Residents short stories

Looking back - on the 26th November 1805

The Aqueduct was opened officially in the following manner, as described by Mr Simpson one of the acting committee members, being an eyewitness of the proceedings. He states: ‘ In going over the Aqueduct and returning the sensations varied. As the procession of boats advanced towards the noble structure, now first commencing its first public utility, the complete sense of security in which one floated 126 feet above the River Dee was a just acknowledgement to Telford, to whom it was deservedly a proud day. He had most happily arranged the whole of our accommodation as well as constructed the wonderful edifice that supported us.

‘On our arrival at the eastern bank, we entered the canal port. Lady Bridgewater, the ladies of Colonel Kynaston Powell and William Lloyd Ashton Esq., committee members and friends now directed Lady Eleanor Butler, Lady W. Williams Wyn and her family, the Hon. Miss Ponsonby, and many other distinguished visitors, to a repast which had been provided, soon after which an ovation was delivered.

‘At a given signal a Royal Salute was fired by the Artillery Company of the Shropshire Volunteers.

‘The procession of boats was as follows: in the first and second boats, the Committee; in the third, the Band and the Shropshire Volunteers, in full uniform; in the fourth was occupied by the Engineers, the occupiers of mines and foundries, etc. with their families. The fifth and sixth boats closed the procession, gaily ornamented with flags, and loaded with the first commercial product of coal that had ever passed over this valley on the noble Bridge of Union.

‘God Save the King and Rule Britannia floated on the air and about 8,000 people who had assembled in the vicinity looked on and cheered. An excellent and happy crowd.’

The following report was found in an unknown newspaper cutting contributed by Mr J.W. Ellis.

Memories of Trevor Wharf

By the late Don Evans

The Wharf was a small hamlet consisting of a row of three cottages, a single dwelling which used to be known as THE WHARF INN, a single cottage alongside the railway line and a further single cottage on the canal.

There was a cottage adjacent to Scotch Hall Bridge but the occupants were of the opinion it did not belong to the Wharf. All properties in the immediate vicinity of the Wharf were owned by G.W.R. who had acquired them when taking over the Shropshire Union Canal Company. The Wharf building itself was a transit point for goods being dispatched by rail via a canal barge or vice versa. It had an internal docking spur off the canal it was at a lower level from the rail section and had a separate storage area at road level. The building had two sets of rails inside, with a turn table at the open ended north side and a double gated entrance for road traffic beyond. On the roof of the building was a water storage tank for replenishing the tank engine and at ground level immediately below was a weighbridge platform.

To the southern end of the building was a projecting arm which carried three rail tracks operated by a points system and was the marshalling area for the goods trucks. On the pub side were two rail tracks also operated by points which enabled the trucks to be shunted either to the wharf building section or to be directed to the tracks which terminated at Scotch Hall Bridge. Most of the canal trade was to serve the local industry, either bringing in raw material or coal for the Graesser Chemical Works, later to become Monsanto and now Flexsys. Also coal to Roberts & McGuiness brickworks in Trevor, the Delph brickworks in Acrefair, and Hughes and Lancaster now Air Products and then carrying on to the terminus at Rhos.

We start with Rose Cottage; this was the only dwelling in the Trevor Wharf, that boasted of having a bathroom en suite and in my time was tenanted by Mr & Mrs Jonathon Evans along with their children Emlyn, Blodwen, Howel, Helen and Betty. They were a musical family as Jonathon was a pianist, Emlyn was a noted tenor and generally all were above average singers. Helen later became the wife of a South Wales Cleric and settled down there.

,p>Next came the Wharf Public House; the pub ceased trading in the early 1900’s and reverted to a cottage to be known as No 7 Canal side. The first tenant of No 7 was my Grandmother Jane Evans who previously had before my Grandfather died, lived in Pen Y Graig, Bont a tied house owned by the Canal Company. My Grandfather Enoch Evans was a banks man for the Canal Company and had relocated to Bont from the Ellesmere Depot to cover the company owned embankment from the Aqueduct to Bryn Howell being responsible for keeping the grass, brambles and other weeds down. He was also along with Mr B. Davies the Fron – Whitehurst banks man, responsible for keeping the Aqueduct trough ice free during the Winter. If Grandfather needed additional help for one reason or another he contacted his supervisor in Ellesmere who would assess the situation and if needed would send out a gang from Ellesmere.

On Grandfather’s death his job was given to his son Jack who was later dubbed ‘Jack the Bont’ and became a bit of a legend in his own right. It was at this time my Grandmother was offered the tenancy of No 7 and Jack the tenancy of Pen y Graig. Joining Gran at No 7 were children Sam, Gwyn, Noel, Elsie and Gladys. Her other children Cissie, Maggie, Rose and Chrissie were away working or married in 1924. I was to become the junior member of the household to be brought up by my Grandmother.

 
 

The Flour Mills of Trevor

The parish of Trevor, near Llangollen, takes in the small village of Pontcysyllte and it is this area that we find what remains of three old flour mills: Trevor Mill (near Plas yn Pentre), Llyn Madoc Mill (near Pontcysyllte Bridge) and Talent Mill (off Pontcysyllte hill).

Trevor Mill is situated on the outskirts of Trevor, close to Plas yn Pentre House and the River Dee. Built in 1848 it fell into disuse many years ago and has now been converted into a private dwelling.

The old water wheel can still be seen alongside. Flour from this mill was conveyed to the Shropshire Union Canal, which is just above and there loaded on to barges alongside Millers Bridge.

When the mill was in production, there was a small wooden building alongside the canal where the flour was stored to await the arrival of a barge; this no longer exists apart from the concrete base upon which it stood.

Lyn Madoc Mill also a flourmill is said to be older than Trevor Mill. Originally called Venture Mill it was built about the year 1833 and lies directly alongside the river. Although the water wheel has long since gone, its foundations can still be seen.

The mill ceased working during the latter days of the nineteenth century but in the outbreak of the First World War it was used as a factory for the manufacture of shell cases.

After the end of the war it became a tinsmith's shop and in 1924, when it closed down, the mill fell into disuse.

Adjoining it was a house called Llys Madoc, where during the time of baptisms in the Dee, candidates who had been immersed were welcomed with hot drinks and given facilities for drying and a change of clothes. These baptisms ceased in 1944. The house and the old mill have now been incorporated into a dwelling house.

Talent Mill, which has now disappeared, was probably the oldest of the three mills, possibly dating to about 1843.

It was near Dolydd turning alongside the pathway, which leads to the Aqueduct. As this mill had no convenient water supply to turn its grinding stones, this power was supplied by a donkey walking in a circle, and tethered to a contraption geared to machinery inside the building.

The mill fell into disuse about the end of the century and all that remains of the building, which was owned by a local lady, are a few fragments of its walls.

Near the mill there existed, many years ago, the parish oven, where parishioners who made their own bread, took it to be baked. Again, time has obliterated all traces of it, and below the canal are the ruins of another local industry, a malt house. At one time this served the wants of both local and outside breweries.

These three mills, along with Pontcysyllte Foundry and the ruined Malt House, made up all of that area's industries.

We are indebted to Mr H.C. Diggory for providing all the information used.

 

Frozen Clock

High up on the Ruabon Mountain above Penybryn there is a place known as the ‘Frozen Clock’. George Jackson and his two brothers formed a company, this was once used as a base for the broom making industry in Penycae. The material for the brooms or besoms, in this case heather not broom, was collected on the mountain, and grug (heather) dues were paid to Sir Watkin Williams Wynne for this privilege. The brooms manufactured here were dispatched by rail to Liverpool and Glasgow from Ruabon Station. They were then exported to America and Europe.

The building’s curious name may have originated when Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, who often called in when grouse shooting, commented that this location was so high up that, “your clock must be frozen”. A local man relating a similar story stated that his grandmother, when asked the time by Sir Watkin, gave the reply "cloc wedi rhewi" (the clocks frozen). Yet another story, is when the building was used by quarry workers, the clock froze and the workers continued until they had completed another shift. When they realised what had happened, they asked for more money, and being refused, went on strike.

Take your pick which one is the most likely reason why this place is called the Frozen Clock.

By Jean Roberts

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