Lawley and the River Alyn Report, 1866

type: Beyond Scotland - Wales

Wrexham Advertiser, 29th December 1866
Unique Code:
Source date:

To the Editor of the Wrexham Advertiser.

Sir, — My attention has just been directed to a report by Edward Lawley, inspector of nuisances. Gresford, published in your paper of last Saturday. It includes some statements about " Paraffin Oil Works at Tryddyn,'' of which " Richard Williams, the Celyn, Caergwrle, is the owner."

As my name is Williams and I live at the place named, and am manager of oil works located about a mile from Tryddyn, I suspect that Pontybodkin works are referred to. If so, it is my duty to contradict most directly the statements made respecting these works. Mr Lawley's statement that " the clerks appear to have been cautioned against stating the owner's name" is a most impertinent and baseless insinuation. Mr Lawley knows very well that on the occasion of his visit (Friday, : Dec. 7th), he did not take the trouble to come to my office, that he made no enquiry of our "clerks," that he saw no clerks whatever: that his visit was so hasty and his inspection so superficial that he could not possibly obtain any reliable information.

The "clerks" he refers to are creatures of his own imagination, as our whole clerical staff consists of one office boy; our commercial transactions being conducted in London. Our foreman offered him every information, but Mr Lawley refused to receive it, or to waits while the foreman came to tell me of his presence.

Before I could reach the I corner of our works that Mr Lawley had inspected, he I had gone off in hot haste by the coal train. I was much annoyed by this at the time, and by the unfair manner; in which he had taken a sample of oil from a place far away from the works, and which had no connection whatever with the pollution of the river, This was proved by the fact that when Mr Lawley took the sample (from the accidental leakage of a single cask) the brook below our works was quite free from oil, and everybody knows that an ounce of oil will spread over many square yards of water. Mr Lawley's attention was directed to this, but he would not attend to it.

Mr Lawley's report leads us to the inference that his sample was taken from the brook where oil was coming into it. This was not the case. He could easily have taken it from the brook had it gone there. The shameful destruction of fish which occurred a fortnight before Mr Lawley's visit, was due to an eruption of some tons of oil, or rather acid tar, enough to have filled our little brook entirely. I am surprised that Mr Lawley's inspection should not have enabled him to point at once to the real origin of this wholesale and unprecedented devastation. I should not have troubled you with this letter had Mr Lawley confined his report to its proper business.

Even his statement about a "pipe for conveying waste or gas into the brook, which pipe, like "the clerks," does not and never did exist, would not have been a matter for ' newspaper contradiction ; but the publication of a statement that I have been guilty of instructing our "clerks" to suppress my name, thereby insinuating a guilty motive, is an impertinence cannot allow to pass without notice. Such an insinuation is the more vexatious as I have been at considerable expense and trouble to make arrangements for destroying all that can possibly pollute the river, and our works are so unusually open to everybody's gaze that the idea of concealment is absurd.

As an oil maker I can safely assert that the damage which has j been done to the fish in the Alyn is the result of culpable carelessness, and that if proper precautions were used not a fish need be destroyed. I sincerely hope that the proper authorities will follow up their investigations, and do it thoroughly and fairly, so that the fault may be brought home to those who have done the mischief, and not be left as it now is, a floating accusation against every oil maker in the district. To do this a proper inspection of the works must be made — the filching of an ounce or two of accidental leakage, and then rushing off without further enquiry, will do no good. No oil maker who is working properly can object to a proper inspection, but, on the contrary, would, like myself, wish it to be made, and afford every facility and information for the purpose.


From the Wrexham Advertiser, 29th December 1866