Romani Cymru
Romany Wales Project

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with their verdo. Trailing behind were the finest hunter-horses ready to sell. Sadly, Esmeralda was robbed of her life, hit by a bus at Rhyl in 1939.The late Romani researcher Derek Tipler is believed to have purchased the caravan at some stage. My good pala “Pani” Roberts and his brother discovered the Romani relic in 2011 deserted in a local labyrinth, holed and shaken to death by decades of God’s winds and rain. They have now removed what remains, and the pains of restoration begin.

Even today in the hills sits one of the finest Orton showmans you could ever wish to see, down to her axles in decades of mud, still displaying a riot of beautiful carvings, with etched windows. This too is slowly being reclaimed by Mam Cymru – Mother Earth. Unfortunately, this is the owner’s desire, showing little respect for our travellers’ heritage. If this caravan was a fine stone dwelling, it would be a Grade 1 listed building today - there was only one pair of these vans ever built, and its twin sits restored in America. So contrary to belief some high quality verde were travelling the old twisted roadways of North Wales.

These ornate waggons never existed in the 1700s, and journeying was all done by footwork or donkey and cart. Abram Wood the Shereskero (Head Gypsy) travelled in to Cymru by foot about 1730 and soon became the most prominent of the Welsh Kaule. The Wood tribe (Veshenge), the equally ancient Ingram tribe (Ingrinies), and the Boswells (Choomomescro) were already travelling in Cymru when Abram and his family arrived. They began travelling the valleys around Machynlleth and Aberystwyth, and the Shereskero made Mid and North Wales his stamping ground.

Abram’s daughter married into the Ingrinies, and the families formed a close bond. His grand-daughter Alabaina married a Welsh farmer from the Llyn named Jones, and their descendants took the name Gangeni. A more recent descendant of Abram was Harry “Turpin” Wood, who rode a giant cart horse called Black Bess. Harry’s nickname was Bauro Lur (big robber) because of his passion for highwayman Dick Turpin. His daughter Enid, now in her eighties, is a meli (close friend) and a distant semensa (cousin) of my good Romni lady. Every summer we share old memories and moments by the yog (fire) and our old verdo “Shantilly”. Hen, as I call her, crocheted 10 waggon blankets for me last year and delivered them in a bulging suitcase on wheels, bit like they would have been dropped off on a flat cart in old waggon times. Mmm, these really are the last days of the old respected Roms.

Other Welsh Gypsies were equally as large in life as Abram Wood but were unfortunately unrecorded in their early time. The prominence of the Woods is

J Holly of Abergavenny - Welsh waggon-builder                           © ValleyStream Media

Esmeralda Lock         © FH Groome