At Welsh Frankton there used to be a maintenance yard at the dock mainly for the service/repair of various canal boats. Boats were also constructed at this location. The Peates used to send boats that needed mending to the workshops at Welsh Frankton. The man who built the boats at this boatyard was known as Mr Beech. He installed a steam engine in one of the boats owned by the Peates. Later on he replaced the steam power in the boat with a Ford car engine. This particular boat was called "Cressy". "Cressy" was later purchased by a Mr LTC Rolt. Mr Rolt used to travel with his wife all over Britain by using various canals. He wrote a book about his canal tours entitled Narrow Boat.

During the 1950s Mr Peate was asked if he would consider using the canal again at that time if it was re-opened to a satisfactory standard. He replied by saying that he was not confident of the canal being opened again for business. There was an apparent issue of road bridge heights and piping of water for more than a mile at Pant. Another reason he said was the fact of the canal being too narrow which meant smaller boats would have to be used thus making it uneconomical having to pay wages to more personnel. If the canal had been broader and of more depth, bigger boats obviously carrying larger loads of grain would have been far more practical and also less boatmen would have to be employed.

Nearly sixty years ago A&A Peate used 13 ton road lorries to collect the grain directly from Liverpool with each carrier travelling two journeys nearly every day. This was obviously much quicker than canal transport. The mill received approximately 130 tons of grain per week.

When the canals of this country were established, adequate commercial roads for businesses etc were virtually non existent. I am of the opinion if the Shropshire Union Canal had not been constructed, Maesbury Hall Mill may never have been or if had existed would not have flourished in the same way without the assistance of the canal. The mill would have been more limited. Here we are almost sixty years on and canals in Shropshire and other counties due mainly to tireless efforts of enthusiasts are being enjoyed again, this time mostly by tourists.

Some Welsh Frankton History

One noted old farm in Welsh Frankton is that known as Brow Farm. The farmhouse was erected close to St Andrew’s Church on the Ellesmere to Whittington road. This church stands very prominent and can be seen distinctly for many miles around. From the farmhouse can be enjoyed an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. This scenery is said to include Hardwick Park with all its finery. Looking further can be seen the town of Wrexham, the city of Chester, including its cathedral. The Welsh Hills, the Wrekin, the Breiddon and the Stretton Hills are also clearly visible from this location.

The Brow farmhouse was once an inn called the Green Man. The Green Man sign displayed at the inn was reminiscent of one of Robin Hood’s band of followers with its familiar Lincoln Green. There once stood a tree outside the dwelling where apparently where many customers and weary travellers would probably sit under while drinking ale on warm summer days.

Andrew Hayes was the landlord of the Green Man for several years after initially taking over from his father. Jack Mytton whose was quite renowned for his sporting prowess along with Squire Reynolds were of the numerous patrons who visited the Green Man at Welsh Frankton. Other regulars were men known in the district as Bold Harry and a disreputable man by the name of Sammy Lloyd. Sammy was a cock fighting enthusiast of North Shropshire. It is said that once there was cock fighting held on a field called Big Bryn at Brow Farm. This has been stated as being the highest ground in Shropshire. (However that would be open to much discussion).

The Green Man was not the only tavern in Welsh Frankton area. It appears there were no less than three others. These were the Canal Tavern at Lower Frankton, the Old Leather Bottle which was opposite to a school (area of village later called Bottle Row) and a smaller tavern which was located along Tetchill Lane. When the building of the Cambrian Railway in the early Autumn of 1861 reached the Ellesmere area, the construction workers would frequent the local taverns. This was particularly beneficial to the Green Man. There would be at certain times much fighting and high spirits outside the Green Man. The noted fighters were from Old Hardwick, Ned the Bush and from Dudleston Heath, Turkey Dick and Ned the Vicar.

Quite a few years ago there were individual roadmen who apparently were responsible for the tidying and certain maintenance of the road in their local area throughout Britain. The roadman for Welsh Frankton was known as Mr Clay and he resided at a cottage situated next to Brow Farm. This man was so reliable and punctual at his work that people living in the village would almost certainly use him as a human clock! Another character who lived in Welsh Frankton many years ago was Wassey Davies. He would be seen on many occasions looking after his two cows while they grazed the grassy verges alongside the various local country lanes.

As previously mentioned, Andrew Hayes was the landlord of the Green Man. On one occasion two farmers of Ridge, Welsh Frankton pilfered a couple of fat ducks belonging to Andrew Hayes. Shortly afterwards Andrew was invited to have dinner with the thieving farmers. The same two unfortunate ducks were on the menu! After the wine had taken effect, one of the farmers bragged how the landlord had eaten some carvings of his own ducks. Andrew kept his cool and at a later date the two farmers were invited to eat dinner with him at the Green Man. Pork was on this menu this time. Incidentally a pig had disappeared from Ridge at that time prior to the dinner at the Green Man. Quite a coincidence!