Deganwy Walk Part 2

It was a glorious Summer evening when about 25 members met at Deganwy’s All Saints Church for the Second Walk around Deganwy on 18th July, led by Adrian Hughes. Before we started the walk we were to celebrate the opening of Betty’s Path, previously known as “Footpath 17, Conwy Community”.

Betty Mills had been a textile designer, wildflower artist, needlewoman, and teacher who had created an illustrated diary of the local flora located along a footpath in the Vardre. She had very kindly donated her diary “Flowers on a Path” to the History of Deganwy Group.

Two beautifully carved wooden posts had recently been placed, one at each end of the footpath marking the location and displaying the newly adopted name “Bettys Path”, and “Llwybr Betty”. Several members had kindly brought delicious cakes for us to eat and cold drinks to help celebrate this event.

We were fortunate to have the Mayor of Conwy, Councillor Goronwy Edwards to cut the floral “ribbon” created by Vicky Macdonald.

Once the cakes had been consumed and drinks downed it was time to start the July meeting; Deganwy Walk Part 2. Part 1 had taken place in 2018 and had finished at All Saints Church, hence the start of this walk at this location.

Adrian took us about 50 yards down the hill towards the main road where we heard the Conwy County Sea Cadets raising their standard and commencing their evening meeting. From this point Adrian pointed out the old location of the St James’s Mission Church which had been constructed in 1880 for the princely sum of £800, mostly by volunteer labour. It was first used as a Church school for the local children.

The growing population in Deganwy had triggered the building of All Saints Church on a site donated by Lord Mostyn, and his mother Lady Henrietta Augusta Mostyn funded the cost in memory of her parents; the Earl & Countess of Abergavenny. The building was consecrated by Lord Bishop of St Asaph on All Saint’s Day 1st November 1899.

We then walked back up to the turnstile passing the newly unveiled post and along the length of Betty’s Path trying to identify the plants from our copies of Flowers on a Path. Some walkers were more successful than others!

Our next stop after descending from Bettys Path and walking down Park Drive was Ysgol Deganwy, opened in September 1939. The first headmaster was local war hero Albert Nevitt. Nevitt was a teacher before WW1, volunteered for the army after the outbreak of war and rose rapidly through the ranks becoming a commissioned officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Unfortunately he was seriously injured in 1916 when leading an attack on enemy positions. After being discharged he took up a position as training officer at Kinmel Camp near Bodelwyddan, where he once again showed his bravery by saving the lives of several recruits by discarding the mis-thrown grenades out of the practice trenches. After the war, he returned to teaching in Deganwy.

Once Ysgol Deganwy was opened in 1939, it is said that Albert Nevitt had his pupils carry their desks from St James’s church to the new school to ensure it was not requisitioned for war use.

Walking down the hill we stopped outside the new Co-op which was built on the site occupied by the Farmers Arms. Further down the hill we stopped at the Castle View, known to many locals as “Maggie Murphys”. The pub was originally a coaching stop where horses could be changed for fresh horses which were stabled in a farm across the road. The name Maggie Murphy comes from the daughter of the landlord, Margaret Pritchard, who would sing the song “Maggie Murphy” to the patients of local convalescent homes nearby: the Edward Malam Home on Warren Drive, and the Birmingham Saturday Fund Hospital at Ty’n y Coed.

Walking through the pub car park and joining Ty Mawr Road we stopped at the junction of Stamford Street. The house directly opposite is called Hen Berlfa, in reference to the pearl industry and processing that took place in the vicinity. The house was once owned by Dr Willoughby Gardner, an eminent archaeologist and entomologist, the first president of Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and District Field Club. His collection of books was bequeathed to the National Museum of Wales after his death.

A little further down Ty Mawr Road we stopped outside Peniel Chapel, the home of History of Deganwy Group. The Welsh Presbyterian chapel was built in 1884 and is today used as a meeting place for several groups in the area.

Walking along Ty Mawr Road we paused at a house called Vardre, once the home of the artist Joshua Anderson Hague who was one of the founders of the Royal Cambrian Academy (RCA) at Plas Mawr in Conwy. Sadly the original house has been developed into flats and bears little resemblance to the original building that once stood there.

At the end of Ty Mawr Road we paused at Bryn Cregin, the home of Captain Henry Haynes who was reputed to have made his fortune from the opium trade in China. The original house became a hotel, owned at one time by the Pilkington family. It is understood that they installed a glass floor in the ballroom. Once again the original building has been replaced by apartments.

Our thanks to Adrian for leading the group around this fascinating area of Deganwy and showing us the locations of interesting buildings, many of which are no longer present, and also to the anecdotes of other members who remember delivering newspapers to some of the occupants. It all made for a very enjoyable stroll back in time.

Trefor Price

Web Design North Wales by Indever