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Walter Stanley Roberts and Ruth Williams

Ruth, born Ruth Roberts was one of twin girls born to parents Anglesey Grandparents John and Jane Roberts in Tan y Clogwyn, Abergwyngregin. She was adopted by Thomas Henry and Ruth Williams who were friends and neighbours of the Roberts`s. The reason for the adoption appears to have been that in those days the hardship and financial burden of caring for two babies was too much for Jane and so the arrangement was made and the childless couple brought up Ruth as their Tan y Clogwyn Cottage, Aber.own. What we know about Ruth`s childhood is that she was born on May 10th. 1909 in Tan y Clogwyn Cottage, Abergwyngregin Caernarvonshire and that she was a twinned with another girl who`s name was Maggie but who sadly died at quite an early age. Nothing is known about Ruth`s childhood until Ruth and Grannie Williamsshe is coming into her teenage years other than that she lived in Washington House, Llanfairfechan with her parents and a younger sister Olwen. She had two adoptive brothers, Charlie and Albert Williams. As a teenager she worked for a family in Henllan, Denbigh, as a governess for the children of Colonel Griffiths and his wife. Her next job appears to have been aRuth and Olwens a trainee seamstress with Woods, and Anstiss, two Colwyn Bay companies. We have presumed that she would have travelled to work by train from Llanfairfechan. Olwen eventually Married Levi Pickering and for many years they were the licensees of the Victoria public house in Llanfairfechan. They are buried in the municipal cemetery in Llanfairfechan with Olwens parents Ruth and Thomas Henry Willams. I can recall going to stay with Grannie Williams when they Smithy Cottagelived in Goostrey, Cheshire where I presume they must have moved to retire. The house was called Smithy Cottage. After the death of Grannie Williams Thomas Henry moved to Aber and lived for a few years in a cottage there.

Ruth and Stanley met and were married at Christ Church, Llanfairfechan on June 17th. 1935. Her Bridesmaids were Olwen her sister, Queenie,(Stanleys sister) and the witnesses were John Frost, the husband of Olive Roberts and Christopher Owen a pal of Stanley`s and he was also Stanley`s best man. Following their honeymoon in Morcambe they set up home in a flat above Stanley, Ruth and Ruby first bornLlewelyn Roberts`s chemist shop on Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay. Stanley and Ruth in the thirtiesFirst born Ruby was born whilst they were living in the flat but before the birth of their second (that`s me) they moved to a semi detached house, number 44, Petone, Dundonald Road, Colwyn Bay which was to be their home for the rest of their lives.

Stanley had trained as a butcher in the employment of J.T. Jones of Castle Street, Conwy and it was at this shop that he remained for many years and it was eventually acquired by the chain of butchers, Dewhursts. Stanley moved about during his years with Dewhursts and I think that these moves were generally to relieve staff for holidays. However, the Conwy shop was to be his main place of work for the rest of his working life and he was Manager of this establishment from the time we were children around the 1940`s.

The shop on Castle Street, Conwy was originally a chandlers shop up to the early 1900`s but Joseph T. Jones purchased the property and changed it into a J.T. Jones, butchers, Castle Street, Conwy Slaughterhouse and retail butchers shop. I can recall the cattle pens on the alleyway leading down to the quay where the animals would have been led from and slaughtered on the premises. In the days of beech cutting blocks and sawdust floors, steelyard scales and huge beef carcasses hanging in the windows and Stanley (now the manager) bringing down a huge and highly dangerous looking chopper onto a lamb carcass and splitting it down the middle in about four easy strokes is a memory which will stay with us sons of his forever. The old shop bikeNot forgetting of course the Saturday tasks we were obliged to perform such as the delivery of customer orders on the `shop bike` which was loaded to capacity via the front basket and the neccesity to sit on the seat of the bike to prevent the rear rising up, and the pushing of said loaded bike up the steep hill to Beechwood Court the then posh convalescent home, and the longest haul which was probably down to Dr. Garretts home on the morfa where the children sick with TB related illnesses slept outdoors in chalets, or perhaps it was over the bridge to Deganwy for smaller individual orders.
The rear entrance to the shop had a doorway onto the quay and this was the way the animals came to be penned up ready for slaughter and also, it was an easy route for the `rats` to join in the fun. The had an easy path through the cellars on Castle street to the premises further up the road -Yes, you `ve guessed it, a grocers shop, E.B. Jones! Fattest rats in One of Veale`s Hovis! Conway they were.

The best bit for me was lunch. Ah yes, I can taste it now! A lump of prime steak dropped into a black (inside) frying pan with a nob of fat thrown in and a doorstep of Veale`s Hovis loaf with salted butter lashed on and eaten with great delight in the company of the other staff in the `canteen` which was a room at the back which housed everthing including the kitchen sink!

Ruth with Ruby and Keith the first two childrenMeanwhile while Father was out at work Mother was busy rearing children, sewing as a spare time occupation, taking in paying guests, anything to earn that much needed money in those hard days during and after the war.

The year was 1939, the war years were on us, Mum had two young babies and the only money coming in was from Dad`s wage as a butcher so the entrepeneur of the partnership decided that with two bedrooms to spare the answer was to let them. And so `the business` started up. Adverts were placed in various newspapers and the `visitors book`was kept to record any correspondence which Stanley composed and Ruth wrote. The visitors arrived for their stay in sunny Colwyn Bay and their bed and breakfast and sometimes evening meal at 44. Head cook and bottle washer and two babies in tow -- Ruth!

All us kidsThe letter states that Mum`s terms are £3.10 shillings for the use of two bedrooms and sitting room including cooking and attendance for one week and the date is 23.6.38.But -- not only but also -- Ruth was taking in sewing at the same time as the B&B as may be seen by her jotted down accounts . The `business` continued through the war years and following this there were the refugees. I have vague memories of people/children staying at the house who were refugees mainly from Liverpool where the nearest bombing was taking place.

During the war years the garden Chickens was a mini chicken farm and most available space was given over to the production of eggs and the surplus would be sold at the shop and the proceeds to go to Stanleys pocket. But to produce said chickens which were a bit on the expensive side to buy as point of lay pullets the obvious choice was to buy day old chicks. These had to be given heat for the first few weeks of their lives so a parrafin fuelled brooder was purchased for the job and what better place to put it than the front bedroom! You can bet that Ruth and Stanley had some heated discussions over that little project!

But, around about the end of the war years another project took over from the chicken farming and the flock was reduced in size to a small battery coop of laying hens to make way for the Greenhouse.

Mum and four, two more to go.The greenhouse was to become Reflex Chrysanth Stanleys second home and the production of prize winning exhibition Chrysanthemums was to become more of a way of life than a hobby as it involved the whole family. I am not sure how the hobby started off but it soon became clear that the growing of Chrysanthemums was to become a passion which he would never have imagined. From the taking of cuttings in the early spring, the growing on in ever increasing pot sizes, the feeding, disbudding, spraying, watering, and selection of the best blooms to exhibit in the local Jenkinsons the Garden shopshow. Stanley soon became a grower to be reckoned with and the medals and trophies poured in.
Ruth became quite involved with the Young Wives group and as their secretary for a number of years she learned the art of taking minutes which stood her in good stead for times to Miss Hockey`s dancing troupecome. She was also very much involved with the dancing classes for the three girls and the making of costumes not only for her own girls but also for many more of the dancers.

Not content with just growing and showing Stanley opted to become the secretary of the Colwyn Bay Horticultural Society which involved many hours of paperwork. Stanleys handwriting left a lot to be desired and Ruth`s handwriting was superb - so - the parnership was set A flower showup with the Society going from strength to strength under the guidance of Stanleys organising skills. Ruth and Stanley became joint secretaries, a position they held for many years. The shows became too large for the St. Pauls Church hall so the venue was moved to the Colwyn Bay Pier ballroom and then the newly formed larger Summer show outgrew the pier and was moved to a series of marquees in Eirias Park. As I mentioned, this involved all of the family as we all had our tasks to perform with both the production of blooms department and the many jobs to be done before, during, and after the three shows per year.

Most members of the family became involved in the allotment and many hours were spent watering the Chrysanths, weeding, cultivating, picking tomatoes and cucumbers, preparing blooms for the shows, and one task which particularly delighted the girls! This involved going for Sheep Shxx providersa leisurely walk on the golf links at upper Colwyn Bay armed with buckets and sacks. What for you may ask? Well, sheep manure was an easily collected commodity which when placed in hessian sacks in barrels of water provided an excellent liquid fertilizer for the feeding of the chrysanthemums so what better pastime was there for young ladies than picking up sheep shxx, err, manure, and putting it into the sacks to be carried back to the barrels.

And it was quite a hike from the golf links to the allotment. Double digging, there`s a memory. Not content with turning the soil over with a fork the ground had to be double dug which involved going down two spade depths not just one. The arrival of the first mechanical cultivator was quite an innovation - and a relief to some of us. I remember it well - A Wolseley Merry Tiller which to the unaccustomed behaved similarly to a bucking bronco.A Merry Tiller

I should have mentioned that the garden at home became too small so an allotment was rented from the local authority and became something bordering a commercial nursery and rows and rows of Chrysanths were to be seen lined along the pathways. Dahlias, Gladioli, and other outdoor blooms were grown to exhibition standard. Not forgetting of course the large Dutch Light greenhouse which was erected and housed tomatoes and cucumbers which were sold in the butchers shop in Conwy.

Stanley was a go getter, a doer and when retirement time came we, their children now very much grown up and scattered all over the world became a little concerned that he would experience difficulty in slowing down, finding things to do, as the horticulture phase had long since gone. Not only, but also, would he be getting in the way of domestic bliss by `interfering`with Mum`s (Ruth) household routine?

Not so!

At that time I rented a small allotment plot in Old Colwyn but with increased work commitments I had let it run down a little so I asked Dad if he would like to take over the tenancy and he agreed which pleased us all.

So, the vegetable plot got under way once more and Stanley was spending lots of time out of the way of Ruth - so to speak!

A beekeeper!Father had the notion that the corner of the plot which was a little Beehiveovergrown and shaded by the large trees nearby would be the ideal spot to try a bit of beekeeping. I can`t recall where the hive came from but it arrived complete with inmates and so the scene was set. He soon set about reading as much as he could about the subject and like Father! one hive wasn`t enough, there had to be more. About that time a retired beekeeper was parting with his apiary and Stanley heard about this with the result that quite a lot of `gear` arrived in the form of various types of hives, frames, supers, feeders, you name it he had it. And yes, the bees arrived in their swarms! (to pardon the expression)

Meanwhile, they were certainly not wasting time in cramming as many holidays in as they could and visits to New Zealand, cruises, sun seeking trips, they did it all and enjoyed their retirement as much as they could. Here they are seen enjoying a mediteranean cruise. Ruth and Stanley enjoying a cruise


Getting back to the bees, Stanley joined the local beekeeping society and met a lot of interesting characters with a lot of knowledge to impart and the scene was beginning to set itself for shades of the Chrysanthemum growing phenomenum. More, more, more. The plot at Old Colwyn wasn`t suited to the housing of too many hives of bees as it was a little too close to the road and the passing public so alternative locations were found at various locations. Production was well under way and honey began to arrive and with it the hundreds of jars, the extractors, and the various bits of equipment required for the harvesting process. The venue for all this activity, where else - the Conservatory at 44, Dundonald Road. Now they say that if you can`t beat em, join em, so Ruth started to become involved and soon became more that a little bit interested in the hobby. She donned all the gear and accompanied Stanley on quite a lot of his forays into the bee wilderness. And she enjoyed it immensley. They attended many interesting lectures, forums, exhibitions, weekends away at famous apiaries, and guess what? - they became secretaries of the Conwy Valley Beekeeping Society a position they held for a number of years until Stanley stepped into the Chairmans seat.

No one really knows how many hives Stanley had, he kept that secret to himself but it was certainly in excess of twenty. The honey shows became a pleasurable aspect of the hobby and the Stanley of old was back where he started some forty years before - exhibiting and winning loads of trophies once more.

He never gave up on the beekeeping, unfortunately his health problems didn`t allow him the pleasure of visiting his hives any more and he was obliged to seek assistance to wind down his stocks and dispose of his equipment to fellow beekeepers at a grand and poignant sale held at the home of the author.

Walter Stanley Roberts died in 1987 aged 84

Ruth Roberts died in 2002 aged 93

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