Llangollen in old picture postcards

Llangollen in old picture postcards

:   Ifor Edwards
:   Denbighshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5586-1
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Llangollen in old picture postcards'

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Llangollen has always been a tourist attraction and over the centuries many eminent visitors have admired its beauty. Water always attracts visitors, and the town grew up from medieval times with the River Dee as its focal attraction, in a delightful setting girdled by the slaty Berwyn Hills on the one side and the limestone Eglwyseg Rocks on the other, with the bastion of Dinas Bran - a conical hili with its castIe - keeping a watchful eye around. The slaty greys and blues and the soft whites and pastelorange shades give a mystique to this small town which no tourism gimmick can riyal.

Tourism, generally , followed in the train of the pompous Earl of Beaufort when the town was occupied by his muster in 1684 and Bridge Street and Chapel Street were regaled to welcome hirn. It was then that the 'greate house' was built by Sir Thomas Myddelton of Chirk CastIe to accommodate some ofhis entourage. By the early eighteenth century, others came into this wild mountainous country and Llangollen proved an attractive introduetion for writers such as Daniel Defoe, when he made his tour of Wales. By the 1780s, coach roads had been improved by turnpike acts, and visitors consisting mainly of the aristocracy found a revived interest in antiquity; among them were Thomas Pennant from the next county. Lord Littleton and the Hon. John Byng, who Iike so many others ascended Dinas Bran on arrival in the town. These had come by coach or carriage, but by the end of the century walking became popular, and their activities were confined within our shores since the Napoleonic War had put an end to the popular Grand Tour, which had always been an obligatory tunetion of the gentry. There was a new Romanticism about and such visitors as the Rev. Richard Warner in August 1798 could onlyview the wild mountains and cataracts, and the shades of Ossian, on the hard slog of leather shoes (and blisters). He found he could stay at the Hand, the King's Head (later Royal) for the princely sum of two shilling for supper, porter for a shilling and sixpence, and

breakfast for a shilling and eightpence. Very cheap, but not for the locals, who would have to work for a week to earn that money.

By the time Richard Warner came to Llangollen in his walk over Wales, the two Irish ladies had made their residence at Plas Newydd in the south of the town and had lived th ere for twenty years. By the end of the Napoleonic War they had adapted their modest 'low cot' (as Wordsworth had offensively called it when he visited them) to the new Gothic style that had become popular in the style Strawberry Hill nearTwickenham. The two ladies, Lady Eleanor Butler and the Hon. Sarah Ponsonby, left their mark on the town during the fifty years they spent there. Their view of the town from the Trevor Rocks convineed them that this was to be their new horne in the 'Beautifullest Country in the World'. Through the pages of the journal which Eleanor Butler kept, the little town comes to life again. Once more we encounter Matthew the mil!er from the Bache Mil! nearby, Thomas Jones the glazier, Edward Jones, the humped-back carpenter, who made the bardie chair for the Eisteddfod atthe King's Head, won by the local bard, Jonathan Hughes of Ty'n y Pistyll. In 1798, William Hazlitt came to the town, having enjoyed the walk from Whitehurst, where he had left his coach, and viewed the amphitheatre of hills around the town. He came to celebrate his twenty-first birthday at the Hand where he 'sat down to a volume ofthe New Eloise ... over a bottle of sherry and a cold chicken , prior to going south to Nether Stowey in the Quantocks to meet his friends, Coleridge and Wordsworth. In later years that vista of his walk viewing the amphitheatre of hills was to give hirn renewed delight and that 'enchanted spot' remained in his mind's eye.

In 1808 another tourist, Richard Fenton. was impressed by the Lombardie lette ring high up on the beautiful west façade of Valle Crucis Abbey, which he could not decipher even then: part of it said Pace Quiescat (may his soul rest in peace) - refer-

ring to Abbot Adam Trevor - words which have been uttered over the souls of all who have visited the shrine ever since. In 1805, there were rumours of dark satanic rnills disturbing the pc ace of the town - rumblings which disturbed even the Parish Church Vestry at the instigation of the two ladies. Despite their cfforts, a cotton rnill was set up by Turner & Comber of Manchester with its wheel driven by the waters of the Dee, where Arkwright's power-loom was allowed to operate freely from the destructive hands of the Luddites. From 1835, these Dee Mills we re owned by Hughes & Roberts and manufactured waal, not cotton, into the next century. It was the feeder arm of the Ellesmere Canal, which brought Turner & Comber in the first place, and it was the aqueduct at Pontcysyllte conveying that canal, which attracted so many tourists in the next century as it still does.

Michael Faraday made his visit to the town in 1819 and stayed in the King's Head, which became known as the Royal aftel' Princess Victoria called there in 1832. He referred to the Dee flowing below his window and the delightful strains of the harpist at the inn who, to his amusement, alsoserved as 'boots' and 'waiter. But above all, Tellord's aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysyllte took his attention most. Thomas Telford. the 'Colossus of Roads'. as he has been dubbed. also built the new Holyhead Raad through Llangollen for the London coaches to rattle through the town, aftel' changing harses at the Hand or the Head. With him came the New Raad, or the London Raad, which was called Regent Street aftel' 1860.

In August 1854, George Borrow came to Wild Wales and for that period no town ever had such a biographer to feel its pulse and heartbeat. In his pages 'Our Town' comes to life againghosts of the past rise like the souls of Cookham churchyard. In the last quarter of the century, Helen Faucit Martin, Shakespearean actress, made her home nearby at Bryntysilio , and in the summer of 1886 her life-Iong friend Robert Browning

stayed at the Hand for six weeks and visited her each day. He and Sir Theodore Martin, her husband, helped to found Llangallen Library and its Reading Room in the new Town Hall. Queen Victoria paid her second visit to the town in 1889, and paid tribute to the excellent singing of Llangollen Choir and declared it among the best she had ever heard. Today choirs, singers and dancers from all parts of the world visit the town each July, and have do ne so since 1947. It was in that year that the town folk invited people from all parts of the world to come together to sing and dance, and dispel the hatred th at had sprung up from the war years. Since then the International Eisteddfod has grown from year to year and in 1992 Queen Elizabeth II paid her second visit to the festival and opened a new building on the Eisteddfod field. For this event Llangollen is indebted to all its townsfolk and from villages outside, who each year have given of their labours voluntarily to ensure the success of the event. The late Gwynn Williams was its first Musical Director, a native of the town, and one who devoted his life for its success.

Few towns have combined the past with the present as this one has: it still retains its old and new buildings, My thanks to Gwyndaf Jones, Desmond Thomas, Frank Jones, Michael Scott Archer, Mrs. Raymond Watkin. Mrs. Wynne Jones, Mrs. Marion Blackman, Mrs. H. Glynne Jones, MI'. David Jones, Gareth Benjamin, Ken Bruce , the late Garson Foulkes Jones for the laan of photographs and other help. I would like to dedicate this baak to the members of my Llangollen Local History Evening Class under the Extra Mural Dept. of Bangor , many na langer with us, who attended during the winters around 1980. I Iearned as much from them as they did from me.

Special thanks to Bill Hamiet for the work and assistance he gave to get the book finished.

Mrs. G. Edwards

l. Llangollen Bridge, 1890. This was a view of the bridge and part of the town made by an artist at the turn of the century and included in an album published in Germany and sold by Hugh Jones, CastIe Street, printer and bookseller. Apparently the drawings were based on early photographs, either by Lettsome or Percy Clarke, two of the town's well-known photographers. Percy Clarke had his studio in buildings across the raad from the Royal Hotel, where the hotel garages are now, and later in Castle Streel. In the near left is the entrance to the station, where the toll-barcottage and the Trevor Arms stood before 1863, but of specialinterest is the small tower shop, which was built soon after the railway arch was added to the bridge then. Another feature of the sketch is th at although the Royal Hotel has had its Venetian Gothic turrets added, the central part of the hotel still remains a low building.


2. The Royal Hotel, Weir and Bridge. This shows the weir in the 1920s- it was lowered after the last war- which was created about 1805 to allow a flow afwater along the leet to the new cotton mill built by Turner & Camber of Manchester. The leet begins at the right ofthe photograph. The main objectors to the new weir were the la dies of Llangollen, who sought the backing of the Church Vestry to oppose the 'dark Satanic Mills'. They failed in their objection and the site has provided employment for the town for almast two hundred years. The attractive bridge over the River Dee has stood here from the fourteenth century, since Bishop Trevor was reputed to have built the first. Two major alterations were made: in 1873 it was widened from 12 feet to 20 feet, and in 1968 the carriageway was widened to 24 teer with 6 feet footways and parapets on either side. The original Cefn stone was used each time.

3. Coracle below the Weir, 1912. This type ofsquarish coracle has been used on the Dee in the town for many a longyear, yet they seem to have disappeared in recent years, having been replaced by canoes for slalom racing. Customary spots for coracles were in the pools formed by the weirs, at Mile End, the Dee Cornmill, the one shown here, and lower down river at Llangollen Fechan. William Miller Jones ofthe Dee Cornmill used to baast how he and Frank Jones, the one-armed fisherman, landed thirty-one salmon on one summer evening, fishing from the wall at the end of the weir. Other owners of coracles were Lloyd lones ofMile End, Captain Hughes-Parry of the Fechan and Sam Roberts. Sam Roberts was the grandfather of Miss Lewis, who kept the fishing-tackle shop near the corner of Chapel Street and Regent Street. Frank lones also kept one near the Smithfield Arms in Berwyn Street. Poaching salmon was a skill, toa, in those days!


4. Bridge, Station and Abbey Raad. This viewcard of about 1920 presents a delightful view up river towards the Geraint, or Barber's HilI. The Tower Café at the end ofthe bridge was demolished in the late 1930s to help traffic flow, and LlangoUen Station is shown with its overhead bridge. The chapel spires are those ofthe English Wesleyan opened in 1904 to the left, and the English Baptist built in 1895 to the right, next to the Dolhiryd site where John Hughes ofDee MiJl lived. Further along Abbey Road, beyond the Baptist Chapel we re the tenter fields of Dee MiJl for stretching out the sheets of flannel. Across the raad, hidden by trees, is St. John's built as a Welsh Church in the 1890's under Vicar E.R. James. The building on the left by the bridge is the Corn Mill. The white cottages across the river are on the Holyhead Road, with the Waterloo Inn at the end. The taU white building has been used as a students' hostel since pre-war days.

5. Llangollen Station, 1900. A proud workforce admires one ofthe old 'steamers' on the busy Ruabon to Barmouth line at LlangoJlen. The railway was planned by Henry Robertson and first reached Llangollen from Ruabon in 1862, with the first station near Dee Cottage. In 1863 the line was continued after some houses were demolished on the 'Green' to make way for the station, also the Trevor Arms was rernoved, and the tollgate taken to the Bache Cemetery, but is no longer there. Before the railway was built it was customary for the women to go down to the river near Dee Villa to wash their clothes. Later, to allow for this, a road pump had to be set up for thern , aJthough the mangle continued to be hired in Chapel Streel. This photograph shows the station prior to its alteration before the bridge over the line was added. The English Baptist ChapeJ has been newly built to cater for the many English persons who had settled in the town.

6. Llangollen Station, 1912. This was a typical busy holiday afternoon at the station, following the arrival ofthe down train from Ruabon on its way to Barrnouth. Straw hats are in evidence, as are Raleigh bikes, unloaded from the train. On the up-platform passengers wait to journey on to Ruabon and to Birmingham or Chester. From the journal ofJohn Hughes we are told th at on 6June 1862, when the new Ruabon to Llangollen line was opened , the two schools were taken by train to Ruabon and back, followed by a tea in 'Mr. Allen's tent' at the Ponsonby. The new railway was a great help to the development of the town.

7. Bryn Melyn Bus Service, 1940. The challenge to the railway came with the bus services. Transport Red buses operated from Wrexham area and began to take passengers from the railway. In 1922, Anthony (Laddie) Jones began a service from RhewJ and Pentredwr to Llangollen. His first depot was in Berwyn Street, Llangollen, opposite the Armoury. His services were extended to Chirk, Oswestry, Glyn Ceiriog and Llanarmon, which led to the closure ofthe Glyn Valley Tramway passenger service in the mid-1930s. In 1946-7, Mr. Jones bought the old Manor House at Eglwyseg, and farmed the land with Welsh-black cattie, and he restored thc house to much of its former glory. About 1940, he moved his buses from Berwyn Street to the Dolhiryd site, Abbey Road, from where the buses still operate. In 1964, he sold up to Deeside Broadhurst, who also purchased the Mile End factory and they in turn sold to Terenee Bluck and Clive WiJson in 1983, the present owners.

8. Cottage Hospital, 1930. This was established in 1876 and, according to the 'Llangollen Advertiser', itwas founded by Mr. Wagstaff of Vivod, friend of Thomas Brassey, and solicitor with the L. N . W . R. Co., in memory of his wife. There was a general movement over the country at this time, supported by public subscriptions, to make hospital provision for the poor and needy. Fortunately, this cottage hospital survived the purge of smal! hospitals which came in the 1970s, when so many were demolished. In 1926, extensions were made by loc al efforts, which added an operating theatre, two verandahs for patients, additional wards, bedrooms and bathrooms. The guest for the opening was Liverpool consultant Dr. Thelwall Thomas, a native of Llangollen. In 1963, H. Glynne Jones of the Rotary Club of the town, presented a mobile telephone for the hospital to Dr. G.F. Benjamin, on behalf ofthe Community Council. The hospital still serves the community weil.

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