William Roberts himself is standing with 6 of his 10 children outside the property which stood on the site now occupied by the Apollo Bingo, on the corner of Brighton Road and Lower High Street. The photograph was taken circa 1900, judging by the size of the children.
The firm was established in 1885 when William Roberts continued the business hitherto managed in conjunction with Jonathon Oldfield. Primarily, the firm was one of the original Coal, Corn and Seed Merchants of yesteryear dealing with Farms and Businesses throughout the Vale of Clwyd. There were Branch Offices and Depots at all the now defunct railway stations, where at least one delivery horse drawn cart was situated.
Behind this property were the stables, warehouses, offices and coal yard with its own branch railway line where the company’s own railway wagons were shunted daily from the coal pits in Lancashire and Midlands. The company owned and managed the only Public Weighbridge in the area outside the office at the corner of Thorpe Street and Morley Road.
It was only after the ‘Beeching Axe’ fell in the 1960’s that the last of these offices had to close and the business shrank to Rhuddlan, Pensarn and subsequently Rhyl only. Incidentally, the access road to the A55 at Pensarn was only built after acquiring the field where some of the company horses were stabled.
The little face in the first floor window was another of the children as this was also the family home. It is said that on one occasion a member of the family was dangerously ill and couldn’t be moved from her room overlooking the Vale Road bridge. As the clatter of the horses hooves straining to pull their loads up the hill were deemed to be a disadvantage to his patients recovery, the doctor had the bridge closed for such traffic.
In 1925 the site was acquired by the Odeon Theatre Company and William Roberts moved across the road to the opposite corner of Brighton Road and the main High Street, the site of the former Villiers Hotel and Cocoa Rooms, where it remained until closure in 2005. It was in 1925 that William Roberts introduced his sons into the firm and it became a Limited Company. Son Stanley managed the shop, Llewellyn was the company book keeper, Maude was the secretary and Arthur managed the coal distribution. It was Arthur’s daughter Margaret and husband Fred Scott who continued the business and subsequently his grandson Robert Scott, the supplier of this information, and continued the company until his retirement in 2005.
Click photo to enlarge (anon. donor)