Until he passed away, Dad and the family would visit regularly his uncle Rowland, aunt Amy and cousin Ronald (Ron) at their home in Knolton Bryn in the Maelor Saessneg area of Wales, and latterly at a bungalow further south, just by the England/Wales border. I have written about the odd area known as the Maelor on my own blog: http://josephboughey.wordpress.com/autobiograpical-writings/into-the-maelor/
I have many happy childhood memories of Knolton Bryn, where Aunt Amy and family lived in a long cottage that had been two houses. Uncle Rowland had been a cobbler, and his wooden hut still stood when we visited in the 1960s.
Uncle Rowland was Dad’s mother’s brother; when their own father died, the brother and sister were dispersed, so that Hannah (Dad’s Mum) went to live in Wallasey, and Uncle Rowland and his mother went to live, eventually, in Knolton Bryn. Their new home belonged to Edwin Sadler; Hannah and Uncle Rowland’s mother had married Edwin after being widowed.
My Dad had many fond memories of his own of the house in Knolton; when he visited it was, effectively, his grandmother’s household. It seems that he was sent there for much of the school holidays, as his Mother was working in Wallasey. Uncle Ron was born in 1930, and was thus 8 years younger than Dad, and I suspect that he explored the area alone. Probably he spent much time around the Bryn – an area of common land that was just outside the house; at the foot of the unmade lane was a tin chapel that Aunt Amy looked after in later years. [This building, dating from 1890, was listed in 1994, closed in 1999 and burnt down in September 2003; it has since been visually rebuilt, converted to a residence].
Dad was so impressed that he sought to be a farmer after the war, and went to work on a farm in Higher or Lower Kinnerton, on the English/Welsh border; this was probably in 1946. His home movies from the 1960s show a considerable interest in farming, and I recall walking down the lane from Knolton around 1966-7 with him and Uncle Ron; we visited a dairy farm and talked to the farmer there, who said, when I suggested that I would like to be a farmer, if I had any sense I would not do so!
I don’t know the dates when Dad visited, but I would suspect between the time he went to secondary school (1933) or boarding school (maybe 1935) and the outbreak of war in 1939.
I have wondered how he got there from Wallasey. My suspicion is that he would have taken the train from Seacombe to Wrexham Central, to change there to the local Great Western line that had only opened in 1895. He may well have alighted at Trench Halt (which had opened in 1914). There were eight workings each day on weekdays during this period. If he did continue to visit in 1940, this would not have been by train, as regular passenger services between Wrexham and Ellesmere were suspended in June 1940 for the duration. The service was diverted to buses between Wrexham and Ellesmere, and perhaps Dad used this rather than the railway, as it might have been able to stop on the road nearer to Knolton. However, I recall him pointing out the site of Trench halt in the 1960s (it had closed, with the line, in 1962), when the road overbridge there was being demolished, and I imagine this evoked a memory for him. I will never know, and this hardly matters; but it was clear that Knolton was a place that gave him much pleasure, and an abiding interest in the countryside and farming. Odd for a man who lived his whole life in the same suburban town!
Uncle Rowland died in 1974; Uncle Ron and Aunt Amy moved soon after to a small bungalow on the main road opposite the Trotting Mare, about a mile away, on the England/Wales border. Uncle Ron died before his mother, tragically young, in 1984; I recall Dad at his funeral. Aunt Amy outlived both her son Ronald and Dad; she died in 1987. They are all well-remembered, with much affection.
Saturday, October 05, 2013, slightly amended August 15 2014 and 26 Oct 2016