James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

A Recollection about Elisha

A man called Claude Wilfred (aka 'Wil') Summerfield (1900-1988) was a long-time resident of Craven Arms. For historical research, he was interviewed in 1986 and he was asked, specifically, about Elisha Edwin Owen. The following is an edited version of the conversation, which had been recorded verbatum:

"Well, when the Railway, the lands of the Railway, were surveyed - of course a lot of it belonged to Lord Powis and his solicitors were Harrison & Sons of Welshpool. ... Well, this young fellow, Elisha Owen, Edwin Owen, he was articled to Harrison & Sons. Now they were obviously a very clever family ... and he was a wonderfully brainy old boy, he was. And so, of course, they sent him down to survey the land for the transfer. Well then, while he was down there - I suppose it perhaps took a matter of months - he met a Miss Wilding who was then employed by a milliner in Bishops Castle, in the days when if a lady wanted a hat she had to go to the milliner, she couldn't go to a shop. And he met Miss Wilding from Wistanstow. While he was there they persuaded him to be the first stationmaster at Bishops Castle because he was promised the job as ... Railway Manager, and he'd have been the manager of the Bishops Castle Railway from Craven Arms to Montgomery. So he stayed and for the time being was the first Station Master at Bishops Castle and he married Miss Wilding but he hadn't been there very long ... a matter of perhaps three or four or five years, top weight. Her father who had the village shop at Wistanstow, where they'd been for three hundred years, when they used to travel with a horse and cart to Liverpool to fetch the sugar and candles and stuff like that for the village shop - no other way of getting at 'em before the railway came." [Claude then recalled the system, still in use at the Wistanstow shop in his youth, of the sugar being in a ball on a string which was lowered into a machine to scrape of the sugar.]

"But I used to love to talk to the old man because his knowledge of everything was to me, in those days, just out of this world. In fact, Mr. Green, H.D. Green, Q.C. for the Bank of England, M.P. for Shrewsbury, he used to come for a weekend, down to Grove, and ... he never came down without going to see old man Owen and he'd sit and talk to the old man.

"He was a strange bloke, he was - old man Owen was a .. sidesman at the Wistanstow Church and he used to preach in the chapel, just down the road. ... " (cntd. >)