The Plough, St Asaph
The Plough, The Roe
An early, horse-drawn version of the "booze cruise" used to bring thirsty people from Rhyl to this pub each week.
In 1881 Parliament passed a law which prohibited consumption of alcohol on Sundays in Wales. An exemption was allowed for people who were making long-distance journeys. Provided they had travelled from another town c.10km away or more, they could drink legally in pubs on the Sabbath. The Plough Hotel was deemed to be far enough from Rhyl (the roads were not as direct then as now) and on Sunday evenings trade was boosted by the arrival of the four-in-hand from Rhyl.
The coach was well laden when the upper photo was taken c.1895 as it neared journey’s end. On the right are the Clarendon Stores and Swan Inn, north of the Plough.
Tourists based in Rhyl used horse-drawn vehicles to visit St Asaph, usually stopping for refreshments at the Plough. Local children would sing for them in Welsh, then follow the coach as far as Bod Erw (near the A55 interchange today) to collect pennies thrown by the departing passengers.
The lower photo shows the Plough Hotel c.1908 with the motor car of society fraudster Violet Charlesworth. Soon after the photo was taken she tried to fake her death by having the car driven over a cliff near Conwy, sparking a police hunt and a frenzy of newspaper reporting on the “Welsh cliff mystery”.
In the early 20th century the Plough Hotel was owned by the People’s Refreshment House Association, formed in 1896 with the Bishop of Chester as its first chairman. Its aim was to tackle the problems caused by alcohol through incentives rather than prohibition, and with clergy involved in managing pubs. Its landlords were not allowed to profit from selling alcohol, but could supplement their salaries through sales of food and soft drinks. Any alcohol sold had to be of good quality.
Postcode: LL17 0LU