7. The Wepre Hall Estate
No town grows in isolation and therefore the history of Shotton would be incomplete without reference to other settlements in the area that influenced its growth. The Wepre Hall Estate has already been mentioned on a couple of occasions as it belongs as much to the history of Shotton as it does to that of Connah's Quay, particularly in the 19th century.
A hall existed at Wepre at least as early as the Domesday Census in A.D. 1086, when it was owned by St. Werburgh's Abbey in Chester and held by a man called William. Many commercial dealings must have taken place between Wepre and Shotton, and the other ancient hamlets of Aston, Ewloe and Hawarden.
An early Wepre Hall building was owned by the Fitz-Roberts family, who acquired it by the marriage of Miss Owen, the heiress of Bishop Owen of St. Asaph. During the Civil War a Royalist by the name of Captain Edward Morgan is known to have stayed at the hall. He commanded a battery of artillery during the siege of Chester.
Georgian Wepre Hall in about 1910
In 1776 Edward Jones, a lead mine owner from Holywell, built Georgian Wepre Hall. Jones bought land in Shotton, including Killins Farm, in about 1805 and Shotton Hall in 1807.
Despite his original wealth, he died in debt in 1815. In 1825 Major Trevor Owen Jones sold land from the estate, including some in Shotton, in order to cover his father's debts.
By the year 1830 the estate appears to have become profitable again and Major Jones had Wepre Mill built. The Mill is situated at the lower end of Killins Lane and Mill Lane, on the Connah's Quay side of the Wepre Brook. At that time it had three sets of milling stones driven by a water wheel 20 feet in diameter. The wheel produced about fifteen horse-power and it was used to grind the flour from the Wepre Estate farms, including Killins. The brook fed a reservoir situated 500 metres upstream in the woods near to the Hall. From here the water flowed through an aqueduct across the fields and into an earthenware pipe near the mill. The water then flowed from the pipe onto a wooden chute above the wheel. A tail-race flowed underground and back into the brook nearby.
In 1860 the miller was Mr. Mason and he was succeeded in 1884 by Mr. Blease. Mr. Blease left in 1895 to run a steam driven mill at Chemistry Lane in Sandycroft. Charles Dodd took charge of the mill for its last five working years before it closed in 1900. A few years later, the mill was refurbished and converted into cottages.
The Blease Family outside Wepre Mill in about 1890
Around 1810 Shotton Hall Farm was built to serve the Wepre Hall Estate with land of 96 acres. Its site is now covered by the Pippins housing estate. The farm also had a mill, but it was used exclusively for farm purposes. An iron undershot wheel produced about five horse-power and drove a single set of millstones, crushing grain for use as animal fodder. The mill also powered a chaff cutter and a butter making churn. The water reservoir was situated at the southern end of the farmyard and was fed by a small stream which flowed from the hills.
The first Tenants may have been William and Mary Tellett. A lease renewal, dated 1843 for Mary Tellett (by this time widowed) stated that the annual rent on the farm was £100.
The Freme Family of Wepre Hall in 1900
In 1848 more land in Shotton was sold from the estate and in 1865 the hall itself was sold by the Jones family to William Purcer Freme from Liverpool. Two people by the name of John Rowden Freme lived at the Hall, uncle and nephew. Their middle name survives as the name of Rowden Street in Shotton, built on the land they once owned.
The ruins of Shotton Hall Farm in 1986
The tenancy of Shotton Hall Farm passed to Mr. Wright in 1885 from Mr. Latham, who had worked the farm since 1860. Mr. Wright was succeeded by his son-in-law, John Charmley. His name is now remembered in Charmley's Lane which once led to the farm. In the years that followed the death of John Rowden Freme Jr. in 1919, Shotton Hall farm was sold off as building land. Charmley continued to run the remainder of the farm until 1925 when Edward and Alice Mousdale took over. In 1930 the King George Street housing estate was built on most of the farmland, and in 1937 Henry Hartwell became owner and occupier of the large farmhouse and outbuildings. He converted some of the farm buildings into workshops and lock-up garages.
Meanwhile, Wepre Hall was being used by the military, then in the 1950's it served as a home for Senior Citizens. By the year 1960 the Hall was semi-derelict and had to be demolished for safety reasons. The original cellars of the hall still exist beneath the Wepre Park Visitors Centre.
Shotton Hall Farm also lay derelict for many years before the site was cleared in 1986 for the Pippins housing estate.
Copyright © Keith Atkinson 1998 - 2006
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