The HLF-funded Caergwrle Sense of Place Project was successfully launched at an event at the Presbyterian Church Hall on Saturday 30th April. Speakers included David Rowe on the Pubs and Brewery of Caergwrle, Margaret Dunn on Discovering Old Welsh Houses and myself on A Ramble Round the Historic Village of Caergwrle. A special word of thanks should go to Hope Church members Blodwyn and David Ellis and Pat Grimshaw-Smith for considerable assistance on the day, especially with the provision of refreshments. Thanks are also due to members of the Samhain Welsh Medieval Society and Age of the Princes who were able to remind us of Caergwrle’s medieval past.
The project team includes Lorna Jenner and Bill Smuts, who did such valiant work during our memories session for the commemoration of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. They are now asking for your memories and photographs about the village of Caergwrle. This session will be held on Saturday 25th June at the Presbyterian Hall between 11am and 3pm. For those who have memories or photographs to share this provides a unique one-off opportunity.
In due course it will be possible for copies of documents, which are currently in the community, to be made more readily available to the public in the local heritage archive, which will be developed in Hope Community Library as the library becomes a community asset transfer. Important originals will be deposited in Flintshire Record Office.
One of the intentions of the project is to produce a booklet which uses features and buildings of the village as ‘pegs’ to hang memories on. It may be that local residents have distinctive memories about, for example, the time when people got their water from the Pistyll in Hope Street, or about the role played by the village’s pubs or chapels at critical times in our history. Was the former Drill Hall of Caergwrle, now the Social Club, used for storage of tanks and jeeps by the US Army during World War II? Does anyone remember their parents or grandparents telling them stories about some of the buildings of the village? Does anyone have any other stories that are in danger of being lost? We need to document these memories and build them into the story of our community.
The booklet will be used to assist with guided tours of Caergwrle and it is hoped that volunteers will come forward to help to raise the profile of the village as ‘Caergwrle Ambassadors’. Please contact me if you feel able to assist in this way.
The local area is poised to see a heritage renaissance and it is hoped that the Caergwrle Sense of Place Project will compliment initiatives being taken elsewhere. We expect to see progress with the Park in the Past Project at the former Fagl Lane Quarry site. Friends of Hope Church are doing sterling work in moving towards a Heritage Trail which will share the little known secrets of the Church and its environs with a wider community. The commencement of work to restore the old coach house at Plas Teg highlights the potential of another local attraction. The Wales Link Path, which will link the Coastal Path to the Offa’s Dyke Trail via Caergwrle’s Packhorse Bridge, is also expected to bring significant numbers of walkers into the area.It is vital that rural village communities retain their vibrancy and promote themselves, especially if they wish to see shops and services remain. They also need to retain their rural character if they are to avoid becoming part of an ever-increasing urban sprawl. Celebrating the distinctive heritage of a locality helps us to preserve the identity and character of a community.
Thanks must go to Charles Evans-Gunther for assisting me in promoting the village of Caergwrle at a recent event run by North East Wales Heritage Forum at Connah’s Quay and also to Michael Roberts and Dewyn Ellis for permission to use their photographs in the pop-up which depicts key aspects of the local heritage and drew a considerable amount of attention.
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.