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Denbigh Nicknames by Bobi Owen Whilst compiling a list of Denbigh nicknames, | realised, that as Denbighites, we were once known to cur fellow Welshmen as Denbigh Dogs, or, to be precise, as Denbigh Biack Dogs. The origin is almost certainly derived from the dogs portrayed on the Denbigh Coat of Arms. Our Ruthin neighbours have always been referred to as Ruthin Cats, ‘Work situations, | would imagine, are the source of many of these names and there is abundant evidence to show the humour and ingenuity of those who invented them, Thus it was in the North Wales Hospital, the Graig Quarry, the Railway Station, Howell's School, Gwasg Gee and other places where there were numerous employees. As there were so many with the surname Jones, Williams, Roberts etc, a nickname was a convenient medium to distinguish between them Often, the place of 2 person's origin offered an opportunity, such as Tom. Brymbo. Will Amiwch and even Griff the Green, a local boxer active during the 1920's who gained famed by going 15 rounds with Jock McAvoy, the British Middleweight Champion. These individuals were rarely greeted by their proper names Many were also named after the name of the shop. the fam, the office or Perhaps the inn where they were employed — Wil Segrwyd, Ted Pensgrin, Joe Bryn Pin, Griff and Huw Coppy, Margiad Williams y Clattwm and Wil Kilford, all names of farms in the locality. Those named after shops included Jones Bells, Evan Hyman, Ted Robert Owen, Grif ths Densons, Bert Mellard, Dick Co-op and Mrs. Ellis Dicks, Inns accounted for John Andrews, Mrs. Roberts Golden Lion, John Roberts The Plough and Twm Black Lion, Others included Bob Tom Howell's School and Betsi Crest, who was sister of my great grandfather and lived at Crest Cottage, which was the source ofa large number of nicknames. It is interesting to note that the majority of Denbigh nicknames were in Welsh Which was a reflection of the strength of the language in the town in the not so distance past The nature of the employment also offered an excellent opportunity for a nickname — Dai Divr (water works employee), James Jones Cabinet, who had a ‘workshop in Bridge Street just above the Plough inn, Jack Paraffin (a populat fuel at one time) and .loe Second Hand, who kept a furniture store in Love Lane with the words “new and second hand” printed on his invoices, There was Will Tarmac, who was a County Council road worker and Hughes y Gwehydd, who was a weaver and father of the Misses Hushes, the proprietors of a wool shop at Thomas Gee's old house, Bronallt, on Vale Street Meredith Dyrnwr used to go W from farm to farm with his theeshing machine, Miss: Jones y Colecay starched shin fronts, cuffs and collars end Roberts the Cruelty was the local NSPCC officer and lived at the now demolishes Bodnyfryd whicn wa iocated behind the former Crosvibe Garage Many will remember Hafod the Watch. an eccentric old character wna Kept a watch and Jewellery shop in Bridge Street and who travelled the length and breadth of the Vale of Clwyd repaiting and serving chapel clocks. Harokd always clamed thal as a young Soy in Mold he had Sst on Daniel Owen's lap. Bab y Trew, grandiather of the ale WT Williams (coo Denbigh Town Clerk and Chief Executive of Glynowir Council, was 3 remarkably strong tan who Worked as striker in the locsl foundry, Evans y Torrwe was 8 local contractor and Griff Muled {Griffith Jones, Goppy Road) was a earier who Used two mules. There was a iocal ammatour taxidermist known as Hugh Stour Edward Jones the ¥erger laoked ater St. Mary's Church. but the bellinger wass his so, Eine Bing Bong. Myridin ap Dafydd, a national poet of repute and the owner of Gwas Carreg Gwaich, teers, In one of fis articles. to a farily free the Denbigh eres known 35 Needies, The late Rev. Meirion Lloyd Davies, many of whose ancestors were boot, shoe and clog makers m Denbigh, was che of the “Needes’ family. Anaiher cheracier roterred to by Myrddin i= Glys Cysgod Angau (Valley Hf Ue Shadow of Death) who was a local undertaker ‘A notable Denbigh personality from the post First World War was Dr. John Gruffydd Thomas whose penchant for making late might calls eamed him the nickname Deryn y Nos (Night Bird) He demonstrated his abilty as 2 bard wnen he won a prize at the Lianrwst National Essieddied in 1951. He was, of course the father cf Dr. Gwyn Thomas ‘Theve are several Denbigh nicknames associated with the olé monetary system for example Liz Dimas {halfpenny), Jack Dwygeinog (uppencal. Hary ROt (groat or fourpance) who was a Newspaper wencar from Panton Hall end Jos Swi (shilling} who got h's nam from baing ove of a group of rellied men wha regularly stood outside tho Post Office waiting to be asked fo deliver a teiograrn Joe would only undertake @ journey of over three miles which ped a fee of a Shilling. Then there was the large famity dubbed with the name Hanner Coron (half crown) Itwas often the custom for child fo inherit thé parent's nickname, for example Bob Joe Watch, that is Bub (he san of Joe Watch and Nora Joe Swill Same took on the name of an older family memper, such 9g Jack Fanny, Tec Betsy and Bob Aunty Ruth The County School in my day was_a fruitful sowie of ficknames. The Headmaster, WA Evans, MC, MA, MSc, was @ strict disciglinaran and well- ‘enitied 2 be known as Buss WV Askew, the Chemistry nnisier was Skewer land the Malamabes master. JW. Harding, because he had a tendency (o roll from side to side whos walking, vise dubbed Jacx Tar Perhans one of the Geverest nicknames —eker my Eine — wats given te his son, a somenhat weedy, docile lad who was called Tarzan (Tars sor}. Some Denbighites were nicknamed because of 2 physical feature, for example Van Fawr (tail 1wm Bach Dew (snart and fall, Dic Fain (thin). Tuboy Postman, Anais Bach fama"), Tom Ginger asd Jehn Desf and Oumb. One local retired docios, who Is a prominent member of cur Suciety, bare the name Lwmg because of his somewhat ange frame ‘Trefor Spats reguiarly wore spats overs Nie shoes and Jae Wisg el Din was 30 named because thee was an abundance of cloth in his trousers. Dic Mae'n [avin (everything's fina) skways greeted folk i this way and Tip Toe. a teacher at Lowe Lane School, was known to creep around the duilding in the hape of Eaiching offenders. Who wauld you fine taler than Dooble Decker, slowe= than Twin Faswen (snail), thinner than Razar Blades, poorer than Simon Rags, richer than Lord Dunlop oF ower behind the wheol ct mis lorry than Segrava? He was famed afer Henry Segreve who urice held the world land speed record! There §s also a graun that may be described as “specials Nel! Mangle. who, afer the death of her husband, was provided with a mangle by her neighbours So that she would thereafter have the means of sustaining herself wy taking in washing. & censaquence of this Was that har son. whe had je! Diack hair, was: famed Darkie Mangle, David Gruffydd Jones, in a moment a* weakness, once: Contessed that he had never bean te London ana was hanceforts known 85 Dai ‘Cockney. Gic Pric Troi Lives tporridge stirring stick) s a nickname which remings. us of the custom years age of giving the youngest child ira family the task of Siicing the pot of porridge simmering on the hop wiki @ stick aa that it would not ‘coagulate. When his tum came to ragister for military service during the First Word War. Robert Jonus decred that re dic cat wh to enlist in Tie Rayal Navy, Gut would prefer to ,oin the Army. His colleagues mmadiataly dubbed him Bob Dry Lanc ane the fame was gassec down to his desconcants Pally Cag Vy (wic: Touts) Was venowned for te sharpness cf her tongue. while Evan Thomas Witams, a much respected lace’ builder, was moxnamed Twm Beth. a literal wansiaton of the Englen Tom Tit. Cho y Beenin (the king), the long-time caretaker of Gag Hywel - Upper Denbigh. was kon on Christmas Day. He was the father of Nurse Dugdale, the local midwife who ‘attended hundreds ot Denbign births. FLT. Hughes, the one time Bercugn Librarian when = child attempted to Say in Welsh ‘chwythu com’ (the blow a hom} it came out as ‘wffu Gen’ and thus he was known for the rest of fs days, A considerable numiver of tawinsmen who were associated with local bands were named accordingly — Dat Banje, Dick Trombone and Dramwr Bach, One jody whe played the vieln became known as Fanny Fidle. a Bob y Sgidie (Bob the Boots), when collecting scrap with Jim Piling during the First Worid War, was given permission to keep all the discarded footwear and to sell them by the sackful to Jim Davies the bootmaker. He, in turn, having Fepaired them, sold them on to the poorer folk of the town. David Edward Roberts, the reporter for the local press, was well known as ‘Man about Town’ and is so described on his gravestone. John Caledfryn Davies, father of Elwyn Parry Davies, a former Deputy Town Clerk, somehow saw the John changed, quite naturally, to Jack and the Calediryn shortened to Cled and the two ‘elements fused to give the nickname Jacied. ‘The well-known Big family inherited this name from an ancestor who once lived in a cottage in the Prion area which was located on a piece of land shaped like a bird's beak — pig in Welsh. The plumber, Charlie Wynne's grandfather, a noted athlete in his day, once won an important race at the Crystal Palace and was known thereafter as Ned Wynne y Rhedwr (Ned Wynne the Runner). Many will recall a popular figure in Denbigh known as Neg Bach. When asked once what he had for breakfast, he replied in the Denbigh vernacular ‘An egg yn aye’ Another well-known character was known as Take me home Charlie’. He was a heavy drinker and, affer a session at a local inn, would clamber into his trap and direct his pony, Charie, to take him home. Ned y Cyfiawn (Ned the Righteous) ‘was one of several who were prominent during the religious revivals of 1859 and 1904. Spow was the nickname — the origin is unknown - of the Denbigh Town Crier at the turn of the 20th century. This name was passed on to his son George, and, in more recent tmes, to his son, Owen. Many will recall the late Hugh Wiliams who, it is said, got his nickname, Hugh Cwstard, a3 a child because of his fondness for custard. Similarly, the nicknames Davies Mutton Pies, Joe Pudding, Bara Haidd (Barley Bread), Port Wine and Wil Comed Beef came into being’ | woncer if Maer y Domen ( the Mayor of the Dunghill) was the ‘king pin’ of his own area? Was Dei Dixie an enthusiastic supported of either Dixie Deen, the famous Everton centre forward, oF of Dixieland music? Was Moses Cranc (crab) crabby by nature or did he have a crab-like walk? Did Ned y Daran (thunderclap) have a loud voice? Was Bob ‘Ninety Nine the resident of a house of that number? Which gates was Twm Cloi (Tom Lock) responsible for securng? Did Tom Yank and Cowboy Joc have any connection with the USA? Cwyr Crydd (Cobbler’s Wax) must have had Something todo wih boot repairing and Twn Cam (Tom Hoo) wes probebly an ostier The list is considerable - Boyo, Chico, Bob Pupyn, Sianger, Dando, Squib, Corporal, Twm Sing, Napoo and Catrin y Falau (apples). There are stil nicknames in Denbigh today, but what has happened to some of those elements of humour and ingenuity which fed to the nicknames of the past? Some of them may be considered eccentric, but they certainly gave colour and character to cur history