fleet of ponies,
'to undertake much of the drudgery.
'Next, we have a curious object relating to those pit ponies,
'which has been brought along for valuation by Sandra.'
I don't know what it... Quite what it is.
I had it given me for a pit pony,
from a gentlemen that worked in the pits, looking after ponies -
and he said it was a pit pony tool,
so I don't know any more than that.
What do you like about it, do you like the timber?
It's the timber.
Yeah, it's quite a weighty thing when you're actually holding it -
and if you look carefully,
this has got quite a close grain, this timber.
It's not mahogany, it's not oak.
I think it's a fruit wood.
I think it could be apple or pear
and that apple or pear bow has then gone onto a lathe.
It's been turned - it's been turned and tapered.
And then we get down to this globular bit at the bottom
and it's been reinforced with some sections of iron here
that have gone all rusty.
But the intriguing thing for me is the stamp here,
because if you look, it says "Arnold and Sons"
and that's a big hint
as to what this thing was used for.
If we pull the handle, it reveals a length of steel there,
and it...withdraws into the tube...
the flat plate on the bottom.
I date this thing to about 1860
and it's called a balling gun,
or dosing tube.
So the vet would put his medicine in there,
it could be a fluid medicine, or something more sinister.
He'd load it up like that
and the poor old pit pony
would then be required to open its mouth
and you'd jam that thing down the pit pony's throat
and then when it's well and truly down, you go...
like that and fire a great dose of medicine
down the back of its throat.
And that is all in the name of getting the pony better.
What's it worth?
'Have a guess and soon, all will be revealed!
'Now, what's the best thing you can buy around here for under a pound?'
-Hello there, how are you?
-Very well, thank you.
Jolly good, nice to see you.
'It's as many crossings as you want in a day,
'over this delightful old toll bridge,
'which is owned by Maggie.'
Now, this bridge has been here for how long?
-Oh, 240 years.
And how did it come about?
There were two main houses, where they had farms both sides
and actually needed to take their animals across to
the common land, which is over there.
And to get to build the toll bridge, what would they have to do?
Go to parliament, ask a question in parliament
and have it ratified and agreed.
Pitt the Younger was the Prime Minister at the time.
He ratified thousands of these with Acts of Parliament.
All had different little nuances in them.
-Take so many cows...
-Take so many pigs...
Yeah, no, brilliant, brilliant.
And that statute is what gives you the legal right
-to continue with the toll today.
When was that ratified then, roughly?
The final one was 1797.
-So some of the bits of the bridge you're standing on now
-are 200 years old.
-Are they really?
-Now you tell me, now that I'm standing on it.
-Yes, some people do say, "Is it safe?"
-Just tell me,
why didn't they just have a stone bridge all the way, then?
Oh, really interesting.
They did originally build it all in stone, so the two stone arches
-you see were all continued to stone in the middle...
..but, as today, look at the speed of that water -
it's really in spey at the moment.
-It's vicious, isn't it?
-It is, it's really high at the moment.
And what happened was, when it was so high, the stone just...
-The mortar just washed away.
-Oh, did it?
So they then went back to Parliament and had it re-ratified,
to say that they could build it in greenheart oak.
-When it comes to the big old replacement cost...
..which is going to be the major stanchion somewhat,
-it's going to be a number, isn't it?
-1993, it was £300,000.
-Was it really?
And how much is your toll?
-80 pence, per day.
-80p a day?
So I can go back and forth as many times as I like?
Any number of times.
The Hay Festival must have made quite a difference to your business.
Oh, it's huge for us.
The first week, we take 10% of our income on these 10 days.
'So the festival effect is felt here too
'and the town of Hay-on-Wye would not be as well connected
'without this little toll bridge.
'That little bridge was built
'well over 100 years after this map was produced
and it belongs to Ant.'
Map is of Herefordshire County
and it's got all the castles in Herefordshire on it,
as far as we can make out.
It's got lots of other information on it
which we're not quite sure about,
which hopefully Tim will be able to help us sort out
and work out a bit more about it.
Now, is Herefordshire your home county?
-Um, it is now.
-It is now?
Definitely yes, yes -
and I have... My grandfather, who bought the map originally,
-is born in Herefordshire.
-And where was he born?
He was born in a little village called Huntington, which is up here.
So he was attracted to the map because it related to his county.
-And that's why he had it framed up and hung it at home.
-And of course, it's very nice that Huntington
is a very close neighbour to Hay-on-Wye.
-It is, indeed.
-Which is where we are today.
The map-maker was a man called John Speed -
and the way that Speed went about producing these maps
was completely novel.
First of all, he came up with
the idea of producing a map county by county -
that had not happened before 1612.
And then he introduced these little vignettes.
So on this side of the Herefordshire map,
we've got the City of Hereford as a kind of road map,
which hadn't happened before Speed came up with this arrangement.
-And then he included local aristocratic families,
with their coats of arms.
And then, of course, they're coloured -
and they're not coloured by a printing process -
all these colours are put on by hand,
with a person with a watercolour pot,
so it's a heck of a lot of work.
Yes. Crumbs, didn't appreciate that, yes.
And strangely enough, the value varies, county by county,
depending on how prosperous the inhabitants are.
The valuation of these maps is a complete nightmare,
because Speed, having come up with
the original printed edition in 1612...
The plates were then used
for at least 50 further years -
into the 1660s -
and it's very difficult to identify
the precise printing date in that long period.
What is pretty well certain is
that this one would have been produced before 1646.
Oh, gosh, didn't realise it was that old, gosh.
And I guess if you wanted to sell it,
you'd probably get at auction maybe sort of £250-£350,
something like that.
It's a genuine old map. Very, very nice.
Oh, thank you.
'In the literary festival's tented village,
'visitors are immersing themselves in books
'and merrily mingling with authors and celebrities.
'Meanwhile, at the castle, another local has rolled up
'with a couple of family heirlooms he'd like to know more about.'
Now, Aubrey, this table's had a bit of a hard life,
so let's pick it up, OK,
and have a quick bird's eye
at the underside...
..and this displays characteristics of an 18th century table.
But once upon a time, somebody's broken that leg off
and they've taken a tin of baked beans
and they've flattened the tin
and then they've screwed the baked bean tin inside that leg,
to make it nice and firm, all right?
Then another raucous party,
somebody knocked that leg off
and what they decided to do was to put five big screws in that -
and that's what keeps that leg on.
Now, these two back legs were once on these rails,
which were period rails, but you can see the timber there's new,
that's because that back leg once upon a time broke off
and they replaced it with a new piece of timber.
this is an old table,
And it dates - I guess -
from about 1770-1780...
and once upon a time, it was an immensely grand thing,
because the timber that they veneered on top of all that pine
is mahogany and satinwood.
Particularly lovely is this
satinwood central demi-loom,
then they've inlayed that with something called garrier,
which is the shape of a classical husked leaf,
which is what these things are -
and they've done that in swags.
But, at some point, somebody decided to have their supper off this...
it resulted in a bit of a spillage,
-but it's perfectly easy to get restored.
Is it a games table or a tea table?
We open it up like that and it's got baize inside, so it's a games table.
All in all, this is what they call a "restoration job" in the trade.
This table, in brilliant condition,
is worth about £15,000
and I think it would probably cost you
at least £500-£700
to get it decently restored and looking top hole,
which I guess, gives it a residual value now of about £500.
a rather fine lithograph.
James Watt, Britain's premier engineer
and inventor of the 18th century.
I'm descended by five...
generations to James Watt.
-Are you really?
-..great, that's five.
-That's great, isn't it?
Yes, I mean this is the man who sorted out the steam engine
by shoving a condenser on it,
that effectively led to...
-The Industrial Revolution.
I mean, none of this would have happened without your
which is quite something.
And this image is a famous image.
A man called Francis Chantrey was a sculptor
and he famously sculpted James Watt
in a bust, dating from 1814...
and he sketched James Watt before he carved the marble
and this is a print of the sketch.
It's a very illustrious family -
it must make your bosom swell with pride.
I feel proud for you, so let's not be modest here -
he was a great man
and we owe a tremendous amount to his inventiveness, actually.
It's a print, it's not the three grand original,
but I guess with the connection to your family, nevertheless,
-it's got to make the thing worth... I don't know, £100-£200.
'So how did Hay become a Mecca for bibliophiles?
'Well, largely thanks to this man -
'In the 1960s, he recognised the potential of second-hand books
'to rescue his town of Hay-on-Wye
'from its failing rural economy.
I don't think any book really is junk,
this is kind of a religion with me.
I think I'm just beginning -
I think I've got about a million books now.
I think it's possible to get 5-10 times larger
and then I'd hope to, er...
bring people in on buses and planes
and make it a kind of centre for the second-hand book trade.
'Initially dealing books from his rather roomy car,
'he established a second-hand book shop
'to attract people from far and wide.'
I think I was geographically in a perfect location.
You see, you're a nice hour or two's run from
Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Swansea...
So we had customers who'd come...
..for a day's outing to Hay.
The book is the perfect symbol of a nation's culture -
therefore, it is the perfect partner of the tourist industry.
'He bought the local cinema, fire-station and even the castle,
'filling them all with books.
'He was an inspiration
'and soon, book shops opened all over the town.
'Then, in 1977,
'came an ingenious PR stunt.'
Tomorrow, Hay-on-Wye announces its intention
to become an independent state,
free from the bureaucracies of central government
and able to concentrate on its own products,
like Hay sausages and Hay bread.
People of Hay!
'Declaring himself King of the Independent Nation of Hay
'brought lots of media attention.'
It was a joke and it slowly grew into more than a joke.
Can I see your passport, please?
We ultimately decided it should be on April Fool's Day.
'And the world's first book town was born.
'One of the giants of Welsh literature
'is of course, Dylan Thomas
'and collector Geoff has brought along some of his works to show me.'
I was in school in Swansea Grammar School, which is where Dylan went
and I'd heard the name when I was a schoolboy
and then I went on to read other stories.
I've got much more interest in his short stories, I think,
than in his poetry,
but I'm growing into his poetry.
Now, Geoff, I quite like this book,
because it's got this cracking image of Dylan Thomas on the cover.
And this is a first edition, dating from 1954.
Dylan, of course, had died in 1953
and this probably is one of the first
collective volumes of a mass of his material
-produced after his death, which is interesting.
And I suppose this is likely to be worth...
I don't know, perhaps £150, something like that.
This one is very important to find in its dust cover,
cos there are lots of these that aren't with dust covers.
The Map Of Love, which I think
was produced as a first edition in 1939...
So this is a first edition, I suppose that book today is worth
the top end of £600, £500-£600, that sort of amount.
But the biggest thrill of all for me
is this very rare object.
-Cos if I'm right and if this thing is genuine,
what we have is Under Milk Wood
in the broadcast version, if you like -
and on the outside,
it even records the date of the first broadcast,
in January 1954.
And that is a thrill to be able to handle, actually.
And the value of such a rare item?
Well, you'll have to wait and see.
'The origins of the Salvation Army date back to 1865.
'William Booth founded the organisation in London's East End
'to help the poor and needy,
'always galvanised and cheered by music.
'The Hay branch opened in 1886 with its own band
'and an early member and tambourine player
'was Anne's great grandmother.'
She was in the Salvation Army from about the age of 20.
She lived in Pontypridd
and eventually, she came up here -
she was here by 1890.
This was her instrument, was it?
-That was hers, yes.
Salvationists didn't call them "tambourines",
-they were called "timbrels"...
..and it was not thought proper,
if you were a female in the Salvation Army,
to perform as part of the band.
The only instrument that a female Salvationist
was allowed to perform with was a timbrel,
one of these tambourines.
And so philanthropic was the Salvation Army,
that they had a works in London
that made these timbrels -
-that made the tambourines.
And if you were unemployed and a male in London
and you needed a bed for the night,
the Salvation Army would take you in,
but your penance the next day
was to help in the manufacture of instruments like this.
And what I think is brilliant is that here we are in Hay-on-Wye,
your great-grandmother in the Salvation Army
would have used this...
-Oh, yes, she did...
-..on the streets, just down the road.
If I had to bring a number on it, I suppose it might bring, locally,
perhaps £50, something like that.
Yeah, but I mean, that's not the value, is it?
Not at all, but it sure does strike the right note for me.
Oh, thank you very much. Thank you, thank you.
'The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012
'was a spectacular event,
'breaking the world record for the largest ever parade of boats.
'Herefordshire was represented by
'a specially built replica of a traditional Wye river trow,
'named the "Hereford Bull".
'Hay-on-Wye relied more or less entirely on the river
'for transport of coal, stone, wool -
'well, you name it.
'Locally built trows were a very particular design,
'to cope with the river's fluctuating water levels,
'narrow gorges and low bridges.
'I went to see the Hereford Bull
'with the president of the committee that built her - Bob Tabor.
She's a very sturdy vessel
and she's a replica of a vessel
which we believe would have traded about 1800,
used on the Wye to transport cargo
from the very early days.
-And this is it?
-And this...this is it.
And another exciting part, of course, was the fact that
local people gave us the timber.
The trees were chopped down,
they were made into planks in position
and they were transported to Gloucester, where she was made.
Well, she is a very sturdy-looking craft, I have to say.
You've got a very big tiller on the stern, haven't you?
-Yes, you have.
-So, a lot of leverage with that.
And I see the rudder goes out a fair old stride at the stern -
that's cos you can't have it terribly deep in the water,
is that right?
Tim, you're absolutely right, she has a very shallow draft
and would have to have, obviously, to come up the river
when the river was low.
But of course, the point about these vessels -
although she has this wonderful mast and we have a square sail -
that sail would probably only have been used when the boat
-was sailing through gorges, like Symonds Yat gorge...
..where the wind would blow either one way or the other.
Yeah, you'd be very jammy
to get a good wind going up and down reliably.
Now, tell me, when it comes to bringing her up the river,
what's the motive power?
In the earlier periods -
14th, 15th, 16th centuries -
-it was men.
They were called "bow hauliers"
and there were gangs of men and boys
who would be waiting up the Wye
to be hired to haul these vessels up.
-It would have been a long haul.
-It would have been a long haul.
And latterly, of course, they were helped by horses
and the towpath became men.
They would have been shifting all sorts of stone, iron ore,
coal would have been coming down, agricultural produce...
Hay was particularly important
when it came to trading on the Wye, wasn't it?
It would have been vitally important to them.
You go back to 1850 and the Severn Estuary is probably
the busiest waterway in Europe at that time.
'Lush forests around Hay
'meant that not only trows were built here,
'but there's a history of all sorts of other woodcraft.
'Jill's grandfather used local wood to make his furniture -
'these pieces are now antiques, made in Hay.'
I brought a hall table and a frame -
both made by my grandfather -
and the frame contains his wedding photograph.
-He is the hero of our piece, your grandfather, isn't he?
-Do you know the date of this photograph?
And your grandfather and grandmother on this happy occasion lived where?
Well, my grandfather lived where I live now
and that's where he took his bride.
How lovely. So you're in the old family home?
I was born in the old family home, yes - and I still live there.
Would you describe most of your grandfather's furniture
-as being chunky?
-They're very solid.
-Yeah, there you go.
-And he only worked in oak.
He only worked in oak and he only worked in solid planks of oak,
which he then carved up.
We've got two simple planks
which are jointed by a platform in the middle
and then we've got this substantial top on it.
The frame is interesting, too -
we've got a long continuous trail of ivy
that's in between some bands of what's called "chip carving" -
so you take your chisel and you just
meter out a little nick like that
and oppose those nicks
and that's what he's done to create that decorative effect.
-He was clearly a very talented man.
So how many pieces of your grandfather's furniture
have you still got in the house?
About half a dozen, I suppose.
-That's quite a survival, isn't it?
And would you ever sell any of it?
-Oh, no - definitely not.
Well, if I had to put a value on these pieces,
I have to tell you the value's not going to be tremendously high.
For this hall table, you would get, at auction,
probably under £100
and I would guess, maybe £60-£80.
The photo-frame, strangely enough,
is not worth a lot less.
I think you'd get probably £30-£40 for the frame.
Is that right?
Anyway, do you want a hand home with it?
'What about Sandra's pit pony medicine dispenser?'
And I think, in the right sort of sale,
you could get the top end of £250
for this balling gun.
'To value Diana's traditional costume,
'we hooked up with Welsh textiles expert Jane Beck for her opinion.'
'So I think we're probably looking
'And finally, the Dylan Thomas Under Milk Wood script.'
And if I'm right and if it is genuine,
this thing is probably worth the top end of £5,000.
What a great day we've had
and what an eclectic mix of objects
here in Hay.
It certainly puts this place on our antiques map.
You could say it's a bit of a hurray-day for Hay!
Tim Wonnacott and his silver rig visit the Hay-on-Wye literary festival, where he finds a striking traditional Welsh costume and a curious object relating to pit ponies, among many others. Putting Hay on the Great Antiques Map of Britain, he also sees furniture made in Hay itself over a hundred years ago. He also meets the owner of a private toll bridge which helps to connect Hay to the outside world, and he investigates the story of bibliophile and 'King of Hay' Richard Booth.