The Association celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2006 by electing its last surviving founder members as joint presidents for the year. Gordon Wilyman, of Rhyl, Nick Archdale, of Mold, and Francis Morris (who died in 2007), were among the far-sighted Welsh farmers who identified the need for a consistently good cross-bred ewe suitable for upland and lowland farmers throughout the British Isles.

The three founder members (from left) the late Francis Morris, Nick Archdale and Gordon Wilyman

In 1956 these three played a major role in the establishment of the Association which not only introduced new standards at commercial ewe sales by selling warranted and inspected sheep in their age groups, but also threw a life-line to Welsh farmers whose draft Welsh ewes were losing lowland buyers in the post war years. The success of the Welsh Halfbred meant the Welsh ewes were in demand again, this time for breeding the Halfbreds with Border Leicester rams. 

The first Welsh Halfbred sale at Llangollen


The first Welsh Halfbred sale at St Asaph, North Wales. Note the “sale ring” is formed by the vendors and buyers. What would Health and Safety say about that today! The man standing at the bottom left of the ring is the young Capt Nick Archdale.

Above and below: The first sale at Builth Wells. Again, the “ring” is formed by the crowd and all the women are wearing skirts!

Gordon Wilyman published his life story in 2004. The book, “Gordon Wilyman; Memoirs of a Welsh Halfbred”, was written by Gordon and family friend, farmer and writer Meurig Owen. It tells the story of the city boy with a burning ambition to become a farmer. Gordon moved to Wales and became one of that country’s best known hill farmers and his home, Melai, was a showcase farm.