Irish Square, St Asaph

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Irish Square, St Asaph

This area of St Asaph is known as Irish Square. Today it’s occupied by the offices of chartered accountants Salisbury & Co and the car park of the Bryn Dinas pub.

Irish Square probably got its name when basic lodgings here were used by many of the navvies who built the Vale of Clwyd Railway, including St Asaph station, in the 1850s. Many of the navvies (from “navigator”) were Irish. Some took up this hard, dangerous work and its nomadic lifestyle after fleeing Ireland’s 1845 potato famine but many Irishmen had been employed in large numbers on earlier construction projects in Great Britain. These included digging canals, before the railway age.

Old photo showing the erection of a telephone poleThe photo of Irish Square in 1906 shows a single-storey white building. This was the common lodging house, run by a giant of a man called Jack Boyce. It was nicknamed the “Hotel de Fourpence”, since a room cost 4d a night. The price included a portion of soup from the dolly tub, a large vessel intended for washing clothes, but no bed. Lodgers had to sleep on the floor.

According to police records from 1880, there were three brothels in Irish Square – despite the proximity of the cathedral and, in Chester Street, the police station, law court and Catholic church.

The photo is captioned “The telephone pole” and probably records the arrival of St Asaph’s first telephone pole. Butcher WM Williams is thought to have been the first person in the city to own a phone.

Irish Square was cleared soon afterwards and new offices built for St Asaph City Council. The municipal building was extended at the rear in the 1990s and is now occupied by Salisbury & Co.

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL17 0RN