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Lane End"

Chester Road, Buckley


The following article by James Bentley appeared in "Country Quest" June 1980, price 40p.



Nothing characterises the uniqueness and individuality of Buckley more than the Jubilee, an annual event in which sixteen churches take part. The mile long procession includes bands, banners and decorated floats, and exiled Buckley people make long pilgrimages back to their home town to take part in the day's festivities. This year's event will be the 124th celebration.



Buckley sprawls untidily along the main road between Chester and Mold and proud though its people are, none would make any pretence about it being a tourist showpiece. But for all that, it is a fascinating place; something of an oddity among the Welsh countryside, for it had a sharp sense of humour, a fiercely insular outlook and a unique culture. Local historian James Bentley traces the chequered history of this independent and unusual town.


"Thee leaves England at Chester and enters Wales. Eight miles on and thee comes to Buckley" are reputed to be the instructions written by a Buckley man to a prospective visitor from "furrin parts" Thomas Bartley - a character in Daniel Owen's novel "Rhys Lewis" proudly boasted of his linguistic prowess. He knew three languages; English, Welsh and a little Buckley.

An old Buckley gentleman on holiday in the south of England, entered a barber's shop. Whilst waiting his turn, he conversed with fellow customers. Sitting down on the chair, the barber bent down to the visitor's ear as he swept the dustsheet around his shoulder and whispered "An where in Buckley thous' from". The barber had been taken to live in the south, from Buckley, as a child. Brought up in a home based on Buckley tradition and lore, he instantly recognised this man with his highly individual manner of speech.

The role of Buckley, with its proud independent inhabitants in the history of Wales may have originated from wild, guerrilla warfare periods commencing from the Dark Ages. Even now, in the 20th century those same traits still emerge.

Lonely, scrubby upland started as a ridge above the Cheshire Plain, here at Buckley Mountain and stretched westward high above the fertile plains of the Dee, Alyn and Clwyd Valleys. Only too frequently it proved to be a refuge for natives, usurped by successive invading tribes and conquerors.

During the Dark Ages, Saxon settlements sprang up in the valleys and on the foothills in this locality, but Ewloe and Buckley Mountain seem to have been a haven of refuge for the Britons. In the secret clearings, surrounded by clay bound quagmires, small British homesteads were established.

Later the Norman settlements sprang up in the valleys and on the foothills in this locality, but Ewloe and Buckley Mountain seem to have been a haven of refuge for the Britons. In the secret clearings, surrounded by clay bound quagmires, small British homesteads were established.

Later the Normans swept westward from Chester and rapidly colonised the coasts and valleys of Flintshire. Doomsday Book tabulates numerous small townships and their owners. Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester held Hawarden. This township extended right up to Buckley Mountain. The recorded inhabitants consisted of two slaves, four villagers and six smallholders cultivating half an acre of meadow and woodland.

Adjacent was the manor of Bistre on part of which the present town of Buckley lies. Before the Conquest, it had been owned by Earl Edwin of Mercia. It was so wild and uncultivated that it never paid tax, nor was assessed for tax. It was classed as waste.

After the Conquest, half was granted to Hugh, son of Norman, one of Earl Hugh's men. The other half was granted to a person called Odin. From this waste they created land for one plough with two slaves and one smallholder. Outliers of the manor spread out beyond Mold to include Gwysaney. At Mynydd Isa, was a castle which had been built by Gruffydd ap Cynan - a prince of Gwynedd.

During the Middle Ages, land round Buckley was often in fluid ownership. For services to the King, the rich lands of the Dee estuary, the Alyn valley and Hopedale were granted by him to various English and Welsh noblemen. Some land was also owned by the Church. Periodically the Welsh princes swept down from Gwynedd and for a short period acquired it all. The boundaries of several of these lordships met on Buckley Mountain and this area was of barren, ill-defined ownership.

By the end of the Elizabethan period, the north part of Buckley was part of the Manor of Ewloe. This area appears to have been actively engaged in potters at this period.

Recent archaeological excavations have revealed large quantities of earthenware made here. Pottery types with similarities to North Devon ware have been found. With the advantage of nearby sea transport, lead at Halkyn, outcropping coal measures as well as valuable clay deposits readily available. Buckley appears to have been an important pottery centre.

Products included many which pre-dated Staffordshire crocks.

The advantage gained by Buckley potters soon evaporated in the 18th Century when, instead of competitive crockery production, Buckley began to specialise in industrial and course earthenware manufacture. From this period numerous immigrants came to this area to work in the coalmines, potteries and firebrick manufactories.

The stamina of workers entering Buckley at that time must have been of high standard, or else their need for employment was desperate as they encamped on the common land near the summit and stealthily set up their 'ty'n y nos' or sod houses. This land was virtually the virgin waste of Saxon Times and the disciplinary influence of the squire and clergy in the established township below, was non-existent here.

Law and order was the prerogative of the masters of industry - the Catherall, Hancocks, Gibsons and Watkinsons. They built the houses, the taverns and the chapels. Their whims and fancies decided the fate of their workmen and no holds appear to have been barred in the many contests of guile and wits between them and their workmen.

It needed the trauma of the Second World War to crack a community that had simply 'happened' and had imperceptibly consolidated into a strong, fiercely partisan unit. Post-war development in new trends has resulted in the closing of the potteries, the coalmines and the concentration of brickmaking to two works. There was massive influx of people from afar who tend to use the town as a dormitory whilst working in

Deeside. But as neighbouring industries close and new ones spring up on 'Industrial' estates in Buckley, these new immigrants are now looking for work in Buckley. Maybe Buckley has turned full circle.



Familiar figures to Buckley people were the two brothers, James and John Smith who were claimed to be the smallest colliery workers in Great Britain. They were known as Little Jimmy and Johnny Pentre and stood 36 and 30 inches respectively. They were in charge of the lamp room at Buckley Colliery.



See 1.1 for the caption text on this



Many examples of the sharp Buckley sense of humour can be related, but probably it is not better illustrated than in the story of the killing of the pig.

A pig was kept by most families, fattened through the summer and slaughtered in the Autumn. The meat, offal and other products would sustain the family throughout the winter.

Specialist pig-killers would kill and dress the animals for a modest charge, but it was not unusual for the dressed pig to be returned minus one kidney - the pig-killers perk. One old lady, however, found that not only was the kidney missing, but part of the pig's side.

When she asked about this, the ingenious reply was 'Ah doan't know wench. Honest, it hedna onny. Thou knoaws quite well as it allus led down on that side - it must have worn away wi' rubbin'

Author: Bentley, James


Year = 1910

Gender = Mixed

Landscape = Urban

Extra = Architecture

Extra = 1910s

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