Shipbuilding and shipowning in Montgomeryshire: the Evans family of Morben Isaf, Derwenlas DAVID JENKINS Montgomeryshire is not a county famed for its maritime associations. When one thinks of areas of Wales with strong seafaring traditions, one is far more likely to think of the Llyn Peninsula or Ceredigion, Anglesey or the coal ports of south-east Wales. But it is often easy to underestimate the fact that the influence of the sea stretches far inland. Rodney's Pillar on the Breidden is a reminder that Montgomeryshire oak was an integral part of the 'wooden walls' of the Royal Navy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The author's maternal ancestors have been farming in north Montgomeryshire since Elizabethan times at least; one might think that the sea had little or no impact on their lives. But in the mid-1880s, they had to leave their home, 'Ty Ucha' in the village of Llanwddyn, because the Efyrnwy was being dammed to provide water for Liverpool, then at the height of its commercial success as one of Britain's foremost ports. And it should not be forgotten that David Thomas, the father of modem writing on Welsh maritime history and the author of notable pioneering works such as Hen Longau a Llongwyr Cymru and Hen Longau Sir Gaernarfon, was a native of Llanfechain. Turning to a more obvious physical association, salt water washes the westernmost extremity of Montgomeryshire where the Dyfi meets the sea (at least when the tide is in!), and this paper looks at just one aspect of the maritime history of this area, dating from the latter years of seafaring activity on the Dyfi in the mid-nineteenth century. The involvement of the Welsh people with the sea has waxed and waned over the centuries. Common dedications to Celtic saints in Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany show that these early Christian missionaries considered the sea to be a highway, not a barrier. There followed many centuries, however, during which the Welsh turned their backs upon the sea, regarding it with distrust as the remnant of the Great Flood that God sent to punish the Earth in Noah's day. In 1561, fearful of the possibility of a Catholic invasion of these islands, Elizabeth I sent out commissioners to enquire as to the extent of maritime activity in England and Wales; Cardigan Bay was described as having 'no trade of merchandise, but all full of rocks and dangers' Two centuries later, however, Wales was beginning to witness profound changes that would transform her economic and social life, changes that would also lead to the rebirth of Wales as a seafaring nation. Two main economic developments prompted the Welsh to take to the sea once more. The first, ironically enough, was agricultural improvement; much land in upland Wales is boggy and acidic, and it came to be recognised widely by the early 1700s that the spreading of burnt lime could do much to improve its fertility. Limestone outcrops naturally at a number of locations around the Welsh coast: at 'Quoted in W.J. Lewis, Born on a Perilous Rock: Aberystwyth Past & Present, (Aberystwyth, 1980), 75.