Buckley (Welsh: Bwcle [ˈbʊklɛ]) is a town and community in Flintshire, north-east Wales, two miles (3 km) from the county town of Mold and contiguous with the villages of Ewloe, Alltami and Mynydd Isa. It is on the A549 road, with the larger A55 road passing nearby.
Buckley is the second-largest town in Flintshire in terms of population. At the 2011 Census, its community had a population of 15,665. When the contiguous Argoed community is included, Buckley has a population of 21,502.
A prominent nearby landmark is the Hanson Cement kiln just south of the town.
Buckley was an Anglo-Saxon location, with some of its houses later recorded in the Norman Domesday Book of the 11th century. However, the first documented evidence of its existence dates from 1294 when it was described as the pasturage of the Manor of Ewloe, spelled as "Bokkeley".
The name Buckley may derive from the Old English bok lee, meaning meadow, or field. The likely meaning of the name was "clearing in a beech wood" (with boc meaning beech tree and ley meaning wood, glade or clearing). The name could also have been construed from bucc, a buck or deer; or bwlch y clai, meaning clay hole.
The town became an industrial heartland for pottery and coal mining between the 17th and 19th centuries. The first was opened in 1737. However, it only grew into any kind of prominence during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, when coal and clay were extensively mined there, and the name Buckley became synonymous with the production of various fire-clay and pottery products. By the early 19th century, there were 14 potteries in the town.
Buckley was a popular location for mining, as there were many faults in local rock formations that allowed seams of coal to be mined directly from the surface. Its heavy, clay soil also allowed for excellent pottery and bricks to be manufactured. Bricks from Buckley were transported all across the United Kingdom and as far as the United States, as Buckley became a brickworking centre. A great deal of people moved into the area, particularly from Ireland and Liverpool to find work in the mining and brick industries, giving the town a distinctive accent. Many pottery and earthenware products manufactured were taken on the backs of donkeys to either Chester market or exported via the River Dee, as early as the reign of Elizabeth I. The last pottery kiln was fired in 1946. The site of the brickworks is now being redeveloped as a housing estate. However, a local cement works is still in operation.
In 1932, a tradition started in Buckley of running an annual pantomime. Dennis Griffiths produced a version of Dick Whittington in 1933, and ran the pantomime for 27 years, famously using the programme to invite any and all complaints to arrive written "on the back of a 10 shilling note (non-returnable)".
In the Second World War, a Nazi German Luftwaffe plane, most likely on its way to blitz Liverpool, was shot down and crash landed in a nearby district, with the plane's engine crashing into a small lake known locally as 'The Trap'. The pilot survived, captured by a Special Constable, Peter Griffiths, and taken to Hawarden Prisoner of War camp.
Urban district status was conferred on the town in 1898; at this time, the area comprised two parishes, Buckley (1874) and Bistre (1844). The urban district of Buckley was formed of Pentrobin and Bannel (which was formerly a part of the parish of Hawarden), Argoed, and Bistre (the oldest part of the town). Wat's Dyke formed the western boundary.
Geography and climate
Buckley is situated in north east Wales approximately 6 miles (10 km) from the border with England to the East. Buckley is in the lee of the Snowdonian mountain range to the west and is therefore in a rain shadow area. Average annual rainfall in Buckley is approximately 700–800 mm (28–31 in) which is significantly lower than areas to the West of the Snowdonian mountain range. However, in comparison to areas in the East and South East of the United Kingdom, Buckley still receives a fair amount of rainfall. Since Buckley is located approximately 130–150 m (430–490 ft) above sea level, snowfall is more frequent in winter months in comparison to the lower lying ground in neighbouring areas.
Areas in the parish of Buckley outside the town centre include Bistre, Lane End, Padeswood, Buckley Mountain, Drury, Pentrobin, Bannel, and Alltami.
Although very few locals speak with a 'Buckley' accent nowadays, due to people moving in and out of the area, and with the proliferation of television and radio, a few of the town's older citizens still speak in a form of the strongly accented dialect, full of colloquialisms, and often unintelligible to outsiders. One of the last remaining pure 'Buckley' speakers was noted linguist Dennis Griffiths, a Buckley resident, who died in 1972, and whose books are the main repository and record of the dialect. A few examples (mainly phonetic) are noted below:
- Wunst every blue moon – rarely occurring
- Thou fries me to death – the limit of boredom
- A lick and a promise – a quick wash
- Fasen the fost un fost – fasten the first one first
- The daddy on um aw – the best of the lot
- Husht thee naise – be quiet
- I conna meke thee out – I can't understand you
- Chunner – Complain
The last 'pure' speaker of the Buckley dialect was Joseph Charles Shone, a foundryman born in 1917, who died in 1987. An example of the Buckley dialect was recorded by community heritage archivist John Butler in 2016. In this item, long-time Buckley resident Margaret Shone recounts one of Dennis Griffiths's specially written stories, an adaptation of the Parable of the Prodigal Son into the Buckley dialect.
The Hanson Cement works at Padeswood is the only large scale industry remaining in the town. Its 200-foot (60 m) kiln is now the major landmark on the skyline, visible from many miles away. Despite many locals considering it an eyesore, according to its website, the company has reduced pollution produced by the cement works by up to 90%.
Buckley has a large area of common land, known simply as 'The Common'. It has a large playground for children, as well as a duck pond. A funfair visits during the Buckley Jubilee in the summer, usually on the second Tuesday of July, which is the town jubilee.
There is also a small lake, known as 'The Trap', which is stocked with coarse fish. A German Messerschmitt bomber crashed into the Trap during World War II, shot down by anti-aircraft fire after going off course following a bombing run over Liverpool. The land is primarily heavy clay soil. Etna Park, which is just a short walk from the town centre, is part of the Heritage Trail walk in the area.
Buckley has a shopping precinct, as well as three supermarkets, Aldi, Iceland and Home Bargains. There is a town-centre car park which is charged at 30p per hour. The town contains a wide variety of public houses, which includes the local working men's club. The local branch of The Royal British Legion closed in 2010 and has since been demolished.
Buckley has four primary schools: Westwood County Primary (Formerly known as West Lea infants and Buckley CP – juniors) which is on Tabernacle Street, Southdown Primary School on Linderick Avenue, Mountain Lane Primary School on Knowle Lane, and Drury County Primary on Beech Road, Drury.
Buckley has one secondary school, the Elfed High School, located near the Common on Mill Lane. The school includes a sports centre and a swimming pool, for use of both the students and the public. Many students from Buckley also attend Argoed High School, located in nearby Bryn-y-Baal, or the Alun School, in Mold. All schools in Buckley are run by the Flintshire Local Education Authority.
Buckley is unusual in having two ecclesiastical parishes. The Church of St Matthew is the oldest parish church in the town, and was consecrated in 1822. Bistre Emmanuel Parish Church was built in 1842, despite appearing much older due to its early Gothic-style architecture. The first Primitive Methodist church in Wales is on the outskirts of Buckley, in Alltami.
The present St John's United Reformed Church was originally a chapel known as "Chapel in the Meadow", set up by a noncomformist pottery owner, Jonathan Catherall, in 1811. Before that date, Catherall had held services in his house which he named after Lord Hawkesbury. As the Church forbade chapels from having bells, he built a bell tower in the grounds of his home. The site of this unique non-conformist bell tower is marked by a mound and plaque near the skate park at the Elfed Sports Complex.
The Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic church in Buckley was built in 2000 to replace a much older building. Other churches in Buckley include Bistre Methodist, Pentrobin Methodist, Buckley Cross Methodist, Bryn Methodist, and Drury Lane Methodist.
Buckley observes an annual regional celebration and march that is over 200 years old called the Buckley Jubilee, which is celebrated on the second Tuesday of July. Officially, however, the Jubilee was begun in 1856. The difference in dates stems from the 'official' date being set when the Buckley Temperance Society first sanctioned the march. The Jubilee is a ceremonial march that begins on "The Common", a large area of common ground owned by the people of the town used for leisure and recreational purposes. The term 'jubilee' was first used in 1871.
A non-denominational Service led by the minister of the church or chapel leading the Jubilee that year is held on the Common, starting at around 3pm. The Sunday before the Jubilee, the leading church is presented with the Centenary Shield, which they hold for the year. A fifteen-minute service takes place, with two hymns accompanied by the Royal Buckley Town Band. The march then leaves the common, and marches through the town, with representatives from the local Sunday Schools, Scout and Guide troops, and many of the local schools. Banners from each of the local churches are carried.
Royal Buckley Town Band
Buckley has a famous brass band, the Royal Buckley Town Band. The band is one of only two in the entire United Kingdom to have received sanction from a British monarch to use "Royal" in their name. They lead the Jubilee every year.
Buckley has one nightclub, the Tivoli Nightclub (known locally as "The Tiv"), on Brunswick Road. Formerly both a cinema and a music hall, the Tivoli has seen many bands play there over the years, including Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s, and many Britpop bands including Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and the Super Furry Animals in the 1990s. It has been described as 'one of the finest quirky little venues of our time' and is featured in the DVD re-issue of Oasis's album, Definitely Maybe. Between summer 1992 and spring 1993, Radiohead played there twice. Bands such as Cast, Ash, Stiff Little Fingers, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Skindred, Hed PE and OPM have all played there. Since a renovation and rebranding in 2000, few bands played live at the venue, with the club music policy having more emphasis on commercial dance and pop music, with a rock night on Fridays. The venue attracts crowds from Chester, Wrexham, Manchester and Liverpool.
The town was also home to a community radio project which used to broadcast 'trial' or 'temporary radio' licences to Buckley, Broughton, Mold, Deeside and the surrounding areas. The station was known as South Flintshire Radio and its offices were found above the swimming baths on Mold Road. The station was heard on eight separate occasions between November 1996 and July 2000 as part of a campaign to bring a local radio station to Flintshire, following the demise of Mold-based BBC Radio Clwyd. The project helped pave the way for a permanent local radio licence which was awarded to Chester FM (known as Dee 106.3) which broadcasts to Chester, Ellesmere Port, Deeside and Buckley.
Buckley has a football club in the Cymru Alliance, Buckley Town F.C.. In addition to the men's team Buckley also has a women's team, Buckley Town Ladies FC, who play in the North Wales Coast Women's Football League.
The Elfed Sports Complex was built in 2005, near the Elfed High School, and includes a swimming pool, which replaced the outdated, Victorian-style baths on the Mold Road high street.
Buckley has previously been served by up to three different stations on lines operated by the Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway and the Mold Railway. Services to Mold and Connah's Quay have been discontinued and the old train lines removed. Many features remain visible particularly within Knowle Hill Nature Reserve to the east of the town.
Today, Buckley railway station is a minor stop on the Borderlands Line, which runs from Wrexham to Bidston on the Wirral. It is operated by Transport for Wales. Trains run every 60 minutes, Monday to Saturday daytimes, and infrequently at other times. Connections can be made at Shotton, Wrexham General or Bidston railway stations. There are two platforms, one for each direction the line runs in.
Notable current or former residents
- Tommy Astbury (1920–1993), former footballer with Chester City F.C.
- Frederick Birks, holder of the Victoria Cross for extreme valour as a first world war soldier.
- Danny Collins, professional footballer with Grimsby Town.
- Cherry Dee, former professional glamour model and Page Three girl.
- Sylvia Heal, former Labour Member of Parliament.
- Ann Keen, Labour politician and former MP for Brentford and Isleworth.
- Howell Elvet Lewis (1860–1953), known as Elfed, a Welsh Congregational minister, hymn-writer, and devotional poet, who served as Archdruid of the National Eisteddfod of Wales. Elfed High School is named after him.
- John Lyons, a former professional footballer.
- Blake Pelly (1907–1990), emigrated to Australia and became an Australian air force officer, politician and businessman.
- Ryan Shawcross, a professional footballer with Stoke City.
- James Williams (1885–1916), a professional footballer who died in active service during the First World War.
Twin towns and sister cities
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- "Town population 2011". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
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- "The Prodigal Son – a story adapted by Dennis Griffiths". People’s Collection Wales. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- "Cleaner and healthier: The new kiln and the environment". Hanson Cement. Archived from the original on 24 August 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2005. Cite journal requires
- Lewis, Mary Gwyneth (1959). "Catherall, Jonathan (1761–1833), industrialist and philanthropist". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Tattum, George (4 June 2009). "Buckley Jubilee plans finalised". Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 18 August 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
- "Buckley Jubilee Procession". Gathering the Jewels. Archived from the original on 20 November 2005. Retrieved 5 August 2005. Cite journal requires
- "Recapture That Spark". No Rock and Roll Fun. 6 July 2004. Retrieved 25 September 2005. Cite journal requires
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- "Disused Stations: BUCKLEY (1st) Station". contributed by Paul Wright. Disused Stations. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2016.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "Disused Stations: Buckley (1st) Station". www.disused-stations.org.uk. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- "Complete national rail timetable (eNRT) – Network Rail". Network Rail. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
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- "North East Wales hero soldier". BBC. 17 June 2008. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "North east Wales soccer stars paired at Stoke". Wrexham Chronicle. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
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- "Sister (Friendship) City Affiliations > United Kingdom". Japan Local Government Centre. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- Dialect extracts are taken from Dennis Griffiths' book Talk of My Town, Buckley Young People's Cultural Association, 1969. It can be borrowed from Buckley Library.
- Out of This Clay Dennis Griffiths 1960 Published by Gee and Son, Ltd., Denbigh
- The Making of Buckley and District by T.W. Pritchard, Bridge Books, 2006. ISBN 1-84494-031-4
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