Market Street, Abergele

Old view of Market Street


Above is an old photograph of Market Street of unknown date. It would appear that there is a flag flapping in the breeze, attached to the telegraph pole outside the Bank. Across the street, bunting adorns the front of several shops. Perhaps this dates to some time after the homecoming of Lord Dundonald, “The Hero of Ladysmith”, from the Boer War circa October, or slightly later, in 1900?

Market Street Postcard

The postcard above would appear to be of later date – perhaps someone has suggestions? The boys appear to be wearing knickerbocker or plus-four type trousers whilst the young girls have on pinnafore-type smocks. At the bottom right can be seen some of the goods on sale, displayed on the pavement, for the ironmongers (J. Pierce) next door to the bank.

As a child, I seem to recall that there was a car showrooms together with a single, old-style petrol pump on the pavement where the ironmongers once traded. Does anyone else remember this or know further details?

Matchbox and other toys.

Old toys

I made comment on Gareth’s ‘Abergele in Shorts’ story entitled ‘Hywel the Barber’ that my sister-in-law would sometimes buy me a Matchbox car as a gift. The small fire engine (middle bottom of the photo) is that first item, dating to the early 1950’s. The larger ones, to either side, were produced in later years. All were bought at Parr’s Toy Shop which used to be next door to the town’s Post Office. I also came across some other old toys which have somehow survived to the present day. The streamlined locomotive (Mallard perhaps), wagon and rail sections at the top of the photo were manufactured by Lone Star. The train in the middle has no manufacturers marks but was probably a hand-me-down from one of my older brothers and possibly dates to the late 1940’s or very early 1950’s. The 6 inch (15 Cms) ruler gives some indication of their small sizes.

The Old Market Hall

How many of you can still recall the old Market Hall in Abergele, a collection of shops etc., situated below the old Town Hall whilst providing a short-cut between Market Street and Water Street (opposite The Mount). It’s Gothic-arched entrance stood between the modern-day HSBC Bank on the right and Superdrugs to the left, where the Financial Consultant’s Office is now?

Back in the 1950’s and early 60’s it all looked somewhat different. The Bank was called the Midland Bank and on the opposing, left-hand side was Millwards, a sizeable Milliners shop with its entrance doorway and main frontage on Market street itself, as had the Bank. As you entered the Market Hall, to your right, you would see a couple of frosted glass windows at shoulder-height, affording some extra light into the Bank’s customer space, which culminated with the Manager’s Office to the rear. A pair of us, more senior pupils from the National School, would sometimes take the dinner money down to the Bank, a welcome break from lessons.

I seem to recall that the booking office and stairs up to the cinema situated over the Market Hall was also on the right-hand side, its main entrance being from Market Street – or was it to the left, next to Millwards? Perhaps someone could clarify that for me.

To your left were large windows affording views into Millward’s whilst, immediately behind that property, within the Market Hall proper, was a butcher’s shop (Mr Roberts place ?). It had a large cold locker facing you as you entered, a display/serving counter to your right with the larger cuts of meat hanging from hooks on a rail behind. Smaller cuts of meat were displayed on white trays placed on a tiled shelf and visible through the main window, to tempt passing trade from the Market Hall. Sawdust was scattered over the floor.

Next door to the butcher’s shop was an ironmongers store. It had an annex extending to almost the same length but about half the width out into Market Place. There, it joined onto a small terrace of properties on the left hand side of what was then called Market Place, but in the 1860’s had been known as Local Lane.

On an historical note, by all accounts, Local Lane took its name from a Local Act which came into force in the town around that time (1867). As it was around that same time that the access road was opened through Market Place and the Market, a stone was placed at the Water Street end, engraved with the words “On sufferance”. The inference being that Kinmel Estates, as the landowners, were granting the town a privilege. Whilst those houses (built around the same time as the Town Hall) were demolished in 1966 the stone stands to the present day.

Back inside the Market Hall and opposite the butcher’s, was a small, narrow sweets and tobacconists shop if memory serves me right, sandwiched between the rear of the Bank and the Cinema’s office. I have a mental image of the office having a single, large window where the glass was either painted dark green or had some sort of green covering to prevent prying eyes seeing inside. Can anyone recall the name of the cinema? I should know as one of my sisters-in-law worked there when I was young and, in my later, teen years, a girlfriend’s mother also worked there selling tickets.

On leaving the local Grammar School in the 1960’s, I lost touch with the town and school-friends following the deaths of my parents in 1971/72. Consequently, when I returned to visit a number of years later, it was somewhat of a shock to see that the Market Hall was no more. Even the carved head of Robert Hughes (I believe it was) the builder of the Town Hall and which had sat above the Market Hall’s entrance arch since its construction in 1867 had gone, mislaid during works to the facade at some point they reckon.

So, to the best of my recollections, that is a description of the old Market Hall and the shops it contained. If anyone can provide additional details it would be appreciated.

Old Market Hall entrance

Since writing the above post, I’ve come across this old photo showing the entrance as it looked, probably around the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. This shows the cinema entrance on the left and not the right as I’d imagined. The butchers was called E.H. Jones and the sweet & tobacconists shop was run by J.E. Jones. The main entrance to Millwards shop is clearly visible next to the cinema entrance as is the carved head David and I mentioned, immediately above the sign detailing the shop proprietors.

Late 1960's Market Street

Above is a slightly earlier view from a different angle but clearly showing the name of the cinema as the Glyn.


Abergele West Map c.1872

Circa 1872.
Circa 1872.

Abergele circa 1920's

The aerial shot above was taken around 1923, looking over the town towards Sea Road in the top distance. It’s interesting to compare the view with the 1870’s map above, showing little expansion when compared to the modern day. The trees near the top right of the photo form part of Pentre Mawr. The small copses shown on the map image still appear in the photo, over 50 years later.