The Somerset Hotel – Abertillery

The Somerset Hotel – Abertillery

The Somerset Hotel – Abertillery.
The Somerset Hotel was originally known as the Somerset House and was first featured on the 1861 census. It is believed that the original inn was constructed sometime in the late 1850’s. Somerset Street was the area from the Somerset House to High Street, from the Somerset House to Cwm Farm Road was known as Cwm Street, named after the Cwm Estate, upon whose land the street was built, also Cwm Farm, Cwm Farm Road and the Cwm Hotel etc. Much later Somerset Street was extended across to the War Memorial.

Mr and Mrs George and Mary Bence.
On the 1861 census Mr George Bence and his wife Mary Bence were licensees at the Somerset House, Abertillery. Mr George 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 Carston, 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. Also living at the Somerset House, Abertillery were – Miss Mary Ann Howells, a servant from Monmouthshire and Miss Mary Ann Parr, also a servant from Somerset.

Mr and Mrs George and Mary Bence left the Somerset House in the late 1860’s and became licensees at the Bell Inn, Somerset Street, Abertillery.

Mr and Mrs Joseph and Ann Evans.
On the 1871 census Mr Joseph Evans were landlord and landlady at the Somerset Inn, Abertillery. Mr Joseph Evans was born in 1830 at Clutton, Somerset. Mrs Ann Evans nee? was born in 1830 also at Clutton, Somerset. Mr and Mrs Evans lived at the Someset Inn with their family – Master Robert Evans, born in 1854 at Clutton, Somerset. Miss Sylvia Evans, born in 1856 at Aberystruth. Master James Evans, born in 1861 at Aberystruth. Miss May Evans, born 1867 at Aberystruth and Master Joseph Evans, born 1870 also at Aberystruth. Also living at the Somerset Inn, Abertillery were – Miss Ann Brown a servant from Aberystruth.

Mr Joseph Ford.
In 1872 Mr Joseph Ford of Blaina was reported as being the owner of Somerset House, Abertillery though there is no record of him actually living there, it seems he was leasing the premises. Mr Joseph Ford was born in 1807 at Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire, England. His wife Charlotte Ford nee Baber was born in 1823 at Red Hill, Somerset. Mr Joseph Ford had lived at Blaina since the 1830’s, was on the 1841 census living with his wife’s family the Baber’s at Cwmcelyn and was later the landlord of the Red Lion Inn, Blaina and the Kings Head, High Street, Blaina.

Mr Fords daughter Charlotte was born in 1863 at the Kings Head, High Street, Blaina. Miss Charlotte Ford attended Monk Street School, Abergavenny with her older sister Emma Ford would later marry Mr William Miles Lewis of Abertillery and they would later become owners and licensees of the Somerset House, Abertillery.

The Perseverance Lodge Abertillery.
In July 1873 the Perseverance Lodge Abertillery moved from the Commercial Inn to the Somerset Inn, Abertillery.

Mr John Sargent.
In the mid 1870’s Mr John Sargent was the license holder for an interim period.

Miss Emma James.
In October 1877 it was reported that Mr John Sargent transferred the license of the Somerset House over to Miss Emma James.

Mr and Mrs William and Martha James.
In the late 1870’s Mr and Mrs James were licensees of the Somerset House, Abertillery. Mr William James was born in 1823 at Pembrokeshire, Wales and was a coalminer and inn keeper. Mrs Martha James, born 1822 at Monmouthshire. They lived at the Somerset House with their grandson Master William J. James, a tin worker and Miss Eliza Morgan a servant from Monmouthshire.

The Somerset Inn.
At some point in the 1870’s the Somerset House became known as the Somerset Inn.

Mr and Mrs William and Charlotte Lewis.
In 1881 Mr William Miles Lewis married Miss Charlotte Ford of Blaina. Miss Charlotte Ford’s father Mr Joseph Ford owned the Somerset Inn at Abertillery as mentioned though he did not seem to have lived there, it looked as though he leased it to various tenants.

Mrs Elizabeth Miles.
In 1882 Mrs Elizabeth Miles was listed as being the licensee at the Somerset Inn, Abertillery.

Mr and Mrs William and Charlotte Lewis.
In 1888 Mr William Miles Lewis and his wife Charlotte were owners of the Somerset Inn, Abertillery. Mr W. M. Lewis was born in 1852 at Abertillery, the son of Mr and Mrs Walter Lewis, old inhabitants of Abertillery and had lived in a cottage near the Bush Inn, Abertillery. This old cottage was demolished in the 1850’s to make way for the railway to pass through the town. Mrs Charlotte Lewis nee Ford, born in 1863 at Blaina Her father owned the Kings Head, High Street, Blaina. They married in 1881 in the district of Bedwellty and lived and lived at Abertillery for a short while before living at Gilwern, Llanelly, Brecknock. Their family were as follows – Miss Emily C. Lewis, born 1883 at Abertillery. Master William M. Lewis, born 1885 at Abertillery. Master Walter Lewis, born 1887 at Abertillery and Miss Rosina Lewis, born in 1895 also at Abertillery.

Throughout their period of ownership Mr and Mrs Lewis were also leasing the Somerset Inn to various tenants.

The Rebuilding of the Somerset Inn.
In April 1889 tenders were invited from builders for the rebuilding of the Somerset Inn, Abertillery. The architect in charge of the rebuilding was reported as being a Mr W. Bean. The building was to be enlarged and constructed of stone (as seen left). 

Mr Thomas Thomas – Harpist.
In October 1890 Mr Thomas Thomas suffered a tragic accident at the Llanhilleth Fair, he had been performing acrobatics when a manoeuvre went wrong which resulted in him breaking his neck. He was conveyed home but owing to his body becoming paralysed he died a week later at just 22 years of age. Mr Thomas had been employed at the Somerset Inn as a harpist since 1886 and was considered to have been a genius on the musical instrument.

The New Somerset Hotel.
At the end of 1890 the old Somerset Inn had been rebuilt (as seen above) and renamed the Somerset Hotel. In January 1891 the hotel was put up to let. All applications had to be sent to Mr W. M. Lewis at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery.

The Western Valleys Brewery Company, Crumlin.
The Western Valleys Brewery Company, Crumlin was established in November 1891. The company was formed to acquire a portion of the buildings of the Crumlin Viaduct Works and to carry on a business of a brewery and also those of maltsters, innkeepers, licensed victuallers, wine and spirit merchants. The Western Valleys Brewery Company acquired the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery (as seen in the advertisement right) as part of the holdings.

Mr Edward M. Davies.
In 1892 After the rebuilding of the old Somerset Inn Mr Edward M. Davies was the tenant. Mr Davies was the chairman of the Licensed Victuallers Association. Mr Davies managed the Somerset Hotel for the Western Valley’s Brewery Company. He left the Somerset Hotel in December 1898 just before the company sold the brewery to Mr D. F. Pritchard of Crumlin.

Mr and Mrs William and Charlotte Lewis.
In December 1898 Mr and Mrs William and Charlotte Lewis moved into the Somerset Hotel as licensees. In 1899 the old Western Valley’s Brewery Company at Crumlin was purchased by Mr D. F. Pritchard, brewer of Crumlin. The Somerset Hotel was still part of the holdings in the company. It is unknown whether the brewery had any financial gain in the Somerset Hotel or it was just tied to the Crumlin brewing company.

The Abertillery Wednesday’s Shop Assistants Football Team.
On Monday 21st August 1899 the Abertillery Shop Assistants met at the Somerset Hotel with the intention to form a Wednesday Association Football Team. Mr J. Stewart of Hereford House, Brynteg, Blaenau Gwent, Abertillery was their secretary.

The Death of Mr William Miles Lewis.
On 5th November 1901 Mr William Miles Lewis sadly passed away at 51 years of age. His widow Charlotte Lewis stayed on at the Somerset Hotel as landlady.

The Refurbishing of the Somerset Hotel.
In February 1904 major renovations were carried out on the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery. The Licensing Committee granted Mr R. L. Roberts the architect three months with which to complete the work. Mr R. L. Roberts was the districts architect responsible for the construction of many churches, chapels and schools in Abertillery.

Mr and Mrs Richard and Charlotte Lewis Moxley.
In 1905 the recently widowed Mrs Charlotte Lewis married Mr Richard Llewellyn Moxley of Blaina and were both licensees at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery. Mr Richard Llewellyn Moxley was the eldest son of nine children of Mr and Mrs John and Elizabeth Moxley of Ireland and Clutton, Somerset, respectively. One of Richard Moxley’s younger brothers Alfred Moxley would later become the gents and ladies and later gents only outfitters in Church Street, Abertillery.

The Card Trickster.
In April 1907 a Mr John Brown known as a card trickster was visiting Abertillery and entered the Somerset Hotel to ply his trade. He had asked Mr Richard Moxley, the landlord if he could set up his cards in the bar, Mr Moxley told him that he couldn’t trick his customers and barred him from the premises, Mr Brown swore at him and left the hotel. A policeman was alerted to the fracas and arrested Mr Brown on a charge of swearing obscenities, the trickster was given a £2 fine or 14 days in prison with which he took the prison sentence as he had no money to pay a fine. The fine of £2 in 1907 is equivalent to £239.70 in today’s money.

Miss Charlotte Lewis Moxley and Messrs Andrew Buchan.
In 1912 Mr David Francis Pritchard left Crumlin, I am not sure if the business was carried on in his absence or partly purchased by the Messrs Andrew Buchan Brewery company? I have seen reports on Mrs Charlotte Moxley and Mr Andrew Buchan in connection with the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery but it cannot be confirmed at this point. Messrs Buchan Brewery Company did purchase the bulk of Mr D. F. Pritchards Brewery Crumlin though that was 25 years later in the 1930’s.

At some time during the Great War Mr and Mrs Moxley left Abertillery and their son Mr Walter Lewis was left in charge of the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery.

Mr Walter Lewis.
Throughout the Great War years Mr Walter Lewis, the son of William Miles Lewis and Charlotte Lewis and step-son of Mr Moxley was landlord at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery. Mr Lewis was also manager and driver at the Penrhiw Garage on High Street, Abertillery (as seen in the advertisement left).

Mr and Mrs Arthur and Rebecca Frowen.
In 1920 Mr Arthur Benjamin Frowen and his wife Mrs Rebecca Frowen nee Jenkins were the tenants at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery. Mr Arthur Benjamin Frowen was born in 1870 at Coleford, Gloucestershire. Mrs Rebecca Frowen was born in Monmouthshire. Mr Frowen was the son of Emma Frowen, the family lived at Sparrow Hill, Gloucestershire, her husband died and she married Mr John Saysell, the family came to Abertillery in the 1880’s and lived at Blaenau Gwent. Arthur and Rebecca Frowen were married in 1900 and initially lived at 40 Castle Street, Abertillery, they moved to 127 Tillery Street, Abertillery and later to the Somerset Hotel as licensees.

Mr Arthur Benjamin Frowen began his career at the Cwmtillery Colliery, moving to the Penybont Tillery Colliery as an overman. He then moved to the Vivian Colliery and became under-manager at the Gray Colliery, Abertillery. He had a brief spell at Talywain before becoming the manager at the Navigation Colliery. He left the collieries to become landlord at the Somerset Hotel in about 1920.

Abertillery A.F.C. versus West Ham F.C.
On Monday 28th February 1921 Abertillery A.F.C. played West Ham F.C. at Abertillery Park. The kick-off was at 4.00pm and the after match luncheon was held at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery.

Abertillery Wednesday’s Cricket Team.
In June 1921 the Abertillery Wednesday’s Cricket Team members who were based at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery were as follows – Mr W. Rudge; Mr A. Rudge; Mr H. Hudson; Mr R. Holmes; Mr J. Millard; Mr G. Adams; Mr B. Colebrook (Chairman); Mr S. Wilkins; Mr W. Powell; Mr F. Williams; Mr F. Price; Mr E. West and Mr J. Parfitt:

The Departure of Mr and Mrs Frowen.
In February 1925 Mr Arthur B. Frowen and his wife Rebecca left Abertillery to manage the Eagle Hotel at Slough, Buckinghamshire. Before they left they transferred the license at the Somerset Hotel over to Mr Frank and Lillian Brooks.

Mr and Mrs Frank and Lillian Brooks.
In 1925 Mr Frank and Lillian Brooks were landlord and landlady at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery.

Messrs Webb’s Aberbeeg.
In 1932 it seems that the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery was under the control of Messrs Webb’s of Aberbeeg. In this year they were advertising the Somerset Hotel to let.

The Death of Mrs Charlotte Moxley.
In January 1937 it was reported that Mrs Charlotte Moxley, ex-landlady at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery had sadly passed away at her residence in Brean Down Avenue, Weston-super-Mare. Mrs Moxley was 76 years of age and was brought back to Abertillery to be interred at the Blaenau Gwent Cemetery on Wednesday 27th January 1937.

Mr Togarmah Samuel.
In October 1952 Mr Togarmah Samuel of Gordon House, 2 Panypwdyn Road, Abertillery was the licensee at the Somerset Hotel, Abertillery.

The Various Associations at the Somerset Hotel.
Throughout its history various lodges and associations had made the Somerset Inn their headquarters, they included Abertillery Football Club, The Kangaroos, an off-shoot of the Buffaloes Society, the Griffin Lodge R.O.A.B., the Tillery Dewdrop Lodge, the Abertillery A.F.C., the Abertillery Wednesday’s Shop Assistants Football Team, the Abertillery Wednesday’s Cricket Team and the Knights of the Golden Horn R.O.A.B. Society just to name a few.

A List of Landlords and Landladies.
A complete list of landlords and landladies at the Somerset Hotel (1850’s – Present)
Mr George Bence (1850’s – 1868)
Mr Daniel Davies (1868)
Mr Joseph Evans (1869 – 1876)
Mr John Sargent (1876 – 1877)
Mrs Emma James (1877 – 1879)
Mrs Elizabeth Miles (1880 – 1884)
Mr Henry Lewis (1884 – 1888)
Mr William M. and Charlotte Lewis (1888 – 1893)
Mr Edward M. Davies (1893 – 1895)

Mr Isaac Edwards (1895 – 1896)
Mr William Miles Lewis (1901)
Mrs Charlotte Lewis (1905 – 1906)
Mrs Charlotte and Richard Moxley (1907 – 1915)
Mr Arthur Benjamin Frowen (1920 – 1924)
Mr Frank Brooks (1925 – 1933)
Mr Henry James Lewis (1934 – 1938)
Mr Togarmah Samuel (1945 – 1951)
Mr James J. Williams (1952)
Messrs Richard and Aubrey Purchase (1953 – 1954)
Mr David E. Thomas (1955 – 1958)
Mr Douglas Evans (1959 – 1961)
Mr William R. Erasmus (1962)
Mr Charles and Gwyneth Martin (1962 – 1974)
Mrs Gwyneth Martin (1977 – 1981)
Mr Mervyn Davies (1982 – 1983)
Mr and Mrs Glyn and Rita Banks (1984 – 1990)
Mr and Mrs Edonio and Shirley Cordaro (1992 – 1996)
Mr Edonio Cordaro (1997 – 2000)
Mr Mario Cordaro (2001 – 201?)
Mr Colin Yates (201? to present).

Someone managed the Somerset Hotel for an interim period in-between Mario Cordaro and Colin Yates.

The complete list of landlords and landladies was kindly supplied courtesy of Mr Bryan Boots.

The Later Years.
The Somerset Hotel, Abertillery is still trading and is one of the most popular places in Abertillery.


Notes of Interest –
In February 1925 Mr Arthur B. Frowen and his wife Rebecca left Abertillery to manage the Eagle Hotel at Slough, Buckinghamshire as stated above. Slough was originally in the county of Buckinghamshire though was later placed within the county of Berkshire during a boundary change, as it is today. 

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