Overton’s Free Newspaper - issued monthly to over 600 homes in Overton

Jan 2004


The Editorial Team

Alan Edwards - David Burton - Ken Farrell - Lesley Pugh - Christine Stead
Jackie Evans - Euan Stevenson

Our reporters cannot be everywhere.

If you have a story contact any team member or ring 01978 710422

Father Christmas visits Overton

Just two weeks before Christmas Day, Father Christmas and his many helpers visited Overton to see the young children and get some idea of what sort of presents they would like to receive and of course making sure he had the correct address for his deliveries. This was a busy time for Santa, and he had many places to visit before Christmas Eve.

Each year Santa is helped by members of the Ellesmere Round Table who, as always, make collections for those who are in need at Christmas. Santa's sleigh could be heard throughout the village - and children rushed out to meet him, despite the cold weather.

The Ellesmere Round Table would like to thank all those who gave so generously to their collection.

Diane Griffiths with her daughter Jade aged 3 years

Tara Stubbart with her daughter Courtney Rose, aged 2½ years

Arrive Alive
part two

(by Councillor David Burton)


North Wales Police aim to achieve the Government's 40% reduction by targeting roads which have a history of speed-related collisions and casualties. The routes are selected by analysing collision data. There are currently: -
• 53 routes
• 220 miles of road
• 1,667 injury collisions and
• 287 fatal or serious injury collisions
By targeting fewer than 10% of the area's road network the Police hope to reduce injury collisions by 20% and 25% of serious and fatal collisions.

85% of enforcement will take place on the targeted routes. The remainder will focus on:
• Educational premises during school hours where a problem has been identified.
• Temporary road-works on dual carriageways (where camera signs are displayed)
• Identified seasonal routes where there is a problem during specific periods of the year


• It must be transparent
• Cameras, fixed and mobile, must be visible
• Leaflets detailing every route
• A comprehensive website
• Issuing of weekly camera locations
• Proactive press and media coverage


The police are supposedly not making any money. All monies collected from speeding fines are sent directly to the Lord Chancellor’s Department. The Safety camera Partnership may claim back only the funds for the operational costs. But they would say that wouldn’t they?

What is clear is that the scheme is working in reducing accidents! In the period between January and December 2002 deaths were reduced by 38% and serious injuries by 34%.

What is also clear is that the speed limits are absolute, not discretionary. Therefore if we break them we know what to expect.

If you want to avoid getting caught log on to www.arrivealive.org.uk and find out when the cameras are operating on the A539 and A525 in the Overton area!

Ed: See Stargazer and Letters column

Rescue mystery solved
by Myra Worthington

In last month's Oracle, Mr Roy Hoare referred to an heroic rescue of a man who got into difficulties whilst swimming in the Cemetery Pool in Overton, in August 1933.

The man referred to was Mr Stan Bloxham and the brother who tried to rescue him, and who himself got into difficulties, was Bill Bloxham whose daughter Joyce lives in Lightwood Green. My father, John Hughes, always talked about this incident and never swam there again, as he was one of the group of men swimming with the Bloxham brothers at the time and witnessed the whole incident.

The pool referred to was a whirlpool in the bay of the River Dee below the Bryn-y-Pys cemetery, Wrexham Road. This bay was always referred to as the "adults bay" and there was a shallower bay further along the river referred to as the "children's bay". These two spots were very popular for swimming, paddling and picnics during hot weather.

Regarding the racehorse Poethlyn, my father as the local village blacksmith and farrier had the privilege of putting the shoes on Poethlyn and another Grand National winner called Niarco who is also buried in the grounds of the Bryn-y-Pys Hall.

The above picture was taken in Overton Smithy, Wrexham Road, with John Hughes holding the horseshoe, Charles Hughes (nephew) and Mr Tom Crump from Wrexham.

Ed: Thanks Myra for solving the mystery.

Overton Primary School “Open Day” and Registration

There will be an “Open Day” at Overton St. Mary’s Primary School on Saturday, 24th January from 10.00 a.m. to 12.00noon. Members of the community wishing to visit the school will be made welcome.

This event may be of particular interest to parents who wish to register their children for the next academic year (either for the “Nursery class” for children aged 3 to 4, or for the “Reception class” for children aged 4 to 5).
It is important for parents to realise that if a child is not registered with the school, then no place will be available at the school.

Closing day for registration is 31st January 2004. If parents wish to register their children, they should contact the School Secretary, Sue Walker, or Head Teacher, Pat Clarke.

Switch it off !

It is now illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone when driving, even when you are stopped at traffic lights or in a queue of traffic. This includes making or receiving calls, pictures, text messaging or accessing the internet. You must pull over to a safe location. Risk using a hand-held phone and you risk a fine of £30 which can be increased to £1,000 (£2500 for drivers of vans, lorries, buses and coaches) if the matter goes to court. Missing a call won't kill you.


So this month Cllr Burton finishes his article on the Arrive Alive campaign and in this piece he does pose the notion that it's all for profit, not speed. He does point out that the speed limit is an absolute and has always been and so one wonders why everyone who gets caught speeding feels aggrieved? Is it because of the whole culture around the car, or something more deep-seated and primeval?

What has always puzzled me is why we give such prominence to speed and hang onto the words of the motoring journalists in the press and on the television? We have 0-60 thrust down our throats, huge prominence to Brake Horse Power (what is that?) and speeds up to 220mph. Every one of them talks about Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Porsches, Koenisegg’s (what sort of name and what sort of car is that?). If you don’t spend £70,000 on a car you are just not in the race.

Jeremy Clarkson is the worst of these types. He hates Vauxhall with a vengeance and the worst thing about even the best Ford is the blue roundel on the back. Toyota is the worlds biggest car maker, but rarely ever gets a mention. These, however, are the sort of cars we all drive and given the amount of congestion we have on our roads 0-60 in ten minutes is about par for the course.

Of course the other crazy thing about all this concentration on speed is that in most countries it’s illegal – even on the much vaunted German Autobahns! So why do we allow ourselves to be sucked in? Why don’t these journalists concentrate on other extreme sports? If you go skydiving its legal, its exhilarating, and its fast! Acceleration is 120ft per second per second, terminal velocity is 120mph and the only person likely to get hurt in the unfortunate case of an accident is you (unless you drop onto the person who jumped out of the plane in front of you!)!

So next time some petrol head in the pub starts talking cars ask them what is its 0-30mph or its 40-70mph time (the speeds most of us accelerate from and to on the Motorway slip road)? Does it cost less than £20,000 and what mpg does it do? Meanwhile I’m off out on my mountain bike – I think I should get away with not being caught for speeding!

Tension mounts at Overton
Recreational Club
By Euan Stevenson

Friday, 12th December, and it’s finals night at the Sports and Social club – one of the social nights of the year in Overton. The club is magnificently decorated, radiating the brightness and cheer of Christmas. (Well done to Doreen Hamlington and Doll Jones – the hard working Christmas elves who have made the place look so sparkling).

The atmosphere is tense, with the finalists in these indoor sports really competing – at stake there are turkey prizes and names to be entered into the hall of fame displayed on the wall.

By 8.00 O’clock all the semi-finals have been completed and the finalists are now trying to compose themselves to give of their best in the finals. Mike Dorey – a high class snooker player – is playing Derek Edwards in the final of the billiards. Meanwhile on the domino tables Mary Perrin is playing Peter Williams in the singles final and Mark Whittal and Mike Cornes are doing battle with Cynthia Davies and Phil Jones in the doubles. In the other room, Kelvin Davies ( Overton’s Gary Kasparov ) is facing 100 – 1 outsider Val Stevenson in the final of the Chess. On the oche, Avril Williams and Sandy Foster are contesting the ladies darts final.

The place is a buzz of excitement – the spectators are the ones really enjoying the evening – a good atmosphere, good company, a refreshment and something interesting to watch. The finalists are trying to produce their best form and they are the ones under pressure.

9.00 O’clock – Mike Dorey has won the billiards and moved on to face Brian Malam in the pool final. Avril Williams has again triumphed in the ladies darts. Mary Perrin is the dominoes singles champion and Mark Whittal and Mike Cornes have come out on top in the doubles.

10.00 O’clock – Mike Dorey has won the pool and moved on to play Phil Jones ( unlucky in the dominoes doubles ) in the snooker final. The handicapper has given Phil 35 points start, so a close game is in prospect. Kelvin (Kasparov) Davies has triumphed in the chess championship for the 4th successive year. Mike Cornes has moved on to partner Laura Burrell against Sandy Foster and Derek Edwards ( both having lost a final already tonight ) in the darts mixed doubles final.

11.00 O’Clock – The snooker final is still neck and neck with only the pink and black ball remaining. Favourite Mike Dorey is going for a difficult pink – he fails to convert, and Phil Jones emerges victorious – a real close game and good handicapping. Derek Edwards and Sandy Foster have won the darts doubles to compensate for their defeats in other finals.
Dai “the bar” Jones is now battling with Dave “wavy” Williams in the darts mens singles final and it is now 1 – 1.

11.30. The raffle draw ( first prize a £ 100 hamper ) is being held and Dai “the bar” has just pipped “wavy” in the darts.

All in all, a terrific night’s entertainment for both players and spectators. Congratulations to the new champions and also to the organisers and chairman Brian Hamlington.

The club is doing a great job in providing entertainment for the village. For those of you living in the village, who like a change from television on the dark winter’s nights, get yourselves down to the club for a game of snooker, darts, dominoes or chess or even for relaxation and a quiet refreshment.


  • Our sincere condolences are extended to family and friends of Tom Haynes, of Willow Street, Overton, who passed away on 16th December. Noreen, Wenda, Sandra, Trena and families would like to thank everyone who sent sympathy cards, flowers and also donations which will be given to Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham. Also the wonderful letters that we have received. They have been greatly appreciated for Tom, Dad and Pop. Thank you everyone. Sandra Jones.
  • The Christmas Fayre held on Saturday 22nd November by Our Lady and The Welsh Martyrs Church raised £1581.26 which has been donated to Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham. The Church wishes to thank all customers and helpers for making the Fayre such a success.
  • The Overton Youth Club will be CLOSED on Tuesday 6th January and 13th January 2004. Youth Worker, Gaynor and Paul, will re-open the Youth Club at the Scout Hut on Tuesday 20th January.


Dear Hard-Working Editorial Team,

I enjoy the Oracle every month, always interesting & worth a read. Spoilt I am sorry to say this month (December 03) by the North Wales Police Arrive Alive Campaign article by Cllr David Burton. He glibly trots out the same old inaccurate information that ‘speed kills’ in order to justify speed cameras. What is even worse, be intends a follow-up article next month!!

The simple statement “Speed Kills” is just too simplistic, it’s like saying you are against sin!

Perhaps alongside his article you might also publish the following information, taken from this weekend’s Sunday Telegraph, written as part of an interview with the Chief Constable of Durham who polices an area comparable to the North Wales constabulary, and who decided not to install any speed cameras in his area:-

a. Durham has 34% fewer road accidents last year than the national average. b. 40% of fatal accidents in his area involved one or both parties having drugs in their system.
c. Many accidents were caused by fatigue
d. In the last year the number of speeding fines issued by Durham police have dropped by 32%.

I could go on and bore you to death, but I have left the most important statistic until last:

a. North Wales Police last year took £2.6 million from ‘speeding’ fines, of which, £1.7 million was clear profit after taking out administration costs, not a bad earner is it?

Now why do you think that speed cameras are appearing everywhere? Let not Councillor Burton kid us all, the Arrive Alive campaign is about generating income, and it is using false statistics to convince us otherwise.

Name and address supplied

Dear Editor,

May I, through your columns, express my congratulations to Overton Amateur Dramatic Society for their recent production of Alan Ayckbourn’s “Bedroom Farce”.

The four couples in the play were brilliantly cast, with each character different from his or her partner and at the same time superbly balanced. Timing, interpretation and delivery were excellent as was the lighting on which the whole play hung.

It was obvious from audience reaction on the Saturday night when I saw it that everyone, like me, had thoroughly enjoyed the play.

I look forward to the next production.

Ken Farrell
1 Springfield Park

by Constable Darren King

I think most people would agree that this area is one of the most beautiful in North Wales to live and/or work. But although we are blessed with lovely countryside, living in quiet villages away from large urban towns and all the problems they possess, we are however 'cursed' with some of the most dangerous roads in the county where traffic collisions are common place.

Now that the 'bad' weather is upon us, please take note of the following advice, which is just plain common sense, but are things that some people either forget or refuse to do, but may help you avoid having a collision and getting injured.

If you suspect that there will be a heavy frost and you are unable to place your vehicle under cover overnight, allow yourself some extra time to de-frost your windows before driving. It is very dangerous to drive with an obstructed view. I know that having to clear your windows 'may' make you late for work or late taking the children to school, but a large proportion of collisions are caused by drivers trying to steer a car whilst looking through a small circle in the ice, unable to see anywhere except straight ahead. As the old saying goes, 'better late that never'.

Remember to keep your distance from the vehicle ahead, in icy conditions at least double your normal distance as even with your new cars advanced braking systems, it is very hard to stop on ice. Also, ensure that when you wish to turn, that you not only give advance warning to the vehicles behind by correctly signalling, but start to brake gradually, don't 'slam on'.

As you will know, the grit that is placed on the roads very soon turns into a 'black slush', this then sticks to your headlights obscuring your vision. Ensure that you clean it off regularly. Make sure that your rear lights are also clean so that you are seen clearly by vehicles approaching from behind. Remember to keep your window wiper reservoir full of water, as once this 'slush' sticks to your windscreen it is near impossible to see through it.

I apologise if the above sounds very simple, but I am often amazed by the number of drivers that I witness, both on and off duty, who drive, usually exceeding the speed limit, whilst not observing any of the above.

This advice is to prevent you from not only being injured, but also to help prevent you from being prosecuted. Throughout the above I have referred to collisions. This is because it has been deemed that there are no such things as road traffic accidents anymore, they are all road traffic collisions. This is because every incident is usually caused by either human error or some form of misconduct, like the ones listed above.

Please drive safely.

Thank you.

Darren King, Constable 1360.
Community Beat Manager for
The Maelor Section.
The Police Station,
Station Road,


A Brief History

We continue this month with the serialisation of a book entitled "Overton in Times Past" written in 1992 by Brian Done (Asney Lane) and Betty Williams (Deva Terrace) to coincide with the Village Charter Celebrations of that year which commemorated 700 years since King Edward 1 granted Overton Borough Status in 1292.

The puzzle of the Castle.

There is no doubt that a Castle did exist at Overton for at least 200 years. In all probability it was of the ‘Motte and Bailey’ type with a wooden keep, but possibly fortified later with stone. It was built in 1155 by Prince Madoc of Powys Fadoc, the village was called Overton Madoc after this Prince.

The castle is recorded to have been standing in 1349 during the reign of Edward III. The last concrete evidence of its existence comes from the Tudor travel writer and antiquarian, Leyland, who visited Overton in the 16th Century and who referred to the castle, saying that at that time it was a ruin and suggesting that the river had changed its course.

Another 19th Century historian suggested that an earthquake had occurred in medieval times which accounted for this change of course. Most of this area does lie in a detached part of the township of Overton about 5 acres in area, on the banks of the Dee below Overton Bridge and is said to have been the site of the ‘Lords Mill’. Coupled with the fact that it stands near to the ‘Kings Highway’ indeed it is possible that this area could have been the site of the old pre- 1292 Welsh Village or Maerdref, Overton being the upper town and Maesgwaylod, the old name for this area, - being the lower town or field.

Lady Emma Audley, the English wife of Prince Gruffydd Maelor spent much of her time at Overton Castle and she is said to have died here in 1278. In her dowry, the site of ‘The Lords Mill and Weir’ was stated to have been in the Asney area and according to the Overton Royal Charter of 1292 the Castle was near the Mill and Weir which seems to prove fairly conclusively the site of the castle.

There are other strongly held local traditions concerning the possible site of the Castle.

1. On the other side of the river opposite Asney Cottage near the site of the now demolished Rock Cottage, there is evidence of earthworks still visible.

2. Behind the old mansion (now demolished) of Gwernhaylod is Castle Hill and Wood. Its elevated position overlooking Asney and the river gives excellent views of the Dee Valley and Cheshire Plain and is really a perfect site for a fortress. It is very likely that a house existed on this site at the time of the Charter. It was certainly occupied in 1470 and it is recorded that it was rebuilt shortly after this. There is also evidence of earthworks there, but there might be an explanation for these. During the Napoleonic Wars, the Fletcher family who owned Gwernhaylod, invented a number of ordnance and artillery weapons. We also know that they erected stone buildings which they used for target practice.

3. The Rev. Howson in ‘Overton in Days Gone by’ writes:

There is a tradition that some of the large stones which were used in the West Wall of the Churchyard came from some ruins which stood in what is known as Maes-y--Castell (Castle Field) which is just a little below Pendyffryn, known earlier as Primrose Hill’.

4. There is one other possibility, though one for which there is no documentary evidence, only tradition. Behind Penyllan House, near the Rectory is a little field now built upon but in the last century known as Studley’s Kraft and used as a recreation ground. Below here the wooded bank was known as ‘Mill Wood’ and again traditionally thought to have been the site of the King’s Mill and Castle. On the other side of the valley from here, below Knolton Farm are what used to be called the Tythe Banks, so this area again could well be significant. One of these holds the secret of a rich and fascinating part of Overton's past. But all of them had undoubtedly played an important part in the social history of our village.

In Lloyd’s History of Powys Fadog (1881) he writes:

‘The castle of Overton was built by Prince Madog ab Maredydd, and it was here that he chiefly resided; from this circumstance the place received the name of Overton Madog. In 1278 it was in the possession of Robert de Crevecoeur. In 1331 it was granted, with other lands in this comot, to Eubule L’Estrange, Baron of Knockin….

The lordship or comot of Maelor Saesneg was granted by Henry IV to Sir John Stanley, Knt., and it continued in his family till the reign of Elizabeth; when William, Earl of Derby granted it to Sir Randle Brereton of Malpas, Knt., from whom it passed to the families of Hanmer and Gwern Haulod’ (namely the Hanmers and Fletchers)

Next month: Overton's Fairs and Markets

North Wales Police
on-line alert system

A new service called Ecomms has been set up to provide an on-line alert system whereby members of the public receive important information about crime and related activity in their area via an e-mail message. You simply visit the website www.ecommsnwp.co.uk enter your e-mail address and postcode, then await for information to be posted directly to your e-mail Inbox. For example, the police can inform you of bogus callers in the area, and advise you how to deal with them if they call, thereby preventing further incidents from occurring. The system is dual-directional - enabling you to send vital information back, with each and every person who subscribes being another pair of eyes on the street.