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Floor Plan of the Municipal Buildings"

Buckley Town Council, and Old Library and Baths, Mold Road, Buckley


See also 7.6 which gives an account of various public services.




Council Chamber, Offices, Caretaker's House and Stable-block, built 1901.

Free Library Building, built 1904.

Public Baths, built 1928.

Mortuary & Open Bays in Yard, built 1930s.


The Offices, House, Library and Stableblock were all two stories high. The facade of the buildings to Mold Road has barely changed since they were built and the photos on pages 9 & 12 of the "Buckley" book were taken. The iron railings in the photos were removed as part of the WWII War Effort and the dwarf walls and gateposts were demolished shortly after the War. The Town Clock was erected on the balcony of the Library Building in 1935, and the gap between the Library and the Caretaker's house was bridged over in the late 1960s and is now the bus shelter. Much later, one of my successors had the name "Buckley Urban District Council" which was sculpted on a panel on the front of the Offices changed to "Buckley Town Council". Otherwise the public has always seen what they see now.


The other changes have been internal or out of the public view. The Council Chamber has been refurbished with new furniture and a revised layout; the Caretaker's house has been converted to use as offices; the Baths building has been enlarged; but the Library building has undergone the most alteration both structurally and in use. Ownership of the buildings has also changed twice. From construction until the 1974 Local Government Re-organisation they all belonged to Buckley Urban District Council. Buckley Urban, Connah's Quay Urban and Hawarden Rural District Councils were amalgamated to form Alyn & Deeside District Council and ownership of individual properties and other assets passed to the new District Council. Buckley then had a Town Council with much reduced powers. The District Council was obliged to provide a meeting place for the Council and accommodation for its officers, and we were granted the use of the Council Chamber for the monthly meeting and an office for each of its two officers, the Town Clerk and Technical Officer. The remaining rooms were used by the District Council for their own purposes. In 1979, the District Council acquired new accommodation and moved out leaving the Town Council Officers in their own rooms. Both these Officers retired in 1980 and I was appointed the new Town Clerk and Financial Officer and given a Secretary, Mrs Gwyneth Brocklebank. One of my first tasks was to buy back the Council Chamber, Offices and Library Building from Alyn & Deeside on behalf of the Town Council. It was ironic that Buckley Town had to buy back what had been its own property for nearly 80 years and for which it had received no recompense when losing it! The Baths remained in the ownership of A&DDC.


The Council Chamber was originally laid out internally in a north/south fashion. The rostrum and honours-board were at the Mold Road end of the room and the tables formed a U-shape from the rostrum. There were six seats to each 'leg' of the tables, a spacer table with three seats at the far end and two quadrant tables with one seat each neatly rounded off the corners. The 18th Councillor's seat was as Chairman on the rostrum. The Clerk of the Council and the Finance Officer sat on his right and the Surveyor/Sanitary Inspector and the Collector sat on his left. A small Press table stood against the east wall of the Chamber. The master clock for the Town Clock and a large roll-up map of the District hung on this wall, just inside the door to the Chamber. Diagonally across the Chamber is a door to a small porch for the use of members of the public attending meetings. There were bench seats for the public under the windows at the back of the room. Councillors entered via the front doors of the building and had a cloakroom on the left of the Chamber door.


During the late 1960s one of the Contractors engaged for building Council houses presented the Council with the new furniture which is still in use. At that time the layout was changed; the rostrum and clock mechanism were moved to their present positions and a new door was cut through to one of the Caretaker's outbuildings and this was made into the Chairman's Room. The big map was removed and the screen near the Chamber door was erected.


When I first joined the UDC Staff in 1946, the Council Offices consisted of two rooms at street level and two rooms above them accessed by stairs from the Members' cloak room (mentioned earlier). The front downstairs room was occupied by the Collector and Typist and the other by the Part-time Clerk of the Council and the Finance Officer. The upstairs rooms looked out towards the Police Station and were occupied by the Surveyor/Sanitary Inspector and his Trainee and the Rating Officer. The Staff at that time were Mr. W. C. Hughes, part-time Clerk of the Council, Mr. Ralph Messham, Finance Officer; Mr. F. Bannister-Jones, Surveyor / Sanitary Inspector and his Trainee Mr. T. Jones; Mr. J. S. Shone, Collector and Rating Officer. Mr. Bannister-Jones was on sick leave and did not return to duty; his Trainee found new employment and left; Mr. Shone retired and I was appointed in his place. At the same time Miss Gwenda Stanley was appointed the Council's first Short-hand Typist. Meanwhile Miss Gertrude Astbury gave part-time clerical help when required. Mr. T. Latham Catherall was Caretaker and Baths Superintendent and his daughter, Miss Gwyneth Catherall was part-time Librarian. Mr. A. C. Watkin was appointed Surveyor/Sanitary Inspector in 1947. There were three manual employees - Mr B. Ellis, Mr. J. Roberts and Mr. E. Hewitt. Nearly all the work such as refuse-collection and road repairs was let out by tender and repairs to Council houses were passed direct to local tradesmen. Over the years, the Clerical staff grew and a direct labour force was formed, with our own vehicles, etc. Most of the work was then done "in house" and a depot and store was established at the old Mill in Mill Lane. Mr. W. Iball was in charge of the workforce and was Building Inspector for Planning Legislation purposes. In the early 1960s, the post of Surveyor was separated from that of Sanitary Inspector and we had a succession of Public Health Inspectors (as S.Is were re-named). Mr Watkin continued in post until 1969 when Mr. J. Mygock was appointed Engineer & Surveyor. In 1965 a new post of Housing Officer was created and held by Mr. W. Bennett. Two other Officials I ought to mention are the M.O.H and Architect. Dr. David Fraser who was Medical Officer of Health from 1898 until 1949, was followed by Dr. A. Cathcart (1949 - 1965), then by Dr. J. D. Fraser. Dr. David Fraser had his own medical practice in Buckley, but so far as I am aware, his position as M.O.H. was honorary. The Architect who designed and oversaw the erection of most of our post-war Council Houses was Mr. R. Lloyd Roberts. On his retirement this work was carried out by a Partnership based in Boughton, Chester.


The Caretaker's House was quite roomy, with two living rooms, a scullery and some small outbuildings off a narrow rear yard. When Mr. Catherall (Caretaker and Baths Superintendent) retired in 1966, he was re-housed elsewhere and his house was adapted for office accommodation. The roofs of the outbuildings were extended over the yard and formed the Chairman's Room (mentioned earlier), two offices, a ladies' room and a small scullery.


The Library Building had two large rooms at street level separated by an entrance hall. It had an upper floor over them all reached by twin stairs at the back of the building. Pre-war, this floor had been used as a woodwork centre for boys of the upper standards of Buckley's three Elementary Schools - Bistre, Board and St. Matthew's. During the War, the floor was split into two for the Fuel Office and Food Office. The Fuel Office was nearer the Cross and in the late '40s was moved to a vacant shop across Mold Road (centre, photo, p127 of "Buckley" book). The vacated space became Buckley's Band Room and Headquarters for the Red Cross V.A.D. and the Guides. The Food Office continued until the end of war-time rationing in the 1950s and marked the beginning of our office expansion. Mr. Watkin moved his office into the former Food Office. Shortly afterwards Mr. Catherall was re-housed and the space between his old home and the Library Building was bridged over enabling his bedrooms to be changed to offices as well as the ground floor. The Clerk of the Council and his Committee Clerk moved upstairs; the Treasurer and his Deputy moved into groundfloor rooms, and other clerical personnel more or less followed their Chiefs.


The street level rooms of the Library were the Lending Library on the left and the Reading Room opposite. The latter had a large table and chairs with magazines and periodicals and a sloping shelf along the gable wall with copies of most of the daily papers, supplied by the local newsagents and paid for by the Council. The reading room was very popular with the old men and we nick-named it "the old mens' parliament". When the railings and walls were removed, bench seats had been provided under the Library windows and the "parliament" met there on nice days. They were also offered the use of the Fuel Office when it was vacated, but it didn't prove very popular - probably due to having to climb the stairs - and the idea was dropped.


During my time with the Urban Council the Baths had been improved and enlarged. The cubicles with their half-doors and curtains (photo p13 "Buckley" book) were removed along with the diving boards at the deep end. New changing facilities were built along the outside of both walls, making much wider walk-ways along the poolside and giving it a much lighter and airier appearance. The boiler-house beneath the spectators area and Baths offices was remodelled and the boiler was converted to gas-burning and modified to heat the Chamber and Offices as well as the Baths and bathwater. Previously the offices had each had open fireplaces and a radiator and the Chamber and Offices had a boilerhouse in one of the Caretaker's outbuildings, but the boiler was only lit when the Chamber was used, and fires were used in the offices until the Baths boiler was modified. The Library building had its own boiler in the basement and this too was converted from solid fuel to gas.


In the yard behind the Council Chamber there were three separate buildings in 1946. The largest appears to have been built at the same time as the Chamber. I don't know what its original purpose was - possibly stables and cart shed - but in the 1930s it became the Fire Station, first for the Auxiliary Fire Service, followed by the National Fire Service (photo p 111 "Buckley" book). Buckley still has its retained Fire Station but now on the original site of Liverpool House on Brunswick Road. Following the Fire Station, the building became for a short while the Council's depot and store until the move to Mill Lane and is now the headquarters of the Royal Buckley Town Band.


The second building was much smaller and stood almost opposite the porch to the Council Chamber. This was the mortuary and was dismantled around 1948/9.


The third building was a group of five open bays, three of which were later used to house the Council vehicles. The other two provided storage space for reclaimed paper which was sold in bulk to Bowaters for recycling, but after a few years it became uneconomical to collect, bale and store the paper and the scheme was abandoned. The bays were demolished when the linkroad from the Council yard to Argoed Road was made in the late 1970s.


Buckley's Public Conveniences were off Mold Road in the rear corners of the Library building, ladies to the right and gents in the passageway between the House and Library, which was later bridged over and now is the bus shelter. These conveniences remained in use until the new Toilet Block was built near the new County Library in the Shopping Precinct. A small gents' urinal was built in the 1950s at Army Lane, Lane End, but it was so badly vandalised that it was abandoned and demolished after very few years.


The Town Clock was erected on the Balcony of the Library Building to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. The Clock was donated by Mrs. Catherine Dobson (wife of Dr. Dobson) in memory of her late Father, Mr. Jonathan Catherall, former Councillor and benefactor to the Town. The master clock hangs in the Council Chamber and has a pendulum about three feet long which operates the hands every half-minute and gives a loud "clunk" in the Chamber. The clock was powered by a battery of Leclanché cells housed in the roof-space above the Chamber. The electrolyte needed topping up annually and in recent years the clock has been converted to mains operation.


Having finally "got our own back" the Town Council had the buildings re-decorated inside and out, and had the wood-block Chamber floor sanded and repolished (done by a Town Councillor in his own time). Then began the process of finding tenants for the superfluous rooms. At this time, my 65th birthday was approaching and I retired finally from Council work. I had, of course, had some rough patches, but I must admit that I really liked my work!


Author: Hayes, John Eric, 1918


Year = 1946

Building = Public

Document = Map

Work = Public Service

Extra = 1940s

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