New book celebrates 150 years of Aberystwyth University in 150 objects

The front cover of Ceiniogau’r Werin / The Pennies of the People (Aberystwyth University, 2022). Photo credit: Roland Dafis.

The front cover of Ceiniogau’r Werin / The Pennies of the People (Aberystwyth University, 2022). Photo credit: Roland Dafis.

07 October 2022

Fascinating treasures from the collections of Aberystwyth University will be showcased in a special book to be published on Friday 14 October 2022 as part of the celebrations to mark the institution’s 150th anniversary as the first University College in Wales.

Ceiniogau’r Werin |The Pennies of the People is a beautifully illustrated volume which brings to life a wealth of stories and people from the University’s past and present through 150 objects.

Drawn mainly from the University’s own collections, archives and academic departments, the objects range from early X-ray apparatus and cheese-making equipment to timeworn student graffiti on the walls of Old College and stunning works of art.

Also featured are the original minute book kept by the small group of patriotic philanthropists who met in the 1860s to campaign for a University for Wales, and the hand-written register of the first students to enrol at Aberystwyth in 1872.

Each object is displayed in a full-page colour photograph by professional photographer Rolant Dafis alongside a short essay, prose or poetry by current and former staff, students, alumni and supporters.

Authors include the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Elizabeth Treasure; chaired bard and Professor of Welsh & Celtic Studies, Mererid Hopwood; Head of the School of Art, Professor Robert Meyrick; University Chancellor Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd; alumna, author and former Commissioning Editor for Comedy at BBC Radio 4 Sioned Wiliam, and many others.

The 312-page hardback book is being launched on Founders’ Day - an annual celebration marking the opening of the University in an unfinished Victorian hotel on the seafront at Aberystwyth in October 1872.

Ahead of the book launch in the Great Hall of Aberystwyth Arts Centre (which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022), the Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure said: “Ceiniogau’r Werin / The Pennies of the People is a wonderful addition to the many ways in which we celebrate this significant anniversary and our achievements over the past 150 years.

“As we launch the book, we pay tribute to our founders and the people of Wales who contributed their hard-earned pennies to establish Wales’s first University College here in Aberystwyth. Much has happened since we opened our doors in 1872 but we remain true to our founding principles of delivering an inclusive education and innovative research that responds to the needs of Wales and the wider world.”

Most of the objects featured in the book are from the University’s own collections but some are included by permission of The National Library of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museums Wales, Urdd Gobaith Cymru and others.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the book’s Editorial Board, Professor Anwen Jones, said: “It has been a joy to be involved in the production of this book, which has taken us on an inspiring journey of discovery through a range of collections to capture stories from the past 150 years. This has truly been a joint effort across the University’s broad family and, as an Editorial Board, we are grateful to everyone who has contributed to the creation of a landmark publication which will be a lasting legacy of our 150th birthday.”

Ceiniogau’r Werin / The Pennies of the People is available in bookshops and online, including the University’s website, for £25.