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Gobowen History

Gobowen is an old village, with open cast mining recorded as early as 1160.  Known as Gobs, it is possible one of these workings could have been owned by a man called Owen, hence the name. 

When one of the pictures below was taken (The square 1913), the main London to Holyhead road passed through the village.  Behind the signpost showing 174 miles to London, is the fountain which was opened on 11th December, 1876 by Col. Lovett of Henlle Hall.  In his speech he related the legend of Owen the Gow (blacksmith) who settled there after being attracted by the beautiful stream of water, providing yet another source from where the name could have been derived.

Following are some old pictures from the village which have been copied from the wonderful collection of historical information that was originally created by Jack Tamlyn.  It is kept in the library and well worth a look.

Following that are some extracts taken from book about Shropshire which make reference to Gobowen.


bulletGobowen in Pictures - Click the images for a bigger version


The Square 1913

Circa 1914, Whittington Road

Circa 1913-1914 Local Lads

View from Level Crossing - 1913

Whittington Road Circa 1930


The Station


The Crossing


The Square


The Station 1958


The Cross Foxes



bulletThe following are extracts taken from ‘Shropshire Within Living Memory’ a book compiled by the Shropshire Federation of Women’s Institutes from notes sent by Institutes in the County.  The extracts contain specific references to Gobowen.


‘In the early years of the century at Gobowen, the roads would be full of cattle on a Wednesday being driven along to Oswestry market.  On the first Wednesday in each month, a horse fair took place in Oswestry.  The horses would go through the village all dressed up in ribbons etc, beautiful big cart horses.’


‘I think PC Davies’ biggest job was going round the farms at Gobowen checking the record books or checking sheep dipping.  There would be a feed of bread and cheese at the end of it.

All the boys were afraid of the policemen in those days.  He came to the school one day, he got my brother out of class and asked if he’d been in an old mill.  A lock had been broken and some other damage had been done.  He frightened my brother so much he told him we had been in the mill.  He got me out next and I had to say the same as my brother.  We had not been near the mill!’


‘The Rev G.O. Brown was vicar at Gobowen during the 1920s and it was his wish to be buried the opposite way round to everyone else.  It was customary in those days to bury everyone with their feet to the east, so if he was buried the opposite way round, on the day of resurrection he would arise to face his congregation!’


‘If you came out of the Hart and Trumpet public house at Gobowen and saw some elephants walking past, you would think it was the result of having too much to drink.  Oh no! Elephants used to walk from place to place as the circus moved.

Two men were washing the elephants in a brook by Pentre Wern blacksmith’s.  There were two old elephants and one young one.  I don’t know if one of the older elephants was the mother of the young one. As the men were encouraging them to wash themselves by putting their trunks in the water and squirting water over themselves, the one big elephant stepped back and put his trunk through the small elephants legs and pulled him over onto the stile. They started to fight, the horses ran away and there was quite a commotion.  The noise was frightening and we children ran away for our lives.  By the way, the stile has never been repaired and that was over 70 years ago.’


‘In 1902 there was a cloudburst and Gobowen was flooded in March, and again in May.  The trains had to stop because the water was high enough to put out the fire in the engines.  The railway porters put chairs on the railway trolleys and took some of the passengers over to the Hart and Trumpet Hotel, where they stayed until they were able to complete their journey.’


‘One remedy from an old soldier at Gobowen who had boils after being in the trenches in France, was to get a small portion of warm cow dung, put it on the boils and they would be gone in a day or two.  The best I told was to get an egg, boil it hard and eat the shell and all.  That was an old gipsy remedy, but the end result was they were all lanced by the doctor.’


‘To celebrate the end of the Boer War there was a dance in the Malt Kiln at Gobowen, now the Farmers’ Union.  Medals were given to commemorate the Coronation of Edward VII.’


‘I remember the Coronation of George V celebration at Gobowen.  We had marched from the council school to the mission room with flags, or flowers on flag sticks.  We had tea and sports in Pentrewern field, where the flats and Cornish house are now.  We also had mugs and royal blue edged testaments given by Mr Bill Bowyer from the Hart and Trumpet.  At night there was a dance in the mission room.’


If you have any historical information or old photos of Gobowen please contact us - contact@gobowen-online.co.uk