Emerging information about The Parrot and Gibson Square

Some interesting information has emerged about The Parrot Public House since my last posting. Kevin Larcombe emailed me to say that the remains of the pub are in his back garden and that he has some photos of the ruins from the 1960s to 1990s. If I receive copies of these I’ll put them in a post at a later date.

Mary, who is an officer for the Pontypool Townscape Community Project, has emailed me some interesting information about The Parrot. She says:

“We’ve stories of wrestling matches there when the men taking part would dress as women – quite a colourful time in the pub’s history. I’d love to find out more about this for the Pontypool Townscape Community Project.  

We were told of an incident that took place there when the patrons wanted to murder a man and tied him to the railway track but he got free and escaped – this story has now been updated by several Pontypool residents who say that the man was murdered in the pub and then taken to the railway track in the hopes it would look like a train had killed him. I don’t know what happened after that though.” 

*     *     *     *     *

 I’ve also received a little more information from Raymond Denham regarding his wife’s great grandmother, Mary Madden (Nee Donovan) and her husband, Patrick. In his email Raymond says:

 “I believe that I have found the couple in Pontypool on the 1851 census with Patrick living in Sowhill (Mason Labourer) and Mary Donovan as a house servant at “the Bank” in George St.

 In 1861 they are living at Black Rock in Llanellyn with three children.  I have not been able to find the 1871 census (checked all the of the Pontypool Census!!) but on the 1881 census Mary and 2 children are at in Gibsons Square.  Patrick died just before the census.

 In 1891 the family are at 9 Gibsons Lane.  What is unusual is that near neighbours in 1881, the McGuire family, are next door neighbours in 1891 which makes me wonder if (as far as the census taker was concerned)  Gibson Square and Gibson Lane were interchangeable.  In the 1881 census there are no numbers on either Gibson Square or Gibson Lane.

 In 1901 Mary is living at 7 Nicholas St., where she died 31 December 1903.  Again what is unusual is that both the newspaper entry and the burial record records the place of death as “back of 7 Nicholas St.”.  Why the back? – assume it was rooms in the house?

I have been fortunate to find a number of baptisms for the children in St. Albans catholic records.

 Two of the sons, my wife’s grandfather Timothy and his brother Michael left Pontypool along with a Daniel McGuire (the next door nieghbour) in 1895 under a bit of a cloud.  Timothy went into the Army and after 8 years in India he returned to the UK where he married his wife in Pontypridd.

 Michael was also in Pontypridd by this time with his wife who he married in London in 1895.  A witness at his marriage was Daniel McGuire.  Daniel was also in Pontypridd.  When Timothy got married in 1905 a witness at his wedding was James McGuire – brother of Daniel.

 What is really frustrating me is not being able to find the 1871 census.

 However an absolute goldmine of information is the Pontypool Free Press.”

If any visitor knows anything about the people mentioned in the above quote please email me and I’ll put you in touch with Raymond.

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2 Responses to “Emerging information about The Parrot and Gibson Square”

  1. Darren Says:

    Looking at the Town Plans 1881, this is how it looked to me.

    If you was to walk past Town School on the right you have a Methodist Chapel. Opposite this was a Presbytarian Chapel. On up towards Bridge St Junction and opposite is Gibsons lane, where you can either cut off up over the Donkey Steps into Gibsons Sq or follow it on around the houses at Gibson square to the back of the Masons Arms. OR Go on up High Street, Past the “One Bell” pub, round the corner , where Broadway is, was Gibsons Square,. Right where the Workmans Club is. Carry on up towards the Tranch just opposite the lower entrance to Gwent Street was the Masons Arms. on up the road on the Right about 100 meters is The Bush Inn.


  2. Clive Barnby Says:

    Following Darren’s comments, my recollection is that there was a lane – it would have been to the right of the Donkey steps (looking at them from Upper Bridge street) between the wall (i.e. on the right-hand side of the steps as you went up them) & the top property on the High street before the steps. It would have appeared then (in my days, the 1950s) almost as a side path to the back of that shop.

    As you went up the steps, I’m not sure if there was then a gateway on the right – occasionally it was open, then you could look down into the backyard of the shop. However, there were no properties beyond that in my time – none that I can recollect. Eventually the wall petered out as you got to the top of the steps, then a wire fence & edge to the top.

    The town map of 1881 – is there any way that can appear on this site? Is Darren able to send you, David, a copy? Or is it available somewhere for viewing?

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