Mrs Elizabeth Edwards, nee Lees, is looking forward to receiving her congratulatory message from the Queen, for reaching her 100th birthday, on 30th October 2016.Elizabeth currently lives in Dartmouth but she has an association with our area and fond memories of the time when she lived here. The story of how contact came to be made with her is itself something of interest.
Because these articles go on-line they are read across the world and the author receives feedback from different part of the globe. In this case the contact was made by Mrs Lucy Bell, Elizabeth’s granddaughter-in-law, who lives in South Africa. Lucy passed on the contact details of Brian Lees, Elizabeth’s nephew and an e-mail correspondence developed with Brian whilst he was on holiday in Teneriffe. Brian undertook to visit Elizabeth, upon his return to England and ask her what she remembered of her childhood spent in our area. This article is based on the details provided by Lucy in South Africa and Brian’s conversations with Elizabeth.
After consulting Brian, Lucy explained the local link:
Elisabeth’s father, Frank Lees, was manager of the Westminster Colliery near Wrexham, the family having moved from Yorkshire when she was a toddler. When the colliery closed they moved into the pub business. The family moved to the Bridge Inn at Caergwrle in about 1933.
When GM’s father was colliery manager they lived at Summerhill near Wrexham and she and her brother (2 years older) attended the local primary school. He used to give her a lift to/from school on his bike.
She went to Grove Park Grammar school in Wrexham and was later the Almoner at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
After she married Nick Edwards they lived at Alltami near Mold where they ran a horticultural nursery…I know she mainly ran the business during the war when – I believe – their quarry sand was used for making bricks.
Following conversations with Elizabeth, Brian Lees reported that:
GM’S family were licensees of the Bridge Inn from 1933 to 1955. Firstly GM’s parents in turn and then her brother, Donald, (my father) were licensees. Caergwrle brewery used to supply bitter to the Bridge and customers used to order a pint of “local”. There used to be a bowling green at the rear but it was dug up during WW2 to grow vegetables. During the war it was frequented by US soldiers based at Llay and by Royal Engineers based at Plas Teg near Pontblyddyn.
The archives of the Hope and Caergwrle Heritage and Conservation Society contain a photograph of the bowling green that existed behind the Bridge Inn. There has been some discussion about the bowling green as local people recall there still being some evidence of it remaining at late as 1986 when it was finally removed for the creation of a car park and restaurant premises
Brian himself supplied a photograph of the Bridge Inn, taken in 1953, at the time of the Queen’s Coronation. The bunting and flags can be clearly seen. The Lasell and Sharman Brewery of Caergwrle had been closed down in 1945 after being taken over by Burtonwood Breweries. Burtonwood itself is seen to be supplying the Bridge Inn at the time of this photograph. Brian lived at the Bridge Inn from 1945 to 1955 and attended Hope Primary School. He recalls dances being held at the Village Institute (formerly the old building for Hope Primary School and on the site of the Bridge End building which currently includes a dental practice.)
It is doubtful that either Elizabeth or Brian would recognise the Bridge Inn today as a popular Oriental Restaurant or the new bakery of ‘Honey’s’ to the rear
However, they may well remember another part of our heritage: the ornamental portcullis gateway of the former Spa site which is clearly viewable on the other side of the River Alyn. That is, our course, another story in our impressive heritage. In the mean time it seems appropriate to wish Elizabeth very best wishes and congratulations as she reaches her 100th birthday.The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the policy of Flintshire County Council. Readers are welcome to contact the author with any news or views on the local heritage at DHealey204@aol.com or by telephoning 01978 761 523.