Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
         
Llanwrtyd and district
The cattle drovers
 
  The drovers are coming...  
Drawings by
Rob Davies

Imagine a huge, slow procession of hundreds of animals being herded along remote mountain tracks by men on sturdy ponies and on foot. It could be half a mile long from front to back, Drovers at workand would include small black cattle with wide horns, sheep, pigs, and even geese all walking in line.
Small, short-legged Welsh corgi dogs would be snapping at the heels of the cattle to keep them moving at a steady pace, and men with sticks would walk alongside to keep them from straying from the track.
This impressive sight was the passing of the drovers, a practice which had been carried out for hundreds of years but which was to end in the Victorian age with the coming of the steam railways. It then became much easier and quicker to load the livestock on to cattle trucks and send them to market by train.

 
  Welsh corgi.
The Welsh corgi was a working dog kept for herding cattle. It worked the herd from behind in a half circle by nipping at the cows heels, rather than covering all sides like a sheepdog. They were nimble and, being very low with short legs, they could avoid kicks from the cattle.
 

The reason for these long treks across country was to drive animals which had been bought relatively cheaply from farms and from local markets in north and west Wales to the much wealthier English buyers in Hereford, the midlands, and even as far afield as Kent.
The trackways, which over the years became well worn by the hooves of thousands of animals, have since became known as drovers' roads - although hardly any were suitable for even horse-drawn carts at the time. One of the most important of these routes passed from west to east through Abergwesyn, just a few miles to the north of Llanwrtyd.
There are five pages about the work of the drovers. See more on the next page...

More about the cattle drives...

 

After the drovers sold the animals in England they would often send their corgis off on their own. They could find their own way home over hundreds of miles !
Link to sources
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