Posts Tagged ‘Gregory family’

Further information on the Robin Hood, the Gregories and playing marbles

September 20, 2011

I have recently received an email from Harold Clarke concerning some of the items posted on this blog. I know that some visitors are researching their family history so I am quoting the salient points of Harold’s email below. My thanks to him for this information.

“I have some information to add. In The Kelly’s Directory for 1901 it shows Jabez Gregory living at Fairfield Handbury Road and William Henry Gregory, Boot Maker, also living in Handbury Road. It would have to be a big coincidence if the two were not related, Jabez being the same that kept the Robin Hood and the coal mine. Jabez I believe to be the son of Benjamin Gregory born in Somerset and his wife Ann. Pentwyn Slope situated near Abersychan first opened 1843 and closed in 1917. It seems to have been owned at the time of closure by Jabez listed as J Gregory and Co Ltd. It had four men working there, two underground and two on the surface. It is listed as mining old coal. The actual location I believe to be to the rear of the present cricket pitch although there is some evidence that it could be near the viaduct  close to the Robin Hood as I have another mine known as Pentwyn Slope owned by Oliver Richards from Snatchwood with two men working below in 1908.

“If Jeff Oates has done any more research I would certainly like to hear from him as we have an overlap in dates. I have John Curtis as landlord in 1901. He married twice having eleven children, maybe twelve. I know, as previously stated, that one of the Curtises married Albert Powell so I have The Curtis Powell family through to the 1930s as landlords. Somewhere in there fits Jeff’s grandfather who had to be named Oates in 1911. I will get the pub records. 

“As I was writing the above, I don’t know why, but the following occurred to me: “KNUCKLEDOWN BARFULLOCK” pronounced as one word, meant knuckles firmly on the ground and the marble had to roll before hitting the target marble.” 


I also received an email from Elizabeth Sefton who accidentally came across the blog (as so many people do) whilst looking for information on Pontypool Japan Ware.


“I enjoyed reading about the Gregories. I have very fond memories of the shop and the owners. My parents always insisted on my three sisters and myself having good leather shoes on our feet. And the Gregories were invaluable to my parents to make sure we got the best. We lived in Edward Street Pontypool. I used to get so excited when I had new shoes (still do actually). I loved everything about getting them. The walk to the shop, the smell of new shoes as you walked through the door, the fuss I got from Mr and Mrs Gregory, looking at the little shoes in the glass cabinet in the front of the shop, the seats, stools with mirrors, and stacks of boxes of shoes in the fitting room, having my feet measured, choosing my shoes and last but not least watching Mr Gregory adeptly packing our shoes in brown paper tied with string. Sometimes I would be allowed to wear my new shoes home, so Mr Gregory would put my old shoes in the box and pack them in the same way. 

“Years later, when I had children of my own, the tradition of going to Gregories for good leather shoes continued but for both my sons the memories are of the young Mr Gregory (Anthony) who taught my two sons to tie their shoes with the two loop bow method, which my youngest son (now 33) has continued to use. I am glad this site popped up whilst I was looking for information about Pontypool Japan Ware. Lovely memories!! Thank you.”


As a result of Elizabeth’s letter, I phoned my cousin, Anthony Gregory, to let him know that his lessons on tying shoes with the two loop bow method were still bearing fruit. I told him about Harold’s information, above, and he said that Jabez Gregory was a distant cousin. W.H. Gregory was Anthony’s grandfather. I remember him as I met him on a couple of occasions when I was a young lad.

Anthony also said that the Gregories hailed from Pilton in Somerset so that ties up with some of Harold’s information. He further told me that Bob Trump, referred to in a much earlier posting on this blog, was the great uncle of Michael, Anthony and Vera. Apparently there was a Keith Gregory who had a shop in Freehold Land. I know nothing about him but if anyone remembers the shop I’d be pleased to hear about it.

Another member of the Gregory family was Owen Gregory who, at quite a young age, had a shoe shop in Osborne Road, Pontypool. Whilst I was doing my book signing at the Pontypool Museum last November, a gentleman approached me to ask for another of my books “Pontypool Memories”. He said he had already bought one but he wanted another to send out to Australia to Owen Gregory who is now living there. Apparently he knew Owen and spent some time with him when visiting Australia.

The Gregories of Cwmffrwdoer

October 7, 2008

I’ve previously mentioned my aunt Phyllis who taught in Town School Infants. She married Percy Gregory and went to live in the house above the shop in Hanbury Road, Cwmffrwdoer. Years before, during the hard times of the depression, Uncle Percy’s father had built up a thriving business in the shoe trade by allowing people to have new shoes and to pay for them in instalments. Repairs were also carried out on the premises.

I always admired my Uncle Percy. He was the sort of person sometimes described as a “gentle giant”. He was full of energy and always willing to help anyone. He was a member of Pontypool Toc H for many years. At the front of the house above the shop was the store room which contained hundreds of boxes of shoes and nearby was a very steep flight of wooden steps which led down to a door into the fitting room. It was almost vertical and, whenever I went down it, I carefully hung onto the rail at the side and was terrified in case I should fall. Consequently I was filled with wonder whenever I saw Uncle Percy descend those steps. He would put one hand on the rail and then jump down four of five steps, then another few and leap down the rest. I was always amazed at this daring feat.

The three Gregory children, Michael, Anthony and Vera, were of course, our cousins and, although they were some years younger than my brothers and me, we always looked forward to visiting them. The whole family were very active in the local Pontnewynydd Methodist Church.

They were a very generous family and we always felt welcome when we visited the house. During the war years they invariably put on a party when either of my brothers were home on leave from the forces. Aunt Phyll, somehow or other, even managed to produce sausage rolls as part of the fare, a great luxury at that time. And then, at Christmas time, there was the round of parties at our various houses on three or four evenings. When my grandparents were alive, the Christmas Day party was always at Osborne Cottage.

It was in the greenhouse at the back of the Gregory’s house that I first came across yellow tomatoes. During the growing season, Aunt Phyll was always generous in providing us with a bagful to take home whenever we visited.

But the place which fascinated me most was the wooden workshop which was also in the back garden. As a young lad I always asked to go there to see Uncle Percy and also his father repairing shoes. I marvelled at their skill and speed. First of all they would use a short but deadly sharp knife to cut out the new sole from a large sheet of leather. Then they would take a small handful of black tacks and put them up to their mouth, almost as if to swallow them, but instead they merely held them between their lips. Then, using a long iron bar, which looked to me rather like a file, they would take a tack out of their mouth, place it in position on the sole of the shoe and with one hefty bang drive it in, then another and another in quick succession. I was always amazed at the skill, speed and precision with which they did this. Then they’d take another handful of tacks and continue right around the sole of the shoe until it was all firmly in place. Then they performed something else I loved to watch. They would take a special hot iron with a wooden handle and apply molten black wax all around the edge of the sole, making it look like new.

Michael Gregory lived at Osborne Cottage for some years and it was while he was there that he started teaching at West Mon School. I have had several emails from former pupils who remember him as a very popular teacher who treated then as grownups rather than boys. He later gave up teaching to become a Methodist minister with very successful ministries in both Abergavenny and Bristol. Sadly it was while he was ministering in Bristol that he died about nine years ago. His wife, Maureen, died shortly after him.

Anthony also became a Methodist minister and has been very successful,  with his wife, Elma in ministering to the people of Tenby.

Vera is still living in Pontnewynydd not very far from the old shoe shop which, I understand, has now been converted into a house.