Copied from an old document by John Wilmot an ex -Froner now living in Florida
This is not a lecture but only a gossipy talk beginning from 1843. - I want you to visualize the little Fron, as it was then spelt, at that time. It was literally a little Fron, only about 15 or even fewer houses. There was Fron House called Canal Cottage, it was only a small house then; next to it was a tiny farm inhabited by John Edwards & wife; he was also the village undertaker. There was the Aqueduct Inn, kept by John Davies afterwards carried on by his widow & son, George - no Britannia Inn then. There was Ellis, Tailor who sent a bill for my father for 5/8 - I don't think that was a suit of clothes for father was a regular young buck, or swell in those days. He went to a do at the Hand at Llangollen about that date, dressed in white Buck trousers, white waistcoat & bottle green coat with brass buttons, riding a fine horse. But he must have dined not wisely but too well, for he was ill on the way home and spoilt his nice new suit. There was also an Inn called the White Lion at the top of the Vron, kept by a Thomas Wright who came down periodically to brew beer for my father, for there was very little tea drunk, his 99999 home brewed beer. My brother, a little boy of 4 was very ill in London, and his nurse wrote that he had a better night and took his breakfast well of a chop and tot of porter.
Among what we may call the gentry round Fron in 1843 to 50 was a Mr. Butterton who lived at Bontcyssllte (sic) -his grandson is now a small greengrocer in Cefn, - he was a well-educated man from his letter; he was a partner of my father's in works called the "Berwyn Cement Works, at Bontcyssllte (sic) the Old Mill. They also found some china clay at Bont; so father sent some to Doulton to had (sic) a mug made, but i suppose it was not enough to make it worth working.
Mr. Butterton had a nephew called John Beech who was surveyor for the Canal Co. & had all the beautiful trees planted on the Canal banks -- He married a daughter of Exsuperious Pickering in the Cefn, who was quite a big man in those days; he is buried at Llantysilio with that curious tombstone -- Mr. Beech wrote to father on his honeymoon; they had gone away in a grand carriage & four but Mr. Beech said "It was a damp journey for the bride cried all the time" -- There was also a Mr. & Mrs. Jones at Scotch Hall; they had a very pretty daughter called Emily who died of consumption when about 20, and the gossips round said she died of love for a handsome young man in the neighbourhood who did not return her affection. (The young man was Mr. J. C. Edwards afterwards of Trevor Hall, but I did not tell the people that)
There was a Mr. Ward at Black Park Lodge in 1850, father wrote him about a nurse he wanted for his wife who had nursed Mrs. Ward. Mr. Ward said "She had 5 meals a day to my 3; she must have 1/2 pint ale at 11, for her dinner & for her supper, 9 times a day and a glass of toddy at night, and gossiped about what went on in the house."
Mr. Ward died in 1857 and was succeeded by a Mr. Dickin of Halton.
Letters from 43 to about 58 or 60 were addressed Froncyssllte (sic) Ruabon, or Garth, which points to there being no Post Office at Fron.
The last keystone to the Viaduct was in August 1848 - a grand function to which Father was invited, but of course it was not ready for traffic till after that date -- about that date the farmers complained they can not sell their cheese so could not pay there (sic) rents & taxes -- a carriage of time in 1850 less to Chester than to Shrewsbury -- about that date; Black Park coal cost 7/6 a ton, labour was cheaper at Vron than Chester or St. Helens, but in 1852 there was a letter from the manager at Carrighope lime works / Llanymynech of which father was a director/ saying the men there were very uneasy because Vron workmen got 3/- to 4/- a day, and he did not see the men need complain because they got 8/- to 12/- a week.!
The miners at Snailbeach, near Shrewsbury, of which my uncle was a director or manager, agreed to an 8 hours system.
In 1852 - there was a letter about St. Thomas' charity, saying the poor preferred 1 good size blanket to 2 little ones; they sewed together two small sheets or blankets to make 1 large one. In 1852 Mr. West withdrew his support from Mr. Biddulph to give Mr. Bagot - he said he would not not make his tenants but wished them to support Mr. Bagot.
In 1852 - there is talk of Mr. James Edwards starting a brick works but did not say where -- In 1852 father wished to go to Aberstywith (sic) to see his brother and Uncle John says; he had better take the coach from Shrewsbury, leaving there at 4 a.m. and getting to Aberstywith (sic) about 2 p.m. but he had better take an inside place or he would catch cold; the fare would be 3/- In 1853 a Mr. Davies of Liverpool bought Argoed Hall: it must have been small then for he says he must make 2 or 3 more bedrooms - he writes about completing a wall from the toll gate to end of stable so there must have been a toll gate then down the back lane. He complains the tenant of Argoed Farm wants to turn some heifers into the wood & says, "They will do no harm whateffer"; much to Mr. Davies' indignation -- later on he asked father to get him some gate posts from Cefn quarries where father was partner with Mr. Dennis, and the present gateposts are evidently those. Then a man wants permission to kill hares in Argoed wood and Mr. Davies gets Mr. Richards the lawyer to write a formal certificate which he signs - rather a curiosity.
1853, Uncle John asks father to send him a bag of seed potatoes as they are much better than the poor sort at Aberstywith (sic) but they must be sent to the Dee Smelting works and then forwarded by vessel. In 1854 the miners at Aberstywith (sic) only got 55/- a month.
In 1854 -- Miss Ellen Williams of Chirk died, brought on by accident on Dinas Bran.
In 1856 -- There was a notice from the Trevor Hall Trustees, to say Messrs. Butterton & Eddy must give up the old Mill & Machinery called Llyn Madoc mill.
In 1857 -- Mr. Davies came to live at Argoed and then began disputes. He objected to a right of way through the plantation, close to the house and to a well close to front door. Mr. Minshall, lawyer from Oswestry advised him to reopen old well, farther down wood instead -- 58, Mr. Watkin Richards writes to ask father to meet the 10 a.m. bus for Oswestry, to talk about the well, and in 60 Mr. Davies consents to open the latter well and make a proper path to it, if the people will give up the path close to Argoed -- this well is still open but the path through the plantation was only given up when Mr. Graesser came.
1860 - a Mr. Bradley, Cefn, writes to ask father to help in establishing a national school either in Rhosymedre or Cefn & liberal donations were given - My mother introduced funeral wreaths about this time so the people used to come down at every funeral after that to beg for "one of them round things". There was still a station at Trevor until 61 - but passengers got out at Llangollen Road station & coaches took them to Llangollen; it was a grand sight for the village children; and poor little Amy remembered coming back from school for the first time and mother was late in meeting her, and she sat at Llangollen Road station (as it was called then) & cried.
In 1862, there was a subscription got up to get a harmonium for Trevor Chapel to replace the old barrel organ - Can you not see the old clerk turning the handle of the barrel organ?
Mother writes from Llandudno in 61, that meat is very dear there, for the best joints are actually 9d per lb and in 70 she writes from there that things are the same as Vron, fowls 2/6 a couple ducks 3/6.
There was a Mr. Edwards, Vicar of Rhosymedre for many years, and in 1865; a subscription was got up for him; living used to be £70 per annum but was then £122. He had had one offered to him of the value £260 but refused it as he would not leave his people at Rhosymedre. He had a very big voice, and boasted that he had been asked to become an actor when young. Whyever didn't you said my father once "Conscience, my dear felloe conscience, he said, slapping his chest.
In 1870, Mr Graesser introduced Xmas trees into the neighbourhood and got one in aid of Trevor schools - where I saw Constance Kent's little step sisters -- And now, I think I've made my talk long enough.