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Description

The Tallow Chandler was a person who made and sold candles. Historically, candles would have been made mostly of tallow (animal fat), which was a cheap way for people to light their homes at night. The fat came from beef, sheep or pigs. Cattle or sheep fat was probably the best because it stayed solid at room temperature, and was available cheaply.

A slaughterhouse was located at the foot of Dinas hill in the Old Town, run in later years by the Humphreys brothers. There were by-products to this business. Skin (Hides) was animal skin for making leather and tallow was the fat used to make candles and soaps. There were two types of fat - the suet, which lies closest to the skin, was used for cooking and the tallow was used for candles and soap. Both types were boiled and the liquid poured into bags to solidify and this is where the chandler got his material. The wicks were made of spun yarn from cotton or hemp. Rush was used to create lamps, a cheaper way of lighting; a strip of plant fiber was soaked in fat or grease and placed in a special wooden or metal holder. That would often be mounted on a wall to keep clear of damp. Other early lights included lamps containing animal fat or oil, or beeswax candles. Oil and paraffin lamps became common for houses and street lighting. (There was no gas in Criccieth).

The large hotels, chapels and some buildings installed generators at the beginning of the 20th century as it was not until 1927 that mains electricity came to the town. Within living memory there were some cottages that still used oil lamps and candles.

David Griffith and  Evan Evans
David Griffith was born in 1790 in Criccieth and lived in Upper Glanrafon (near where Capel Berea stands today). He was a seaman, and after retiring from the sea, in the 1850s, he started a business as a tallow chandler while living in the same address. He died in 1868 and the business was taken over by Evan Evans, a neighbour, and perhaps a relative, who was formerly a carrier. The 1881 census states his occupation as Grocer and Tallow Chandler. He would have sold candles, soaps and other cleaning materials such as brushes, buckets, mops and so on. He died in 1893 and the business seemed to have come to an end.

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