Made In Wales - Gilben Sports Cars 1959 - 1974

Gilbern cars Ltd was the only manufacturer of Welsh cars. The company began in the South Wales Valleys in the village of Llantwit Fardre,  Rhondda Valley in South Wales.  It was founded by a Welsh butcher named Giles Smith and a German engineer named Bernard Friese, who stayed in the UK after being a prisoner of war during WWII. 

It was 1959 and they wanted to create a light and nimble sports car so they decided to make the car’s bodywork out of fibreglass.  The came up with the name of Gilbern being the first syllable of each of their Christian names of Gil and Bern.
Gilbern 1800GT (1963) - 15163694364

Gilbern Models and Specs

There were three models made the first being the Gilbern GT. Many Gilberns were sold as kit cars so specs varied, but as a general guide...

The GT was powered by a 1.8ltr BMC engine of 95HP  which was quite nippy for its day with an acceleration of 0-60MPH coming up in around 11 seconds and a top speed exceeding 100MPH. 

Both the Genie and the Invader models had very similar specs and performance figures….

The Gilbern Genie came into existence in the late 1960s and was powered by a more powerful 2.6ltr V6 British engine and produced 0-60MPH acceleration speed of a little over 8 seconds with  141bhp and top speed of around 115MPH

Finally we have the Gilvern Invader, the most powerful being powered usually by a Ford V6 which brought up a 0-60MPH claim of around 8 seconds seconds also with 141bhp and top speed of around 115MPH

Birds of Wales:The Red Kite

The Red Kite has been referred to as the National Bird of Wales as for many years in the UK, Mid Wales was its only breeding place.  However, I have noticed one or two in the skies of South Wales and the bird is now well on the road to recovery from being on the edge of extinction in the 20th Century due to human persecution over much of the UK.  During those bad years it was in Mid Wales that a handful survived in secluded woodlands.  

The killing of Red Kites began when farmers had the erroneous beliefs that the birds attacked and killed lambs but it turned out that the Kites were totally innocent and fed mostly on carrion and smaller rabbits and other mammals, but it would take out pheasant and other game birds. It’s diet can also extend to  beetles and worms.

The Red Kite is an impressive looking bird in flight with a wingspan of around 2mtrs (5½ ft) and has a swallow-like forked tail. It soars higher and higher with the thermal winds and has keen eyes to seek out prey or carrion on the ground. In medieval times, was quite a common site in the British Skies.

Since the late 1980s there has been a program to reintroduce the Red Kite into the wild. There are now protected and it is illegal to harm or kill one or remove eggs from its nest.

Tinkinswood and St. Lythan Neolithic Burial Chambers

Around 6-7 miles west of Cardiff, in the Vale of Glamorgan, down a quiet country lane off the A48 trunk road, are two ancient burial chambers from the Neolithic Age. To get there, get on the A48 west of Cardiff and follow the signs for Dyffryn House once in the village of St. Nicholas. Go about a mile down that road past the entrance to Dyffryn House and a sign will appear in a lay-by on the right-hand side of the road indicating Tinkinswood Burial Chambers. And finally, to get to the site, you then need to walk cross a stile and walk across two fields.

Although not a large attraction it is another of the places to visit in Wales that I would recommend that takes you off the beaten track.


neolithic burial chamber, tinkinswood, vale of glamorgan
Tinkinswood Burial Chamber
A pillar has been inserted to support the heavy capstone

Tinkinswood is a burial chamber that was constructed about 6000 years ago and during an excavation in 1914, the chamber was found to contain the remains of 50 people together with earthenware and stone tools from the Neolithic age.  It is believed to have been attached to the village of Tinkinswood. The soil in this area is highly fertile and there are many rocks lying around that would have been ideal for tool-making, so it is understandable why Neolithic man would have settled here.

neolithic burial chamber entrance, tinkinswood, vale of glamorgan
What caught my imagination was the size of the capstone. Weighing in around 40 tons and measuring 7.3 X 4.4 metres (24 X 14ft ), I had an image of how the stone must have been put into place with hundreds of men pulling and lifting, and perhaps levering it into place.  And what is more surprising is that this dolmen, as such burial chambers are known, predates Stonehenge by around 1000 years.

Situated within a courtyard, originally the chamber would have been covered by an earth mound, but over the years this has disappeared. 

And we have a legend... some sort of curse that may be attached to the place. It is said, that if anybody spends the night at this site
neolithic burial chamber, north view, tinkinswood, vale of glamorgan
Tinkinswood Burial Chamber
North View
on the evenings leading up to May Day, St John's Day or mid-winter's day, they will either go insane or be transformed into a poet!  And... another curse may have been even more potent at one time. A  group of boulders nearby are said to be three women who were turned into stone for dancing on the Sabbath. So
perhaps there was a Welsh relative of Medusa at Linkswood!

St. Lythan's Burial Chamber

Known as Gwal-y-Filiast, St Lythan's Burial chamber lies about a mile further down the lane from Tinkinswood. This is not quite such a large site and there is just one single stone chamber remaining from what was once a much larger structure.

St Lythams Neolithiic Burial Chamber, Vale of Glamorgan
St. Lytham's Burial Chamber
V ale of Glamorgan
St. Lythan's is also around 6000 years old and was also covered by an earth mound.  It's size has been estimated to be around 24 X 11 metres (80 X 30ft).  The capstone here is still quite a size, but smaller than Tinkinswood weighing in at a mere 35 tons, but it still would have needed many men to place this in position. 

Human remains and pottery were discovered here during the mid to late 1800s.

So there you have it. I have visited both sites, and would highly recommend taking just a few hours to check them out. If you have a sensitivity to atmospheres and auras of ancient places, you won't be disappointed