Deputy Chairman, Kevin Slattery,
Kevin introduced each of the three speakers at our well-attended ‘Snippets of History’ meeting on 16th March 2017, which continued the tradition of committee members delivering short and informal talks to members and friends once a year.
First up was Lucinda Smith,
whose subject was ‘The Conwy Affray – Ffetherbedds and Ffryingpanns’.
This was based on archival documents which describe a 16th century scandal in Conwy, involving allegations of violence, false imprisonment, theft, extortion, – and dragging someone out of St Mary’s Church by their hair!
The accused was Thomas Salisbury, Constable of Conwy Castle, and his accusers were the town’s Burgesses. The case was heard in the Star Chamber by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey,
and Lucinda showed us images of documents in Conwy Archives and the National Archives, which put forward the case for both sides. Unfortunately they don’t include the verdict, but Lucinda is planning to keep digging and hopefully discover the outcome (if not the truth!) one day.
then gave us an illuminating talk about Wartski Jewellers, founded in Bangor by Morris Wartski in 1865.
He came to North Wales from the border of Poland and Russia, probably to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms, and first went around the area fixing watches and clocks. After establishing himself in Bangor, he moved to Llandudno and opened jewellers and drapery shops in Mostyn Street. In 1911, Wartski also set up shops in London on Bond Street and Regent Street. His daughter married Emanuel Snowman, whose father had worked in Fabergé’s workshop in Russia, and after the Russian Revolution in 1917, the family were able to buy up jewellery and other treasures which had been confiscated by the government. Their customers included the very eccentric 5th Marquess of Anglesey, Bing Crosby and Jackie Kennedy.
The last Wartski shop in Llandudno closed in 1973, and the name can be seen in the mosaic in the entranceway of Goldsmiths. The main shop in London is still a thriving family business.
Wartskis have handled the sale of many of the famous Fabergé eggs, 43 of which have been recovered since the closure of the workshops. A few years ago, an American dealer unknowingly bought one for $14,000 – when he realised what it was, he sold it for £33,000,000. Seven Fabergé eggs are still missing, so keep an eye out!
Last up was Gwyn Hughes,
who took us on a very entertaining trip down Memory Lane – or should that be Marl Lane? Gwyn showed us photographs of ‘Deganwy Now and Then’, and there was lots of audience participation as people shared their knowledge and reminiscences. The photos included aerial shots of Deganwy dock in 1951 and 1980, including the railway sidings where the Queen occasionally slept overnight on royal visits.
Next we saw a postcard showing men from Pabo Hall POW Camp 119 in Llandudno Junction, and a recent photo taken at the same spot.
The camp was still in use for several years after the war, with POWs working on the land. Several settled locally, including Jozef Kosik who appeared on the postcard – his family are still in the area. In a 1952 aerial photograph of the camp, Gwyn pointed out a wooded patch among the houses which conceals a small privately owned quarry
– and he told us that someone in a neighbouring house discovered a section of narrow-gauge railway whilst gardening! We also saw the Woodlands School area, and the surrounding fields long before the A470 and the dual carriageway to Llandudno were built.
There will be plenty more photos on display at our Open Day in December, and in the meantime, if anyone can add any information to any of these talks then please get in touch – we will be happy to hear from you.
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