Former sweet shop, Llanrwst
The bookshop and stationery store Bys a Bawd, owned by Dwynwen Berry, occupies two previous shops. Number 29, on the right, was a grocer’s. Number 27 was a sweetshop, owned by Dwynwen’s father William.
A child’s leather shoe was discovered in a small void in a wall during building works at number 29 in the 20th century. Please ask at the counter if you’d like to see it. Shoes were considered symbols of good fortune, and placing one – often a well-worn child’s shoe – in a strategic position in the walls or under the floorboards was thought to ward off evil spirits. The tradition goes back many centuries, possibly to the Romans.
Wil Berry’s sweet shop was an established business when he took it over in 1955, after a slipped disc forced him out of the family business. His father Huw was a coal merchant and livestock transporter, based at 74 Denbigh Street, and a beekeeper of local renown. Wil sold honey from his father’s hives, and those of other local beekeepers, in the sweet shop. Wil, who became a beekeeper himself, was also an agent for EH Taylor Ltd, makers of beekeeping equipment.
On the morning of Huw’s funeral, a swarm of bees gathered at the cemetery entrance. The funeral went ahead, despite the undertakers’ concerns, and many of the bees eventually landed on the flowers on Huw’s grave.
Wil also sold tobacco and cigarettes, crisps with the salt in a separate little packet, and fizzy drinks. People would return pop bottles to receive a small deposit. Before she was old enough to work behind the counter, Dwynwen helped to fill the shop’s sweet jars from stock boxes in the back room. Fudge and treacle toffee were supplied by Partington’s of Llandudno. The back room was opened to the public before Christmas and Easter, when the family would lay out confectionery displays.
In the 1980s, Arianwen Parry moved her Welsh bookshop from the former butcher’s shop in Tanygraig to number 29 and combined it with her daughter’s office-supplies business, called Bys a Bawd (“Finger and Thumb”). At this time, Dwynwen had a busy career in film and television, acting in many Welsh radio and TV dramas and writing or editing scripts for many others. She took over Bys a Bawd in 2007. Two years later, she expanded the shop into the premises her father had kept next door.
With thanks to Dwynwen Berry
Postcode: LL26 0LL View Location Map