The Misses Atcherley and their seaside holidays – Part 2

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Llandudno

 The extraordinary advantages which nature has made available for establishing Llandudno as a watering place, have doubtless been the great inducements whereby a spirit of enterprise has been attracted to found on its shores a rising town, which it needs no spirit of prophesy to foretell, must become one of the most popular and most frequented marine resorts in the British Isles. Its accommodations for sea-bathing are safe, excellent, and almost unrivalled. The sands, which are remarkably smooth and firm, stretch for a considerable distance by a gentle declivity into the sea; the flow and ebb of the tide are so gradual that that children and the most timid ladies may enjoy a refreshing plunge in the water without fear; while the more venturesome swimmer may take the invigorating exercise without danger. – John Hicklin (1862), The Handbook to Llandudno and its Vicinity.

Llandudno from above the baths, circa 1860

Of the marine resorts in the British Isles, Llandudno certainly seems to have been the most frequented by the Misses Atcherley of Shrewsbury. One or more of the sisters holidayed there in every year but one from 1860 to 1865, taking up residence in houses situated in North Parade, St George’s Crescent, or Clonmel Street.

The history of Llandudno is very similar to that of Rhyl (see part 1 of this story), and is summed up neatly by John Hicklin in the opening paragraph of his Handbook’s description of the town (which I have split into two for ease of reading):

NORTH WALES, with its lovely valleys, its majestic mountains, its placid lakes, and its rural retreats, has always been a favourite resort for tourists; but since the introduction of the railways, which have added the modern wonders of mechanical genius to the picturesque antiquities of “the olden time,” and multiplied facilities for exploring the romantic districts of the Principality, the number of visitors has greatly increased; and every part of England is becoming familiar with its scenery, its history, and its traditions.

Among the more notable spots, which the near proximity of the Chester and Holyhead Railway has quickened into activity, is the delightfully-situated town of Llandudno, where an intelligent spirit of public improvement and commercial enterprise is rapidly converting what was lately an obscure village, into the most charming bathing place on the northern coast of Wales. Surrounded by a glorious combination of marine and mountain scenery, it stands on the margin of a semi-circular bay, which stretches between the bold promontories known as the Ormsheads; and is distant four miles from the ancient town of Conway, in the county of Carnarvon.

Having been the first of the sisters to rock up at Rhyl, Margaret Atcherley was also the first of them to take her leisure at Llandudno. And in another parallel with that earlier seaside sojourn, Margaret was accompanied by relatives, at least for the first part of her stay. The Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors printed in the North Wales Chronicle of 22 September 1860 showed “Miss M Atcherley, Shrewsbury” at Ty Gwyn Newydd, North Parade, along with “Mrs Maddocks, the Woodlands, Shropshire” plus Miss Maddocks and Miss F S Maddocks of the same place.

As we saw in part 1 of this story, Mrs Maddocks of The Woodlands was Margaret Atcherley’s first cousin, Mary Maddocks née Parton. On this visit to Llandudno, Mary was accompanied by her two daughters: Mary Anne (a.k.a. Marianne) Maddocks and Fanny Sarah Maddocks, who were both in their late teens. Mrs and the Misses Maddocks had arrived in Llandudno before Margaret Atcherley, first appearing the List of Visitors at Ty Gwyn Newydd on 15 September 1860. When the list was published on 29 September, Margaret remained but the Maddocks family had gone. They would be back, however.

It was the Misses Atcherley who returned to Ty Gwyn Newydd eight months later, in May 1861 – Margaret evidently sang its praises to her sisters after her first visit. I would love to know exactly how the trio spent their time in Llandudno. No doubt they took gentle walks along the pier and the promenade, enjoying the sea air and the views. Perhaps they visited the Aquarium, or the Strawberry and Flower Gardens, both situated in Tudno Street. They probably visited nearby Conwy (then known, at least by the English, as Conway) and marvelled at the ancient castle and the rather more modern suspension bridge. On Sundays, they would certainly have attended church (most likely St George’s). As John Hicklin noted: “The Sunday is piously observed in Llandudno by all classes, who seem to regard it with one consent as a day of holy rest, ceasing from worldly cares and pleasures, and surrendering themselves to its sacred duties and influences.”

What I would most like to know, however, is whether the Misses Atcherley were among the ladies, timid or otherwise, who enjoyed “a refreshing plunge in the water”? If they chose to do so, there was the Public Baths, “a commodious and handsome edifice, standing upon a bold ledge of rocks overhanging the bay.” It featured “excellent private baths for ladies and gentlemen, approached by separate staircases” and was equipped with “a steam-engine and two sets of pumps to raise the sea water from an extensive reservoir,” which was filled at every tide. Hicklin opined that the baths would be regarded as “one of Llandudno’s most important local institutions, for bathing is now considered by the intelligent to be as contributory to the preservation as the recovery of health and vigour.”

Llandudno beach (with bathing machines) and Orme’s Head, circa 1880

There was also, of course, the sea itself. For “convenient and enjoyable” bathing there was “every comfortable accommodation which well-appointed caravans, civil attendants, cleanly arrangements, and judicious regulations [could] ensure.” Regulations? Yes, there was an abundance of bye-laws “for the regulation of bathing machines for hire” at Llandudno.

As with the public baths, the spaces allocated on the beach for male and female bathing were strictly separate. To avoid any confusion, the machines themselves were to have the words “Bathing Machine for Gentlemen” or “Bathing Machine for Ladies” painted on them (along with the operator’s name and the machine number), on pain of a fine of up to 40 shillings. The machines were also to be taken out to a depth of water which would prevent the occupant(s) from “indecently exposing his, her, or their person or persons”. Let’s hope that if any of the Atcherley sisters were taken out to sea in one of Llandudno’s bathing machines (at a cost of 6d plus 3d for each additional person, for 40 minutes), their modesty was suitably maintained!

In 1862 the Misses Atcherley spent several weeks at Llandudno. They were listed in the North Wales Chronicle, at 9 St George’s Crescent, from 31 May to 21 June inclusive. This was followed by two separate Atcherley visits in 1863. In June, an unidentified Miss Atcherley of Shrewsbury stayed at Latimer House on North Parade. Two Misses Legh, one from Oswestry and the other from Foxhall, were also there at the same time, but I have not established if they were related. Then, in August, the Misses Atcherley took up residence at 8 St George’s Crescent – accompanied once more by their Maddocks cousins, Mrs, the Misses, and this time also the young Mr T (Thomas) Maddocks.

Relations between these Atcherley and Maddocks families were clearly close. According to the Shrewsbury Chronicle, when “Thomas Maddocks, Esq., of The Woodlands” came of age (21) on 24 April 1867, the Misses Atcherley were among the guests at the gathering which celebrated the event the following day. And when their nephew George Robert Jebb (son of John Jebb and Martha, née Atcherley) was married in 1870, his bride was his second cousin Mary Anne or Marianne Maddocks.

If one or more of the Misses Atcherley visited Llandudno in 1864, I have yet to find them in the North Wales Chronicle. The paper’s Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors does however show that the sisters made one last trip there in 1865. ‘Home away from home’ for Anne, Hannah and Margaret on that occasion was Bay’s Hill House in Clonmel Street. During the first two weeks of their stay, the List of Visitors (on 9 and 16 September) gave their names as the “Misses Atcherley”. But the lists of 23 and 30 September named then as the “Misses Alcherleys”. Shocking – but nowhere near as shocking as 21st century OCR (Optical Character Recognition) rendering them as the “Minxes Alcherley” on the Welsh Newspapers Online website. No wonder these respectable ladies never went back!

Llanfairfechan

The most westerly holiday resort on the coast of north Wales to be visited by any of the Misses Atcherley was Llanfairfechan (situated rather more than half way between Llandudno and Bangor). Margaret was once again the first of the spinster sisters to try this new spot – and also the last. Her sole vacation at this location took place in August 1889, by which time Hannah Atcherley had passed away and Anne Atcherley was 89. But although Margaret was the only one of the Misses Atcherley to stay at Llanfairfechan, she was nonetheless accompanied by one of her sisters.

The lists of visitors at Llanfairfechan printed in the Llandudno Register and Herald of 15 and 22 August 1889 included, at “Brondalar” in Penmaen Park, not only Miss M Atcherley of Shrewsbury but also Mrs and Misses Jebb (2) of Ellesmere. Mrs Jebb was the above-mentioned Martha Jebb, née Atcherley, who had married John Jebb at Baschurch in 1831. John Jebb died in 1882, so Martha was a widow when she joined her sister Margaret for a family getaway to North Wales in 1889. Martha had four daughters: Anne Rebecca, Martha, Fanny and Ellen Jebb. Which two of these four went with their mother and aunt to Llanfairfechan? We will probably never know.

Llanfairfechan (pictured above, circa 1890-1900) was another tiny village transformed into a thriving tourist destination by railway transportation. It had a Promenade “developed to provide holiday makers with a pleasant place to stroll and take in the sea air”, while around it were woodlands and rising behind it were scenic hills and mountains. It was “The combination of sea, mountains and woods at Llanfairfechan” that made it “a pleasant holiday resort”. I hope Margaret Atcherley, her sister and her nieces enjoyed their time there, betwixt the mountains and the sea and in each other’s company.

What else did the Misses Atcherley spend their money on? The sisters’ story continues with The Misses Atcherley and the wonders of the Victorian Crowdfunders.


Picture credits. Llandudno from above the baths c1860: Adapted from a public domain image by J Newman & Co, taken from Wikimedia Commons, original source National Library of Wales. Llandudno beach and Orme’s Head c1880: Adapted from a public domain photograph by Francis Bedford taken from Wikimedia Commons, original source National Media Museum. The parade, Llanfairfechan, Wales: Adapted from an image from the Library of Congress Flickr photostream, no known copyright restrictions.


References

See also references for part 1 of this story

[1] John Hicklin (1862), The Handbook to Llandudno and its Vicinity. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[2] North Wales Chronicle, 22 Sep 1860, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copies viewed at British Newspaper Archive and Welsh Newspapers Online.
[3] North Wales Chronicle, 29 Sep 1860, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copies viewed at British Newspaper Archive and Welsh Newspapers Online.
[4] North Wales Chronicle, 15 Sep 1860, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[5] North Wales Chronicle, 18 May 1861, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
[6] North Wales Chronicle, 25 May 1861, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive (found by manual search, names not indexed).
[7] North Wales Chronicle, 31 May 1862, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copies viewed at Findmypast and Welsh Newspapers Online.
[8] North Wales Chronicle, 7 Jun 1862, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[9] North Wales Chronicle, 14 Jun 1862, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[10] North Wales Chronicle, 21 Jun 1862, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[11] North Wales Chronicle, 13 Jun 1863, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copies viewed at Findmypast and Welsh Newspapers Online.
[12] North Wales Chronicle, 20 Jun 1863, page 9. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[13] North Wales Chronicle, 9 Sep 1865, page 12. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[14] North Wales Chronicle, 16 Sep 1865, page 12. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[15] North Wales Chronicle, 23 Sep 1865, page 12. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[16] North Wales Chronicle, 30 Sep 1865, page 12. Original Llandudno Directory & List of Visitors. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
[17] Shrewsbury Chronicle, 3 May 1867, page 6. Rejoicings on the Coming-of-age of Thomas Maddocks, Esq., of The Woodlands. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[18] Marriage of George Robert Jebb and Mary Anne Maddocks registered at Wem, June quarter 1870; volume 6a, page 1387.
[19] Llandudno Register and Herald, 15 Aug 1889, page 6. Llanfairfechan. List Of Visitors. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
[20] Llandudno Register and Herald, 22 Aug 1889, page 6. Llanfairfechan. List Of Visitors. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
[21] Death of John Jebb registered at Ellesmere, June quarter 1882; volume 6a, page 483; age given as 83.
[22] 1861 census of England and Wales, Piece 1885, folio 69, page 11. Prescott, Baschurch, Shropshire. Head: John Jebb, 62, coal & corn merchant, born Wikey. Wife: Martha Jebb, 53, born Baschurch. Dau: Anne Rebecca Jebb, 29, governess, born Bagley. Dau: Fanny Jebb, 25, born Bagley. Son: George Rt Jebb, 22, civil engineer, born Baschurch. Dau: Ellen Jebb, 17, born Baschurch. Plus a maidservant.
[23] History. At: Llanfairfechan Tourism & Amenities Association website (accessed 13 Sep 2017).
[24] Various authors (1928), A Pictorial and Descriptive Guide to Carnavon and North Wales (Northern Section). Page 51. Snippets viewed at Google Books.

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