A Potted History of Cefn-y-bedd
One has to be impressed by the series of interpretation panels that adorn the walls of the entrance to the Holy Bush public house in Cefn-y-bedd. There is one on the story of the Ffrith, one on Pontybodkin and one on Llanfynydd. These are well written and well illustrated. There is also another one which only approximately half of the pub’s visitors will generally get the chance to see. It is the one depicting the story of Cefn-y-bedd itself and it is to be seen hanging on the wall of the gentlemen’s toilet. It seems only right, in an era of equality of opportunity that the secrets of this panel should be made known for the benefit of all.
It may come as no surprise that the panel concentrates on two themes, which, in different ways, are as important today as they were in earlier times: the importance of transport links and the importance of the world of work.
The Holybush is situated at what, can be at times, a particularly busy road junction, the A550 Mold to Wrexham road taking quite a hammering from early morning and evening traffic. It is not uncommon for people to sit in standstill traffic, by the A550/B5102 junction complaining about hold-ups on social media.
The road network, especially at this junction, was also of concern before the eighteenth century. There were problems of carts, carrying raw materials of coal, lead, iron ore and stone and finished products like bricks, becoming mired in the mud tracks along roads which were no longer fit for purpose. The upkeep of roads was a tremendous burden on the parish and the system was simply not coping with the problem. The eighteenth century solution was to allow private companies to establish turnpike trusts which would establish a network of tollhouses along the roads, charge for their use and thereby maintain the roads. Whilst this precipitated a backlash in the form of the Rebecca Riots in some parts of Wales, where there were certainly abuses of the system, there is no evidence of similar occurrences in north Wales. An old photograph of the tollhouse of Abermorddu, which was built in the eighteenth century, to collect charges for the use of the road at this point, features prominently on the panel.
Pointing to another road link which was previously important the plaque states: ‘The Mold-Wrexham road remains busy today but during the period of the industrial revolution the minor road between Rossett and Minera was equally busy serving Ffrwd ironworks and colliery, Brymbo ironworks and the local mines and limeworks of Minera.’
Continuing on the theme of transport links the panel then describes the importance of the arrival of the Mold and Connah’s Quay railway, with a station at Cefn-y-bedd, by 1866. This would take some of the heavy freight traffic from the roads. There was a branch line to Hope Colliery, which was an important source of local employment behind the current Alyn Fireplaces as well as Hope Mill. There was also a branch line to the colliery and brickworks of Llay Hall, which joined the mainline at Abermorddu. The railway is still a vital link is to be hoped that improvements in the Bidston-Wrexham line, including an increase in frequency of the service will help to alleviate some of the current-day problems of congestion.
The network of transport links, together with the main buildings of the period are skilfully depicted on a map which forms the centrepiece of the panel. Thus we see the site of the former Hope Colliery, the Toll Gate, Railway Station and railway viaduct, Hope Mill, Holly Bush, Gwastad Farm, Gwastad Hall, the site of Llay Hall Colliery, the site of Ffrwd Colliery and Brick works, road to Brymbo and Ffrith, the Ffrwd Inn (formerly the Red Lion), another colliery adjacent to the public house, Sydallt Wood, the site of the former flour mill of Cefn-y-bedd and Plas-Maen. Whilst evidence of many of these buildings and features can still be seem it is fascinating to see them depicted together in this way.
The panel does describe the expansion of local industries in the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s. There are old photographs of Ffrwd Colliery, Iron and Brickworks, of some of the stamped bricks produced, of Llay Hall Colliery and of a piece of coal that had been hewn from it. Excellent drawings depict a horse and carriage crossing the bridge and also the waterwheel that was another feature of old Cefn-y-bedd. Waterpower was harnessed to drive the corn mill and rope works along the River Cegidog and Hope Mill along the River Alyn. Hope Mill had a number of uses including rope and paper making and grinding stone for scouring purposes.
The Cefn-y-bedd panel is certainly an attractive piece of artwork which summarises and depicts a potted history of the community in limited space.
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.