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.

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’ll  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.