Posts Tagged ‘Llangollen’

Erdigg House

Good morning all. It’s time for Rambler5319 to take over with a guest post. Enjoy!


You may remember I went on a two day break to Llangollen a while ago. On our way back home we did call in at this place and as usual the National Trust didn’t let us down. It’s called Erdigg House and was down quite a long stretch of narrow lanes. Its distance away from other houses is probably the reason why the servants all lived in – it was just too far to commute in and out every day especially with the long hours of work expected of them. Built at the beginning of the 18th century it passed into the ownership of the Yorke family in 1733 and remained with them until 1973. It was then given to the National Trust and celebrated 40 years under their control this year. It has won a number of awards over the years and I think it’s worth a visit if you’re around the area. The NT had a special offer on membership so I decided to take the plunge and go for a 6 month trial. I have to visit just 3 places to get my membership cost back so it seemed a good deal.

First place we came to was the bee-keeping section. Not a very posh sign but there was the obligatory grey protective suit hanging on the opposite brick wall.


And a pic of a volunteer keeper “marking the queen”

Next is a water purifier.


The tap is missing from the bottom where there’s just a hole. You should be able to read the manufacturer’s name – Lipscombe & Co and their address 233 Strand (London). I checked up on the company and they seemed to do quite well for a time with branches in a number of UK towns. However in The London Gazette (16th April, 1889) there was a notice of a hearing to take place on 16th May 1889 for bankruptcy. Things had obviously gone bad for them.

This next item is quite interesting as it’s an early form of fridge.


Here’s a close up of the sign pinned to the inside of the lid


Have a read about how you had to use it. No opening a door & putting something in and closing it again like we do today. What a rigmarole!

Then there was this. Any ideas?


It is a knife cleaner. That’s right not a sharpener – a cleaner. You might just be able to see the manufacturer’s name in the largest lettering – VONO. Now if you’ve ever had one of those beds with a metal frame and a metal lattice with springs stretched between the edges they were often made by Vono. There is special tool for screwing & unscrewing the ends of the bed from the metal frame called a “Vono key”. It’s really just a chunky spanner but made especially for the size of the hexagonal bolt heads.

Here’s another interesting photo.


Can you see how it’s constructed? It’s a sort of enclosed bell shape but the bottom has a hole in and it’s pushed up inside the bell. Apparently it was a Victorian idea of a fly/wasp trap. You put something to attract the insects in the area between the rim of the hole and the side of the bell. The insects fly in but can’t fly out again. Well that’s what they told us. It looks a good idea but it obviously never caught on. I guess it’s the cleaning which is difficult. How do you get whatever you put into the trough area out? Definitely looks tricky to me.

This next photo is really interesting but you might not see why at first.


There a number of folks stood in front of the window. They are all servants belonging to the house. However if you look at the open window just behind the back row of two people you can see more figures. These are actually the master, mistress & children who owned the house. Quite a reversal of prominence to let the servants take centre stage and have themselves just looking out of the window. The year is 1852.

60 years later in 1912 the then owner re-created this photo with his own family & servants. Great idea! Here’s his version. Did you count the servants – I make it 15 in each pic. One of the notes said there was a servant who was present in both photos but I can’t remember which one except that it was a lady. I reckon the family got their money’s worth out of her!


Next is another water filter, this time made by Cheavin’s.


The company was founded in the late 17th century by John Dwight who, with Robert Hooke, had worked in the laboratory of Robert Boyle. Hooke was a natural philosopher, architect & polymath. He also did many surveys in London after the Great Fire (over half). Irishman Boyle is most famous for Boyle’s Law (PV=k) but he was also a natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and writer in theology. (He was the 14th child born into his family!)

Cheavin’s and their relatives & descendants remained in control of the company until 1864 when it was sold and went out of the family. Then in 1889 it went bankrupt. 1889 was not a good year for water filter manufacturers was it – remember Lipscombe’s?

The whole water filtering idea is a reminder to us of how risky drinking or even just using ordinary water could be in days gone by. Today we think nothing of turning our taps on and drinking it. We no longer fear infection & disease coming to us that way. Our cleaning and treatment of water before it gets to our homes is a tried & tested & trusted method. Just think of how disconcerting it would be if you had to filter all the water that comes out of your tap.

Another name in the water filter market was Doulton; many UK residents will know that name from their manufacture of domestic toilets! (We definitely had one when I was younger). Their motto “Making Water Fit for Kings, Queens & Presidents Since 1827. Isn’t it Time You Had One?” And they’re still going today selling over a million filters a year around the world.

That’s a good place to stop. Part 2 next week.

Llangollen (Part 3)

You may remember I went on a two day break to Llangollen a while ago. Although I’ve done a couple of posts already on the trip (4.9.13 & 18.9.13) there is more to report on so here’s instalment no.3.

Let’s start with a view from the outside decking area of the Royal Hotel looking back towards the bridge.


The Royal Hotel was originally called the King’s Head and after a certain Princess Victoria stayed there in 1832 it was renamed The King’s Head and Royal. (Remember she came to the throne in 1837.) Another famous guest was physicist & chemist Michael Faraday who stayed there in 1819. Well if it was good enough for Faraday it was good enough me!

Just along the road from The Royal is The Hand Hotel and it can boast Robert Browning & his sister as guests in 1866.

We set off to the station just the other side of the bridge as there was a bit of a steam festival thing going on. There were trips on the steam trains but we didn’t have time so we just looked round the stalls and exhibition stuff to do with the restoration of the line. The project began in 1975 to get track re-laid and into a condition in which trains would actually be able to run again. Today the volunteer-run railway has about 8 miles of restored track.

As we entered the station we saw this metal sign


Note the proud boast at the bottom. The chocolate was apparently eaten by the Queen, the King & His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Not bad eh? This year one of these signs in a worse condition to the one in my photo was sold for £150! Now in case you’re wondering, the chocolate making business was begun by a Quaker, Joseph Fry, in the mid 18th century. The Fry’s Chocolate Cream bar (which many of you will know) began in 1866 – it will be 150 years old a few years from now in 2016; Fry’s Turkish Delight began in 1914 and so will celebrate its centenary next year. That’s a long time for any chocolate bar to last! It’s also believed that Fry was responsible for producing the first chocolate Easter Egg in 1873. My favourite used to be the Fry’s Chocolate Mint Cream version (the green one).

Sadly however the Fry company (later owned by Cadbury which was later still taken over by Kraft) closed its Keynsham factory in 2011 and moved production to Poland with the loss of 500 jobs.

Interestingly Quakers were responsible for the founding of many of the household names we know today: Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank, Clark’s shoes (Cyrus Clark), Bryant & May matches, Huntley & Palmer’s Biscuits (Thomas Huntley), Carr’s Biscuits, Rowntree’s (Joseph Rowntree), Cadbury’s (George Cadbury). Cadbury, as you will know, actually built a village for his workers (Bourneville, a few miles south of Birmingham city centre). The Quakers’ ethical stance on the way they did business was appreciated by the consumers of the finished products and also the producers of the raw materials used in the manufacturing process.

Bizarrely the Quaker Oats company, founded in 1901, has “no formal ties” with the religious organisation of the same name. It just used the picture of a man dressed in clothes a Quaker would have worn on its packaging to give an impression of honesty & integrity. If you didn’t know just how healthy these oats are check out this advert from a long time ago:

More protein than wheat foods & more carbohydrates than meat – so now you know.

Here are a couple of signs.


Bird’s custard powder, first produced in 1837, contains no eggs; the reason – Alfred Bird’s wife was allergic to eggs. It appears from the sign that the gentleman bending down is not asking for the lady’s hand in marriage but for her to make him some Bird’s Custard (see the little box on the floor).

In the second sign underneath see how the Great Western Railway were trying to sell trips & holidays to Cornwall. Yep that’s right because Cornwall has a similar shape. What! You don’t need to go to Italy because we’ve got some land that’s the same shape. Right – what else would you go to Italy for except to see the shape? Oh and Cornwall apparently has a similar climate & similar natural beauties. However I’m thinking that Italy might just win on the Roman ruins front.

Could I just say that we have cancelled our holiday to Italy this year – you’ll never guess where we’re going instead!!


In the post from 18.9.13 I mentioned we had eaten at a converted corn mill; it was originally started by the monks who the abbey, in 1201, a few miles up the road. This is the view from the pedestrian bridge over the tracks at the station and looking across the river.

Here’s one of the steam engines


I saw a metal plate on the front showing it was built in Brighton in 1953 so 60 years old this year.

And inside the cab part where the driver & stoker stand.


From the station we made our way over to the museum. It is only small but I tell you what they pack a load of info into it. There were lots of story boards and it’s well worth a visit.

Here’s an exhibit


You can see the Museum is on two floors and circular.

Couldn’t resist a silly picture with the twisty glass mirrors


Llangollen is a great place to visit and we’d enjoyed our two days thus far. If you get chance to go you have to visit the bookshop (Café & Books) over the café in Castle Street. It’s massive and once you’ve looked at the shelves alongside the staircase and across the top you go downstairs and the shelves just seem to go on for ever. There are literally thousands & thousands of books and they kept us busy for quite a while – and of course we bought some.

After the museum it was time to start heading home but we had one more stop on the way back which we’ll do next week.

The aqueduct

Morning all. It’s guest blogger time here at The Adventures of Danda and Yaya. So it’s over to Rambler5319 for today. Enjoy!


I recently went on a trip over an aqueduct and will tell you all about it soon. First off we’re starting with a certain Thomas Farryner? Never heard of him? If I tell you he was a baker and he lived in Pudding Lane in 17th century London I reckon you know what’s coming next. He was apparently the King’s baker and it was the pile of wood that he used for keeping his ovens hot that caught fire; he and his servants were trapped in the house and had to climb onto the roof and jump to roof of the next door property to escape. It was that fire which unfortunately grew into what we now call The Great Fire of London. (Some estimates reckon as much as ⅔ of London was destroyed including over 80 churches. Christopher Wren was responsible for the rebuilding of over 50 of those churches along with St Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument which commemorates the fire.) The reason for mentioning it is because the anniversary of that awful day in 1666 was just a couple of days ago on Monday of this week (2.9.13), so 347 years ago to the day. Also significantly on 2nd Sept but this time in 1834 another Thomas, Thomas Telford, died. He was one of those amazingly multi-skilled folks with abilities in a wide variety of fields: civil engineer, architect, stonemason and road, bridge & canal builder; and he is the connection to today’s post.

We arrived at the terminus in Llangollen for our trip along the canal and, after ordering some lunch to have on the way, we joined the queue. The guy running the trip began calling out names and ours was called. We were invited to come to the front of the queue and be one of the first on board but we didn’t know why. Apparently if you order food you get to be first on. Pick of the seats – nice touch! After the usual safety instructions we set off at a leisurely 3 or 4mph. There are a couple of tight turns on the route where the boat can (and did) touch the sides of the canal just because it’s so long. In one section the boat hit the floor and, as with the side contact, we’d been advised in advance not to panic and go scrambling for the emergency exits. There is some commentary, by the crew, along the way but it’s not intrusive and does give you some more info about bits you’re passing. Eventually we came to a junction (Trevor Basin) where we turned right and headed towards the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Now back to our Thomas Telford. He was appointed resident engineer to the Ellesmere Canal Company in 1793 but had little experience of canal building; he was guided by the older & more experienced consulting engineer, William Jessop. It’s worth taking in a few statistics here: the aqueduct was opened in 1805 (just after Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar); it’s over 1,000 feet (304 metres) long, 126 feet (38 metres) high & 5ft 3” (1.6 metres) deep; the stone pillars holding it up are hollow; the water-sealing material used on the joins of the trough is the original stuff Telford used so it’s almost 210 years old. (I wonder if modern day sealants or even the boasts of super glue will last 200+ years.)

The canal originally carried local limestone, slate & coal as well as being a feed for water into the Shropshire Union Canal. The aqueduct still carries 50 million litres of water each day to supply the Cheshire area!

Interestingly, the idea of boat trips along the canal began in 1884 with a guy who had retired from the White Star Shipping Line (of later Titanic fame). He got the first boats from Liverpool and bought a couple of shire horses and began what has endured right up to the present time; there are still horse drawn boats as well as the motorised one we went on.

Here are a couple of pics of our boat.


And the ticket.image

Did you spot the name of the boat? – Thomas Telford

Here’s a view through the window. Check out the width of the edge on that side. And don’t forget it’s 126 feet (38 metres) down over that edge. Sorry about the reflection – it was just a nice sunny day!


This is a view of the aqueduct without any boats on it


Here are a couple of other boats going across.


This video (not mine) gives a good view and feeling of just how narrow the side of the cast iron trough is on the opposite side to the walkway before the big drop.

Once over the aqueduct it was a U-turn and berth. We disembarked and waited for the bus back to Llangollen.

Just across the other side from where we got off was this stone memorial.


There wasn’t time to go over and get a close up so here’s one on Flickr:

There seems to be a bit of a mystery on who “Canada Bill” was and I can’t help either. Made a few phone calls to the local area and even the tourist info office but nothing so far. All I can assume is that he worked as a miner for the Chirk Castle Limestone Company – also mentioned on the monument – and that perhaps he was a Canadian working in Britain; or maybe he talked about the place a lot and was going to live there.

Very enjoyable trip and good food.