Abandoned Communities ..... Porth y Nant
Leisure activities required a good deal of creativity and initiative. Occasional visits were made to the two cinemas in Pwllheli, but film viewing increased when projection equipment was acquired at the Plas and residents of the village were invited to see films there. Soon afterwards a spare bedroom at the Plas was converted into a billiards room.

The nearest public house was the Victoria Hotel in Llithfaen, known as the Vic. The journey back to the village after a night out tended to be hazardous. There was a story that a Mr Barlow, variously described as English and as Irish, had started to go down the track when he thought he saw a ghost waving at him. He hurried back to Llithfaen. Two other men returned with him, and were able to reassure him that what he had seen was a hawthorn bush.

For Mr and Mrs Butler there was a more tragic ending. Part of the way down the track Mrs Butler indicated to her husband that she would need a rest. Mr Butler managed to get home and go to bed. On the following morning he realised that his wife was still absent, and on going back to the spot where he had left her he found that she had died of hypothermia.

The Victoria Hotel is still open, but is now called Tafarn y Fic. It has a website at www.tafarnyfic.com.

Several pages could be written on the medical, dental, and optician services used by the people of Porth y Nant. There was a district nurse at Llithfaen, and general practitioners at Llanaelhaearn and Pwllheli. If it was necessary to call a doctor to the village it would often be important to take instructions over the telephone for the immediate care of the patient. Like everyone else doctors had no option but to walk down the Screw to the village. Removal of a patient to hospital was a major undertaking, requiring a stretcher and at least six people to carry it up the hill. If necessary, for example in a case of diphtheria, emergency surgery would be performed by the general practitioner in the patient’s home.

Various forms of alternative medicine were popular at Porth y Nant. They included goose grease for sore throats, brimstone and treacle, and asafoetida.

Accidents sometimes occurred in the village, at the quarry, or on the Screw. A very distressing incident led to the death of Robert Roberts, aged 41 and one of the more experienced workers at the quarry. In 1936 a piece of machinery was ordered that was powerful enough to crush granite rocks as large as forty inches in diameter. Again, Eileen Webb has supplied a full description of the method used to get the machine down the hill to the quarry, an operation that took several days. At one point the purpose built sledge rose slightly on one side to pass over a large rock. Robert Roberts and another man attempted to correct the movement, but as they did so the ground gave way and the machine toppled over. The other man jumped out of the way, but Robert Roberts was hit and killed instantly.

An interesting issue is whether the people of Porth y Nant felt cut off from the outside world. By modern standards communication was rudimentary, and the only access to the village was by the steep track. Eileen Webb’s view was that although the place could be regarded as isolated the villagers certainly did not see themselves as insular. They could follow the news through newspapers and the radio. They took an interest in Welsh affairs and the politics of the wider world. They celebrated St David’s Day and British national events such as Remembrance Day and the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. Children would take part in regional events of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Welsh youth movement, though there were never enough of them to make it into the national finals.
The Screw