Hywel the Barber

Abergele had nearly as many sweet shops as pubs. The reason given for the abundance of pubs is that Abergele’s a market town and farmers like a pint; have farmers got sweet tooths too?

You’ll remember The Candy Box in Chapel Street, Pandora’s Box near The Mount and Pickup’s at the top of Sea Road. Then there was Parr’s. Mr Parr seemed to own half the shops in Abergele. There was Parr’s the toy shop, Parr’s the chemist and Parr’s the sweet shop next door to the post office.

Near the zebra crossing, opposite Woolworth’s was Roberts’s. I don’t ever remember the late Hywel Roberts cutting hair, but he must have because everyone called him Hywel the Barber. (Another Mr Roberts, with a white Yorkshire terrier, who lived in Gele Avenue used to cut ours).

Mr Roberts didn’t just sell sweets at his shop; he also sold tobacco, Mwdwl Eithin pottery from the farm of one of his sons and fishing tackle. He loved fly fishing on the Elwy, just above Llanfair TH. He used to tie his own flies. I remember the little fly vice on his kitchen table with a big pile of feathers next to it.

Another thing I remember about Hywel Roberts is that he was an expert on rare orchids.
If you wanted to know where to go to find a Bee, Fly or Butterfly Orchid – and these rare plants all grow around Abergele – you only had to ask Hywel the Barber.

13 Responses to Hywel the Barber

  1. Dennis_Parr says:

    Just a quick correction ! Parr’s did not own any chemists shop in Abergele.
    Next door to ‘old Parr’s” sweets and tobacco shop was the chemists shop ( now Lloyds chemist) owned by Mr Griffiths which was eventually taken over by Boots.
    The other Parr’s shop (now the Departure Lounge) was opened by “young Parr” in May 1960 selling toys( Triang Railways,Scalextric, pedal cars, dolls prams, Dinky toys, cycles and prams. Also gift ware, leather goods,jewellery, etc !!
    About 1963 the upper floor was converted into a snack bar. One feature that I particularly remember was that we obtained our milk straight from the farm at Llanfair TH in a massive churn that took two of us to lift to empty it onto the cooler on the counter. That milk was sooooo good.!

    Happy Days !

    • Of course, sorry about that Dennis. I’ll leave it uncorrected in the main body so your comment – which adds so much lovely detail – can remain. But I will make a correction if I republish.

      I seem to remember a Milk vending machine outside your shop (by the laundry?) Or is that my imagination?

  2. David Hughes says:

    Hi Gareth,

    Yes there was a blue milk vending machine outside to the right of the shop, looking from the front. It used to be managed by Griffith’s farm up Llanfair road. Not only did it vend cartons of cold milk but orange juice and cartons of strawberry flavoured milk. Ice cold. Lovely on a summers day. They had machines in a few place, noteably outside the Black Cat amusements in Towyn and I think one in Pensarn.

  3. Glyn Jones says:

    Hywel the Barber was a dear man who encouraged me to fish in the Gele and later on the Elwy especially at Henllys Farm. Local fishermen would gather in his shop to discuss conditions et al. One was Llew from Clwyd Avenue who built split cane rods to the most exacting quality. Small boys wanting their hair cut would sit on a plank placed across the arms of Hywel’s chair. To encourage sales Hywel once placed a photo in his window of me aged eight, winding in a 9 inch trout from Plas Isa water fall pool, which I had caught on a worm the previous day! He encouraged lots of kids to fish including old friend Alan(Joe)Hughes of Caledfryn Gele Avenue, now resident in U.S.A. I once hack-sawed through a barbed hook stuck through Joe’s lip so it could be removed without need to go to A&E in Rhyl.
    Hywel later lived in Brynmair Avenue where he brought up two boys. Hywel was one of the earliest supporters of Plaid Cymru and loved his country and language.

  4. Mr J A Smith (St Asaph) says:

    Mr Roberts was a character in Abergele, he did have 2 sons, Dewi and Emyr. he also had an assistant working for him, selling all the goods he sold in the shop the assistant now lives in St Asaph, old days gone by, but memories still with us.

  5. David Davies says:

    His wife, Mrs Roberts was a Primary school teacher. She taught me at Llanfair school.

    There was also a Griffith milk vending machine in Rhyl Bus Station

  6. Noel Hughes says:

    Who is David Hughes and Glyn Jones. It sounds as if I should know them

  7. David Hughes says:

    Hi Noel,

    Your a bit older than me, I was born in 1951, my Dad was Lloyd hughes a teacher at the junior school. Do you live in Abergele ??, I have recently returned after a forty year absence.

    Best regards,

    David Hughes

  8. Nigel Hilton says:

    I was interested to read the above which stirred old memories. Perhaps someone can help me with the following. I seem to recall that there used to be a barbers shop (anything for the weekend sir?) at the top of Water Street by the traffic lights, where the Girls World shop is now. David mentions that he was born a year after me so he may remember it. Can anyone provide further details?
    I also recall that around 1952-54 there used to be an old sweet shop near the bottom of Church Walks. It’s now a house, immediately to the right of Abergele Blinds Co. I believe it closed just before Pandoras Box opened. Inside, the shop was quite dark but stocked with all sorts of goodies & run by an elderly lady. I think it may have been a greengrocers for a while afterwards as well. Can any of your readers provide further information?
    Regarding Parr’s toy shop next to the Post Office, my sister-in-law would sometimes buy me a Matchbox toy as a gift. I still have a few knocking around the place somewhere, the really small models & not the slightly larger ones of later years. I also remember Parr’s Snack/Milk Bar – when we reached the 6th form in the Grammar School, we’d go there during the lunch break – as did a couple of the teachers I believe.
    There was also a milk Bar in Pensarn which we used to go to for the juke-box with the latest records as much as anything. Can anyone remember what it was called?
    Thanks for the memories everyone.

  9. David Hughes says:

    Hi Nigel, remember the barbers well, when we were little you were put on a cushion type thinging to raise you up. The building was demolished to make the corner easier for truck etc. there is now a seating area there opposite the Gwindy. I don’t remember the sweet shop, only Pandoras Box. My earliest memory was that it was a clothes shop whose name escapes me. I presume the coffee bar you refer too was George,s which was favoured by Bikers and there was one further along but can’t remember the name.

  10. David Hughes says:

    Nigel, sorry I forgot but there is a picture of the barbers building on this site posted by Dennis Parr. If you can’t find it let me know and I’ll repost it for you. Best regards,

    David

  11. Nigel Hilton says:

    Many thanks for that David. My memory must have been playing tricks, forgetting it was nearer the corner as you say. Not yet found the photo you mention above. I’ll have a look through my own digital collection of town postcards too.
    Can you remember collecting bubble gum card sets as a kid – Mars Attacks, the American Civil War etc.? There used to be quite a trade amongst us lads, swapping duplicates for one’s we needed to complete the set. I dread to think how much of my pocket money was spent in Pandora’s Box on them.
    George’s cafe would sound right to me. I used to hang around with one of my older brothers (he had a BSA motorbike in those days), which would have been my introduction to the cafe. Cheers again David – all the best.

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