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A5025 Llanrhuddlad Anglesey Wales
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Why should the tiny village of Llanrhuddlad (sometimes Llanrhyddlad) on the north of Anglesey build a cathedral when all about were building sheds, ...well plain Calvinistic buildings, most of which were of the style of a typical church hall. Well not quite a cathedral but when driving along the A5025 the Bethel Hen Calvinistic Methodist Chapel at Llanrhyddlad stands out like a beacon among the flat lands of northern Anglesey. It seems it was all due to the works of one William Thomas, a quiet, prudent and unassuming Welsh gentleman.| William Thomas was born in Hirgraig, Llanrhuddlad, Anglesey on the 5th December 1836. Hirgraig, since demolished, was on a North to South line where the back windows looked out onto Holyhead bay. Between the ages of four and a half and eight he attended the small "circular" school Ysgoldy about 200 yards from Hirgraig. This school was condemned by Gweirydd ap Rhys as an abomination, and at nine years of age William attended the excellent British school in Llanrhuddlad, newly established in 1846, where the master was Robert Llewelyn Foulkes, a brilliant and inspired teacher. The situation of his birthplace and his fortunate choice of teacher must have been of no small significance in the formation of the hugely successful career that lay ahead of the young William Thomas as he watched from his bedroom window the sailing ships entering and leaving Holyhead harbour. At age thirteen he was made a pupil teacher and he continued there until he was 17. At which age in 1854 he sailed from Porth Swtan to Holyhead where he caught a boat to Liverpool to take up a position as clerk in a shipping office. This boat could have been the Windermere Packet. William Thomas didn't return home for two years. In 1860 he set up in business as a ship insurance broker and manager. He lived at this time with an aunt living in 28 St Paul's Square, Liverpool.| By 1874 he had shares in twenty-one vessels, most of them in the coastal schooner trade, "and consequently chartered and otherwise assisted more or less in the management of them". When the Bangor and Mutual Ship Insurance Company was incorporated in November of this year, William Thomas was one of its first directors. Shortly after he became a director of the Pwllheli and Nefyn Mutual Marine Insurance Societies. | By 1892 he was appointed as Justice of the Peace for Bootle by the Duchy of Lancaster. Again in 1892 he was Mayor of Bootle, invited by 17 Aldermen on 3rd November 1892 and followed for the next year with an unanimous vote from the other Aldermen for his continuance as Mayor. In 1896 he commissioned the building of the last of the big sailing ships of 1762 tons named the "Annie Thomas". The ship was lost in 1899. He also had previously had the "Principality" built. This was the fastest ship of the day,including the "Cutty Sark" (arguably)| In 1897 he became High Sheriff of Anglesey, and purchased the Garreglwyd Estate in Holyhead, where he had the Queen Anne house demolished and a new one built. By 1899 he was Mayor of Bootle again and had 40 ships under his control.| He was generally held in awe by the whole of the Liverpool shipping fraternity and he was a personal friend of Lloyd George, who stayed with him at Aigburth when he was in Liverpool. But although a successful businessman he was extremely generous and obliging to the Liverpool and Anglesey community to which he belonged. His promise to the deacon from Llanrhyddlad has almost become a legend - "for each pound you collect I will give you two pounds to build a chapel at Llanrhyddlad".| The chapel at Bethel Hen is testimony that William Thomas kept his word.| In 1904 he laid the foundation stone of Bethel Hen, Llanrhuddlad, on 9th December. | William Thomas died after a short illness at 5 Aigburth Drive, Sefton Park, Liverpool on the 8th March 1915. His body was taken from Liverpool Lime Street station to Valley Anglesey. The route from Valley to Llanrhuddlad was lined with people and without exception the windows of all the houses were covered. Mr Williams, the veterinary surgeon was heard to say, "We will not see the like of this man again". He was buried at Bethel Hen, Llanrhuddlad, Anglesey. His will, probated on the 8th April 1915 had a Gross Value of £230,071.00
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