Croeso Network

Taverns in Acrefair

 As you travel up the hill through Acrefair, from the Eagles towards Ruabon you come to The Hampden Arms. Across from the Hampden, a dirt road is all that remains of the ancient road to Rhosymedre (which passed Fferm Dchaf ). Hill-top sites, such as that occupied by the Hampden were popular locations for taverns in the days of horse drawn carriages.

The Hampden Arms is named after John Hampden; the English politician in the first part of the C17th century who refused to pay Ship Money to Charles 1st. G.H.Whalley – a local landowner in the area - is said to have believed John Hampden was his ancestor.

It seems reasonable to assume that the Hampden was built in 1860 and may even have originally had another name. It is not shown on the tithe map for 1844 and it is fairly certain that it was not in existence around 1830 when the ancient turnpike road was straightened away from Black Lion Road to form a half mile of new road leading directly from the Hampden towards the Eagles and then on to Llangollen. Black Lion Road, on which there were as many as five taverns at the time, became known as Bethania Road.

The first mention of The Hampden Arms can be found in 1869.on the gravestone of Edward Williams, brother of Ann who was the wife of Edward Davies, the innkeeper. Edward Davies was on record as innkeeper from 1874 - 1885. His place was taken by the end of the century by William Roberts, previously of the nearby Oddfellows.

Considerably older than the Hampden was The Black Horse one of two taverns of that name in the area. The Black Horse is shown on the tithe map of 1844 with John Humphreys listed as the innkeeper. Indeed, Humphreys could have been the innkeeper as early as 1804, according to a map made of Plaskynaston Estate at that time.

The building of the new road probably resulted in the Black Horse losing out to the Hampden which possessed a more favorable position for passing trade. Despite this, the Black Horse remained open until after the 1st World War, but no record has been found of innkeepers or the date it actually closed. The pub had a wall painted advert which was still visible until the 1960s. It is now a private house called Glandwr.

Across the road from the Black Horse stood the Red Cow, a small beer house in the 1st half of the 19th century, which is shown on the tithe map and the ordinance survey map dated 1873. The Red Cow closed around 1875, becoming a private house. It was demolished in 1950 and is now generally forgotten.

A little further along Black Lion Street, the road branches off towards Penycae and along this road was situated the Blue Bell, which continued to be a public house until very recently. The first known reference to the Blue Bell was at the opening of the Ruabon/ Llangollen Railway around 1858 when the innkeeper was a Moses Pierce and the owner Mr. G.R Whalley. The Blue Bell, was a popular name for public houses in Peterborough where Mr. Whalley resided as M.P. Moses (Moss) Pierce may have been succeeded by his son, because the innkeeper in the 1920s had the same surname.

300 yards further towards Penycae, on the north side of the road, was another small ale house known as the Cheshire Cheese which very quickly became better known as the "The Cheshire", taking its name from the nearby Merllyn Fechan farm or Cheshire Farm. This old ale house was around 50 years older than the Blue Bell and the Cheshire can be found in the sale catalogue of the estate of E.L. Rowland, Ironmaster who went bankrupt in 1825, where it was designated as "the Cheshire tenement". In 1862, the Reverend Abel J. Parry, minister of Zion and Tabernacle, held services there for Baptist congregations. He records in his memoirs, that it may have remained open until the end of the century and was demolished about the time of the 2nd World War. The suggestion being made at the time to transfer the name to the Blue Bell but nothing came of it, though the name is still attached to the area.

The Tom and Jerry stood on Black Lion Road near the turning for Penycae. It is not mentioned in official records but was marked on the tithe map of 1844 as an old ale house and may even have been on the Plaskynaston map of 1804. It was probably in business from the end of the 18th century until the First World War when the building was divided into two houses in 1916. It remained as private dwellings until around the time of the Second World War. The tithe map of 1844 shows a cluster of cottages around the Tom and Jerry all bearing its name. A man called John Hughes wrote a Welsh novel which implied - or imagined - that the early Methodists met there! He called it "a very unsuitable place".

The origin of the name is apparently from a hot drink of rum and water mixed with sugar, spice and egg. It is thought that Tom and Jerry were two young men who were very fond of this drink and who patronised London taverns in the middle of the 18th Century giving their names to the drink. The name was used to describe pubs that sold cheap liquor, particularly gin and developed into a name for gin shops such as the one in Acrefair.

The Black Lion was situated on the western side of the old turnpike road, near to Chapel Street and its position is clearly marked on the tithe map. It is also mentioned in the proposed railway map dated 1858 with Eseciel Cuffin as the publican. Eseciel was the father of Thomas Cuffin, who kept the Foresters public house in King Street around 1888. The map of 1858 states that a brewery was attached to the pub at that time and it appears to have been a popular pub with locals. The Black Lion closed after the First World War and became a private dwelling; it was eventually demolished in 1950.

The Foresters' Arms could be found across the road from the Black Lion. This area, where Chapel Street, Black Lion Street and Bowers Road meet was the centre of Acrefair village at that time, with a Post Office and one or two shops.

The Foresters Arms was not listed in 1856. John Lloyd is recorded as being the innkeeper in 1874, Robert Taylor in 1883 and Thomas Davies' in 1885. Joseph Mansfield was innkeeper in 1895 and his name appears on old photographs of the inn and the Post Office. It is said that Bull baiting took place behind the Foresters Arms. Incidentally, the name was taken from that of the Friendly Society which met there. It too was a popular pub and remained open until 1965.

Half way down Chapel Street, is The Oddfellows' Arms which is situated next door to the Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. The pub is older than the chapel and again bears the name of a friendly society which met there. The Oddfellows Society was formed in Manchester in 1812 and was probably established in Acrefair due to influential local members such as Mr. H Scrivener, who for many years was the manager of the local Ironworks (Around 1840). The pub is not listed in 1874 though the keeper, Samuel Roberts, was listed as a seller and was succeeded by his son William who was listed in 1885. After the First World War it was kept by John and Mary Price.

At the crossroads below Chapel Street is The Eagles. This is the only pub situated on the new road constructed in 1830. William and Elizabeth Richards were recorded as innkeepers in 1842 and the pub was formally called The Chide Castle Arms (probably in connection with Chide Castle which had connections with the Myddelton family from Chirk) and belonged to Mostyn Owen, squire of Plaskynaston. It became the property of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn in December 1844 and, soon after, its name was changed to The Eagles. One landlady - Elizabeth Williams – was a well known local character known as “Betsen”. The local Railway Bridge became known as "Pont Betsen" after her. She is apparently supposed to have sold land near to the pub before realising that in was to be used as a site for a nonconformist chapel which allegedly caused local unrest. She moved, to the cottage next door when John Roberts became innkeeper.

At the bottom of the hill where Acrefair meets Trevor and at the crossroads to Lower Cefn and Cefn Bychan is situated The Duke of Wellington. A toll house was once situated in this area. Innkeepers were Thomas Davies in 1856, Robert Jones in 1874 and David Jones 1883 and 1889. It was formerly called the Sun but this may have been due to an error on the 1851 Ordinance Survey Map. Wedding receptions were held there as were house sales. Apparently colliers, out early in the mornings, got wise to the fact that special beer was stored outside for weddings and often the barrels would be empty when needed for the wedding!

December 2003


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