By Emrys Roberts
During the years 1830 to 1896 there lived in the village of Froncysyllte a man who was to make a huge contribution towards raising its status from that of a hamlet comprising a handful of houses, to a thriving village complete with school, places of worship, shops and other facilities which are the essence of the infrastructure of a community.
One of his principle achievements for the village resulted from the abundant support which he and his family gave to the then Vicar of Llangollen for the provision of a place of worship for the parishioners in the village. Throughout his life he remained a loyal Churchman and his reinforcement of Vicar James’ efforts was rewarded in September 1871 when St David’s opened its doors for public worship. Readers may be interested to learn that the original purpose of St David’s was to serve as a Chapel for occasional use as a place for worship and also as a National School.
The gentleman referred to was a Cornishman who came to reside in the village as a young man of nineteen years of age, making his home with John Edwards who lived at Cysyllte Farm (the property known in the present time as ‘Fron House’). John Edwards was a prominent member of the Welsh Baptists in the area and in addition to his farming activity he was also the village undertaker.
Those who in those far off times had the pleasure of hearing many and varied tales of this man from Cornwall must have been captivated by his first hand accounts of witnessing, as a very young child being taken to a vantage point on one of the headlands of the Cornish coast the sight of the British Navy escorting the defeated Napoleon down the English Channel. His eye-witness accounts of smuggling and the infamous press-gangs, whipping at the cart’s tail and cockfighting made him a most interesting and much sought after raconteur.
He started a life long career as an engineer in the great mining industry of those days in Cornwall and came to North Wales to work in the developing coal mining products and also in the limestone quarrying concerns of the Cornwallis-West family of Ruthin Castle, land owners of a very substantial part of the Township of Cysyllte.
This highly respected Mining Engineer and much loved leading figure in the local community died at Fron in December 1896. A token of the esteem and respect in which he was held is illustrated by the beautiful stained glass window which is to be found at St. David’s and is inscribed as follows-
“To the glory of God, in memory of Walter Eddy, born 12.1.1812 died 8.12.1896 – erected by public subscription”.
From a personal point of view I would have been honoured and delighted to have met Walter Eddy and to have learned from him so much regarding the development of the village during the 60 odd years he lived at Fron. It would have been an enormous help to me in my research of the village history.