Welsh drovers' links to Scarface

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A LLANGOLLEN man’s latest book which links the region’s historic cattle drovers to Al Capone has won the royal seal of approval.

Llangollen author Idris Evans sent a copy of his work, Hard Road to the Prince of Wales and shortly afterwards he received a letter of thanks from the Prince.

Mr Evans, 68, said: “I didn’t really expect a reply as I thought the book would just be put into a pile but I was delighted to get the letter.”

In order to write the book Mr Evans spent years researching the history of the drovers who herded cattle from Wales to market in London before the advent of the railways in the mid-19th century.

Mr Evans became fascinated with the drovers while he was living in Rhewl, near Ruthin.

He said: “My house at the time was one of the main places the drovers stayed overnight on their way to London.”

Since the publication of his book a whole new world of interesting links has opened up for Mr Evans.

One person who got in touch after reading the book was childhood friend Brenda Sandie who emigrated to Australia when she was 17.

Her love of horses led her to marry an Australian cattle drover whose expertise was put to use when he acted as technical adviser on a number of films, including the blockbuster movie Australia starring Nicole Kidman.

Another link created by the book is with Monty Roberts, a famous American horse expert who was technical adviser on the Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer.

Mr Roberts has asked Mr Evans to help him research his Welsh ancestry which he believes has its roots in the Brecon Beacons.

Possibly the most intriguing thing discovered by Mr Evans is a connection between the Welsh drovers and notorious gangster Al Capone.

He said: “My research shows that when the railways came in and put them out of a job a number of drovers emigrated to America, including the father of a man named Llewellyn Morys Humphreys.

“He trained as a lawyer and went on to become the right-hand man of Capone in the 1930s.

“As Capone had trouble with the Welsh pronunciations, he called him Llew the Hump and that is how he became known.”

Despite giving his talks on the drovers four or fives nights a week, Mr Evans has found time to pen a second book, entitled Funny How You Forget, detailing his early life on a remote Welsh hill farm which he is hoping to publish later this year.

Hard Road to London, priced £4.95, is available from Courtyard Books in Llangollen or direct from Steptoe Publishing, Wynnstay Road, Ruthin LL15 1AS.

See full story in the Leader

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