Thursday, 6 January 2011

Local Heroes - Sir Thomas

Sir Thomas

If you asked me to name the capital of North Wales I be inclined to answer Liverpool, well I am Liverpool FC supporter.

The links between Anglesey and Liverpool run long and deep; be it for commerce or cultural reasons, but it is the sea and shipping that binds us most strongly.

This is illustrated perfectly by the life story of Sir Thomas, who when young caught a boat to Liverpool to seek his fortune.

Sir William Thomas was born at Hirgraig, Llanrhyddlad, 5 December 1836. When only 18 years of age he sailed to Liverpool from Holyhead and became a clerk in a shipping office. He started a business as a Ship insurance broker and manager in 1860 and by 1862 was trading under the title "William Thomas & Co, Ship and Insurance brokers”.

By 1874 he had shares in 21 vessels, most of them coastal schooners. In 1883 he became a local councillor and Chairman of the Bootle Finance Committee and in 1892 he was appointed Justice of the Peace and Mayor of Bootle. He commissioned the building of the last of the big Sailing ships the "Annie Thomas” in 1896. In 1897 he was appointed High Sheriff of Anglesey. The Garreglwyd estate was purchased by him in 1897. By 1899 he was again Mayor of Bootle and had control of 40 ships.

He was generally held in awe by the whole of the Liverpool shipping fraternity and he was a personal friend of Lloyd George, who stayed with him at Aigburth when he was in Liverpool. But although a successful businessman he was extremely generous and obliging to the Liverpool and Anglesey community to which he belonged. His promise to the deacon from Llanrhyddlad has almost become a legend - "for each pound you collect I will give you two pounds to build a chapel at Llanrhyddlad". The chapel at Bethel Hen is testimony that Sir William Thomas kept his word.

In 1915 he died in Liverpool and was buried at Bethel Hen in Llanrhyddlad the foundation stone of which he had laid in 1909.

On Thursday, 11 March 1915, after a short funeral service at his Liverpool home, his body left Lime Street station at 8.05 am for Anglesey. After arriving at Valley, a funeral procession was made through Llanfachraeth and Llanfaethlu , arriving at Bethel Hen Chapel, where the internment service was conducted by Rev R R Hughes.

The route from Valley to Llanrhyddlad was lined with people and without exception the windows of all the houses were covered. Mr Williams, the veterinary surgeon was heard to say, "We will not see the like of this man again".


kp said...

Tremendous article, thoroughly enjoyed it. More of such please.

Rhys Williams said...

I have deleted a comment by Photon as it contained an email address, however I reproduce most of it below without the email address:

"Mr. Telegraph - if you'd care to write a guest blog for the Photon, I'd be delighted to host it."

Thanks Photon I shall be in touch soon.