The Royal Oak Inn – Abertillery

The Royal Oak Inn – Abertillery

Royal Oak Inn.
The early history of Royal Oak Inn at Abertillery is a bit sketchy, there are just a few early reports on the inn, though in a National Library of Wales Newspaper from April 1902, a story was published on the history of St Michaels Church, Abertillery, as follows – Prior to St Michaels Church being constructed in 1854 all religious activity was centred around either Blaenau Gwent, St Illtyds in Llanhilleth or St Pauls, Blaina and the people of Abertillery had to travel to attend religious services at these places. A small group of churchgoers decided to hold services at Abertillery and they hired a room at the Royal Oak Inn for such purpose. It states that the Rev Daniel Rees held services in a room at the Royal Oak Inn as early as 1846.

Mr Daniel Lewis.
In 1854 a report in the Monmouthshire Merlin Newspaper, stated that a Mr Daniel Lewis had a house warming party at the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery. Mr Daniel Lewis was at that time a land owner with property in the Clynmawr and Brynteg area of Blaenau Gwent.

Mr William Mills.
In 1857 Mr William Mills was the tenant of the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery.

The Sale of the Royal Oak Inn in 1857.
On Friday 12th June 1857 at the Oddfellows Arms Inn, Abertillery, Mr J. Philpot sold at auction the Royal Oak Inn and the 3 adjoining cottages. The tenants of the cottages were named as – Mr William Scott, Mr James Jones and Mr James Davies. The Royal Oak Inn was described as being newly erected, and contained a parlour, bar room, 4 bedrooms, kitchen, cellar, brew house, a yard and stable. The premises was under a lease for the unexpired term of 99 years at an annual ground rent of £4.

Mrs Cardy.
Towards the end of 1857 Mrs Cardy of the Oddfellows Arms, Abertillery applied for a transfer of her license from the Oddellows Arms, to the Royal Oak Inn. The magistrates obliged and granted the transfer.

Mr Joseph Winmill.
On the 1861 census Mr Joseph Winmill and his wife Elizabeth were landlord and landlady at the Royal Oak Inn. Mr Joseph Winmill, born 1812 at Gloucester and Mrs Elizabeth Winmill, born 1820 at Gloucester with their family – Miss Sabina Winmill, born 1841 at Caerleon. Master John Winmill, born 1846 at Machen. Miss Julia Winmill, born 1849 at Caerleon. Miss Margaret Winmill, born 1850. Master Frederick Winmill, born 1852 at Durham, England. Miss Charlotte Winmill, born 1855 at Aberystruth. Master William Winmill, born 1855 (twins). Master Stephen Winmill, born 1858 and Master Arlondo? Winmill, born 1860 at Aberystruth.

Mr Walter Lewis.
On the 1871 census Mr Walter Lewis and his wife Susanna Lewis were landlord and landlady with their family –

Royal Oak Cottages.
In 1879 Mr William Webb of Aberbeeg drew up an agreement with Mr William Henry Jones a butcher by trade from Garndiffaith to let the Royal Oak Cottages, 3 cottages adjoining the Royal Oak Inn at £2. 5s. 0d. per month.

Mr Francis Perry Evans.
In the 1880’s Mr Francis Perry Evans and his wife Mrs Elizabeth Evans nee Collier, born 1846 at Clutton, Somerset were landlord and landlady of the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery. Mr Francis P Evans and Mrs Elizabeth Evans were married in 1871, they were resident at the Royal Oak Inn with their family – Miss Mary Ann Evans, born 1873 at Aberystruth. Master Henry J. Evans, born 1874 at Aberystruth. Miss Elizabeth Evans, born 1878 at Aberystruth. Miss Frances Evans, born 1880. Miss Emma M. M. Evans, born 1881. Also residing at the Royal Oak Inn were Miss Mary Jones a Servant Girl and Mr James Dutton and his wife Sarah Dutton from Birmingham, England.

Mr and Mrs James and Sarah Dutton.
Mr James Dutton and his wife Sarah Dutton from Birmingham, England, were both listed as photographers and were visiting Abertillery in the late 1870’s. They used to show exhibits with magic lanterns etc and travel from town to town. The clipping (as seen left) is from December 1879 and yet they were still at the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery on the 1881 census, so they both must have used the Royal Oak for their shows on a regular basis. 

The Death of Mr Perry Evans.
Mr Francis Perry Evans died on the 20th October 1888 and left £515. 9s. 9d. in his will. Mrs Elizabeth Evans owned a great deal of land and a lot of property in the Abertillery town area.

On the 1891 census Mrs Elizabeth Evans, Inn Keeper was the head living at the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery with – Miss Mary Ann Evans, born 1873. Mis Frances Evans, born 1880. Master Robert Perry Evans, born 1885. Master Frederick Thomas Evans, born 1887 and Master Francis Perry Evans, born 1889 all at Abertillery. Also residing at the Royal Oak Inn was Miss Sarah Bobbett a Servant Girl from Taunton, Somerset.

Mr Tom Evans.
Francis and Elizabeth’s son, Master Frederick Thomas Evans, born 1887 later became a jeweller and opened a shop at Church Street, Abertillery. The shop later known as the Jewel Box and Tom Evans Jewellers.

Miners Meetings.
In the 1890s the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery was the venue for many miners meetings in connection with the Gray, Vivian and Arrael Griffin Collieries, Six Bells and other pits in the area, the miners agents had a lodge room at the premises.

In July 1893 the miners of the Gray and Vivian Collieries had a meeting with Mr Treharne, treasurer of the Monmouthshire branch of the Miners Federation of Great Britain at the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery to form a lodge, the Monmouthshire Western Valley’s Miners Association under the auspices of the Miners Federation of Great Britain – M.F.G.B.

The South Wales Miners Federation and the Royal Oak Inn.
During the late 1890’s the Monmouthshire Western Valley’s Miners Association had lost faith in the Miners Federation of Great Britain, the M.F.G.B., who had failed in various negotiations, mainly with the sliding-scale, sought to form a new union called the South Wales Miners Federation, the S.W.M.F., or more commonly the Fed. 

On the 11th June 1897 the Monmouthshire and South Wales Miners Association delegates – Mr Samuel Mills of Six Bells and Mr William Brace as miners agent of Abertillery, held a meeting at the Royal Oak Inn Abertillery with the aim of forming such a federation. The meeting took place in the Royal Oak Lodge Room. After this meeting The Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery was seen as the birthplace of the South Wales Miners Federation, S.W.M.F., the Fed which later became the National Union of Mine Workers – N.U.M.  

The South Wales Echo Report 1897.
On 15th June 1897 the South Wales Echo reported the details of the meeting (as seen in the clipping above). Sadly this chapter in its history had gone unreported, though 74 years later the South Wales Gazette published an article on the fact that the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery was in fact the birthplace of the S.W.M.F. An extract from the South Wales Gazette report is below.

The South Wales Gazette 21st January 1971.
The South Wales Gazette reported the following information on the Royal Oak Inn – The closure of the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery January 1971 is far more than a happening in the social life of a valley town, it is an event of great historic interest but when we heard the news how many of us remember that it was the birthplace of the South Wales Miners Federation. The formation of the Monmouthshire Western Valley’s Miners Association as an organisation affiliated to the Miners Federation of Great Britain was a turning point in the history of the struggle in the South Wales Coalfield which eventually led to the creation of the S.W.M.F., and that is what took place at the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery on the 11th June 1897. The men behind the formation were – Mr Samuel Mills and Mr William Brace.

Mr Samuel Mills.
Mr Samuel Mills worked as a checkweigher at Aberbeeg Colliery and later became the Aberbeeg District Secretary, the Miners Delegate for the Monmouthshire Miners Association and later the General Secretary of the local lodges under the name of the Monmouthshire and South Wales Miners Association. Mr Samuel Mills lived at Rose Cottage and Fair View Cottage, Six Bells, Abertillery.

Following is a Link to – Mr Samuel Mills.

Mr William Brace.
Mr William Brace, originally from Risca, was miners agent and later M.P., Mr William Brace was a founding member 52 of the Liberal Club, Foundry Bridge, Abertillery and lived at Springfield House, 35 Alma Street, Abertillery.

In June 1899 an agreement was drawn up between Rev Daniel Griffiths of Llangranog Rectory, Llandyssul. Mr Robert Thomas Martin of Caederwen, Clytha Park, Newport. Mr John Richard Webb, Brewer of Aberbeeg. Mr John Edgar Webb. Mr John Phillips Davies and Miss Agnes Emily Phillips Davies and Mr Henry Brasseur for the lease of a parcel of land 550 sq yards, containing the Royal Oak Inn and 3 adjoining cottages for the sum of £4. 3s. 4d. per annum over forty years.

The Brynteg Hotel.
In October 1899 Mrs Elizabeth Evans of the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery applied for a provisional full license for the proposed new Brynteg Hotel (this may have been the proposed premises later built as the Highbury House the Highbury Club) Mrs Elizabeth Evans owned the land that Mr Harry Campion later purchased and constructed the Highbury House in 1909 which later became the Highbury Club.

In 1901 census Mrs Elizabeth Evans was still the licensed victualler at the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery. Mrs Evans son Henry J. Evans was the barman. Most of her family with still living at home including Mr Robert Perry Evans. Mr Frederick Thomas Evans. Mrs Frances Watkins (daughter) and Mr Rees Watkins (son-in-law) with their son Master Arthur J. Watkins, born 1901, Mr Watkins was an insurance agent and Master Francis Perry Evans.

Mr James Henry Evans.
In the early 1900’s Mr Henry James Evans, son of Francis and Elizabeth Evans, and his wife Martha Evans, born at Coleford, Gloucester were the landlord and landlady at the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery.

The Death of Mrs Elizabeth Evans.
After Mrs Elizabeth Evans had left the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery seh resided at the Grove, Brynteg, Blaenau Gwent. She sadly passed away in January 1903 and was buried at Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church.

Mr Henry James Evans and the Pioneer Hotel, Glandwr Street.
In February 1904 Mr Henry J. Evans applied to transfer his license from the Royal Oak Inn to a new hotel that was planned to be built at Glandwr Street, Abertillery. This new hotel was to be called the Pioneer Hotel. The application was not granted and the construction of the Pioneer Hotel did not go ahead.

Skittles Team.
In February 1907 a skittle match took place at the Rolling Mill, Blaina, between the Blaina Rolling Mill and the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery. Names of the Royal Oak team members were as follows – Mr T. Jones; Mr T. Churchill; Mr J. Talbot; Mr G. Harding; Mr W. Randell; Mr G. White; Mr T. Shellard; Mr G. James; Mr T. Lukins; Mr F. Pothecary; Mr A. Pratton and Mr J. Evans: The score was Blaina 317 points and the Royal Oak Inn 324 points.

Mrs Ashley.
In the 1920’s Mrs Ashley was landlady of the Royal Oak Inn, Abertillery with Mr William Ashley and Lily May Salisbury.

On 26th May 1926 an agreement was entered into between the Abertillery Urban District Council and Messrs Webb’s of Aberbeeg for the lease of 3 dwelling houses situated on the Bush Hill adjoining the Royal Oak Inn for the sum of £40 per annum over the period of 14 years.

Mr George Salisbury.
In 1936 Mr William George Salisbury was the landlord at the Royal Oak Inn.

A list of Landlords and Landladies.
Full list of Landlords 1856 – 1990’s were as follows –
Mr Thomas Cardy (1856)
Mrs Ann Cardy (1859)
Mr Joseph Winmill (1862 – 1868)
Mr Walter Lewis (1871)
Mr William Edwards (1874 – 1876)
Mr Francis Perry Evans (1878 – 1889)
Mrs Elizabeth Evans (1895 – 1901)
Mr Henry James Evans (1905 – 1915)
Mr William Ashley (1920)
Mrs Sarah Ann Ashley (1922 – 1935)
Mr William George Salisbury (1936 – 1938)
Mr Thomas S Adams (1945 – 1950)
Mr Gwyn & Mr Doris Adams (1951 – 1955)
Mr Leonard J Smith (1956 – 1963)
Mrs Florence M Smith (1964 – 1967)
Mr Raymond Tiley (1968 – 1970)
Mr Frank Jones (1971)
Mr David Watkins (1972 – 1974)
Mr Eric Watkins (1978 – 1980)
Blaenau Gwent Rugby Club Committee (1980 – 1990s).

The information on the later landlords was kindly supplied courtesy of Mr Bryan Boots.

The Later Years.
The Royal Oak was reportedly closed in January 1971. It was later leased by Mr Eric Watkins and was a Second Hand, Antique Shop, it later became a restaurant though closed and was returned to a club and became the home of the Blaenau Gwent Rugby Football Club and became known as the Blaenau Gwent Rugby Club, R.F.C. The premises closed again in the 1990’s and never re-opened, it was demolished along with the adjoining Carmel Chapel in 2015 and the site is now a car park.

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