Happy New Year

Hello everyone, next year, lets get us all leaving comments against the items posted. It would be great to find more contributions from different people. Remeber the site is for us all to record our memories of Abergele. So simple to do, just scroll down to the end of the post and there is a comment link. Very best wishes for 2012.

The Fairy Shoe

A little boy about 7 used to wonder if Fairies and the magic that surrounded them really did exist. His Granddad had told him that he had once seen them on his way home. How much he wanted it to be true, he longed to see them or some evidence for himself. He used to play in the river Gele by bridge at the top of Peel Street. One day, while playing under the bridge, he saw something shinning in the moss on the river bed. Upon investigation he was in awe as he discovered a Fairy Shoe. Oh the joy, the thrill and the magic that overcame him, he put it in his pocket safe and ran all the way home. In his room he took the shoe from his pocket and stared at it for hours. This was the very proof he needed and the feeling of happiness would stay with him for a long time. The magic was overpowering. He placed it in cotton wool and put it in a little wooden box which was then hidden under a loose floor board in his bedroom. There it stayed, secret and safe. Occasionally, and with great reverence, it was removed to be cleaned and stared at, always being returned to its secret place. No one was every to be told.

Some years later, disillusionment was about to set in and the reality of growing up was to dawn. It was Christmas 1963 and everywhere was white. It caused problems for parents but so magical for a child to have a white Christmas. Now a young teenager, he received a monopoly set as a present, something he had really wanted. He lifted the lid in nervous anticipation, the packets of money and little houses spelt hours of fun. He slowly opened the packet of playing pieces and …..



His heart was heavy and he ran to his room to recover his magical shoe from its box to see if it could be the same. A childhood disappointment grew in him and he carefully placed the shoe back in its box and returned it to its hiding place, never to be looked at again. The magic however was still there and he always wondered if there was a mistake and that maybe it was a fairy trick to keep them secret.

I still have the shoe and it retains its memory of a magical time. It has no value but it preserves in me the feeling of a child’s magic. We all see things in different ways and probably look back at out childhood as a magical time. For me it was, and the little shoe still makes me happy when I see it and do you know ……I still wonder !

Bedtime Story

Mo and Bill use continental quilts since coming back from Canada. They’d emigrated and returned to Abergele with crew cuts. We’d been happy with sheets and camberwick  blankets. They’d kept us warm even on nights so cold you could scrape iced condensation from the glass of the single-glazed sash windows in the bedroom. The frost burned under my nails.

My brother and I shared a bedroom and kept each other awake for hours talking in the light of the hall bulb shining through a square hole above our bedroom door.

My friend Huw Davies  from Abertridwr in south Wales makes me laugh when he tells me about his games with his brother in their shared bedroom. They used to play ‘Who can be the last to fall asleep’:

“Yeah Glen.”
“You asleep yet?”
“Neither am I.”
“OK … g’night.””
“Glen? You asleep yet Glen?”
No answer.
“I won.”
“Another pause.
“Ha ha, only joking. I’m still awake.”

young brothers

Monkey Boots

“Make sure you’ve put on clean socks Gareth, I’m taking you to have your feet measured after school today,” said Mum.

Last time, it was a shiny tape measure bound around my socked foot; this time it was a device with moving walls which closed in around my feet. It was scary and reminded me of that room with spiked walls in Batman with Adam West. What if the walls kept squeezing in?

However high-tech foot measuring became, it was never something I looked forward to – like having a haircut or a filling.

The only thing that kept me going was the possibility of getting a pair of Tuf shoes with a magnetic compass hidden in the sole.

As we grew older, we were tempted by Clark’s Polyveldts and Nature Treks. I had two pairs of Nature Treks. They smelled gorgeous but the soles split all the way through on both of them.

After reaching Size 5, I waved goodbye to The Shoe Box and started going to Colwyn Bay Indoor Market to buy my own choice of shoes – Monkey Boots. A perfect match for those drainpipe denims, ex-army top and a trip on the train to Eric’s  Liverpool to see Stiff Little Fingers in 1978.

The Shoe Box
The Shoe Box

The Abergele Visitor

The Abergele Visitor was pushed  through our letterbox every Friday. It was printed in Abergele, in a room with lino on the floor above the Visitor Office newsagents, next door to the Bee.

Our neighbour Gordon Hughes was the printer and the noise of the rolling presses made it difficult to hear him speak as he explained how he set the lead type mirror-imaged for each week’s edition.

The paper’s chief photographer was Mr Sumners who had his office and darkroom between the Visitor Office and Woolworth’s. Mr Sumners seemed to be at every wedding, summer fete, sports day and chapel parade. He’d develop his own  photos and put prints of his latest shoots in his shop window, giving passing shoppers a good idea of what had been going on in Abergele that week.

Nowadays many local and regional papers are owned by bigger and bigger companies, based further and further away from their readers. But there’s something really cosy about remembering the days when  the stories of Abergele were told by the people of the town itself. People like Gordon Hughes and Mr Sumners.

Advert for Mr Sumner's Photography from an old map of Abergele.
Advert for Mr Sumner's Photography from an old map of Abergele.