J.W. Jones, local historian and ex-licensee of The Swan

J.W. Jones was the author of two favourite local history books, “Rhyl, the Town and its People” and “Rhyl and Roundabout”, and a regular columnist in the Rhyl Journal in the 1960’s.  Here is what the Flintshire Archives at Hawarden have to say about him :

“Joseph William Jones (1903-1985) was known for many years as the local historian of Rhyl.  His family had resided in the Rhyl and Rhuddlan area for generations and had been associated with the licensed trade for over 300 years.  His paternal grandfather, Robert Jones, kept the White Horse Inn in Bedford Street, while his maternal grandfather was licensee of the Abbey Vaults.  His father Joseph Jones, started his adult life in business as a cabinet maker and upholsterer, but in 1911 took over the licence of the Swan Inn in Russell Road where he remained until his death in 1944.  J.W. Jones then succeeded him as licensee there until 1958.

Little record has survived of J.W. Jones’s childhood and early youth apart from a few school certificates., but it is clear that by the mid 1930’s he had developed a wide range of interests including a fascination with the history of his own locality and the “characters” it had produced.  He then first began collecting press cuttings and ephemera of local interest, an activity he continued throughout his life.  He was not called up during the second world war but served for two years in the Liverpool City Police as a war reserve constable until discharged on grounds of ill health.  On his return to Rhyl however he became a founder member of the HMS Rhyl War Comforts Fund and after settling back into life at the Swan Inn, took up his historical interests again amassing files of notes and branching out into the collection of fossils, coins and postcards.  He was also very active in amateur drama and an enthusiastic supporter of the theatrical and variety companies who performed in the town as well as being an accomplished composer of light music and popular songs.

As he grew older he formed two ambitions, both of which have happily now been realised although not without a good many frustrations.  The first was to see his researches on Rhyl’s history in print for the benefit of future generations.  His first book “Rhyl, the Town and its People” was published in 1970 and was followed shortly afterwards by a supplementary volume “Rhyl and Roundabout”

The second ambition to see a properly equipped and staffed museum established in the town took longer to come to fruition.  His diaries reveal how despondent he became at times at the apparent lack of activity of the committee which had been set up to achieve this objective, but though failing health overtook him before the successful outcome of their efforts, he did live long enough to know that the Rhyl museum which he had wanted to see for so long was indeed a reality.”

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4 Comments

Filed under People

4 responses to “J.W. Jones, local historian and ex-licensee of The Swan

  1. Roger PLUMMER

    Are these two books still available any where, Roger

  2. It’s out of print, try keeping an eye on abebooks.co.uk There is one there at the moment, although it will set you back over £40.

  3. Carole Smythe

    Would anyone know who J. W. Jones’ maternal grandfather was who was the licensee of Abbey Vaults? My great-great grandfather Peter Edwards was a plasterer and the innkeeper of Abbey Vaults and died there May 15, 1883. My grandmother Margaret Elizabeth (Morris) Hughes was born at Abbey Vaults August 28, 1885.

  4. Rich Williams

    I believe my ancestor was innkeeper of the Swan in 1901. William Jonathan Jones.

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