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Adrian Hughes, owner and curator of the 'Home Front Experience' in Llandudno introduced his talk by telling us how he came to be reading all the headstones in the Great Orme Cemetery.   
 
 The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tries to identify the resting places of servicemen and women,  in churchyards and cemeteries throughout the country, so Adrian chose to look at this one. The tiny church of St. Tudno  served the sparse population of the Great Orme for centuries, but by 1890 the cemetery had reached its capacity. The council bought 3 acres of land adjacent to it, and the new cemetery was opened in 1903.  At that time there was no water on site, and the nearest well was ¼ mile away, but later, water was pumped up the hill. The approach road was very steep and dangerous for horse-drawn hearses, so the now familiar 'zig-zag' road was built. 
 
There was a great variety of stories to tell about the residents of the cemetery. With some, it was the life of the person which was remarkable, such as that of Zaloudek,  'The Bohemian Bigamist', a tailor with a shop in Mostyn Street, who made the dress for the 1924 Llandudno May Queen. With others, it was the circumstances of their death, as in the sad case of newly-married man, Ernest Weller who was killed  in a train-crash on April 17th, 1948, aged 23. [I had just checked the date and realised that I was writing this on 17th April, 2018 - exactly 70 years later! ]
 
There are two headstones with the same date – July 13th, 1911, the day of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon.  Each has an inscription describing how the men died. They were council-workman Thomas Jones and Joseph Hobson. During the day, the two men had prepared an old boat with combustible materials and a flammable liquid, out in the bay, to be set on fire that evening as part of the Investiture celebrations. Sadly when the men went back later to light the fire-boat,  there was a huge explosion, and the headstones tell us that Joseph, aged 21 years, was drowned in the accident, while Thomas, 61 years old, was killed by the explosion. It was a dreadful end to what was to have been a joyful day.
 
Major James Cecil Parke, born in Ireland in 1881, was a celebrated sportsman – a rugby union captain and tennis champion, he played golf for Ireland, and was a cricketer and sprinter. He was wounded twice in WW1, and in 1920, moved to Llandudno to join a firm of solicitors. He was a Scout Leader, and was the founder of the tennis courts at Craig-y-Don, which are adjacent to the Community Centre where the Postcard Club meets and holds its annual Postcard Fair in August. James collapsed in Mostyn Street, and died on 17th February, 1946 at the age of 64.
 
Mary Johnson moved to Llandudno from Hythe in Kent in 1917, to avoid the Zeppelin raids on the south coast. In September 1918, she was in Ireland visiting her daughter, and on 10th October, she boarded RMS Leinster in Dublin for the return journey to Holyhead. A German Submarine fired 2 torpedoes which hit and sank the Leinster, which had on board almost 500 military personnel and, as a Mail boat, some postal workers from Dublin. Lifeboats were deployed, and saved 200 of c700 passengers and crew. Sadly, Mary was one of those lost in the worst maritime disaster in the Irish Sea. Her husband had been waiting for her on Llandudno Junction Station platform, when he was told that the Leinster had been sunk. It was two days later that he learnt that his wife was not among the survivors.
 
 There was the opportunity for a 'sing-along' as we heard some of the work of the prolific and popular songwriters Bert Lee and Bob Weston, and Bob's son Harris, including 'Good-bye-ee', 1917, and 'Knees up Mother Brown', 1936. They wrote for the music hall and film, and their WW1 songs lifted the nation's spirits. Bert Lee was born in 1880 in Yorkshire, and moved to Llandudno before WW2. He passed away on 23rd. January, 1946 and is buried in the Great Orme Cemetery.
 
Adrian's presentation was a masterpiece of detective-work,  uncovering the stories of some of the people laid to rest in this most beautiful spot.
 
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Our talk in May was  'The Conwy and Menai Crossings'. They are very familiar to us, but Bob Daimond,  a Civil Engineer from the Menai Bridge Community Heritage Trust brought a new dimension to the subject, through his knowledge of their history, and especially through his use of spectacular contemporary photos of the construction-works.  
  
The Road Bridges and Tunnel.
 
  In the 1820s, improvements were needed to the Chester to Holyhead road. As part of that, Thomas Telford [1792-1870] created one of the world's earliest suspension bridges at Conwy. Work started in 1822, and the toll-bridge opened in 1826. It was designed to harmonise with the adjacent 13th Century castle, and give the appearance of a draw-bridge. It closed to traffic when the 1958 bridge opened. It is now Grade 1 listed,  and administered by the National Trust.
 
 By the 1950s, because of the increased volume of traffic on the road, a new bridge was needed. A booklet on the Castle Hotel, by Will Swales, tells us that - " On 4 February 1955, the Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation, John Boyd Carpenter, was guest of honour for a lunch at The Castle Hotel to celebrate his cutting of the first sod in the construction of a new road bridge to be built across the River Conwy. The new bridge was opened in December 1958 by Henry Brooke, Minister for Welsh Affairs. It provided the first toll-free road crossing. On this occasion there is no record of a celebration at The Castle Hotel."
 
  The hotel has links with all three bridges, and the booklet makes interesting reading.   You can see it at:-
 
http://www.castlewales.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Castle_HistoryBooklet_web.pd
 Work on the first British 'Immersed Tube Road Tunnel' under the river started in 1986, and it was opened by the Queen in 1991. Excavated material from this project formed almost 70% of the 50 hectares of the Conwy RSPB Nature Reserve, according to the RSPB website.
Telford's masterpiece, the picturesque Menai Suspension Bridge, took the road over to Anglesey. Although work was begun in August, 1819, c3 years before that on its sister-bridge at Conwy, the Menai bridge also opened in 1826, on 30th January.  The stone was from the local Penmon Quarries. The bridge has been repaired and upgraded over the years.
 
 Earlier this year, the Welsh Government launched a consultation on proposals for a third crossing of the Menai Strait. The result of the consultation is awaited with interest. 
 
The Rail Bridges.
 
 By 1838, the Post Office needed trains to carry mail from London via Chester to Holyhead for Dublin. Robert Stephenson's revolutionary 1848  tubular iron bridge at Conwy is now unique and Grade 1 listed. The huge tubes were floated on the river, and then raised into position. The Conwy bridge took the rails onward to his monumental Britannia Bridge at Menai, which opened in March, 1850. A disastrous fire on 23rd May, 1970 meant that the bridge was redesigned, using steel supports and a concrete deck, whilst retaining the original towers. It reopened in January 1972, with the works completed 2 years later. Between 1977 and 1980, a road deck was added.
 
 The beautiful lions  which guard each end of the bridge date from 1848, although they do look as though they could have been designed in the Art Deco style of the 1920s/30s.
  Despite the major alterations to the structure, the Bridge retains its Grade 2 listing.
 
The two Stephenson bridges had been developed in tandem, with research by Ironmaster William Fairbairn, to find the best shape for the tubes, and the result was the fore-runner of today's box-girder.
 
With the increase in traffic along the North Wales coast, the bridges have undergone  strengthening, redesign or refurbishment over the years.
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  Our June meeting saw a change to the programme, as Lawrence was unwell, but Chairman, Marion, stepped in to take us on a great 'Postcard Day Out' to Blackpool. The town's coat of arms dates from 1899, with the motto "Progress", and  it has certainly lived up to it.
 
  We 'landed' at the airport, which opened in 1909 and was one of the earliest in the UK. The first Aviation Meetings were held there that year and again in 1910. Postcards were issued showing some of the famous pilots of the time who came to take part.
 
  Our first stop was the much-loved grade-1 listed Tower, height 518' 9", which opened in May, 1894, just 5 years after its big sister, the Eiffel Tower, height 1060'.
 
There were several attractions inside Blackpool Tower buildings – Dr Cocker's Aquarium, Aviary and Menagerie had started in 1875, on what was to be the Tower site, and stayed open to provide income for the Tower while that was being built, and was eventually incorporated into it.  The Menagerie housed a variety of animals including lions and polar-bears and closed when Blackpool Zoo opened in 1973.
 
   The Aquarium was closed in 2010, to make way for the new 'Blackpool Dungeons' which opened in the following year. The fish were carefully re-homed at the local Sea Life Centre and other marine centres.
 
   The famous Blackpool Tower Circus opened with the Tower itself on 14th May, 1894, [admission 6d.] and boasts that it has given performances every season since. 
 
  In 1894, when the Tower first opened, it included a modest ballroom, but in 1899, the new more splendid one was opened, and it is still a major feature of the complex. In 1956 there was a fire which destroyed the ballroom floor, which was then restored. More recently, the Town Council has spent a lot of money to restore the magnificent interior, and the roof with its sliding glass ventilating panel, which allows hot air to escape. Reginal Dixon was one of the best-known organists, as he played the grand Wurlitzer Organ in the Ballroom for 40 years until his retirement in 1970.
The entrance-fee for the Tower was 6d., and a further 6d for the lift to the top. On a clear day, it is possible to see the mountains of North Wales. There are now some new attractions in the Tower Complex.
 
  On the Beach, we had a ride on the donkeys,  for both children and adults in the past, but brought up to date in 2014, with the world's first 'contactless payment' machine in the saddle of Dillon the Donkey. We admired the entries in the sand-modelling competition, and visited the 3 Victorian piers, owned by the Sedgwick family:- The restored North Pier of 1863, which is the longest; the Central Pier of 1868 and South Pier dated 1893. They offer a variety of amusements, shops and entertainment.          
 
  The Winter Gardens opened in 1878, with an Opera House which seats almost 3,000 people for its varied shows and concerts,  and the Empress Ballroom which stages dance festivals, and other events, together with Exhibition space.
 
 To the south of the town is the famous Pleasure Beach, one of the most visited UK attractions.  Opened in 1896 by W.G. Bean, it developed from a small amusement park and now covers 42 acres. The first ride was 'Maxim's Flying Machine', giving people a chance to experience 'flight' in 1904, the year after the Wright brothers made their first powered flight. The site has a wide variety of rides and also has a special children's area. In the Arena is an Ice Show. Many rides were brought from America, and 'The Big One' of 1994, became the highest rollercoaster in the UK, at 213'. In May this year a new ride opened – 'The Icon', at 88' high with speeds up to 55mph.  The family of Mr. Bean, the Thompsons,  still run the Park today.
 
 We boarded the tram for a ride along the prom. Blackpool's electric tram system was, in 1885, a pathfinder in the development of public transport. It is now the only original working tram system in the UK, with the heritage trams used during the Illuminations and Bank Holidays. The trams themselves were decorated with lights, as rockets, paddle-boats etc
Before returning home, we just had to see the 6-mile, world-famous Illuminations.  In 1879, the Council wanted to experiment with electric street lighting, and 8 arc-lamps were positioned 350 yards apart.  The idea was so revolutionary and exciting, that c100,000 people came to view them, as they were possibly the earliest electric street lamps in the world.
 
  When a new section of the promenade was officially opened in May 1912, by Princess Louise, a garland of lights adorned the route, and lights appeared again the following year. This was the inspiration for the Illuminations which have been held every year except for 1939-49, since 1925.
 
Postcards show the development of the illuminations over the years.
 
Blackpool is constantly striving to renew and improve the visitors' experience, whether they come for a day-trip or a longer stay.  'Progress', as ever.
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The theme for the evening was 'my best postcard find of the year' which provided us with a varied and interesting selection of items.
  Jane had recently visited the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, and had brought along the cards she had bought in an exhibition by the Singh Twins, two girls from the city, with a Sikh heritage. They had studied  art at the University of Chester and now have world-wide acclaim, with their modern twist on traditional Indian miniatures. Their delicate and intricate works often have influences from other countries, and sometimes include political or environmental messages. The twins have over 40 awards including an MBE in  2011.
           
  John [Lawson-Reay] revealed a 'blast from his past' with a rare card of the interior of the 'Rendezvous Room', a nightclub at the Crescent Hotel in Llandudno in the 1960s.  It was flooded by water from a tap which was left running, but the place was empty at the time. There is a block of flats on the site now.
 A programme for Rhyl's first Royal Visit was my own best find. It related to the Laying of the Foundation Stone for the new Children's Hospital, by TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales [later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra] on Friday, July 13th, 1894. Unfortunately, the original site for the new building proved unsuitable, and the Stone was removed to the new  site later. The idea of a Children's Convalescent Home in Rhyl began in 1872 in a tiny house on the prom, and developed over several sites, into the large, state-of-the art red-brick building on Marine Drive, The Royal Alexandra Hospital and Convalescent Home, which opened in 1901.
Keith's family featured on his card, which was the first he had ever kept. It showed his father, and uncles, Bob and Charlie, in Queensferry in 1916. Sadly, Bob died in a boating accident in the village.
  Ken's card had solved the 60-year mystery for him, of what had stood on an empty site near his West-Derby junior school. Ken's grandmother lived near the school, and knew that the building had burnt down before WW1, but didn't know what it had been. Recently, Ken started researching the area on the computer; he found his gran's house, the school and a new pub on the derelict site, called 'The Bulldog', which had been built on the site of a priory. On Ken's card, there was no caption, but the old building was still there.  Luckily, there was a reference written on the back,  to 'Leyfield Priory, 1913', and that was the building which had burnt down all those years ago.
Lawrence's collection had an unexpected boost when, in a Scottish view-card , he spotted a bus, which, he knew, was the only one to be run by its operator.  He had thought it most unlikely that he would ever find it on a card .
  A Court Injunction featured in the story of Lindsay's card, which showed a picture of HMS Fearless, a 1,600-ton cruiser, which had been sent to the Foryd in Rhyl for scrapping in 1907. The company used explosives to dismantle the boat, but shards of metal were landing in the garden of a local resident. She complained, and obtained an injunction to stop the explosions, but they continued. 
   Lynne's card was a superb real-photo of the Bowling Green Inn, Pen-y-Bryn, Wrexham, c100 years ago, and still in business today. It is a very scarce view, which she was delighted to find. Lynne also brought one of the service cards from Ken Hassell's funeral, which I will bring to next month's meeting, in case anyone hasn't seen it.
 Trebor's find was a most beautiful children's card, with a poignant story.
Trebor and his wife has been to Cardiff in April for the rugby match, which was on the same day as the South Wales Club fair. They went along to the Penylan Community Centre, and called at the table of one of their favourite postcard dealers,  Christine Booth, and found this unsigned 'Tuck Oilette', which, they knew, was by US artist Clara Bird. Trebor was pleased with his purchase, but sadly, it was to be the last he would buy from Christine, as she passed away later in the year. Trebor will always have 'warm remembrances of her'.
 Ferrari's Birds made an appearance on Marion's leaflet, which described all the tricks that the feathered entertainers performed.  It was one of Llandudno's most popular seaside shows, and is often seen on postcards of the time.       Some of the feats performed by his birds were:- walking a tightrope, drawing a carriage with passengers and luggage, and sitting calmly on the barrel of a musket whilst it was being fired.  Gicianto Ferrari  1847-1923, came from Genoa and lived in Llandudno for many years. His gravestone in Llanrhos church yard features 2 carved birds.
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  In a particularly strong field, Marion gained almost half of the total votes for her superb 'Blackpool Day Out' presentation in June. She had stepped in at the last minute, when Lawrence was unwell. She received a £10 voucher for the fair.  Second, was Bob Daimond with the Conwy and Menai Crossings,  and third was Barbara's quirky talk "My Life [so far] in Postcards"   
 
The One-page Display competition had 10 entries, with a good selection of themes and localities:-
 Shapes and Sizes', which showed several unusual formats, including a diamond-shape and a bookmark card;
 
    'The pleasure steamer "La Marguerite"' - 4 lovely cards of the popular Steamer at Llandudno, in 1907;
 
     'Using Modern Technology',  three cards by children's artist Beatrice Mallet – featuring a vintage radio, telephone and typewriter';
 
       'Caergwrle when Dad was a Lad'  was part of a family history project. 'Dad' was born in 1905, and lived in the village until his marriage in 1934;
 
       'Transporters' used cards of a plane, a train, a boat and a motorcycle-and-sidecar, all with pullouts of North Wales locations;
 
        'Nurse Edith Cavell' – the 4 cards told the tragic story of Nurse Cavell's death on October 12th, 1915, her funeral procession, grave and monument. 
 
        'All Roads lead to…?',   these were 3 identical Hutton views of a rural road running past a white cottage, with 3 different locations in the captions…"Snowdon Range and the Glyders from the Llanfairtalhaiarn, or Llangerniew or Llanrwst Road."
Five 'United States Postal Cards' from the 1880s,  with printed 'stamps', similar to our Postal Stationery cards which appeared in 1870. These were plain on the reverse for correspondence, as picture-postcards were not allowed by the UK Post Office until  September 1894.
 
       'A Glimpse of Paradise' – some romantic scenes -  a lady in a punt with a cherub, hearts and flowers; two semi-clad ladies with doves in a mountain and lake setting; a bird with two heart-shapes, and a reproduction of Klimt's famous painting of "The Kiss".
 
            The winner of our new brass Pillar-Box trophy, and lapel-pin, was Keith Hough, with his exceptional cards of 'Sheep Shearing in the Nant Ffrancon Valley', by Colwyn Bay photographer, Hutton.
 
All the competition sheets were displayed at the fair.
 
 Many congratulations to Marion and Keith, and many thanks to everyone who took part.
 

In September, 2018 Trebor Roberts was our tour-guide for a trip around old Wales, with his collection of Tuck Oilettes. 

            This superb series appeared in 1903, and the cards are usually in sets of 6, and show views, often commissioned by Tuck, from various landscape artists of the day, although they are not always signed. Our tour begins with a view of 'Mostyn Street, Llandudno' from set 7871 by H.B. Wimbush. The cards were produced for sale in the holiday areas of the country at that time, which explains why cards of much of the Lleyn , and the eastern side of Flintshire have almost no Oilettes at all.

            From Llandudno, we travel east, along the coast, through the tourist towns of Colwyn Bay,  west Denbighshire, with a view from set 7419 [anon] "Storm at Colwyn Bay"  and Rhyl, Flintshire,  where an unusual overprint on a view of 'Rhyl Palace and East Parade' reminds us that the Palace was "Destroyed by Fire - November 24th. 1907". On the back of the cards there is often a description of the area or a note on the view, and on this card, from set 7576, the note includes this:-  "The Palace is a handsome pile of buildings in the centre of this parade, where are found the much frequented Arcade and Palm Gardens, and also a magnificent ballroom, one of the best in the Kingdom". 

            Occasionally a Welsh view is one of a set which has views of other areas of the UK, and Rhuddlan Castle appears in set 794, Picturesque Castles of Great Britain, along with Caernarvon and Conway.       

            We hop down into east Denbighshire with scenes of Llangollen, and Valle Crucis Abbey by moonlight.

            Bala, Merionethshire,  gives us an Oilfacsim, with a textured card which mimics brushstrokes. In Radnorshire, the Llandrindod Wells set (7542) is probably photographic in origin. Breconshire was represented by set 7754, Builth Wells, by Ernest Longstaffe while The Wye Valley set 7647,  is one of only a handful of sets by A.R. Quinton for Tuck - he is much better known as a prolific artist for the J. Salmon publisher.

            In South Wales, the 7-card set 1458 of Newport, Monmouthshire, includes urban scenes, while the Cardiff views (7889) bear the city's arms. We pass through towns including Penarth [set 6207] and Pontypridd, [set 6220] Glamorganshire; Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, [set 6212], and  Tenby, Pembrokeshire, seen in set 6477 'Quaint Corners - Tenby' by Frank L. Emanuel, whose views have a very much lighter  and fresher palette than the usual Oilette style.

            Turning north,  we visit the holiday destinations on the west coast - Aberystwyth, set 6211 with another 'Storm' scene; Barmouth, set 7083 by W. Meredith;  Dolgelly, set 7095, by E. Longstaffe and another moonlight view, this time of Harlech.

            'Picturesque Wales, Snowdon', set 7877, by H. B. Wimbush, shows us the highlights of the area, including 'The Summit of Snowdon'. Cards of these areas were often bought by visitors on coach trips from towns such as Llandudno.

                        There are no cards to be seen beyond Criccieth, so we go through Carnarvon [7949] and over the Menai Strait with set 7872, by Wimbush, to Anglesey where we giggle at the "Welsh Rarebits" comic cards of set 9340.

            There is an interesting 12-card set, 2908, entitled "A Trip to Europe", which charts a voyage from New York to Liverpool by ship. It features a Welsh view, ' Steamer Passing Holy-head light.'

            Back on the mainland, we continue east via Penmaenmawr [7897] and Aber falls [7098], and then take a detour up the Conway Valley through Bettws-y-Coed  with sets 1723 and 1724, Picturesque North Wales series  2 and 3, and arrive back in Llandudno in time for tea.

            In addition to the view sets, there is a set of 'Welsh Costumes' [6146] and a set showing the uniforms of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers [9162]. Charting the numbering of some of the cards can be a little awkward, as some designs were re-issued in other sets over the years. 

            The book which lists most of the Tuck sets [not just the Oilettes] is 'The Picture Postcards of Raphael Tuck& Sons'. edited by J.H.D. Smith, and published by IPM, 39 The Rookeries, Marks Tey, Colchester. CO6 1DY.  ISBN 0 9523719 6 0.

Tel: 01206 212223      email: //mail.yahoo.com/neo/b/compose?to=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   www.picturepostcards.co.uk.

            There is an excellent website which lists the individual cards, not just the sets, and most of the cards are illustrated. The site is searchable, so that you can quickly find items relating to your collecting areas. TuckDB Postcards: A free database of antique postcards published by ...Tuck.  https://tuckdb.org/

 

October 2018

There were no contemporary postcards in the first episode of Derek Bond's "History of Prestatyn", on 8th. October, as the period under the spotlight was from the end of the Ice Age, c10,000 years ago, to the arrival of the Romans in Britain, in 43AD.     

             Animal bones were unearthed in a cave in Trelawnyd, and included those of  the huge Cave Hyena, which has been extinct for c11,000 years, the Woolly Rhino, extinct for c10.000 years, and the Great Irish Elk, with antlers 12' across, extinct  for c7,000 years. Other bones belonged to wolves, reindeer, lynx, goats, dogs and horses.

                        During excavations for new homes in the town, a workshop and small stone tools were discovered. These were sent to the British Museum, and were dated to the Middle Stone Age, c8000years ago. The British Museum sent experts to oversee the work on this unique site, and it became an important place for students to visit. The finds were displayed in Prestatyn's first Museum, which opened in 1950 to showcase the work of the late Gilbert Smith, architect and amateur archaeologist, who died in 1947. The museum had closed by 1974. 

             In 1923, the 4000 year-old skeleton of a lady with a fishing-rod was found by workmen digging a trench at the lower end of High Street. She may have fallen into the water and drowned. In 1939, her remains were sent to the Royal College of Surgeons in London, together with the remains of a Viking Warrior which had been found in a ship-burial in Talacre. Unfortunately, the RCS building was bombed and the two skeletons were presumed lost. However, the Warrior has now been found, so it is possible that the lady will be also.  

                Pottery, jewellery, weapons, shields, hut-circles and ditches from various times have been discovered. The early huts developed from basic shelters to the larger Iron-Age ones [800BC-43AD], with wicker fences,  latrines,  thatched roofs and animal pens.          

             The Romans reached Wales within the decade after their arrival in Britain.

                       I think that most of us were surprised to learn that there were humans living in the Prestatyn area so long ago.

The estimated population of Britain 9000 years ago is 1,200, but 5000 years later, it had increased to c100,000.

             Derek will be back in June for the 2nd episode of the story of Prestatyn, where his family has lived for at least 200 years.

 

In November,2018 Keith Hough opened a window onto the north-eastern corner of Wales, within a triangle with points in Chester to the east, Connah's Quay on the Dee to the north-west  and Mold in the south, an area of about 20 square miles.  Keith's family were water-men on the Dee, and he has lived in Queensferry all his life. Deeside is the industrial area of North Wales, but this talk showed that there have been some beautiful and interesting buildings in the region, many of which have been altered or demolished .

            In Queensferry, the Jubilee Bridge, near Keith's family home, was erected in 1896 and dismantled 4 years later because it didn't work properly, and Asda's petrol station replaced the 1907 C.P. school.

The well-respected 'Canon Drew' school in Hawarden has been demolished.

            Because of Dr. Beeching's 1960's railway reforms, many of the original station buildings have disappeared or are in poor condition, including Sandycroft, 1884-1961 and Connah's Quay, 1870-1966.

            In Shotton, the Conservative Club, 1911-1995/6 was famous for its snooker, while the 'Palais-de-Danse', a social centre and skating rink, is being restored. 

            Ewloe suffered the loss of a good 1760's house when a new road was built, while modern houses are now on the site of Hawarden's 'Famous Toffee Shop'. The card below was published by W.B. Jones, "Post Office" Series, Hawarden, is postmarked for 1907, and was sent to India.  The shop was owned by

'Mother Huffton'. The message on this card reads "I believe this shop is well known to everyone in this village on account of the goodness of the toffee turned out from time immemorial" 

            Many churches and chapels have escaped demolition by being re-purposed; one in Queensferry is now a stock-room for a shop.

            Meadowslea Hospital in Penyffordd, a TB and wartime hospital, is no more, and the Boar's Head Hotel in Ewloe is under threat.

            In Connah's Quay, the 1950's  coal-fired Power Station closed in 1984, and the huge cooling-towers were dismantled in 1992. A new gas-fired Station opened nearby, in 1996. Another industrial building is the 1907 office block for John Summers & Sons' Steel Works, in Shotton, now Tata Steel. Although it is under threat, the building is still standing at the time of writing, and contains the oldest original lift in Wales.

            Hawarden was the home of Amy Lyon, later to become Emma, Lady Hamilton. She had been born in Ness, Wirral, in 1765, but moved to Hawarden with her mother, Mary, following the death of her father, Henry. They lived with Mary's mother, Mrs Kidd, who was a carrier in the village. Her old thatched cottage was on the Highway, near to the Fox & Grapes, and was demolished in the 1890s. Emma moved to London, married Sir William Hamilton in 1791 and became Lord Nelson's mistress in 1800. She died in 1815, and is buried in Calais.

            Some of the area's other lost houses  are the 15th Century Aston Bank, which was a convent from 1930; Broughton Hall 1478, part of the Glynne Estate, and rebuilt in 1754. Its claim to fame was that it was used to train spies during WW2. 100 folding bicycles were found in the cellars.     Hawarden Castle, home to the Glynne family, into which 4-times Prime Minister, William Gladstone married in 1839, was built in the 1750s and remodelled as a castellated folly in 1809-10.  Wepre Hall of 1776 was demolished in 1960, but the lovely wooded parkland surrounding Wepre Brook was saved, and is now a public space, administered by Flintshire County Council.   The 1960s saw many of the old buildings demolished to create areas for much-needed new housing.

            Keith's knowledge of, and great affection for, this area, coupled with some stories of his boyhood escapades, made for a most enjoyable and entertaining evening

 At the December 2018 meeting, Karlyn  gave a talk about

                                Christmas cards and the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail celebrated 500 years in 2016.

 As far back as the 12th century, the Monarchs were using Royal Messengers on horse-back to get their communications around the country.

There is a Welsh Connection!.. In 1516, the Royal Mail was established by the Tudor Henry VIII. He had appointed the newly knighted Sir Brian Tuke [d.1545] as the first Master of the Posts, and it was he who set up a network of post-towns across the country.

In 1635, Charles I allowed the general public to use the service.

In 1660, the Post-Office Act made it a publicly-owned service, and at that time it employed 45 sorting and delivery staff… now there are c140,000!

At first, the mail was still carried by horse and rider, but from the late 1700s into the 19th Century, coach and horses were used. The first Mail Coach went from Bristol to London in 1784.  They stopped at the designated post-houses to change horses and crews, and to allow the passengers to rest. The coaches travelled mainly at night when the roads were less busy.

There were by then special post-roads radiating from London, to get the mail around the country more easily – our local one is the London- Chester road, which was extended to Holyhead to get mail to Ireland by boat. Before the bridges were built over the Menai straits, the mail coaches had to cross the treacherous sands at low tide.

In the mid-1800s everything changed. Until then, only the wealthy and educated classes could use the mail, as it was very expensive, and the lower classes were often unable to read or write. Before 1840, letters were charged by the number of sheets used, and the distance travelled.

Sir Rowland Hill, 1795-1879. was a schoolmaster and postal reformer. His mother was afraid that she wouldn't have enough money to pay for the delivery of mail, when the recipient had to pay the cost, so he was instrumental in introducing the famous 'Penny Black',,the world's first adhesive stamp, on 6thMay 1840.

The Penny post made mail communication accessible to many more people….the Royal Mail's website gives the figures as 67million items sent in 1839 and 242million by 1844.

In the later 1800s, the education acts meant that new schools were built, and general literacy gradually improved.

Pillar boxes were suggested by P.O. worker and writer  Anthony Trollope, who knew about their introduction in France. The first was a dark-green one in Jersey in 1852. The oldest still in use is in Barnes Cross, near Sherbourne, Dorset…..Llandudno has a good variety of boxes.

London was the first place to have 10 post codes in 1857..based on the compass points..W; SW etc., a system devised by Rowland Hill and revised by Anthony Trollope. Liverpool was the first provincial place to have them in 1864.Modern postcodes were introduced as a trial in Norwich, 1959 and completed 1974.

Some other significant dates in the history of the Mail:-

1870 the first postcards appeared, but were plain, with no pictures.

1870 – Telegraphs service

1881 first postal orders

The Parcel post was introduced in 1883, which encouraged Mail-order businesses – one of the first is said to be the Royal Welsh Warehouse, a Welsh-flannel firm owned by Pryce Pryce Jones, in mid-Wales, which sent out catalogues to its customers.

The letter-carriers, as they were known, adopted the new name of 'Postman' at this time.

1894 Picture postcards came to Britain.

1912 Post Office added National Telephone service.

The Royal Mail website has a wealth of information about its history.

Eventually, trains, ships, bicycles, motor vehicles and then aircraft were able to transport vast amounts of mail around the UK and abroad. I mentioned the 1936 GPO film 'The Night Mail', which is available on the internet. It's a short film, and includes W.H. Auden's famous poem of the same name, which was commissioned for the film, which shows the journey and workings of the London to Scotland Mail train.

It is said that the idea for the first Christmas card came from Sir Henry Cole, who was a pioneer of the 1840 Penny Post with Sir Rowland Hill. He wanted something to send to his  friends and family at Christmas, when he was short of time to write letters.  He asked artist John Calcott Horsley to design a card for him in 1843. It was 11.43cm high and 14.61cm wide [c4½" x 5 1/8"].  1000 were printed and hand-coloured.

The design is in 3 panels….the centre shows the family around a table, toasting their friends, while, in contrast, the outer panels show the help given to the poor families who have little to eat or wear.  The printed message is a familiar one "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year", with a space for a signature in the lower right corner. I would have expected a religious theme, but perhaps the spirit in the country at that time influenced the artist…Horsley brought his design to Cole on the 17th December 1843 and Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' was published 2 days later, on 19th.

The cards not used by Sir Henry were later sold at 1/- each, which at the equivalent of £3.50 today, was in the luxury category at the time.  One of these cards recently sold at auction for £4,200.

Although it proved not to be popular at first, Sir Henry's idea was eventually taken up by the printers and publishers of the day, including the well-known firm of Raphael Tuck & Sons, who went on to produce some of the finest postcards. 

The Christmas Card soon became an established part of the festival.

Many famous artists and writers offered their work for the new cards, among the artists were Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane, and competitions were held to find new designs.

In fact, the volume of Christmas mail had become so great that even in 1880, the Post Office was asking people to "Post early".

Father Christmas made an early appearance, in robes of various colours, and Mrs Claus was invented in 1899.

Another of the popular Christmas themes on cards was the robin but before 1861, the postmen themselves were called 'robins', because their uniform jacket was red.

            We looked at Christmas postmarks – 'posted in Advance for Christmas Day'; Christmas day postmarks, as there used to be collections that day… and the favourite Welsh village  postmarks of  Nazareth, near Caernarfon and Bethlehem, near Llandeilo, Carmarthen.

            The postal service to the Armed Forces is an extremely important part of the Post Office's work. It originated in 1882 with Army Post Office Corps during the Egyptian and Sudanese campaigns. In 1908 it became the Royal Engineers [Postal Section], and in the late 1990s, it became the BFPO. It serves as a vital link between our forces abroad and their families, especially valued at Christmas. In WW1, soldiers sent Christmas cards home from the war zones, including the beautiful embroidered ones. Prisoners of war also produced cards for their loved ones at home.

            In 1941, a new form of communication, the Airgraph, was developed because the soldiers' mail took a long time to arrive from the Middle East.

The Welsh Philatelic Society [now the Welsh Postal History Society] newsletter of May 2006 explains the process:-

Senders were given an 8" x 11" sheet, illustrated with a Christmas design, and with sufficient space for a short message. After completion, it was handed in at the Post Office. A miniature photographic negative was made and despatched by air mail. At the destination end, a photographic print 5" x4" was produced and then delivered to the addressee in a small window envelope.

Charity Christmas cards now raise over £50million for good causes. In 1949, one of the earliest charities to use them was UNICEF – the United Nations Children's Fund….The first design they used had been sent to UNICEF by a 7 year-old girl from Czecholslovakia , who wanted to thank UNICEF for the milk they had provided for her village….it shows children around a Maypole.

  In their first year, 130,000 cards were sold…by 1960, over 17 million in 114 countries, netting over $1million in profits. UNICEF used top artists for their designs – Picasso, Matisse, as well as art from around the world.  Popular figures of the day, such as Marlene Dietrich, were used in their campaigns…

Christmas stamps.

 Britain is the only country which doesn't have its name on the stamps.

The first Christmas set was issued in 1966 –it was the product of a children's competition on the tv's Blue Peter programme. You will probably remember the designs – a bright blue and red 'portrait' of King Wenceslas and a snowman.

Since the 1970s, all the sets of stamps have been reproduced as sets of postcards.

Benham's of Kent have issued silk versions of stamps on postcards for collectors for many years. 

            Another recent development by the P.O.  is a POST-A-PHOTO special service, where anyone can have a photo printed as a postcard. The one I showed was an early Christmas postcard, which had been turned into a new postcard.

Today we have the e-card, and I had one to show at the end of the talk, but I couldn't get an internet connection!

March 11th 2019.

BBC cameraman and local historian John Lawson-Reay, has a connection to the sea, as his family owned and ran the Lawson Steam Tug Company on the Tyne from the 1850s. Coal was brought from the collieries on rail wagons, which came onto a staithe, a pier built out into the river, where the coal was transferred to the ships which had been towed into place by the tugs.

  In March, he began his talk with a look at North Wales shipping from the 19th and 20thcenturies. Before the main roads and railways were built, shipping was the best method of transporting people and goods, with small paddle boats running up and down the coast. John showed a selection of old prints and postcards to illustrate this part of the history.

The 'Albion' was the first paddle-boat to ply between Liverpool and Menai Bridge in 1822, and was advertised as sailing to 'all parts of North Wales'. 

'La Marguerite', was a famous, luxurious pleasure paddle-boat known as a 'Floating Palace'. She came to Llandudno in 1901 and was in service until 1925, when she ended her life in a local breaker's yard.  She had been on duty in WW1, ferrying soldiers across the Channel.

The 'Greyhound' also a paddle-steamer, 1895-1936, was first owned by the North Pier Steamship Co., Ltd., and ran between Blackpool and Llandudno. Between 1915 and 1919, it was a minesweeper.

Some of the other ships shown were the St. Tudno II, the Rhos, Colwyn, St Seiriol, St Trillo and the IOM steamer King Orry. Many of the pleasure boats were used in WW1 and WW2 in various roles.

To get the passengers on and off the boats safely, a pier-crew was employed, which was often made up of ex-naval men.

More recently, in 1962, the world's first passenger hovercraft arrived in Rhyl from Wallasey, Wirral.  It was a Vickers-Armstrong VA-3, operated by    British United Airways and fuelled by BP, whilst in Wallasey. It was to be serviced and maintained in Rhyl. It had a cruising speed of 60mph, had a 2-ton weight capacity and could carry a maximum of 24 passengers plus a traffic-officer. To mark the occasion, there was a special hand stamp on mail posted in a box in the Post Office on July 20th

The restored  ships,  MV Balmoral and PS Waverley often come during the summer to take passengers for cruises along the coast, and John was on hand to record their visits. The Balmoral, operated as a charity, had been refitted, but as the hull-plates were not thick enough, the work needs re-doing.

We also have visits by other ships, such as the 'Viking Sun', a gigantic liner which regularly comes in to Holyhead.  

John's focus then changed to local shipping disasters and mishaps. In 1831, PS Rothsay Castle, from Liverpool, ran aground on Dutchman Bank, near its destination, Beaumaris, and most of the 150 people aboard lost their lives. The Penmon lifeboat station was established as a result of the tragedy.

In 1890 the 'Turtle Dove' was stranded on rocks at the Great Orme and in 1896 the 'Lady Agnes' ran ashore. The 'Caterina', taking salt from Runcorn to Riga in 1869, was wrecked on Llandudno beach. The 'Rhosneigr', was sunk in 1908, and its remains are still to be seen at low tide off Rhos Point.

We had been teasing John about the perfect positioning of some 'trained' seagulls in his photographs, but during the talk he came back at us with a delightful close-up of 2 gulls standing on his own car-roof!   

In 2012, John's camera captured the scene when the 82m long German cargo boat 'Carrier' was driven onto shore in a gale and was stranded. The boat had just loaded limestone at the Raynes quarry pier in Llanddulas. 2 helicopters rescued the 7-man crew, but the boat was scrapped. The A55 was closed in the area, in both directions for 2 days, to enable the ship to be attended to.

These days, we don't have local photographers who produce postcards of such events, as we did in years gone by, so it was a rare treat for the Club to have John's superb photographs which capture some of the recent history of North Wales.

 

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Photograph by John Lawson-Reay

 

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