Owen Gethin Jones

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Born to a local stone mason on 1st May 1816, Owen Gethin Jones grew up to be a large building contractor from Tyddyn Gethin, Penmachno who was engaged by the Festiniog to construct the Rhiwbach Tramway between 1861 and 1863 for the quarries to the east of Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Owen was part of a family which has become well known in the area. He was part of the family tree of Esgob (Bishop) William Morgan of Ty mawr Wybrnant, Penmachno, the translator of the Bible into Welsh, and the family history has been traced on that line to Hedd Molwynog, head of the 9th of the 15 noble tribes of Gwynedd in 1170!. Owen's wife apparently had connections back into the Royal family of Wales (but that's a little before the Festiniog was built!).

In his own lifetime, in 1843 he married Ann Jones, daughter of Robert Jones, a drover of Bwlch Bach, Dolwyddelan, and they had 10 children, 6 of whom survived to adulthood. In 1852 he bought the holding of Tyddyn Cethin, and transformed it. Gethin was a good littérateur, a poet of reputes, and a local historian, publishing parish histories of Penmachno, Ysbyty Ifan and Dolwyddelan.

He built the grand-looking station at Betws-y-coed, but is perhaps best remembered for the construction of Gethin's Viaduct, a major work of engineering on the Conwy Valley railway line between Betws y Coed and Pont y Pant. However, his work on this part of the line lost him friends in Penmachno, who saw him as a traitor after it was decided that the line between Betws-y-coed and Blaenau would not follow the Machno valley.

Ann died in 1873, and early in 1882 he had a stroke. For his final year he was looked after by his daughter Mary Gethin (born 1852) and her husband Owen Davies, of Dolwyyddelen. He died in 29th January 1883.

Such was his fame, a collection of his works was published in book form, entitled Gweithiau Gethin' shortly after his death, in 1884, by his friend Gwilym Cowlyd at his press in LLanrwst

In 2000 Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, published the book "Owen Gethin Jones - Ei Fywyd a'i Feiau" (His Life and His Faults) by Vivian Parry-Williams. This is still in print.

There is an interesting website devoted to the Rhiwbach Tramway, by Dave Sallery, which can be seen here.

At least one of OGJ's living descendants is now directly connected with the WHR Ltd, and other local railways, and living locally.

References[edit]

email from descendant
Welsh Biography online


See also[edit]