Wartime in Gorsedd- JPJB’s grandparents evacuation

Dad’s grandfather, Joseph Boughey, was living in Penkett Road, Wallasey, when war broke out (he had not long purchased this property), but with the threat of air raids, decided to close up the house and move somewhere safer. My mother recalled that this was not at the immediate start of the war, but at the end of the “phoney war”, and so probably in 1940. He and Emma Jane moved out to the Druid Inn at Gorsedd, and lived there, apparently, until the war ended. The Liverpool Evening Express of 8 August 1941 reported on the recent flower, fruit and vegetable show at Gorsedd, which was intended to help the war effort. One prizewinner there was a former Wallasey Grammar School boy, who had been evacuated to Lloc. There were others from Merseyside at the fete, from Mossley Hill, Blundellsands, and my grandparents, who “have been staying at Gorsedd for some time now”.

I am not sure about the precise connection with the Druid Inn, but I gather that it stood close to the main North Wales road until the early 1930s, and my great-grandfather certainly had a car at that time (and a chauffeur!!!) The wartime evacuation of children from Merseyside into North Wales is well-known, but adults did too. Quite a number spent the war in seaside resorts like Rhyl, Llandudno and Colwyn Bay. Why Great-grandad chose this inland location is unclear, especially with petrol rationing, but at least it proved to be safe.

It was well-established in the family that he and my great-grandmother had lived at the Druid Inn, and after his daughter Mavis (“Auntie Pop”) died in 1999, I inherited her photograph album. In this were two photographs on the same page. One clearly shows the front of the Druid Inn, which has been whitewashed and extended at the front since the time of the photograph. The other shows a group of people, possibly at the rear of the place. They include Joseph and Emma, and a number of elderly people, and a vicar, probably a Mr Pritchard. They were Anglicans, so perhaps the reverend gent was a friend. The original plan for the show had to been to hold it in the vicarage grounds, but bad weather prevented this. Late in October, the Mayor of Wallasey, P G Davies, visited both my grandparents and Rev Pritchard. Half the proceeds of the show went to The Mayor’s Distress fund for Birkenhead, and half to his own fund in Wallasey.

I stopped for coffee in 2015 at the Druid Inn, and casually mentioned that my grandfather had lived at the place during the war. The gent behind the bar was, to my surprise, interested; he was investigating the history of the place. However, recent searches revealed that the Druid closed at the end of 2016; whether it will reopen is unclear.

I never asked Dad whether he visited his grandparents during wartime leaves; petrol rationing must have kept him and his parents at a distance. There was a station at Holywell Town until 1954, available via a tortuous rail route with changes at Shotton and Holywell Junction, and presumably buses on the main road.

Draft 23 September 2015, updated July 2016 and 25 November 2016, and 24 August 2017