Gwrych Castle Open Day 28 June 2014

Gwrych Castle from Tan y Gopa's Doorknob by Gareth Morlais CC-BY-SA
Gwrych Castle from Tan y Gopa’s Doorknob by Gareth Morlais CC-BY-SA

Gwrych Castle’s gates are being flung open for visitors for the first time in ages on Saturday 28 June 2014.

Entry between noon  and 4pm will cost £5, which includes a tour of the castle and grounds and a catch up on the latest news from the owners of the Castle and Gwrych Trust. The tours are hourly.

Ice cream will be on sale as well as copies of Mark Baker’s latest book Margaret Sandbach: A Tragedy in Marble and Ink, written with Dewi Gregory.

Mark Baker, who is Chair of the Board of Trustees for Gwrych Trust and author of The Rise and Fall of Gwrych said, “It is very exciting that the castle will be open for the day and that we have an opportunity for people to learn about its history and what is proposed for the future”.

Jake Basford of the Trust, handling promotion, says that proceeds from the tours will go towards the planned Visitor Centre project.

Access  will be via the road shared with Manorafon Farm, but access will only be given to foot traffic. No parking will be allowed on site, at Manorafon Farm or Abergele Golf club, unless otherwise stated. If you have a disability and want to discuss access, just email gwrych (at) before the day.


Novella about growing up in Abergele free to download for Kindle for a few days

I’ve written here before about Abergele author Rob Burslem.  He’s perhaps best known for his books set in Africa (Murdoch’s Africa). I’ve just heard that his Abergele novella Three Pomegranates and a Half Bottle of Scotch has been made available for free download by Amazon for a few days as a Kindle edition.

If you’re reading this article after about mid May 2014, you’re probably too late to get it for free, but the novella’s been well reviewed on the store, so it’s worth a look.  Reviewer Paul writes: “This was an excellent read. I couldn’t help but have empathy with Kevin’s plight. The conversational style felt really authentic. As the story progressed I couldn’t put the book down. I actually chocked when I read the author’s note at the end.


New novella about a boy growing up in Abergele

Abergele author Rob Burslem has published new e-book called “Three Pomegranetes and a half bottle of Scotch

Rob wrote to Abergele Post to let us know about the book because it’s about Abergele. The blurb on the book cover says:

“It is a story inspired by true life events. It depicts with compassion the poverty that existed in North Wales during the 1950’s and 60’s.  Kevin is faced with an imminent and cataclysmic life changing event. He has to decide if it’s worth going on. Before he makes that decision he needs to face up to his past and the bad things he has done to the ones he loves. He has to decide if redemption is possible. All the basic events are true and characters real.”

Rob adds that – for a limited time – readers can download a free Kindle copy from Amazon from Thursday 19th September to Monday 23rd September 2013.

Eyewitness account of Abergele rail accident

“The Fenians were supposed to have the secret of a mysterious combustible known as “Greek Fire” which was unquenchable by water. I think that “Greek Fire” was nothing more or less than ordinary petroleum, which was practically unknown in Europe in 1866, though from personal experience I can say that it was well known in 1868, in which year my mother, three sisters, two brothers and myself narrowly escaped being burnt to death, when the Irish mail, in which we were travelling, collided with a goods train loaded with petroleum at Abergele, North Wales, an accident which resulted in thirty-four deaths.

“Terrible as were the results of the Abergele accident, they might have been more disastrous still, for both lines were torn up, and the up Irish mail from Holyhead, which would be travelling at a great pace down the steep bank from Llandulas, was due at any moment. The front guard of our train had been killed by the collision, and the rear guard was seriously hurt, so there was no one to give orders. It occurred at once to my eldest brother, the late Duke, that as the train was standing on a sharp incline, the uninjured carriages would, if uncoupled, roll down the hill of their own accord. He and some other passengers accordingly managed to undo the couplings, and the uninjured coaches, detached from the burning ones, glided down the incline into safety. From the half-stunned guard my brother learned that the nearest signal-box was at Llandulas, a mile away. He ran there at the top of his speed, and arrived in time to get the up Irish mail and all other traffic stopped. On his return my brother had a prolonged fainting fit, as the strain on his heart had been very great. It took the doctors over an hour to bring him round, and we all thought that he had died.

“I was eleven years old at the time, and the shock of the collision, the sight of the burning coaches, the screams of the women, the wreckage, and my brother’s narrow escape from death, affected me for some little while afterwards.”

– Lord Frederick Hamilton, The Days Before Yesterday.

Telford and North Wales

“Mr. Telford applied the same methods in the reconstruction of these
roads that he had already adopted in Scotland and Wales, and the
same improvement was shortly felt in the more easy passage over
them of vehicles of all sorts, and in the great acceleration of the
mail service. At the same time, the line along the coast from
Bangor, by Conway, Abergele, St. Asaph, and Holywell, to Chester,
was greatly improved. As forming the mail road from Dublin to
Liverpool, it was considered of importance to render it as safe
and level as possible. The principal new cuts on this line were
those along the rugged skirts of the huge Penmaen-Mawr; around the
base of Penmaen-Bach to the town of Conway; and between St. Asaph
and Holywell, to ease the ascent of Rhyall Hill.

“But more important than all, as a means of completing the main line
of communication between England and Ireland, there were the great
bridges over the Conway and the Menai Straits to be constructed.
The dangerous ferries at those places had still to be crossed in
open boats, sometimes in the night, when the luggage and mails were
exposed to great risks. Sometimes, indeed, they were wholly lost
and passengers were lost with them. It was therefore determined,
after long consideration, to erect bridges over these formidable
straits, and Mr. Telford was employed to execute the works,–in
what manner, we propose to describe in the next chapter.”

– Samuel Smiles, The Life of Thomas Telford

Morfa Rhuddlan

We stopped to take photographs and buy a few small pearls from the
“pearl-breeding river”; and while we gazed our fill at the mighty
monument, we learned from a guardian that in old days a certain Lady
Erskine hired the castle for six shillings and eightpence a year, in
addition to a “dish of fish for the Queen,” when her majesty chanced to

At Colwyn Bay we lunched early, at a charming hotel in a garden above a
sea of Mediterranean blue; and the red-roofed town along the shore
reminded me of Dinard. After that, coming by Abergele and Rhuddlan to
Chester, the way was no longer through a region of romance and untouched
beauty. There were quarries, which politely though firmly announced
their hours of blasting, and road users accommodated themselves to the
rules as best they might. But there were castles on the heights, as well
as quarries in the depths; and though Sir Lionel says that inhabitants
of Wales never think of turning to look at such a “common object of the
seashore” as a mere castle, I haven’t come to that state of mind yet.

Near Rhuddlan there was a tremendous battle at the end of the seventh
century, out of which so many fine songs have been made that the Welsh
princes and nobles who were slain have never lost their glory. There’s a
castle, too (of course), but the best thing that happened for us was a
gloriously straight road like a road of France, and as nobody was on it
save ourselves at that moment, we did about six miles before the next
moment, when others might claim a share. I believe the Holyhead road is
very celebrated.

– Charles Norris Williamson and Alice Muriel Williamson, Set in Silver. 1909

View from a yacht off Abergele

“By keeping very close in shore for some distance we got a view of Llandudno, now become a fashionable watering-place, and sighted Abergele, where the fearful railway accident happened some years ago, when so many people were crushed or burnt to death. We also passed over the spot where the Ocean Monarch was burnt, almost close to the land; yet out of nearly four hundred passengers, nearly half were lost. The ship was so near the beach that good swimmers could easily have reached the shore. The survivors were rescued by the boats of various vessels which came to their assistance.”

– W.H.G. Kingston, A Yacht Voyage Round England

The audacious rascal actually solicited a kiss

The ride along the coast of Wales was crowded with novelty and
interest,–the sea on one side and the mountains on the other,–the
latter bleak and heathery in the foreground, but cloud-capped and
snow-white in the distance. The afternoon was dark and lowering, and
just before entering Conway we had a very striking view. A turn in the
road suddenly brought us to where we looked through a black framework
of heathery hills, and beheld Snowdon and his chiefs apparently with
the full rigors of winter upon them. It was so satisfying that I lost
at once my desire to tramp up them. I barely had time to turn from the
mountains to get a view of Conway Castle, one of the largest and most
impressive ruins I saw. The train cuts close to the great round tower,
and plunges through the wall of gray, shelving stone into the bluff
beyond, giving the traveler only time to glance and marvel.

About the only glimpse I got of the Welsh character was on this route.
At one of the stations, Abergele I think, a fresh, blooming young woman
got into our compartment, occupied by myself and two commercial
travelers (bag-men, or, as we say, “drummers”), and, before she could
take her seat, was complimented by one of them on her good looks.
Feeling in a measure responsible for the honor and good-breeding of the
compartment, I could hardly conceal my embarrassment; but the young
Abergeless herself did not seem to take it amiss, and when presently
the jolly bag-man addressed his conversation to her, replied
beseemingly and good-naturedly. As she arose to leave the car at her
destination, a few stations beyond, he said “he thought it a pity that
such a sweet, pretty girl should leave us so soon,” and seizing her
hand the audacious rascal actually solicited a kiss. I expected this
would be the one drop too much, and that we should have a scene, and
began to regard myself in the light of an avenger of an insulted Welsh
beauty, when my heroine paused, and I believe actually deliberated
whether or not to comply before two spectators! Certain it is that she
yielded the highwayman her hand, and, bidding him a gentle good-night
in Welsh, smilingly and blushingly left the car. “Ah,” said the
villain, “these Welsh girls are capital; I know them like a book, and
have had many a lark with them.”

The Project Gutenberg Etext of Winter Sunshine, by John Burroughs
#2 in our series by John Burroughs

ESOPUS-ON-HUDSON, November, 1875.

1882 praise for Gwrych poetess


(_To the Editor._)

I have just been perusing in No. 16, of Chambers’s _Edinburgh Journal_,
a short and incorrect sketch of that highly-gifted and moral poetess,
Mrs. Hemans, “who,” the writer says, “first came into public notice
about twelve or fourteen years ago;” whereas, her literary career
commenced as far back as the year 1809, in an elegantly printed quarto
of poems, which were highly spoken of by the present T. Roscoe, Esq. and
were dedicated by permission to his late Majesty, when Prince Regent.
Permit me to say that this accomplished daughter of the Muse is a native
of Denbighshire, North Wales, and was born at the family mansion named
“Grwych,” about one and a half mile distant from Abergele; and at the
period of her first appearance as an authoress, she had not, I think,
reached her thirteenth year. I had the pleasure of then being her
neighbour, and our Appenine mansion, the Signal Station, at Cave Hill,
has been more than once enlivened by Lady, then Miss Felicia Dorothea
Browne’s society, accompanied by her excellent mother. She has since
married —- Hemans, Esq., then an Adjutant in the army. A great number
of her pieces have appeared in the _Monthly Magazine_, as well as the
_New Monthly_, and although a pleasing pensiveness and sombre cast of
mind seem to pervade her beautifully mental pictures, she was, I may
say, noted in her youth for the buoyancy and sprightliness of her
conversation and manner, which made her the delight and charm of every
society with which she mixed. She likewise (I think in the same year)
published an animated poem upon the valour of Spain and her patriotic
ally, England. Instead of Mrs. H. residing, as the writer of the above
memoir observes, chiefly in London, she has passed the principal years
of her life since her removal from Grwych, at a pleasant dwelling,
termed “Rose Cottage,” near the city of St. Asaph. The Editor of the
_Edinburgh Journal_ is again wrong in saying that her “Songs of the
Affections,” and the “Records of Woman,” are understood to have had a
very limited circulation, whereas, in the space of two years, they have
reached a third and fourth edition.

_The Author of A Tradesman’s Lays._

Title: The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction
Vol. 19, Issue 550, June 2, 1832

Author: Various


VOL. 19. No. 550.] SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 1832. [PRICE 2_d_.

* * * * *

Description of Abergele train accident

“We are now approaching Abergele, near which such a terrible accident
happened to the Irish mail in 1868. Some trucks had been shunted from a train in front, and they, by some mistake, came running down the hill to meet the “Irishman.” The driver saw them, and the shock was not severe, but unfortunately they were filled with oil barrels, which broke open, the petroleum caught fire, and in two minutes all the fore part of the train was enveloped in flames.

“Nothing could be done; the poor people in the carriages – lords and
ladies and gentlemen – were burned, and with difficulty any escaped. This was a fearful catastrophe, and quite puts aside any ordinary accidents which (not a few) have happened to the “Wild Irishman.”

Article in ‘Little Folks, A Magazine for the Young’, date of issue unknown