December 2020

Another Interesting Christmas Card This time last year, D Gwynne Morris featured an unusual Christmas card. Now, he considers a second Christmas cards were first introduced in 1843 when the tradition of sending Christmas letters to relatives and friends proved to be too much for a Henry Cole then a young civil servant and who later became the first director of the V & A. When they first went on sale they were not an immediate success, as they were hand-coloured and cost a shilling, a fortune in those days. Only the rich could afford then and this was still true in the early years of the last century. Readers may well remember that in our edition of this time last year that a card showing the laying of the foundation stone for the then new County Offices was used by the famous E. Tegid Owen, then of the White Lion Cerrigydrudion and formerly of the Castle Hotel, as a Christmas Card. This year, another intriguing postcard showing the ‘New Post Office Ruthin’ has come to light. The message on the reverse reads as follows. “With Warmest Wishes for a Joyful Christmas and all Happiness in the New Year from Gwladys”.  The postmark shows that it was sent on December 23rd, 1905 to a Miss E. J. Williams of Upton Manor, Upton, near Birkenhead. It was still cheaper and easier to use than the traditional Christmas letters to relatives and friends. Not only is this card intriguing to the writer as being used as a Christmas card but why is it titled ‘New Post Office Ruthin’ and how much has it changed since then? The post office had moved from No. 2 Well Street to its current site on November 30th, 1905. The building was erected there after a disastrous fire had destroyed the existing building, known as Hughes the Stores, on the afternoon of Friday June 17th, 1904. At that time, the owner was a Dr Pritchard of Rhyl, who was late of Denbigh. (Interestingly, the Chief Fire Officer of the local brigade, who attended the fire, was the previously mentioned  E. Tegid Owen). Previous to that, it had been the site of a nunnery, a convent for the use of nuns whose duty it was to clean and look after the church, a public house, known as The Queen (or the Queen’s Head), as well as a bank, known as ‘Banc Eiddion Ddu’ (Black Cattle). A copy of the Denbighshire Free Press of the time stated, “We understand that the contract for the building of the New Post Office has been let to Messrs Robert Evans & Sons of Old Colwyn”.  They had also just built the new post office at Denbigh. The architect was Mr James Hughes, who was also from Denbigh. The local person who was responsible for the building was the then Mayor, T. Henry Roberts, who traded as a tailor and draper at 9 St. Peter’s Square (now Alton Murphy). After becoming a post office in 1905, it also housed the town’s telephone exchange. A telephone kiosk appeared on the outside in 1933. The telephone exchange stayed there until the 1970s when an automatic exchange was erected in Park Road. Since 1993, the Ruthin Post Office has been in private hands.
Archive from 2013 Historic Interest