1890 Ogmore Valley Beer Flagon

The Society would like to give a massive thanks to Lynne Pritchard, who donated this superb example of a Stoneware Flagon, which dates to bewteen 1884-1890 when Richard Conibear took over the running of the Ogmore Valley Hotel, which at that time was still called "Tynewydd" and not "Ogmore Vale".
As per the custom then, Collieries, Railway Station and Villages were usually named after the closest farm, in this case Tynewydd farm, which is now a residential property. The GWR fomally changed the name of the Station in 1892 from "Tynewydd & Ogmore Vale" to avoid clashes on the then new-fangled telegraph wires as there was already a village and Railway Station called "Tynewydd" in the Rhondda Valley.
History of the Ogmore Valley Hotel:
Ogmore Valley Hotel Owners:
What is clear from the available paperwork is that the Ogmore Valley Hotel, built by James Brogden c.1870-71 became part of the Brogden property portfolio along with the Wyndham Colliery. Thus, when the Wyndham Colliery was sold to North`s Navigation Collieries (1889) Ltd they also took ownership of the Hotel. In turn when Cory Bros. and Company Ltd purchased the Wyndham Colliery on the 3rd September 1907 the Ogmore Valley Hotel changed hands once more. It was following the nationalisation of the Coal Industry in 1947 that on the 19th August 1947 the National Coal Board exercised their option to purchase the Ogmore Valley Hotel along with the Wyndham Colliery.
The National Coal Board held on to the Hotel until sold to Andrew Buchan`s Breweries Limited on the 2nd June 1955 for £2,250. Not that Andrew Buchan`s Breweries were strangers to the valley. As the holding company they operated under a number of smaller former breweries, one of which in their portfolio was the Rhondda Vale Brewery who had built the Fox and Hounds Public House in High Street, Ogmore Vale in 1913.

Under another of their portfolio, Rhymney Breweries Limited, the Hotel continued until the mid-1960s when the Ogmore Valley Hotel finally closed it`s bar and Hotel and was left to fall into disrepair until purchased by William Clive Williams on the 12th June 1972. It was during this owner’s tenure that the Hotel was converted into a number of self-contained flats and re-named “Ogmore Court Flats”. The final owner of the majority of the Ogmore Valley Hotel as an `entirety` appear to have been Crystal Towers Limited who paid £60,000 on the 12th June 1999 though from September 1993 individual flats and adjoining land was sold to individuals.

At least 140 years have passed since the pioneering spirit of James Brogden built the Ogmore Valley Hotel at the commercial heart of the valley and whilst it has changed hands through many owners and along with the valley`s coal industry, declined sharply from the 1950`s onwards from it`s original imperial grandeur to it`s somewhat shabby appearance today, it is indeed remarkable that it has survived at all, as many other industrial icons of the valley that were also showing the same signs of decay in the 1970`s and 1980`s were raised to the ground in the name of “progress”.

Conibears, the first landlords:
On the 24th April 1871 a first 99 year lease was granted by the Ogmore Valley Hotel`s builder and owner, James Brogden to William Conibear dated back to 1st January 1871. The ground rent was £4 per annum plus £1 per annum for the adjoining land at Tynewydd. So who was William Conibear?

The Conibears were the first landlords of the Hotel and we are able to trace their tenure from 1871 until the early part of the 20th century as follows;

In the 1851 census a William Conybear was living in the village of Foxhole, near Neath. He was 20 yrs. of age and was listed as being born in the Combe Martin area of Devon. The census describes him as a labourer. William is lodging with another William Conybear aged 26 and a widower with three very young children - Eliza aged 8 yrs., William aged 6 yrs. and Lewis aged 2 months. All these children were also listed as born in Devon.

In 1861 William Conybear is now living in Newcastle, Bridgend aged 31 yrs. William is now listed as a Coal Miner. He has a wife Elizabeth aged 26 yrs., of whom we know very little other than she came from Laleston. By 1871 William and Elizabeth have had three children, Richard is now 6 yrs. old, Mary A. is 5 yrs. old and William H. is 3 yrs. old. William is still listed as a Miner and living in the parish of Llangeinor, which of course covers the Western half of the Ogmore Valley with William listed as living at 6 Nantydrus Row, which is now known as the Wyndham area after the pit sunk by John Brogden was formally named the “Wyndham Pit” by Caroline, Countess of Dunraven in 1868. Thus when the 1871 census was taken on the 2nd and 3rd April 1871, William was still a miner, probably working at the Wyndham Colliery and living in the Wyndham and not at the Ogmore Valley Hotel.
10 years later in 1881 and William and his family were still at the Hotel. A daughter Elizabeth had been born to them in these years. They must have had another child while living in Ogmore as a baby named James is buried in the churchyard of Llangeinor Parish Church. Elizabeth Conibear died in May 1881 aged 46 years. William was a widower now with a very young family whose ages ranged from 16 yrs. to 6 yrs. Elizabeth was also buried in Llangeinor Churchyard alongside her young son.

The hotel must have been a very busy establishment in the years between 1871 to 1881. Many representatives of various firms must have stayed there e.g. Mining engineers, “travellers” and Journeymen seeking custom for their firms at the new shops that had been built, medical and education developers etc. The hotel bar would also serve the many hundreds of thirsty miners.

In March 1882, 10 months after the death off Elizabeth, William married a Mrs Mary Hopkins in Llangeinor Parish Church. Mary was the daughter of Richard and Sarah Roberts. She was christened on June 22nd 1835 at Coychurch. Her father Richard appears to have been working in agriculture as a farm labourer, Gamekeeper and eventually working his own small farm. He died in 1881 at Rose Cottage, Bryncethin. Mary left home in her early teens to work in service or in the houses of relatives. She married William Hopkins in 1860. In 1871 William and Mary were living in Elder Street, Bridgend and William is described as an Innkeeper, two children were also living with them, John aged 5 yrs. and Sarah aged 3 yrs. there is an older son Thomas - but he has probably left home as he would have been 10 - 11 yrs. old.

On November 30th 1873 William Hopkins died. Mary was by now an experienced Publican and possibly remained at Elder Street for some years. In 1882, however, when she married William Conibear she is the Publican at the Llanharan Arms in High Street, Ogmore Vale. After 2 yrs. of marriage, William Conibear died and is buried with his wife Elizabeth in St Ceins, the Parish Church of Llangeinor.

At present it is unclear who was responsible for the Hotel after the death of William in 1884. Perhaps his widow Mary took over the service as she had much experience of the Hotel trade, and there is the possibility of the help of her 19 yrs. old stepson Richard. On the 1891 Census, however, Mary is living at 14 Queens Street, Lower Coity and is recorded as a Publican. The same Census records Richard aged 26 yrs. and wife Ethel 21 yrs. as Keeper of the Ogmore Valley Hotel.

We can see just how successful the Hotel was, when in 1897 the lease was auctioned at the York Hotel in Bridgend and reported in the Glamorgan Gazette in it`s edition of the 14th May 1897:

“Auction at York Hotel Bridgend of Ogmore Vale Hotel.
Several collieries with a pit to be sunk shortly by the `Aber Company` close to the Hotel. During last 5 years about 150 houses built in immediate vicinity, takings over £3,000 per annum. 73 years left on lease at 01st Jan 1897.
Population of Ogmore Vale on 14th May 1897 was approx. 7,000.
Bids started at £3,000, sold for £10,350 to Mr. [Richard] CONIBEAR son of the late owner.”
We know that Richard, Ethel and their two sons were still at the Hotel in 1901. However by 1911 the family had moved to Porthcawl and Richard had retired. It is possible that the Hotel had been under the management of the Conibears for the first 30 years of its existence. Descendants of the Skyrme family still live in the Ogmore Valley. Some remember Richard and his family and still wonder just where a man, the son of the late owner who had previously been a miner, and had raised the huge sum of £10,350 in 1897 in order to purchase the lease. This remains a mystery to this day.

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