Powys: A Day in the Life

1891

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The Bridge Hotel (later the Metropole Hotel)

Population Llandrindod 1891 - 1920

The Bridge Hotel was a comfortable commercial and family hotel run by the Wilding family. Two brothers John and James and their four sisters, Elizabeth, Annie, Margaret and Catherine. They were experienced Inn keepers, their family having run the Severn Arms in Penybont and the Builders Arms at Llanbadam Fawr for many years. There was constant movement between the two hotels (The Bridge and Severn Arms), as occasion demanded - on horseback, by trap, by train or on foot.

Llandrindod was a very scattered place, with unfinished roads and hardly any concrete pavements. Llandrindod was famous for it's spa waters and the majority of the guests staying at the Bridge came to take these waters. The hotel had a reputation as a good comfortable hotel, which could accommodate about forty people. It was a fairly plain building on Temple Street lying between Templefield House and Temple Bazaar. There were stables behind the hotel and green fields.

It's licensed bar was a lucrative part of the establishment, partly because Llandrindod Wells, unlike Builth Rhayader Knighton and Presteigne had comparative few licensed premises. In those days Public Houses were open from early morning until late at night. The pubs were closed on Sundays but anyone who cared to walk three miles from his last place of residence could obtain a drink if he so desired; but only at a pub with a seven-day license. Beer would have been delivered from the railway station on Drays pulled by horses.

Thomas Bage
Age 22. Boots at Bridge Hotel b. Llandegley (1891 Census).
Thomas Bage would have worked a long day, probably starting at six o'clock in the morning until late at night. He would have had to clean all shoes and boots the guests would place outside their bedroom doors. Keep coalbucket filled for all fireplaces, as well as downstairs all bedrooms would have had a fireplace. Candles would have had to been replaced, oil lamps cleaned and filled and slop buckets emptied. As well as all this he would have had to take luggage on the handcart to and from the station for those guests arriving and leaving by train.

Baptisms -Aug 27th 1897 Child -Thomas Samuel son of Thomas and Lawra.
Abode Cambrian Terrace.Llandrindod.
Porter at Bridge Hotel

As yet there is no steam laundry in the town, there are many experienced laundresses who take all work off the visitors, doing it efficiently, and at reasonable charge. There was a laundry at Penybont, the Wildings may have taken the hotel washing there but more likely it was done on the premises.

Mary Powell
Age 25, waitress at The Bridge Hotel b. Stanton-on-Arrow (1891 Census).
Many people came from away to work in the hotels, later the Metropole employed most of their staff from South Wales. Mary as well as waitressing would no doubt have had many other chores, cleaning, chambermaid, kitchen and maybe even the laundry.

Staying in Llandrindod
General mode of transport was the Horse and Carriage, Landau, Victoria, Phaeton, Dog Cart and Brake. Bath-chairs and Pony-chairs for the elderly ladies taking the waters. For guests arriving with their own horse and trap or single gentlemen on horseback there were stables at the rear of the hotel. There were also many livery stables in the town, which undoubtedly did very good business.

It is not generally realised at the latter part of the century Llandrindod was not able to accommodate all the visitors who came to take the waters, many were put up in the surrounding villages. Each Hotel and Boarding House built up it's own connection of regular visitors. They got to know each other quite well. Reunions became a feature of life.

The charge for staying in the hotel is more than staying in a Boarding house or at one of the nearby
farms. A Bill for second class Visitors - £1.11s.6d. a week. Rush lights extra @ 1s.9d. 1st Class rates two
guineas. This two-tier arrangement continued for a generation.

The business of taking the waters began at 6 o'clock and went on until nine then back to the hotel for a
hearty breakfast. There is always good food at The Bridge supplied from the family's farm at Cwmtrallwm, Penybont. William Wilding was also an expert fisherman; no trout or salmon in the Ithon, Cwmaran, Mithil or Clywedog was safe from his rod. There was always fresh vegetables eggs and poultry milk, Welsh lamb, pork and home cured bacon from their farm Cwmrochas, Penybont as well as from the well stocked gardens behind the hotel.

Shopping
Mr Samuel Edwards of the Temple Bazaar built in 1874 - this detached shop was a successful business gradually expanding to include the sale of best quality china, much appreciated by the visitors as well as souvenir gifts, a lending library and earthenware table and bedroom pottery to supply the hotels and guest houses

Central Wales Emporium. (1914) Owner - Mr.William Thomas of Penybont.
Wages were very low 2/6d a week, after two years 12/- a month excluding for board and lodging.
12 departments selling Haberdashery (hose, gloves threads etc) Mantles, Millinery, Grocery (The last department employed seven men and errand boys).

Doctors
Dr. Bowen Davies.
Frank Edwards -visited patients in a smart two-wheeled Hansom cab.

Entertainment
Numerous Religious Services - Hymn singing passed away an evening.
Debating Society.
Lighting Inspector's meeting.
Football (Llandrindod v. Rhayader) semi final, played on Rock House ground.
Football. -Howey School v. Llandrindod
Libraries -There are four leading libraries in the town.
· Temple Bazaar,
· The Gwalia Lending Library,
· Caxton House, High Street,
· Railway Bookstall.

Newspapers
Brecon and Radnor Express can be had at midday on Thursday from Mr.Charles Evans, No 2 Mount Pleasant. -appointed agent.
The Llandrindod Wells Advertiser, printed by Mr.D. Charles Davies, Caxton House, only local newspaper printed in the town.

Town
The town is admirably placed for convenience of drainage and is well supplied with drinking water from a pure spring which flows out of a huge mass of trap rock, on a neighbouring hill near Llanfawr quarry and is laid on in constant supply to a large majority of houses.

Visitor lists
12th June 1891 -5 guests
Mr. Morris. Shrewsbury
Mr. Pritchard Hereford
Mr. T.C.Webb. Ledbury
Mr. John. Penrtr
Mr. Simms. Neath.

(Templefield House, next door had 10 guests!)

3rd July 1891 Bridge -20 guests
lOth July 1891 Bridge -17 guests
24th July 1891 Bridge -20 guests
31 July 1891 Bridge 26 guests

UDC Minute Book.
July 2nd 1891. Medical Officer of Health report to the Council- The Sanitary conditions of our Railway Station is still in a very unsatisfactory state and the offensive smell of sewer gas is a continual sauce of complaint from both residents and visitors. He mentions the Gentlemen's Water closets.
August 4th. 1891.Water supply cut off at 8pm -all water had to be carried up to the bedroom of all hotels and boarding houses.

Llandrindod Minute Book
At the first meeting of the Local Board for the Township of Trefonnen, held at the Parish Room, Llandrindod Wells on Monday 1st June 1891 -The Clerks Salary agreed at £10 per annum. Inspector of Nuisances £6 per annum. Mr John Wilding, Bridge, elected Member of the Board June 1891.

Mrs Baird-Murray



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