I Say Tywyn And You Say Towyn

Earlier this week a party of schoolchildren from Tywyn, Meirionnydd, returning home from  a trip to France, was delivered by mistake to Towyn on the north coast, almost 80 miles away. The story provided the local edition of the Cambrian News with its front page lead, and the story also made it to the BBC News and Wales Online.

A spokesman for the company that owns the bus, Llew Jones International Coaches of Llanrwst, explained the mistake by saying that the driver was “not from the area” and put Towyn not Tywyn into his SatNav. By ‘area’ I suspect the Llew Jones spokesman means Wales, for any driver familiar with northern Wales would, on hearing the name, ask himself, ‘Is that Tywyn or Towyn?’ And having established which one it was, would not need SatNav.

An irony here is that at one time the name of Tywyn was spelt the same way as the other place, but partly to avoid confusion the Meirionnydd community reverted to its correct Welsh spelling over forty years ago. The native Welsh welcomed the change, but there is noticeable resistance from the English who’ve moved to the area. Many of whom view the change of spelling as a concession to extremists, and perhaps the first step on the slippery slope to English colonists being murdered in their beds.

This resistance makes itself manifest in the names of those organisations with – how can I put it? – a very ‘British’ outlook, or run by persons susceptible to this unfortunate attitude. Such as the Towyn and Aberdovey Royal Air Forces Association. When at one go you can corrupt two Welsh place names then you know it’s due to more than just carelessness. For there is something fundamental at stake here – the Englishman’s ancient and God-given right to go abroad and mangle the local languages.

I guarantee that this week down in the bar of Abbaduvet golf club local RAFA members and others have been harrumphing into their whisky and sodas and reminding all and sundry that this would never have happened in ‘their day’, perhaps when returning from a raid on some defenceless German city. Never for one minute conceding that their intransigence and hostility to things Welsh is still contributing to the confusion that results in cock-ups like this.

Before finishing, another irony I’ve just noticed is that the Cambrian News made a big thing of coach company Llew Jones’ driver getting Welsh spellings wrong but, at the foot of their online version of the story, I found this:

Cambrian News

UPDATE 20.04.13: I hear that the driver involved has been dismissed. Some might think that’s a bit harsh. Maybe the fault lies with his employer, for recruiting someone to drive around Wales who clearly doesn’t know our country. But nowadays, ignorance of Wales seems to be no obstacle to landing a job here, whether it’s as a coach driver, a council chief executive, a policeman or a postman. Which means cock-ups are inevitable; most of which – unlike this one – can be brushed under the carpet.

7 thoughts on “I Say Tywyn And You Say Towyn

  1. Alan Richards

    Closer to home is the annoying insistance by the trust responsible for restoring Sir John Dilwyn’s Llywelyn’s parkland in Penllergaer as ‘Penllergare’. The reason given is that this was the preferred spelling by the Victorian landowner. Welsh speakers pronounce the old name as Penllergâr but the orthography is always respected. This is more than can be said about the Trust!

  2. Couple of years ago the EDL wanted to hold a march in a town. Met with the council and kicked off because the forms were in English and Polish. When told ir was Welsh they they asked why Welsh was on the forms. They were then told because they were in Wales. They slunk out of the room to a background of sniggering council officials and North Wales police officers.

    Even English extremists it seems have no idea where Wales is.

  3. Louise Hughes

    No, the driver of the bus was NOT dismissed ~ I rang the bus company myself and spoke to Mr Jones (the boss) and he said ‘categorically not’ but he would be having a disciplinary. I asked if that was necessary and could they please be lenient, after all nobody was hurt! The driver was from Llanrwst (sorry if that’s spelt wrong) so perhaps he should have known better AND when they changed drivers in Shrewsbury he was told ‘Tywyn, Meirionnydd not Towyn, Conwy’ and he was overheard saying ‘yeah, I DO know the way’. Make your own minds up as to what you think but, we all know as locals round here, that SATNAVS are as much use as a chocolate fireguard. All these rumours prove that when the jungle drums start beating in rural Wales it goes much faster than any high speed broadband connection!

  4. Louise Hughes

    Sorry Iorweth, when I said ‘locals’ I meant in the immediate Tywyn vicinity, also my knowledge of all Welsh towns spellings is far from extensive so I do beg your pardon.

  5. David Griffin

    Very interesting. I’ve always thought that the loacal way to spell and pronounce somewhere is the correct way. Try Cholomendy or Bicester in England.
    Truth is that all the first language WElsh speakers in Towyn Merioneth wanted to keep the TOWYN spelling.
    See the video clipfrom the era.
    They were all overruled.

    1. “Truth is that all the first language WElsh speakers in Towyn Merioneth wanted to keep the TOWYN spelling.”
      That is absolute bollocks. But if you’re right, why was there no campaign to revert to Towyn other than mumblings from the local anti-Welsh bigots?

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