Cefn-Mawr in old picture postcards

Cefn-Mawr in old picture postcards

:   Ifor Edwards
:   Wrexham
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4770-5
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

Levertijd: 2 - 3 werkdagen (onder voorbehoud). Het getoonde omslag kan afwijken.


Fragmenten uit het boek 'Cefn-Mawr in old picture postcards'

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We, of the older generation, love to revel in nostalgia, which is fortunate for the younger ones because our memories are a souree of history , for them and the next generation. John Steinbeck's description of Cannery Row, San Francisco, is evocative of all places of OUf youth:

It is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a dream. How can these be set down alive?

This collection of old postcards and photographs tries to compensate in some measure for the many qualities which can never be regained as it seeks to portray some aspects of fifty years in the life of the small parish of Cefn Mawr. Over that period a few thousand souls were either born there or came to live there, often through no choice of their own: they grew to hate it and to love it, until it became a habit through its schools, churches, cinemas, works, shops and public houses. Even the smelIs of the chemical works, and the belching smoke from the countless chimneys of the clay-works and the

houses themselves all served to create their own al. chemy in the lives of its inhabitants.

Cefn Mawr Parish consists of the villages of Penybryn, Acrefair, Cefn, Rhosymedre and Newbridge: this is now part of the Wrexham Maelor Borough Council. The population was roughly the same then as now, but it was a smaller world that relied mainly on the horse-and-trap and 'shanks pony' for getting around. Up to 1930 there were few motor-ears to be seen. But ships and trains were opening up the world, as was the telephone and the wireless. It seems to have been a happier world before the cinema and the wireless and then the television made their impact on the narrow boundaries: or perhaps we thought the skies were always bluethen!

Early morning sounds consisted of the tapping of clogs on the streets, and even earlier the tapping of windows by the 'tapper-up' man as he made his rounds. Winter evenings, the lamp-lighter rode on his bicycle with his long pole to light the gas-lamps

or later in the evening to extinguish them. Games under the gas-light were always popular with children. On Saturday nights, Crane Street and WeIl Street, Cefn Mawr, burst at the seams with teaming crowds of folk, young and old, Courtships were formed and many marriages originated from these street perambulations. At eight o'clock on a Saturday night this was the centre of the world as the firsthouse picturescrowd emerged from the glamour of HoIlywood to the lights of Cefn and its shops; emerged, to allowalang interminabIe queue stretching from the Old Hall past the Holly Bush, Watkin's Corner and the Tripe Shop, to take their places; while down HilI Street to Garside's Chapel another queue repeated the process to the superior claims of the Palace Cinema.

Salvation came on Sundays, and in the mid-week prayer-meetings. The large chapels were always fuIl, and the ministers fearlessly championed the cause of the men for better wages and better living conditions. They had a complete disregard for

those who reproached them for mixing polities with religion. The Sunday Schools were filled with happy children dressed in their Sunday-best. Then there was the Band of Hope, and the Rechabites, when crowds of children waited for the chapel doors to open, perhaps to witness a magic-Iantern show. In the summer, there were the annual Sunday Schooloutings to the seaside at Rhyl, New Brighton, or Southport. Sometimes, more simply, a picnie would be arranged to the Garth Mountain, between the Black Wood and Whalley's Folly: part of the fun was the camp-fire. Annually too, there was the Gymanfa Ganu (Singing Festival), invariably at Llangollen when Castle Street Chapel rang out with the sound of children's voices, and Penllyn Chapel fed the five-thousand. This involved a journey some times by pleasure-boat from the Aqueduct, or more of ten by train from Acrefair Station. There was joy in their hearts.

1. Industry.

Upland, Farmers, 1920. The uplands at Penybryn, Cross Street and Cloc-wedi-Rhewi (frozen doek), stretching up to the Ruabon Mountain heathland, are still farmed, as are some of the fields near the River Dee. Between these two areas coal was extracted. This photograph shows a typical scene on the Cross Street Farm fields: teams of horses were used to plough, sow and reap, and all the family were expected to help. The upland farms were mainly pastoral but nearer the river cereals were cultivated; and in the autumn the arrival of the threshing machine was a popular sight, especially for the children. In early times, the uplands were the 'Hafod' lands (summer pasture), while the riverlowlands were the 'Hendre' (winter pasture ).

2. Wynnstay Colliery (1856-1927). The colliery was known locally as 'The Green', as the shafts were sunk on the old Ruabon Green to a depth of 1,244 feet to the east of the Cefn Fault to avoid flooding from the earlier collieries. It was owned by the New British Iron Company of Acrefair who were the major employers of the area. The photograph (c. 1920) shows the main shaft and the engine-house on the right, which still stands in ruin. The chimney was over the up-cast shaft for ventilation. The New British Iron Company ceased to operate in 1886, and the colliery was purchased by Wynnstay Collieries Ltd. In 1889, Queen Victoria visited North Wales, and while staying at Pale, near Corwen, her party visited the colliery.

3. Wynnstay Colliery Rescue Team, 1920. Teams of men were trained in readiness for the frequent accidents which occurred in the mines. Apart from the oxygen-masks, goggles and lamps, they carried a canary in a cage to test for low-lying gas. Wynnstay Colliery had two serious accidents: the first in 1860 when ten men were killed, and the other in 1863 when nineteen died. The underground fire of 1874 threw 520 men out of work for most of the year; some were given temporary employment at Plaskynaston Colliery. Such closures caused great distress for family wage-earners. The eariy shafts, nearer the uplands, were of little depth but had been worked-out. All the collieries in the area are now closed. New industries are opening on the old sites.

4. Waterloo Pits, Rhosymedre (1865-1926). These were on the edge of the Plaskynaston and Wynnstay estates, and took their name from the Waterloo Tower nearby. The early Plaskynaston colliery was worked by T.E. Ward. In 1865, the BuckIey family came from Aston-under Lyne and sank two shafts, known as the Waterloo Pits, working the cannel coals. It was valuable coal for gas-making, known to have been used at least since 1700 when Chirk Castle (three miles away) purchased this coal from Humphrey Kynaston of Plaskynaston. About 1893, Wynnstay ColIiery management bought the Waterloo Pits, and after four year it was used as a pumping station for Wynnstay ColIiery. In the photograph are Seth Davies and Amos two of the last employees, clearing up after closure (c, 1927).

5. Coat Strike, 1912. Strikes have always caused hardship, but this was moreso in the early days. These colliers from Wynnstay Colliery, supported by the men of the Waterloo Pits, are seen going around the district with a hurdy-gurdy to make a collection to help those in need. This type of barrelorgan was quite a common sight even up to the 1920s: musie poured out of it as a handle was tumed. During the 1912 strike, only Brynkinallt Colliery, Chirk, remained open, to the great annoyance of other miners, who marched there in force, but were repelled by the police and soldiers. In 1925 another strike was impending when a mass meeting was addressed in Cefn by Mr. e.P. Williams, M.P. on 'The Lesson of the Coal Crisis'.

6. Visit of Lloyd George to Cefn, 1926. David Lloyd George, one-time Prime Minister of Great Britain, paid a number of visits to Cefn Mawr over the years. On this occasion he is seen with the Reverend E.K. Jones, visiting the colliers during the Strike when they were working the coal outerop in the Cefn stone-quarry. He also went to see other min ers working on Coed Richard near the home of the Reverend E.K. Jones. On a much earlier occasion in 1898 he came to Cefn Mawr by pony and trap from Ruabon Station. He came to support the County Council Liberal candidate, Mr. Christmas Jones. When he arrived at WeIl Street, it is aIleged, he was quickly escorted to a house for safety from a lion which had escaped from a circus on Cefn Bank.

7. Old Blast Furnace, Acrefair, demolished in 1963. In close association with the many collieries there were a number of ironworks in the locality using the local ironstone. The most famous of these was the New British Iron Company, which also had large ironworks at Abersychan in Gwent, and at Comgreaves in Staffordshire. In 1880 the works at Acrefair with its collieries employed about 1,500. The photograph shows the last of the blast fumaces which was loaded from the 'top ground' (on the right) over an iron-bridge. There were 34 puddling furnaces and two of the boilers exploded in 1880 killing four men and injuring twelve seriously. When the furnaces were working, there was no need for street-lighting at night. This blast furnace was the last of its kind in Wales.

8. Hughes & Lancaster's Engineering Works, Acrefair. c. 1892. The closure of the New British Iron Company, and with it the Cefn Tube Works, brought great distress to the locality. Many skilled workers emigrated. The works was put up for sale, and in 1891 the site was adapted by John Hughes of Chester who in partnership with Arthur Lancaster brought his engineering werk-force from Chester to Acrefair. They are photographed here. The company were pioneers in pipes for drainage systems, air compressors and sewage ejectors (Shone's), as weB as plant for oil refineries, for which they became intemationally famous. During the war the company switched over to the provision of shell cases and other munitions. In 1947, Butterleys took over the works, succeeded in 1961 by Air Produets Ltd.

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