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Mr John Eric Hayes, retired Town Clerk."

Buckley Town Council Offices, Mold Road, Buckley

September 1986


May 2007


Flintshire is the most northerly County of Wales, bounded by the Irish Sea and the River Dee and its estuary, Cheshire and Denbighshire. Since it was first formed in the nineteenth century, it has undergone several boundary and name changes. Until the 1974 re-organisation, the County of Flint consisted of three parts, the main one reaching from the Foryd bridges across the Conway estuary on the outskirts of Rhyl to the railway bridge at Saltney High Street in a north westerly direction, plus the "detached" bits of the parishes of Marford & Hoseley, and the Hundred of Maelor, both surrounded by Denbighshire.


The County was subdivided into one Municipal Borough (Flint), five Urban Districts (Buckley, Connah's Quay, Holywell, Mold, Prestatyn, Rhyl) and four Rural Districts (Hawarden, Holywell, Overton, St. Asaph), each with their own Council.

In 1974, Flintshire and parts of Denbighshire were amalgamated and renamed Clwyd. The detached "bits" both became Wrexham District, and our Buckley, Connah's Quay and Hawarden Rural Councils became "Alyn & Deeside District Council"

while Flint, Mold, Holywell and Holywell Rural Councils became "Delyn District Council".

Mold remained the county town and retained the County offices and Council Chamber, although not in the same buildings.

More recently, in 1996, the County lost its two seaside towns, Rhyl and Prestatyn, to Denbighshire, and again reverted to its original name of Flintshire.

The original County Council Chamber and County Offices were in fine old stone buildings facing northeast across what was then known as the "Hall Fields" and the railway line, and is now the site of the Bus Station and Police Station. Another part of the building which appeared to be of newer construction had its entrance from King Street, while the entrance to the Council Chamber was from Hall Field.

After World War 1, the office accommodation was enlarged by the addition of two ex-army wooden huts alongside the older building, at right-angles to each other, in Hall Fields; one aligned with the Clerk's office and the other reaching back to the boundary wall of the Cattle Mart. The County Surveyor and his staff occupied the first and the County Medical Officer and County Land Agent the second hut. The right-angled corner of these huts was the home of the Motor Taxation Department.

The Council Chamber was on the first floor of the stone building, with the office

and department of the Clerk of the Council beneath. The King Street building housed the County Treasurer and County Librarian at street level with the Director of Education on the upper floor.

The statue of Daniel Owen stood in the Hall Fields proudly facing the entrance to the County Offices and Council Chamber. It now stands in Earl Road near the Library, facing the Post Office.

The Hall Fields were entered from Chester Street up steps, with the Court House, home of the Assizes and Magistrates Courts, facing the steps. (This latter building is still standing, but I don't know its present use).


My first personal connection with the County Council was in late 1934 when, on leaving school I was appointed Junior Clerk/Office Boy in the County Medical Officer's Department, which occupied roughly half of the length of the hut (mentioned above) nearest the Market and away from Hall Field. Two of the rooms were used for Clinic purposes until the late 1930s, when a new Clinic was built further along King Street. Then all the rooms were used as offices.

We were, in effect, two sub-departments with the same chief Officers - the County

Medical Officer and the School Medical Officer. Three Doctors shared responsibility

for both sections - Dr. Alfred Ernest Williams (Senior), Dr. Aneurin Evan Roberts

(Deputy) and a lady Doctor G. Rowlands. Nurse C. Kershaw was the Supervisor of Midwives, and ten Nurses were joint Health Visitors/School Nurses for each of the District Council areas. The Clerical Staff in 1934 were Mr. Wm. Davies, Chief Clerk, Mr. Wm. lthell Roberts and Mr Arthur Whitley senior Clerks, Mr. Neville Blythyn, typist and myself, Junior Clerk. About a year later Mr. Blythyn was transferred to the Clerk's Department and I became the office typist, and Mr. Trevor D. Jones was appointed my successor.

In 1934, there were only three lady Clerks employed by the Council - one the Telephone Operator, one in the Education department and the other in the Motor Taxation department. The first additional female clerk I can remember was Miss Barbara Moore in 1939 in my own office.

My work was in the section responsible for Maternity & Child Welfare (M&CW) under Mr. W. I. Roberts. Trevor joined Mr. Arthur Whitley in the School Medical section. When Trevor joined Arthur, he was replaced by Mr. Frank Jones.

H.M. Forces robbed the County Council of many of its male staff (including Arthur, Trevor and myself) and we were replaced by ladies. I was taken prisoner of War in 1940 and held by the Germans in Poland (my story of this is in my book "About me in a Nutshell"). Whilst a PoW, the staff of the County Health Offices sent me a photo of themselves which included four female clerks - Misses Barbara Moore (whom I already knew), Amy Hartman, Doris Williams and Dorothy (Dot) Owen. I still have that snapshot, and they were still on the staff when I returned to work in October 1945 after the war.

During my wartime absence, the County Council had taken possession of Llwynegrin Hall about 1/4 mile away from the County Offices, and gradually moved departments to new quarters there, one of them being the Medical Department. During August 1946, I obtained a new job with Buckley Urban Council and left my friends, old and new, in the "wooden huts" office, but before long, they too were moved to the Hall. Shortly after, the CHO staff became members of the NHS and had to travel to Rhyl to work. Several years later new County Offices were built near Llwynegrin Hall as well as a new County Library and Law Court Offices which were moved from the Hall Fields (mentioned earlier).

Roughly ten months after returning to my County Council job, I applied for and got a new job with Buckley Urban District Council as Rent and Rate Collector and

I collected rents from 256 Council houses on Saturday mornings and Mondays. The rest of the week I spent in the office collecting Rates which were payable half-yearly.


The staff of the Urban District Council at that time was Mr. William C. Hughes, part-time Clerk of the Council, Mr. Ralph Messham, Finance Officer, and Mr. F. Bannister Jones, Surveyor and Sanitary Inspector, who at the time was on sick-leave and did not return to work. Clerical assistance was given on a "when required" basis by Miss Gertrude Astbury, daughter of the former Surveyor. At the same time as I was appointed, Miss Gwenda Stanley was appointed Shorthand Typist to the Council. The only other Council employees were Mr. Latham Catherall, Baths Superintendent, his daughter, Gwyneth, part-time Librarian, and Messers Latham Ellis and Jim Roberts, workmen.


In the late spring of 1947, Mr. Arthur G. Watkin was appointed Surveyor and Sanitary Inspector. (I well remember the day he was appointed - Buckley was under a 12-inch blanket of snow.)


Mr. W. C. Hughes, the Clerk of the Council, was a veteran of WWI, and had lengthy spells off work with chest problems. He retired on health grounds in 1957 and Mr. Steven Ligo was appointed Council Clerk in 1958.


When he was first appointed at Buckley, I was given to understand that my job entailed attending certain meetings of the Council and Committees. The full Council met at 7pm on the second Tuesday of the month and the Committees at 7 on the remaining Tuesdays. The Council had 18 members (three from each of six Wards) and all were members of the various committees under different Chairmen. Meetings were supposed to end at 9pm, and Mr. Hughes left promptly at 9, but business (and postmortems) frequently lasted longer. The Committees were Plans (usually immediately following the Council), Finance, General Purposes, Housing, Public Health, and (infrequently) Public Library and Baths.


I found Council business generally interesting and took it upon myself to attend all the meetings and was soon taking notes like a Committee Clerk which later formed the basis of the Minutes. (I was not paid for the extra hours I put in).


Ratepayer Owner/occupiers paid their own rates while the landlords of rented properties were held responsible for their tenants' rates. Owners paying their own rates were allowed a discount of 2 1/2% provided they paid by 30 June and 30 November, and Landlords received a 15% owners' allowance for paying by 31 July and 31 January. Ratepayers

who missed these dates lost their discounts, and I had to call on them to collect their payments within the half-years to the end of September and March respectively. These arrangements applied for a couple of years until the Council decided to bill all occupiers for their own rates except the tenants of Council houses who paid inclusive rents, rates and water rates. From 1948, my rent collecting rounds grew with the building of more new houses each year, until in 1956 a new Collector was appointed and I became Finance Clerk under Mr. Ralph Messham dealing with rating and general finance work.


Following Mr. Messham's retirement, aged 65, in 1963, my Local Government career took several turns. I had had hopes of following in his footsteps, but that was not to be. After two attempts to fill the vacancy (the second of which ended in the ill-health of Mr. Trevor Roberts) Mr. Derek Darlington was appointed Treasurer to the Council, and I am indebted to him for his training and my advancement between 1967 and the next Local Government reorganization in 1974. I was then moved to the Hawarden offices of Alyn & Deeside District Council as Senior Rating Assistant until 1979.


Meanwhile, Buckley had changed status from an Urban District Council to a Town Council. Mr. Ligo, the then Town Clerk, retired at the end of 1979 and I was appointed Clerk and Finance Officer, the position I held until my own retirement in 1983.


I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my work in Local Government and in trying to look after my fellow "Buckleyites" (both bricks and mugs!). Nothing gave me greater pleasure than a tap on the office door and a head peeping in saying "Has thou got a minute, Eric?"










Author: Hayes, John Eric, 1918 - 2010,3


Year = 1986

Month = September

Gender = Male

People = Single

Work = Public Service

Extra = Formal Portrait

Extra = WW2

Extra = 1980s

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