Nant Gwrtheyrn has re-created Llithfaen’s iconic Surgery in the Nant, the Surgery where the dream of buying and reviving the old village was born, over half a century ago.
The Old Llithfaen Surgery was a part of Dr Carl Clowes’ practice, the doctor who came to the area in 1970, from his specialist post at the Christie Hospital, Manchester, in order to run the Llanaelhaearn surgery on his own. He and his wife Dorothi were determined to raise their children as Welsh speakers. But he discovered a community facing real problems, and felt that something should be done about the situation. The nearby granite quarry at Trefor was about to close and Llanaelhaearn School was also facing the threat of closure. New employment opportunities needed to be created in the area if it was to survive.
Since the first Welsh Language Act came into force in 1967, there was an increasing demand for bilingual workers in public establishments. The doctor believed that there was a need for a residential centre which would be open throughout the year in order to offer Welsh courses to ensure this.
As the two ideas morphed into one, and although the buildings were in ruins by the 70’s, it was decided that a dedicated centre would be established at the Nant which would create employment for local people and provide a much needed boost for the Welsh language.
When looking back at this period, Dr Clowes said “It’s difficult to believe today that I was sat in this Surgery fifty years ago with one of my patients, who had connections with the quarries, discussing the possibility of purchasing the ‘Nant’ for the benefit of the area. The building was primitive but the vision was exciting. There was an urgent need for new employment opportunities in the area and a vehicle to promote people’s confidence in the Welsh language – could Nant Gwrtheyrn be the resource which could achieve this? When you’re twenty six years old, you are able to ‘move mountains’!”
“Within a decade, having left the practice, I transferred the ‘sink hut’ to the fledgling Trust in order to use it as its first office. One of the most pleasant occasions in the history of the Surgery as an office was a visit by Sir Wyn Roberts [Secretary of State at The Welsh Office] and Paddy O’Toole [Minister of the Gaeltacht in Ireland]. The image of Wyn and Paddy, with their entourage, meandering up the steps – their stretched Daimlers in the middle of the road – was one to treasure, but Wyn was determined to share our vision with ‘Paddy’!”
“The meat-hooks which can be seen in the waiting room are evidence of its past use but, today, the building is beginning a new chapter in its history, summarising an important chapter in the history of our health service.”
The Surgery will be opened officially by local doctor, Dr Eilir Hughes, and Huw Jones, Chairman of the Nant Gwrtheyrn Trust, said:
”The Trust is particularly gladdened that Dr Eilir Hughes has agreed to officially open the Hen Feddygfa (the Old Surgery). Dr Hughes fulfils the same role in the area as Dr Clowes did in the years that this building was in use. He has also played a leading role, as Carl did before him, in raising awareness of the relationship between community welfare and the health of individuals.”