This Little Piggy

Abergele is know as a market town because there used to be a livestock market here every Monday in the 1960s and 70s.

The town filled up with land rovers, tractors and trailers and farmers wearing flat tweed caps and holding shepherd’s crocks.

The market tradition is one that stretched back in time and there are old postcards that show that livestock trading used to take place on the main Market Street itself.

As you look today at Abergele Tesco, it’s hard to imagine that site was once full of corrugated iron sheds and animal pens, with the sounds and smells of prime Welsh livestock.

The sound of piglets squealing still sends a shiver down my spine. I’m back there now. I feel my hand being held tightly by my dad’s hand as he takes me there to see the pig sale.

“Gees, gees, gees!” he’d shoo some piglets out of our way. The smell’s overpowering. The auctioneer is pacing along planks placed between the pens, selling animals to the highest bidders.

The next time you buy a pack of shrink-wrapped pork at Tesco’s Abergele, remember that on this site, pigs once did squeal.

Abergele Livestock Market. Painted in 1969 by Harry Gee.
Abergele Livestock Market. Painted in 1969 by Harry Gee.

Abergele’s Old Windmill

We’ve already lost Abergele Market, Rhyl Watertowers and Colwyn Bay’s Astra Cinema.

If you walk up Chapel St to Mynydd Seion and turn left at the flat-roofed building that sells tiles (previously a printers and a laundrette before that), you’llĀ  come to a red-bricked warehouse. This warehouse used to be taller and it used to be attached to an old whitewashed stone windmill.

I don’t know how that old windmill at the junction of Chapel St with High St came to be demolished, but it’s a shame it’s gone because we’ve lost one of Abergele’s important landmarks.

My grandfather Harry Gee was a watercolourist and loved painting that old windmill while it still stood. As they say: “when it’s gone, it’s gone”, and now all I’ve got to remind me of this old piece of Abergele is my grandfather’s painting of it.

The Old Windmill, Abergele. Painting by Harry Gee.
The Old Windmill, Abergele. Painting by Harry Gee.

Lewis’s Sale

Twice a year there’d be an ad and a pricelist in the Abergele Visitor announcing Lewis’s Sale, Lewis’s was the men’s clothes shop next door to the Gwindy.

The owner had a name that really suited her personality: Jolly Much – a lively and kind woman.

Jolly would have a start date, tempting pricelists available for days beforehand, balloons and limited launch offers to build anticipation. She’d also stick paper on the windows to cover up the bargains until the ‘reveal’ on the first morning of the sale.

Skinny ribbed polo necks were in fashion and mum bought me a mustard one that was a bargain. I wanted to look like Illya Kuryakin from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

In the 1970s, underpants were generally sold individually, but Jolly would bundle up the pants and socks so you’d get five pairs for 50 new pence.

Yes, the Abergele shop owner who really knew how to stage a sale was Lewis Bros’ Jolly Much.

Lewis Bros ghost sign
This ghost sign next door to the Gwindy Abergele is all that remains to remind us of Lewis Bros

Local Interest

I have come across some old postcards that I haven’t seen before. They are not all of Abergele but they are of local interest. I’ll post them all over the next few weeks, here is the first.

At the moment there is a lot of talk and plans about the preservation of Colwyn Bay Pier. I really hope they save it, we lost what was left of Rhyl Pier and it would be a shame to loose another. Here is a reminder of what it looked like in its hayday. I believe it to be circa 1920.