Powys Digital History Project

Rhayader and the Elan Valley
The Old Bwgey Brook

by Stephen Collard

There used to be a brook running through the streets of Rhayader that was according to one 19th century writer ‘the bane of every traveller’, although the locals held it in high esteem. The water was said to be the reason for the healthy look of the town’s children, an old Welsh adage goes;
Adarn Bwgey, glanha ynghymry, which - freely translated,- means
‘The fairest children Wales can have,
are those that drink bright Bwgey’s wave.’


Bwgey brook
running down
the eastern
side of
North Street

Photograph by kind
permission of
Stephen Collard

The Bwgey starts high up to the north of the town in a field called Cae blaenbuggy, from here, in turn, it used to feed two small nearby pools. The first was called the ‘Cenvas Watering Place,’ which was situated near Bryntirion Lodge, the Bwgey then ran down into another pool called the ‘Llanidloes Road Watering Place,’ this was situated near Maes Cottage and was later renamed the Doctor’s Pool. In the 1820’s, people who lived near this pool had the right to water horses and cattle from the Bwgey, and an artificial channel named Bwgey Fawr was used for this purpose. The water from this section then used to course down North Street, (see photograph) turn into West Street, then down Water Lane, joining the River Wye below Rhayader Bridge. On its way down the streets, the Bwgey used to pass under stone slab bridges which enabled people to enter their homes.


The section of the Bwgey that flowed down through the streets was buried in 1877, the only reminder that it still flows, is the occasional flooding of some cellars. Swan House near the cross roads used to suffer this waterlogging, with the cellar filling up to the top of its steps. An old saying relates that whoever stepped in the Bwgey would eventually return to Rhayader, and also the people of Rhayader used to be affectionately called ‘Bwggeyites.’ 
  Information supplied by the
Rhayader & District History Archives