The Bell Inn – Abertillery

The Bell Inn – Abertillery

The Bell Inn – Abertillery.
During the late 1860’s the Bell Inn, Abertillery was constructed, it was situated at Market Street though at that time the area was known as Fords Row? I am not sure if the inn originally extended down through to Somerset Street at this time though it did later with entrances top and bottom and the both areas were known as the Top Bell or Bell Tap and the Bottom Bell.

Mr and Mrs George and Mary Bence.
Mr George Bence was the first known owner and landlord of the Bell Inn, Abertillery. Mr Bence was born in 1831 at Corston, Somerset, England. Mrs Mary Bence nee Mealing was born in 1831 at Oxbury, Gloucestershire, England. They were married in 1850 and had a daughter Miss Ann Bence, born in 1852 at Corston, Somerset. The family later moved to Abertillery and had other children – Master John Bence, born 1856 at Abertillery. Miss Esther Bence born 1859 at Abertillery and Master Henry Bence, born in 1860 also at Abertillery. While at the Bell Inn they had another son Master William Bence.

The Death of Mr George Bence.
In 1875 Mr George Bence died and the Bell Inn, Abertillery was in the hands of the executors of Mr G. Bence. Mrs Mary Bence, widow was the licensee.

Mr James Fairclough.
In 1886 Mr James Fairclough and his wife Mrs Susan Fairclough were licensees at the Bell Inn, Abertillery. The inn was still owned by the executors of Mr George Bence.

Mr and Mrs Fairclough were old inhabitants of Abertillery. Mr James Fairclough’s parents were Mr William and Fanny Fairclough, in 1861 they lived at Perseverance Cottage, Abertillery, close to town.

On the 1891 census Mr James Fairclough, born in 1844 at Abertillery and his wife Mrs Susan Fairclough nee Tossell born 1852 at Abertillery were married in 1875. They later lived at the Bell Inn, Abertillery with their children Mr Joseph Fairclough, born 1874. Miss Fanny Fairclough, born 1877. Master William Fairclough, born 1882 and Master George Fairclough born 1888. Also living at the premises were – Miss Sarah Stubbins, born 1817. Miss Mary Lewis, born 1875 and Miss Jane Hanlin, born in 1876, all three were listed as being servants. On this census the address of Bell Inn was stated as being 13 Market Street, Abertillery. By 1901 Mr and Mrs James Fairclough had left the Bell Inn, Abertillery and were innkeepers at the Forge Hammer Pub, Gilwern.

Messrs Phillips & Sons Ltd, Newport.
In 1896 Messrs Phillips & Sons Ltd of Newport were listed as owners of the Bell Inn, Abertillery with Mr and Mrs James Fairclough was still licensees.

Mr Edmund James Williams.
In the late 1890’s Mr Edmund James Williams became the landlord at the Bell Inn, Abertillery, the owners were still Messrs Phillips & Sons Ltd of Newport. 

Mr Edmund James Williams was born in 1855 at Abertillery, his wife Mrs Mary A. Williams nee Williams was born in 1858 at Bassaleg, Monmouthshire. They were married in 1882. The 1901 census shows that they lived at the Bell Inn, Abertillery with their children – Miss Gertrude Williams, born in 1884 at Abertillery. Miss Gladys Williams, born in 1887 at Abertillery and Miss Hilda Williams born in 1892 also at Abertillery. Also living at the premises was Mr Artemus Williams, a brother born in 1872 at Abertillery. The address of the Bell Inn at this time was stated as being in Somerset Street, Abertillery, the Bell Tap on Market Street was listed but vacant.

The Reconstruction of the Bell Inn, Abertillery.
I believe that at some point during the ownership of the Bell Inn by Messrs Phillips & Sons there may have been a reconstruction of the pubs exterior, quite a few public houses were rebuilt and enlarged in the early 1900’s and the outer appearance of the Bell Inn didn’t seem to fit in with its surroundings. The name also changed from inn to hotel.

Mr Benjamin Valentine S. Thomas.
In 1911 Mr Benjamin Valentine S. Thomas was licensee of the Bell Inn, Abertillery with Messrs Phillips & Sons Ltd of Newport being the owners.

On the 1911 census Mr Benjamin Valentine S. Thomas born in 1882 at Abertillery and his wife Mrs Gwladys Thomas nee Williams, born 1886 at Abertillery lived at the Bell Inn with their daughter Miss Mary Thomas, born 1911 at Abertillery. Also at the premises were – Miss Maggie Prosser, a servant and Miss Maud Jones, also a servant.

Mr Albert Edward Owen.
During the Great War Mr Albert Edward Owen was listed as licensee at the Bell Inn, Abertillery.

Mr William Brown.
In 1918 Mr William Brown was the licensee at the Bell Hotel.

Mr Parfitt.
In 1923 the newspapers reported the transfer of licence at the Bell Hotel, Abertillery from Mr William Brown to a Mr Parfitt. Mr Parfitt was a short term licence holder and there is not a great deal of information about him, if any.

Mr Edmund Hickey.
In 1925 Mr Edmund Hickey was licensee at the Bell Hotel, Abertillery. Mr Hickey was later listed as bankrupt, at that time he was living at Danesbury House, Hill Street, Abertillery.

Mr Josephus Powell.
In 1925 Mr Josephus Powell became the landlord at the Bell Hotel on the departure of Mr Hickey in the same year. Mr Josephus Powell was born in 1884 at Nantyglo, the son of Mr Morgan Powell and Mrs Amy Powell originally of 13 Blaenau Gwent Rows, Blaenau Gwent. His wife Caroline Ann Powell nee Griffin was born in 1887 at Abertillery. They had a son Mr Thomas Cyril Powell, born in 1908 at Abertillery. Mr Powell’s son Mr Thomas Cyril Powell later became Science Master at the Lye School, Stourbridge.

The Death of Mr William Brown.
In February 1925 Mr William Brown ex-landlord of the Bell Hotel took over the licence of the Globe Hotel. Mr Brown was only there for a short while and passed away on the 5th October 1926 just fifty-four years of age. Mr Brown died at the home of his father-in-law Mr Preece at Cwm Cottage Road, Abertillery. His obituary stated he had spent all his life at Abertillery, his father died when he was young and he was brought up by his step father Rev Thomas Allen, the father of Sir Thomas W. Allen.

Mr Brown was a brother to Mrs T. Preece, Councillor Mr James Brown living at Weston-super-Mare, Mr Arthur Brown living in America, and Mr John Brown M.E., of Blythe Street, Abertillery. Mr Brown was a founding member of the Liberal Club, Abertillery, a founding member of the P.S.A, an assistant superintendent of the Refuge Assurance Company and a supporter of the sports in Abertillery, he had given a cup for competition to the Western Valley Billiard League.

Mr Togarmah Samuels.
In 1929 Mr Josephus Powell transferred his licence at the Bell Hotel, Abertillery to Mr Togarmah Samuels. Mr Samuels was locally known as Tog.

Mr Frederick Ronald Jones.
In 1937 Mr Ronald Jones was licensee at the Bell Hotel, Abertillery.

The Death of Mr Josephus Powell.
In February 1953 Mr Josephus Powell passed away at 69 years of age. His obituary stated he was a member of the R.A.O.B., had been an official at the Vivian Colliery, Abertillery and had been a licensee of the Bell Hotel, Abertillery, the Castle Hotel, Blaina and the Royal Oak, Cwm and had lately been a collector for the Rediffusion Ltd. At the time of his death he was living with his wife Caroline at 23 Marlborough Road, Abertillery.

The Blue Top Tavern Darts League.
In January 1961 the South Wales Gazette printed the Blue Top Tavern Darts League table. The Bell Hotel had two teams in the league. The table was as follows – Division 1 – The Clyn Mawr Hotel, The Mount Pleasant Hotel, The Rolling Mill, The Miners Arms?, The Golden Lion, The Globe Hotel, The Crown Hotel, The Castle Hotel and the Bell Hotel. Division 2 – The Prince of Wales Hotel, The Tylers Arms, The Bell Hotel, The Coach and Horses, The Rolling Mill, The Clyn Mawr Hotel, The Mount Pleasant, The Crown Inn and The Lamb Inn.

The Death of Mr Frederick Ronald Jones.
In January 1965 Mr Frederick Ronald Jones passed away at 59 years of age. His obituary stated he was the son of Mr William Rees Jones a Deacon at Blaenau Gwent Baptist Chapel. Mr Jones and worked at the Gray and Rose Heyworth Collieries and at the time of his death was living in Ashfield House, Ashfield Road, Abertillery.

The Closure of the Bell Hotel.
I cannot find a closing date although the Bell Hotel wasn’t featured on sports leagues score cards after 1961 and an electrical company advertised they were to open a store at the Bell Hotel in 1965.

John James Electricals.
In May 1965 there were advertisements printed in the South Wales Gazette stating that John James, exciting bargains in TV, radio and electric appliances etc are to celebrate the opening of a new branch at Abertillery in The Bell, Somerset Street, Abertillery. Telephone number – 2245.

(More information to come).

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