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Gwilym Evans/WPBS collection

This large collection consists of the papers of the late Gwilym Evans, a plant scientist at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station in Penrhyncoch, near Aberystwyth.

The papers reflect his research interests. Most are concerned with grassland improvement, crop yields and seed multiplication. A segment is devoted to bees and their role in pollination of clover and other plants. There are also some documents relating to his family and to local history.

Only the part of the collection which relates to beekeeping has so far been listed. Please see the Personal & Professional Papers section of the catalogue.


Biographical and context information

The Welsh Plant Breeding Station was established in 1919 in association with the UCW Aberystwyth. Its first director was Professor (later Sir) George Stapledon.
Having been housed first at Alexandra Road and then on Penglais Campus, the WPBS moved in 1953 to Plas Gogerddan near Penrhyncoch, the former home of the Pryse family.

The WPBS has gained worldwide reputation for development of new varieties of grains, beans and other food crops. It has also achieved international renown for its work on pasture improvement through breeding improved strains of grasses and clovers.

Gwilym Evans was born in 1896 at Penlan Fawr, Llanddarog, Carmarthenshire to Welsh-speaking farming parents. His first job was at a bank, but following the death of his father, he enrolled at the Dept. of Agricultural Science, UCW Aberystwyth to pursue a degree in Botany. He graduated with 1st class honours in 1924.

His professional career started in Merioneth where he worked as an adviser introducing new seed varieties to farmers. In 1929 he joined the Welsh Plant Breeding Station; a new department had just been established, concerned with seed multiplication. Gwilym Evans was put in charge of producing stock seed from the new varieties of seeds bred and handed over by the Station's expert plant breeders. It had to be produced in sufficient quantities so that it could satisfy the farmers' demand. The task was sourced out to growers in suitable low rainfall areas, mostly on the Welsh borders; the seed was harvested with the WPBS's equipment and transported to Aberystwyth for processing and distribution.

Alongside the seed multiplication, Gwilym Evans researched techniques for maximizing seed yields. He became a keen beekeeper in order to observe the bees' role in pollination of clover and other plants. He published over 200 papers on the subjects of seed technology and legislation.

His other abiding interests were local history of his native county (1982 saw the publication of his history of Capel Seion, Drefach, Llanelli) and matters of Welsh language and culture. He was also active in the Welsh Congregational Church.

Gwilym Evans died in 1983 and was survived by his second wife, Doris Evans.


Gwilym Evans, Pioneers of Gogerddan, Cambrian News 1987
Idris Jones, From the Grass Roots- A Lifetime in the Welsh Plant Breeding Station, D. Brown & Sons, 1982

With thanks to Steve Smith (Institute Librarian) and Dr. Athole Marshall (Research Scientist), IGER.
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