This book is dedicated to all those wonderful people, past and present, who have worked so hard in the retail sector in Ruthin.
This is the second digital book in a series of three, part of Stori Rhuthun, created by Book of You in conjunction with Yr Hen Lys/ The Old Courthouse with Heritage Lottery funding. It was created over six weeks of Zoom meetings in April and May 2021 led by E Dilwyn Jones, Associate with Book of You, along with Kate Harcus, manager of Yr Hen Lys. We are grateful for all help and contributions.
Ruthin Wholefoods was a butcher's shop for many years
When a butcher's, it was run by "Wil Bach Bach", one of many shopkeepers' nicknames in Ruthin and possibly the easiest to quote - his grandfather was Wil and his father too so his father became Wil Bach and, when he was also called Wil, he had to become Wil Bach Bach (Bach = Little)
J & P Williams - an early line up
Bakehouse - by the time Dilwyn Jones' father, Arfon Jones, worked in the shop in the late 1960s and Dilwyn joined him on a Saturday, the bakehouse was not the most clean of places with rat-traps and mice the size of cats in them! Dilwyn recalls waiting for his father by the back door of the shop and seeing one of his father's colleagues emerging from the bakehouse with a large tray of freshly baked bread. As he walked, he stumbled and all the loaves fell off the tray and rolled in the mixture of petrol, oil and rat-droppings in the yard. The chap simply picked them all up and stacked them on the tray again and carried on towards the shop pausing only to wink at a horrified 7 year old Dilwyn and say "What the eye does not see, the heart will not grieve over" No Health and Safety then!
J & P Williams Shop - The railway bridge is still visible
What is now a small arcade below Pendref chapel at the top of Well Street.
Here, it is still the Cross Keys, arguably Ruthin's top hotel in its time as recalled by Gareth Evans.
The nearby Manor House later became a hotel and was run for a time by Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon's first wife. Previously, it was the residence of Drs Trevor and Enid Hughes
Siop Nain, now a gift shop and was, for many years, a cafe too. The Welsh National Anthem was first published in a building at the back which is now a holiday let.
This is the top corner of Well Street, it has been many businesses over the years including (as shown on the right) an Italian Warehouseman’s.
No9 Well Street, for many years, a cake shop downstairs and a cafe upstairs. Brynhyfryd school buns once came from there and some recalled having their first ever knickerbocker glory ice-cream at the window table upstairs.
Tesco shown here halfway down Well Street, back when supermarkets where on town streets.
27 Well Street.
Gwen was fondly remembered by several members of the group who still refer to this shop - now Corwen Carpets - by her name. She dressed in "land army style" with a pencil always behind her year. The closed door on the right of the picture leads to where the very original Gee's Printers office was before the company moved to its better known premises in Denbigh.
The Gift Fair situated at the bottom of Well Street, Later the Steakhouse and now a cafe. You can see Leamington Stores next door in this picture.
The Machine located on the A525 just by the turning to Rhos Street. The shop until recently was a picture framer's shop. Previously, this shop was a greengrocer's for many years and is believed to have received its name due to a weighing machine being situated near the site.
Gareth Evans recalled a summer job here when the shop was run by Ted Salisbury and which involved him delivering a week's groceries on a shop bike to The Mount on the road towards Bontuchel and Cyffylliog - quite a task on a push-bike!
Siop Elfair near 18 Clwyd Street
Previously, this was the Welsh Shop run by G Trebor Hughes who, in his advertising, stated that a visit to the historic town of Ruthin was not complete without visiting this shop. It sold all things Welsh and more.
Trebor Hughes had a van at one stage which carried a selection of stock to sell in the surrounding villages.
Trefor Jones shown here on Clwyd Street was once an Ironmongers as shown in the top picture.
Now the Salon
"Hughes The Gardener" who was a green grocer later built his retirement bungalow in the gardens at the back of the shop which is the impressive residence that can be seen next to Min-yr Afon off Park Road.
Evans Men's Outfitters at the top of Clwyd Street, note the Barclays building was different
West Bromwich now a finance shop and Manweb, near the top of Clwyd Street.
5-7 Clwyd Street, look at the difference in the building but even after all these years it is still a News Agents.
David Owen Grocer's - shop and site where Tom Pryce Racing Driver memorial now stands
David Owen Record Book
Ruthin gas bill in 1948
BVC Services as recalled by Edwina Stephen
Bee Hive, Owen's Cafe and Aldrich's News
The Bee Hive was so named by its original owner in order to create the impression with the local public that it was a particularly busy shop.
Gail's Cafe on Upper Clwyd Street, once Aldrich's Newsagent's. Gail has a long connection to this building as years ago Gail's farther and uncle were contracted to do the renovations, as shown in the picture above.
Wonderful flowers, all for just over five pounds in 1947!
Llew owned the Fish and Chip Shop on Clwyd Street in the 1950's
Still a fish and chip shop, but now just a takeaway. Back when this photo was taken it was a restaurant as well.
Rhoda's, now a house but as you can see the original shop window is still there.
What is now the very popular Tommy's Hairdresser's. The stone sign, however, still shows "Mill Stores", the name given to the building when it was a fondly remembered branch of E B Jones grocer's. It was never a catholic church or similar but the religious statue at the very top of the building was included to satisfy the builder's wife who was catholic.
E B Jones Grocers, Ruthin Branch, Several who came to Ruthin to manage this shop went on to open their own shops in the town including David Owen, Ted Salisbury and Hywel F Lewis.
Aldrich's a very popular store in it's time. This building was originally a courthouse and is now a civic, community and visitor hub
The old courthouse in the late 1960s
Proof of the age of Barclays on St Peter's Square. Clothes shop shown as Hepworths
The top corner of Clwyd Street before it was renovated.
Sarita Cafe in glorious colour.
The building known until recently as Alton Murphy opticians is recalled by many as "Elsa Frischer" photographers which was run originally by Leo and named after his wife and, latterly, by Ann, daughter of the late Rev John Evans of Cyffylliog - Ann being remembered as a meticulous photographer who always achieved great results. However, her care infuriated hotels where wedding receptions were held and this resulted in a ban on her photography, at one time, at The Castle and at the instigation of Franco Marques.
Ellis Williams were later in the shop next to the old Alton Murphy on the Square - see previous photo - but this is when they were at what is now Castle Bell on Clwyd Street.
Post Office built around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries
Littler and Williams Grocers, where the post office is today. This shop went on fire resulting in literally tens, if not hundreds, of rats making their escape from the shop cellars down Prior Street.
"State of Distress" is still regularly referred to as the old wine shop but the milk bar still is, and has for a long time been, just that, though it is now more of a general cafe.
The cellar under State of Distress is remarkable and large and extends under The Square.
Several participants fondly remembered The Milk Bar as a (perfectly sober) meeting place for the youth of the town in the 50s and 60s when it boasted the only jukebox in town.
A 140 year old photo of one of Ruthin's best known premises, now partly a gin bar and previously vanity fayre ladies clothes.
Where the HSBC is now
Mwrog St stores van, this picture is from 1936 which was also the coronation year. Note that the phone number on the van is just 20!
Clubbe Shop on Mwrog Street, this is a wonderful example of how people used turn their front room into a shop. No need for planning permission or change in rates back then.
Regularly remembered in the sessions. The shop is no longer there! However, if you look carefully at the brickwork, you will see a difference in the colour of the bricks centrally and where it used to be. Gareth Evans and Anne Roberts recalled this as a hub collecting parcels from the buses which used to stop nearby and Morfudd Jones recalled it as a sweet shop popular with school children. It also doubled as a sort of ticket office for events in the town hall next door.
The old Borthyn stores - a branch of J and P Williams.
Borthyn Stores, originally William Morris' Grocery Shop, was in the same ownership as J and P Williams and was one of many grocery shops in Ruthin including Lewis' at Borthyn, Duke's on Mwrog St, E B Jones, Eagle Stores, Ty Coch Grocery, Leamington Stores and W R Owen and The Ship, Star Shop on Castle Street, Gwalia Stores, Marina's, Irwins and Dew's..... - in addition to J and P Williams and Borthyn Stores. These, pre-supermarket days were fondly remembered by the group.
Demolition of Borthyn Stores - all change in the 70s
The staff outside 1970's
Snippets of different parts of Ruthin over the years.
Many thanks to the participants:
Jean Campbell Leith
Cllr. Morfudd Jones
Cllr. Anne Roberts MBE
Cllr. Emrys Wynne
Book of You CIC: E Dilwyn Jones
Yr Hen Lys/Old Courthouse Manager: Kate Harcus