Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
The Rebecca riots
  4. Broke to atoms!  

On 29th of September the local Rebeccaites launched an even bolder attack on the bridge tollgates in Cwmdeuddwr parish near Rhayader bridge.
According to John Davies, the attackers came at about 1 o'clock in the morning, sawing off the gateposts, smashing the gates, and throwing the shattered fragments into the river. He reported that they were armed and had fired off two shots.

Mr Davies letter said that the attack was made by about 40 to 50 people dressed in women's clothes. Others in the town said there were 100 or 150.
The map on the right was made at roughly the time of the riots and shows the tollgates just over Rhayader bridge.

Cwmdeuddwr tollgates map.
Drawing by
Rob Davies

His letter also reports that the attackers were said to be men of Cwmdeuddwr and Llanwrthwl, with most of the tenants of Mr Evans of the Neuadd involved.
Many in Rhayader claimed to know the identity of "Rebecca" but were not revealing anything.
Sir John Benn Walsh visited the site of the attack the very next morning, ordered the gates' rebuilding, and called a meeting of the authorities. This meeting appointed special constables under a trained sergeant to protect property in Rhayader.
For about month after the incident there were no further attacks and then the Newbridge gates were destroyed. Again the local magistrates appointed special constables to protect the re-erected gates and the tension mounted.

A famous night in Rhayader...

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