The Old Pubs, Inns and Taverns of Abergele in the 1800’s

In replying to a query posed by Gareth regarding the Sun Inn (see Market Street topic), he suggested that I start a new post on the subject of the old pubs in the town, so here goes.

We are fortunate in that Charles Jones (1843-1916) kept detailed diaries between 1861-1914 which has allowed us to follow those changes which took place in the town during that period. Ellis Wynne Williams (EWW) in his book ‘Abergele, the Story of a Parish’ makes use of those diaries and other sources, so it is thanks to them that we have the following information:

EWW makes reference to the Rate Book of 1859 which lists 14 taverns etc., whilst an 1862 Plan of Abergele (see below) shows 16 Hotels & Inns. Those in the Rate Book (annual rental shown in brackets) were The Gwindy (£15), Ship (£16), Mona Vaults (£12), Bull (£20), George & Dragon (£7), Royal Oak (£16), Cross Keys (£16), Harp (£18), Swan (£14), Kings Head (£10), Crown (£18), Nelson (£34), Castle (£18) and lastly, The Bee (£184). The last two are the Penybont and the Bodelwyddan Arms (Hesketh) which I will deal with first.

Abergele Town Plan 1862

The Penybont was originally the name of the house which adjoined a low, narrow tavern which ran alongside the river Gele and to which it was later joined to form the present-day building. Similarly, the Bodelwyddan Arms, as it was known in 1861, was also joined to the next-door house, forming the Hesketh of later years. The Castle was the last of only three pubs in the town to be joined to the house next door in the 1860-1900 period. The Castle, then as now, is situated at the northern end of the junction between Pleasant Place and Dundonald Avenue. Around that time there was a clamour to close or pull down the small taverns. The Compensation Act, which had recently been passed at that time, might have been all the incentive required in some cases. But I digress.

From the 1860’s onwards Abergele saw much change, which included the disappearance of many of its taverns. Of the few left from the 1859/1862 period, only the Gwindy, the Bull (Hotel), a larger and much improved George & Dragon, the Harp (whose frontage didn’t alter at all between 1861 & 1911), Castle, Bee and Penybont survived. The Hesketh is still there on Bridge Street, almost opposite St. George Road, but under a new guise. Although the name ‘the Ship’ survives to modern days, it is not the same Ship Inn as mentioned in the listings however (see below). The Bee Hotel, two doors up from Church Street’s junction with Market Street, still occupies its original site. But what of the others?

That part of the modern day Peter Large’s property closest to the Harp is where the Cross Keys once stood. Described as ‘quite a good house with its two front rooms, one a shop, the other a tavern’ it was run by one Huw Jones in 1861, a joiner and zealous Baptist according to the diaries. Directly across the road, where Reeds Rains is nowadays, was The Swan. The original building was demolished to be replaced by a chemist’s shop in later years. The Crown is where Gwalia House, a modern day butcher’s shop, now stands. It was a butcher’s shop even in the late 1800’s, as well as a tavern, kept by a prominent Wesleyan, Edward Roberts. Behind the Swan and the Crown stood the Kings Head. The Royal Oak occupied one of the five small ‘two-up, two-down’ houses between Liverpool House (the bridal shop) and the Harp, probably where the barber’s shop is today. Interestingly, in 1891, the Post Office (formerly at Bowden House in Chapel Street) moved to one of those houses where it remained until moving to the present location in 1909. The George & Dragon was known as the Royal George in the early 1860’s. Originally described as ‘a low, old thatched house with no loft to it’ one can perhaps understand why the annual rent only increased from £7 in 1859 to £18 by 1890. For comparison The Harp, Crown & Castle were all rented at £18 p.a. in 1859, others somewhat more.

Charles Jones’ diaries take us on a clockwise tour of the town so we will pick up his descriptions in Water Street. Where the present day Tannery Court now is a cluster of half a dozen properties once stood, one of which was the White Horse tavern. For some reason, Ellis Wynne Williams’ book doesn’t show this on the 1862 Plan, nor does he mention it being in the 1859 Rate Book. He does, however, mention Nelson Vaults, part of Nelson House where Prys Jones & Booth carry on their business today. Jones’ diaries describes it as ‘quite a large property where much business was transacted’.

Across the road from Nelson House were three shops and the ruins (in 1861) of the old Lock Up. ‘In this block was the first North & South Wales Bank, the building next to it in the main street being for many years a tavern by the name of Bank Vaults’. This is another tavern which doesn’t make it into the lists in EWW’s book. ‘Next was the Red Lion, an important tavern which did much business’, sited where the current opticians is. The Penybont and Hesketh have already been discussed above so, bypassing them, our tour continues further along Bridge Street. Where Plas Newydd Buildings twin terraces now stand ‘there were many old thatched houses. Beyond them was an old long and low thatched house facing the road called New Inn. It had been a tavern long before 1861’ and is yet another not shown in the listings. It was situated roughly where Slaters have their Service building next to Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan these days.

We now about-face and head back towards the bridge over the river Gele which, ‘in 1861 was a stone arch, considerably higher and narrower than it is now’ an improvement which occurred around 1906. The first building on the corner of Glanrafon and Market Street (the Mobility shop) was a butchers for many years prior to becoming the Crown Bach (not to be confused with the Crown/Gwalia House at the other end of town). Proceeding onwards we arrive at ‘the Gwindy which remained unaltered between 1861 and 1911 and did a great trade’. Next came Cumberland house with a watchmaker’s shop, Glyn Luce, being built in the later part of the 1800’s on the site of the former tavern by the name of Mona Vaults.

Though off topic, it is interesting to list the remaining properties from Glyn Luce/the Mona Vaults if only to show their diversity. ‘Then came Bryn House and then a private house with a milliner’s shop built about 1862 next to it. Also about 1861 a Watchmaker’s shop called Grenwich house was built next to the milliner’s. Then came a farm called Ty Newydd, … next was a shop in which Edwards y Caws sold cheese’. I have mentioned those because the next property was ‘the Ship Inn, a free house with two quite sizeable rooms at the front’. This should NOT be confused with the later Ship Temperance Cafe on the corner of Market Street/Chapel Street, which didn’t open until 1907. But, to continue our description – ‘between the Ship Inn and the corner of the Llanfair Road were two shops, a milliner’s and a grocer’s. Shortly before 1861, the grocer’s shop was a tavern called the Bull and when the present Bull Hotel was built, about 1860, it became known as the Bull Bach (Little Bull) because only one of its rooms was used as a tavern at the beginning, the other being used as a shop’. What later became the Ship Temperance Cafe, a Youth Club in my time and currently a Herbal Medicine Practice, was built partly on the site of the old Bull (Bach) Inn. The story behind the origins of the Ship Temperance Cafe is interesting in its own right but not for this page.

Our perambulation of Abergele’s old taverns is almost complete with the exception of the northern side of Market Street. In 1861, the space where the Town Hall was later built in 1867 was just an open space. To the rear of this space the Market Vaults were built and served as a tavern between 1867 and 1910. The houses (demolished in 1966) in Market Place were also built about 1867 and called Local Lane. By walking westwards along Market Street, we eventually arrive at the former sites of the Crown, King’s Head and Swan to complete our circuit.

For the purists, Pensarn underwent much development in the 1850’s following the arrival of the railway in 1845, then remained largely unchanged from 1861-1911 apart from the disappearance of the White Horse Inn and the Glyn Vaults (their old locations unknown). This only left two remaining public houses to survive to the present day, The Railway (currently The Yacht) and the Cambrian (now The Park) both on the seaward side of the A548/Marine Road.

The railway appears to have been the catalyst which brought about much of the change mentioned above. Gone were most of the old taverns, which had probably been little more than a couple of planks laid across trestles in someone’s front room and with a barrel or two of ale upon them anyway. A far cry from today’s public houses with their modern image, plying their trade in buildings which have survived for over a century and a half in some instances.

47 thoughts on “The Old Pubs, Inns and Taverns of Abergele in the 1800’s

  1. Carol Teece:

    The Glyn Vaults, Pensarn, Abergele.

    My family owned the Pensarn fish and chip known as ‘ The Glynne Cafe’ from before World War II until the 1960’s.The Glynne was the name on an old brass name plate on the front door. It is possible that the Old Glyn Vaults you mention are one and the same.

    1. Nigel Hilton:

      Thanks for your input above Carol. I’ve had a look through both John R. Ellis and Ellis Wynne Williams books on Abergele/Pensarn in the hopes of gleaning some indication of the location of the Glynne Vaults, perhaps in relation to neighbouring properties or businesses, but without success. Nor could I find the property on the old maps I have for Pensarn although the Railway & Cambrian public houses were shown.
      Undaunted, I came across an entry in Slater’s 1880 Directory of North & South Wales which has an entry under Inns & Public Houses for a John Carrington, Glynne House, Pensarn. The 1881 Census shows a John & Mary Anne Carrington & family, resident at 5 South Parade, Pensarn with John listed as a retired Mariner. There is no mention of him being a retailer of beer or anything similar, however, so I think that is just coincidence.
      I next tried looking up the publican of the Railway Inn (Theophilus Pritchard, 1 Railway Terrace, Pensarn) on the 1881 census planning on browsing adjacent pages in the hopes of locating the Glynne Vaults. Due to changes to the sites I’ve used in the past, that wasn’t to be either, though I dare say it would be possible through a local library. Alternatively, perhaps one of the readers of this page will be able to succeed where I’ve failed.
      Whether Glynne House and Glynne Vaults were one and the same place, however, is open to conjecture I’m afraid.

  2. Norman Owen Williams:

    Could you please help me to locate Eurog House, occupied by my ancestors, the Roberts family, in the 1800s.

    Owen Roberts, a joiner, lived with his wife, Mary, at 79 Pleasant Place in 1871 and at 1 Clarence Place in 1881.
    Owen’s wife, Mary Roberts, (nee Williams) was formerly a licenced victualler at, I suspect, The Kings Head in Abergele, sometime between 1846 and 1881.

    1. Shirley Jones-Roberts:

      Norman and Nigel

      Re: Eurog House. 3, New York Terrace
      I have the deeds and abstract of title of the above cottage going back to 1873 with much history of the families living there.
      In 1873 the property was left in trust to six children belonging to Isaiah Williams. One son Hugh died leaving a widow Mary Williams. Could she have later married Owen Roberts?
      The whole of the family history is documented and may be of interest to you.
      The house was known as Bryn Gele up until 1985.

  3. Nigel Hilton:

    Hello Norman, thank you for your input regarding the above. You’ve obviously had a look through some of the Census returns, at least for 1871 and 1881, from your comments above. The 1872 map I have, though large-ish, doesn’t show individual house names or numbers I’m afraid, nor even every street.
    As you might have gathered from some of the exchanges above, my main reference sources are the two books by John R Ellis and Elllis Wynne Williams respectively regarding Abergele and district.
    Can you tell me how you came across the name Eurog House in connection with your family? Was it through a Census return and, if so, which year? Is that the whole of the address you have for Owen & Mary Roberts as well?
    Let’s hope we can narrow your search somewhat, even if only to an area of the town.

  4. Norman Owen Williams:

    Thanks for your reply, Nigel. My information was taken from two death certificates which I have copies of.
    Mary Roberts died on the 22nd. Jan.1901, and her husband Owen Roberts died 12 days later on the 3rd. Feb.1901, both at Eurog House, New York Terrace, Abergele.
    The cottages of New York Terrace are numbered 1 to 10, as far as I can see on Google street view, but I can’t find any reference to Eurog House.


  5. Nigel Hilton:

    Hello again Norman, thanks for the additional information in your latest note. As I had to pass New York Terrace earlier today, I thought I would have a closer look in the hopes of unearthing something that perhaps wouldn’t have shown up on Street View. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Very few of the terrace properties have a name or number; certainly none shown as Eurog House. I then decided to see if the library could assist but the old town records are now held in the Archives at Lloyd Street, Llandudno (Telephone or fax the service on 01492 577550 or e-mail to
    I’ve a copy of an old postcard showing the top of Sea Road as well as the Terrace. I’ll post that as a separate item, along with a copy of that area on the 1872 map. It is quite interesting to compare the two, even if it doesn’t answer your question. I wonder if looking through the old Rates books might help. Some are available online but Llandudno Archives would probably be your best bet. The property would, I imagine, be put into context alongside the others in the terrace.

  6. Norman Owen Williams:

    Thanks, Nigel, for your old postcard and your 1872 map of New York Terrace, which are both very interesting.
    I’ve been comparing them with the current Google street view
    (see link below).,-3.5866174,3a,90y,202h,90.88t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sGbyV2PRmEI_5SbWbuLd5ew!2e0

    House numbers 1 to 7 can be identified, then what appears to be an alley (now hidden behind an un-numbered door), and then house numbers 8 to 10.
    Adjacent to the east end of number 10 is a larger, double-fronted house whose number is not clear. On the 1872 map, there are also shown three more properties behind the terrace, as well as a very large one even further back.
    I will contact the archives in Llandudno as you suggest to see if I can discover some more detail.


  7. Nigel Hilton:

    Hi Norman, I’ve had a look at Ellis Wynne Williams book to see if he can assist us any further. In the chapter covering ‘A Period of Development 1861-1911’, he describes tbe area westwards from The Harp as follows:
    Next to The Harp there were two houses – and then The Bee Gardens stretched all the way to the National Schools. In 1861, on the site of the present school (the present day Community Centre – my comments), there were old cowsheds called Pendre Bach. Park House and Park Villas (the properties you refer to Norman) were not there then. New York was in existence in 1861. EWW then goes on to describe the properties in Sea Road commencing with Roche Cottage (demolished in the mid-1960’s).
    Park House then is the property with the low, red brick wall around it and if one walks along the Public Footpath which runs due south between Park House (PH) and the Abergele Grill cafe you pass a couple of small buildings behind PH before coming to Park Villas (PV) about 100 paces further back. As they (PH & PV) seem to have been called that since they were built, that then would seem to point to Eurog House being one of the terraced properties, especially if the other buildings weren’t built until some years later.
    Don’t know if that’s any further assistance Norman.

  8. Norm Williams:

    Hi Nigel, you’ve certainly been patiently unearthing a lot of detail about the properties around New York Terrace. I’m now beginning to suspect though, that the Roberts family may have just arbitrarily named their NYT cottage as ‘Eurog House’, and that this name just came and went with the plaque on the wall!

    Just out of interest, one of their sons, Hugh [my late Father’s Uncle] is said to have built the Lych Gate of St. Michael’s Church at the NE end of Church St. in 1887 for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee – could there be a ‘Golden’ [Eurog] association there?,-3.5837734,3a,45y,21.22h,83.16t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sSaOoOxlZ_c6J_uyENtPYZw!2e0

    Thanks for all your time and effort.

    Kind Regards, Norm

  9. Andrew Hesketh:

    Owen and Mary Roberts lived at No. 3 New York Terrace. They are in he 1891 Census and in 1901 the property was vacant following their deaths shortly before that census was taken. In 1891 Owen Roberts was a 65 year old joiner (born Holyhead) and Mary E. Roberts was 69 (born Abergele).

    On a wider note, most of the houses, whilst numbered, also had names, but they were mostly temporary and not official. For example, around the time of the Great War number 2 was Yorkford, 4 was Parkfield, 7 was Toll Bar Cottage. By 1911, number 3, the former Eurog, was York Cottage.

  10. Nigel Hilton:

    Hi Norm,
    Well, I think that Andrew’s reply above is the definitive answer we were looking for. Many thanks for that Andrew. All your years of research carried out in connection with locals and the Great War has obviously given you a far greater insight into the town and its inhabitants than I’d been able to come up with for Norman. So, again, thanks for that, as well as for the fascinating (and moving) series of articles you did on the Great War recently. There is, perhaps, a tendency to think that just because our War Memorial doesn’t contain hundreds of names then the town wasn’t affected that much. Often the survivors and their families paid an equally high price for their involvement, due to injuries both seen and unseen.

    1. Andrew Hesketh:

      Thanks Nigel, but no great insight in this case, just an observation in the 1891 census really! Thank you also for posting that wonderful picture of the terrace which I haven’t seen before. Any idea of the date?

      Your comment about the impact of the war on the families and the wider community is quite correct, and as the series develops many of the men will have much more detailed stories than has been the case thus far. The regulars and reservists, who have been centre-stage in the early months are quite difficult to develop as most had spent a significant proportion of the decade or so before 1914 in the army and away from Abergele. The next post in a week or so regarding Frederick Edwards of St. George is a case in point and is sadly quite brief. However the story of David Davies, due on 28 December, will carry some very moving and tragic details not only in relation to David, but also his brother and his son.

  11. Gareth Morlais:

    Really fantastic example of what Abergele-based archaeologist Ken Brassil calls: crowdsourced history.

    I had another comment via email which I wanted to share here:

    “Is it possibly Efrog House, as New York is Efrog Newydd ? I cannot help with the location. Thanks for keeping me up to date with news of Abergele. Best wishes, Albert Roberts”

    It’s easy to see how Evrog might be mistranscribed ‘Eurog’.

    1. Shirley Jones-Roberts:

      Hello Gareth
      I have most of the family history of the Roberts family as 3 New York Terrace has been in our family since 1986 and we have the deeds going back to 1873 if you would like to contact me.

  12. Norm Williams:

    Many thanks to Nigel, Gareth, Andrew and Albert for their very interesting and perceptive comments. I’m amazed at their detailed knowledge of the history of Abergele.

    I find this ‘crowdsourced’ explanation very convincing, that number 3, NYT was named Efrog House, transcribed as Evrog House, mis-transcribed as Eurog House and subsequently anglicised to York House.

    I have now shifted my research somewhat to the 3 initials over the Lych Gate of St. Michael’s church. They apparently say ‘HTR’, representing the initials of Hugh Roberts, the 4th. son of Owen and Mary Roberts, born in 1860, who is said to have built the structure.

    My late Uncle, Albert Williams, [grandson of Mary Roberts], in his book, ‘The Thomas-Williams-Roberts family’, refers to Hugh as ‘Hugh John Roberts’, which is slightly at odds with ‘HTR’, although a letter ‘T’ is easily mistaken for a letter ‘J’ in the records.

    Any comments on the above eagerly awaited!

    Norm Owen Williams

    p.s. Is Albert Roberts a descendant of Owen & Mary Roberts?

    1. Albert Roberts:

      Hello Norm

      Just noticed your note asking if Albert Roberts is a descendant of Owen & Mary Roberts. Not as far as I am aware, my descendants were from Gwytherin and Pandy Tudur, but as you know once you catch the “family tree bug” – there is no cure!

      Best wishes

      Albert Roberts (Abergele Grammar 1953 to 1961)

  13. Nigel Hilton:

    I think that Albert may have struck gold (no pun intended) with his comment above which Gareth has posted regarding the Eurog/Evrog/Efrog aspect. Add that to Andrew’s feedback and it looks like the query is solved.
    Regarding the date of the postcard for NYT on the page of that name Andrew, unfortunately I don’t know a specific date but feel it would be around the 1920’s, purely from comparing the style of it to similar ones of that era.
    Norman, I was having a brief look on the ‘net this morning for details of the Porch & Gate to St. Michael’s church, but only found a couple of snippets. I’ll have a read of my local history books over the next few days to see what else I can find. My better half & I need to call in at a shop near to Church Street in the next few days so I’ll have a closer look at the gate etc to see what else I can see. Watch this space. Nigel.

  14. Andrew Hesketh:

    Thanks Nigel.

    I like the reasoning of how Efrog may have evolved into York Cottage. If it’s not right, it deserves to be!

  15. Norm Williams:

    Hi Nigel, I think I’ve just solved the HTR initials mystery – if you look for Hugh Roberts on the 1871 census form, when the Roberts family lived at Pleasant Place, you can see that their 11 year-old son is listed as Hugh T. Roberts.

    His middle initial is the kind of stylised capital ‘T’ that we were taught to use at junior school (for real, joined-up writing), and it might easily be mistaken for a capital ‘J’ nowadays.

    Conversely, a capital ‘J’ used to start off with a big scroll-like loop, whereas a capital ‘T’ used to start off like a number ‘7’.

    So, this is more evidence that the 27 year-old Hugh T. Roberts did in fact build St. Michael’s Lych Gate in 1887, and carved his initials along the top of the front cross-beam.

    Cheers, Norm

  16. Nigel Hilton:

    Norman, I’m pleased to see that you appear to have solved the riddle of HTR’s initials. All I could find after looking through both J R Ellis & E W Williams books was essentially that ‘In 1887, to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the oak porch over the principal entrance was erected, and also a very fine lychgate, which is surmounted with a carved figure of St. Michael.’
    I don’t know if you were aware that the porch was built at the same time or whether your late uncle, Albert Williams, makes any mention as to any involvement or otherwise by HTR in the construction of that as well.
    I did manage to take a couple of fairly clear photographs yesterday, showing the initials and general inscription. If you would like copies, let me know and I’ll send them to you.

  17. Norm Williams:

    Hi Nigel, and thanks again for your research.

    No, as far as I know, my late Uncle Bert didn’t mention the porch but I’ll keep it in mind.

    Yes please, I would like copies of the photos that you have taken – maybe you could save them as .jpg files, attach them to an email and send them to:-

    In that way, I could send you, by return email, a few of my Uncle Bert’s photos which he has kindly passed on to me.

    Cheers, Norm

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  19. joanne bishop:

    i am looking into my faily histor and my grategranddad who was william henry jones how lived and died at Penybont house Abergele in about 1948 i think he was a builder and something to do with wales football. can you help. thank you

  20. Nigel Hilton:

    Hello Joanne and thanks for your enquiry. I’m not sure how much help we can offer as you would probably be better served by approaching a genealogical forum or similar, but here goes anyway.
    You mention that your great grandfather lived at Penybont House in Abergele, as distinct from the public house of that name (recently renamed The Coach House). An internet search for Penybont House comes up with a variety of local businesses which run west to east along Bridge Street, starting at The Coach House and ending just prior to what was another pubic house, The Hesketh. It would appear, then, that he probably lived in accommodation above one of those shops. If you don’t know the area, have a look on Google Street View to see what I mean.
    You will need to have a look through what information you already have on him and his family, in the hopes of narrowing your search further. If you haven’t started a family tree yet, now might be a good time to begin. To find out how, look up ‘starting a family tree’ and have a read through some of the resultant guidelines – the BBC do one which is as good as any. There is free software on the ‘net if you decide to do it seriously or you could just use a big sheet of paper, perhaps the back of a piece of wallpaper, to note down their names, dates, relationships etc on. Once you have some definitive details for his birth, marriage (if applicable) and death you can expand your searches.
    Out of curiosity I searched for a William Henry Jones of Abergele, adding things like ‘football’ or ‘died around 1949’ but without success. Interestingly though, there is an entry on the town’s War Memorial for a Private 51968 George Frederick Jones who died in October 1916. He is shown as a son of William Henry & Martha Jones of Penybont, Abergele. Could he/they be related in some way to your family or, in view of the same name, could it even be your Great grandfather? That’s where a family tree would be useful to you.
    Searching against his name and address, I also came across a document on-line which someone is selling. It is a deed (conveyance) dated 18 June 1926 between a Martha Jones of Penybont House, Abergele. She is shown as the wife of William Henry Jones, a Builder & Contractor !! You mention above that he was a builder so, perhaps that is the same person.
    I don’t know if any of that is of assistance to you Joanne. If nothing else, it might point you in a couple of different areas for you to broaden your enquiries. Good luck.
    Nigel Hilton.

  21. Andrew Hesketh:

    William Henry Jones was born in St. Asaph c. 1870. He was married to Martha c. 1895. He moved to Abergele from Rhyl at some point in the very late 1890’s, and after 1896. They lived at Penybont House, which is adjacent to the pub Nigel refers to above, and is now a shop. William was a Master Plumber. He had three sons. The eldest, William Lothian Jones was conscripted into the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 following a failed appeal to a tribunal. The second, George Frederick Jones (Fred or Freddie to everyone who knew him), was in the 17th King’s (Liverpool) and was killed in action 12/10/1916 during the Battle of the Transloy Ridges, part of the wider Battle of the Somme. The youngest, Harold Edgar Jones, was born c.1908 a good ten years later than his siblings. I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea where the football thing comes into it! A write-up for George will be part of my ongoing commemorations, but as it it will be nearly two yeas before the centenary of his death I append it below in case it is of interest.

    “In November 1915 Fred traveled to Liverpool, with his friend Sidney Jacob of the Cambrian Hotel, Pensarn. The pair, both aged 18, enlisted into the the 10th (Scottish) Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. It is not clear when Fred arrived in France or when he was transferred to the 17th Battalion. However on 16 September 1916, Freddie was sought out by Owen Owen who had heard that his battalion was nearby. Owen Owen was twice Freddie’s age, being 39 at the time they met, and a good friend of his father’s. He was Abergele’s sub-postmaster and was serving with the 40th Airline Section of the Royal Engineers as an Office Telegraphist. Owen wrote to Freddie’s father that he had found him sleeping on the floor of a hut having just come out of the trenches and commented that he had a good laugh at seeing Freddie in a kilt . Freddie was “delighted to see me and we had a very long chat. I went up [next] morning and found they had gone. It was strange that they had come to our area for just two days. You see how uncertain life is out here”. The reference to the kilt would imply that Fred was still kitted out as a soldier of the 1/10th (Scottish) Battalion. As his medal index card does not list a four-digit territorial number it can be assumed that he was transferred immediately upon arrival as a reinforcement for the 17th battalion – but retained the kilt. Less than four weeks later Freddie was killed in an attack just north of Eaucourt L’Abbaye near the Butte d’Warlencourt on the Somme. The 17th King’s attack failed due to enfilading German machine gun fire. There was initial doubt and uncertainty surrounding Fred’s fate. At first, he appeared on casualty lists (incorrectly) as having been wounded and his family was informed of this at the beginning of November 1916. In fact he was missing and remained so for quite some time. The Army Council eventually decided to declare that he had been killed in action on 12 October 1916, and the family were informed of this on 18 July 1917. In January 1918 he was remembered as one of the men who had fallen in 1917 (incorrectly) in a united churches Intercession Day held at the Wesleyan Chapel. Fred has no known grave and is commemorated on Pier and Face 1 D 8 B and 8 C, Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Sidney Jacob was taken as a prisoner of war a year after Fred’s death and returned to Abergele in December 1919)

  22. Sian Roberts:


    I’m Americian-born with a strong Abergele connection, my Father moved from there in 1968 to the US. I’m hoping to find out more information about my Taid Albert Roberts, died perhaps 1960? My father refers to his Roberts grandparents are Nian and Taid Pensarn….Might these folks be related to Roberts’ that are the topic above?
    His mother’s maiden name was Wynne-Jones, and he called her parents Nian and Taid Cadau, short for the name of the family farm south of Abergele called Cadau Mawr. I’m curious to know if my Nian (Jane Roberts, nee Wynne-Jones, died Nov. 1993) might have been related to Edward Irwine Wynne-Jones, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers during WWI, and if so how.
    Any help would be tremendously helpful, it’s been twenty-five years since I’ve been back, and sadly I don’t think I’m going to be able to come check the records myself any time soon.
    Thanks in advance,

    1. Albert Roberts:


      Just noticed your note concerning your Taid – my namesake Albert Roberts. I remember an Albert Roberts being fatally electrocuted in the late 1950s – could he have been the person you are seeking?

      Best wishes

      Albert Roberts

      1. Sian Roberts:


        It seems very likely, though I was told that my father, Alun was around the age of fifteen when his father died, which would have been between 1959 and 1961. I could well be your American Cousin….


        1. Albert Roberts:


          I have found the death of an Albert E Roberts, died in the June quarter of 1960, aged 53, registered in Aled district which covers Abergele Rural.



          1. Sian Roberts:


            Thank you so much for looking, if I ever get to come back for a visit, I owe you a drink of your choice, at the very least.

            I’ll have to confirm with my Dad if this is his father’s record, though I’m nearly certain it is. Just to clarify, you were named after an Albert Roberts who died from being electrocuted accidentally?

            Thanks again,

          2. Albert Roberts:


            No, no, I only remember the fact that when I was a teenager in Abergele, a man of the same name as me died by electrocution, he was not a relative – he just had the same name. I found the death details in the free birth, marriage and death records.



  23. Carol Rossington (nee Roberts):

    Hi Sian, hope you got my last message. My dad was Alun’s cousin and my taid Albert’s brother. I remember your nain Jane well, she was quite small build like your dad always was. Have you any photos of them? I have one of Albert and Jane with your great nain and taid and all the family. Hoping to hear from you soon. Your dad’s cousins Judith and Jean still live near here.

    1. Sian Roberts:


      I don’t have many pictures, most of them are from my visits to Abergele over the years. My Dad has a few, which he’s supposed to be scanning.

      I’ve replied to you in that other thread about most of this….

      Your American Cousin….

      1. Carol Rossington (nee Roberts):

        Not sure what you mean by that other thread Sian.

        1. Sian Roberts:


          On the blogsite, there’s this: Pingback: American Abergelite seeks info about Albert Roberts – – It’s underscored like a link and carries you to the other thread I mentioned. It’s actually the place you responded to first, rather than this thread of inquiry.


          1. carol rossington:

            Thanks Sian I will check it out.I could do with your address or email and I could let you have the photo. Carol

  24. Martin Grundy:

    My ancestors were Roberts from Abergele. They left Wales sometime around 1900 and moved to Lancashire, then Yorkshire and finally to Durham where they found work in the coal mines. Inside a Welsh New Testament owned by my mother, there is a note with a comment that my great grandparents people ‘had’ the Harp Hotel and ran the Hesketh Arms in Abergele. Also, when my grandmother (nee Eliza Roberts (born 1900 in Wigan) visited Abergele in the 1960s, apparently she saw a photograph of her father with a horse in the Harp Hotel. Anyone know if such a picture still exists? Does anyone have any record of the Roberts family running the Harp or the Hesketh Arms?

    1. Martin Grundy:

      My great grandparents were William Roberts and Maria (pronounced ‘Mariah’ as in the police vans). Maria’s maiden name was Griffiths.

  25. Dennis Parr:

    Nigel, Regarding your original article on the old pubs I’m a little confused ( not unusual ! )
    In Ellis Wynne Williams book, page 92 he states that Gwalia House was in fact The Kings Head and not The Crown. May I have your comments ?


    1. Nigel Hilton:

      Hi Dennis, can I ask you to bear with me for the time being. My wife is currently not enjoying the best of health & we’re having to travel to the hospital twice weekly. I will look into your enquiry though & get back to you asap. I trust that’s OK. & that you’re keeping well. Nigel.

  26. Nigel Hilton:

    Hello again Dennis, with a little spare time on my hands this afternoon I had another read through my original article above together with a re-read of the page you mentioned in EWW’s book. I also had a look through my copy of J.R. Ellis book, apparently a source which EWW also looked to.
    I don’t know that I can give you a definitive answer, only describe how I arrived at my wording/conclusion. You are correct in what you say about Gwalia House being a tavern called The King’s Head in 1861. However, I wonder if that Gwalia House is actually the same building as the one we know by that name today. The copy sketch map ‘key’ which I included with the original article (above) shows three ‘Hotels & Inns’ in that area – numbered 4, 5 & 6 which are titled respectively as The Swan, The King’s Head & The Crown. The King’s Head is actually shown as set back, between The Swan & The Crown & doesn’t have any frontage at all onto Market Street.
    I seem to recall that, having written the draft version of the article, I then had a look at the backs of the buildings concerned – from roughly the area of the Parish Church Lytch Gate towards Market Street, as well as from the area behind where Dorothy’s Flower Shop is. There appeared (to my eyes anyway) as if there had once been a building to the rear of the modern day butchers shop & I also had a chat with the proprietors of Gwalia House who mentioned that, down the years there had been many alterations and improvements made to the place. My conclusion (erronious or otherwise) was that the The Kings Head aka the Gwalia House that EWW referred to on page 92 was, in fact, an older building once situated to the rear of the modern day properties but no longer extant. Adding to my ‘theory’ was EWW’s comment, in the lines above on page 92, that ‘The Crown Inn was a tavern & butchers shop, kept by Edward Roberts, …’ J R Ellis appears to give this some credence when (page 111) he says that ‘There were only two butchers’ shops in the town – one at The Crown Inn, and the other at The Crown Bach’. The Crown, according to the sketch map above & on page 76 of EWW’s book appears to correlate with the present day Gwalia House.
    It may well be that I am mistaken, and if so, I hold my hands up and say ‘mea culpa’. Ideally, reference to an old street plan showing the individual properties would be useful. Perhaps there are others, yourself included, who might have access to other documents which may shed more light on this. I’d certainly welcome any feedback. Does this go any way towards answering your query at all Dennis.

    1. Gareth Morlais:

      A great piece of detective work there Nigel. The mists of time often shroud the facts, so well done for making this case. Wishing your wife a speedy recovery, Gareth, ed.

  27. Jonathan Thomas:

    My Grandfather John Jones was born in the Cross Keys in 1870 and his parents – Huw and Ellenor Jones are buried in the graveyard opposite. John Jones married my grandmother in 1902 in Maesteg and died in a coal mine accident on Bury Port in 1911. I visited the Estate Agency today and they were delighted to learn a little bit of history and personal history of where they now works – none knew that it had been a pub. Thank you for the information and the plan.

  28. Simon FitzPatrick:

    Just discovered this site – hope I’ve come to the right place! I’m doing some gentle family history research and have discovered that, according to the 1901 Census, my grandma (Mary G Beavis – aged 1 then) lived at the Market Vaults with her mother (Mary L Beavis) and her mother’s aunt Mary Owen, who is listed as the ‘Keeper’. Any further detail on any of these people greatly appreciated!
    best wishes

    1. Nigel Hilton:

      Hi Simon,it’s nice that you’ve found relatives on the 1901 Census, a good starting point for many who become interested in family history research. What I could suggest as your next step is to try tracing them further back through earlier Census returns. There are also plenty of Internet sites, both free or subscription, which might enable you to look up their BMD (birth, marriage, death) entries. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because an individuals record has matching details that it IS your relative – send off for an appropriate Certificate to prove or disprove it. Certificates themselves have a wealth of information on them too. Sometimes you find that witnesses were unknown siblings or cousins & start you on a whole new path. Be advised though, it can prove addictive. Many’s the time my late wife & I sat up until 2am, ‘hot on the trail’ of an ancestor of interest. Don’t forget too, ask around within your own family about them, especially amongst the older members. You’d be surprised what they remember. Good luck & I wish you well on your adventure. Andy H.

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