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Welsh History Review


Vol. 16, nos. 1-4 1992-93

Cerddi Saunders Lewis. Book review.

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organ-grinding in London. By the early 1900s the ice cream trade was in full swing
and south Wales was ready for the second wave of immigrants from the Ceno Valley,
this time young boys engaged to sell ice cream from hand carts in the streets in
summer and chips in winter. Brought over under fixed contracts (the padrone system),
these boys endured long hours of work and strict conditions. By 1901 there were about
1,000 Italians in south Wales, with a male/female ratio of 10:1. As the boys grew
older they sought their wives in Italy, and so gave rise to the third phase of migration;
by 1921 the ratio of males/females had dropped to 3: 1.
By the 1930s there were over 300 Italian cafes in south Wales but the rise of fascism
in Italy in the 1920s began to cause anxieties in some quarters. The invasion of
Abyssinia was a turning point for some of the Bardigiani in south Wales; with anti-
Italian comment in the press, some adopted British nationality as a safeguard. Colin
Hughes deals with the internment of Italian males as 'enemy aliens' in June 1940 with
sympathy, and gives a restrained account of the sinking of the ship carrying internees
to Canada. Following the war, changing leisure patterns and the contraction of the
coal industry displaced the cafes from the central position in social life which they
once held. In general, the third generation turned their back on the catering trade and
entered the professions in large numbers.
Why did the Italians meet with so little hostility? They benefited from being few
in numbers and widely dispersed, while their choice of trade posed no threat to the
employment of the Welsh. Colin Hughes has written a valuable study of a remarkable
group of immigrants whose identity is in flux after a century of settlement in south
Wales. Written with a light touch, and containing a poignant foreword by the actor
Victor Spinetti, this book will be warmly welcomed by the Italian community in south
Wales and many others besides.
CERDDI SAUNDERS LEWIS. Golygwyd gan R. Geraint Gruffydd. Gwasg Prifysgol
Cymru, Caerdydd, 1991. £ 3.95 (cp), £ 7.95 (cc).
Yn 1986 y cyhoeddwyd casgliad R. Geraint Gruffydd o gerddi Saunders Lewis
gyntaf, a hynny mewn argraffiad cain ond cyfyngedig gan Wasg Gregynog. Llyfrau
i harddu silffoedd ond i'w byseddu'n sidet gan gylch dethol yw rhai o'r fath, ac mae'n
debyg y byddai cael byw i weld cyhoeddi'r argraffiad hwnnw wedi plesio anian
fonheddig Saunders Lewis, gan gadw'i gerddi rhag mynd yn ysglyfaeth i'r 'frau
werinos, y demos dimai,/Epil drel milieist a'r pool pel-droed'. Serch hynny, roedd
hi'n hwyr glas dod a'r cerddi hyn o fewn cyrraedd cynulleidfa ehangach, ac felly mae
croeso brwd i argraffiad newydd mewn clawr papur a chlawr caled am bris rhesymol.
Y mae hwn i bob pwrpas yn gasgliad cyflawn; ychwanegwyd dwy gerdd nas
cynhwyswyd yn argraffiad Gregynog, sef 'Rhosyn Duw' a 'Hen Wt'. Gosodwyd y
cerddi mewn trefn gronolegol, ar wahan i'r emynau a gadwyd yn grwp ar y diwedd,
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