The title of this article needs explanation forthwith. It has nothing to do with the stage of affairs that occasionally arises between “traffic” and “engineering” even in the best and most friendly organisations. Loggerheads is a place in North Wales on the boundary of Flint and Denbigh.
It derives its name from the Loggerheads Inn*, but how that house earned its label no one seems to know with any certainty, although it is said that the landlord, the butler from the nearby Colomendy Hall, and an artist visitor became noted for their powers of dispute. A glass-covered signboard hangs outside the inn; it shows two worthy heads set back to back, and beneath is the legend “We three loggerheads” and bears the name of R Wilson RA (1714-1782). The portraits are said to be the landlord and the butler, while the painter is the missing member of the “We three”. On the other hand, if you look at the sign and ask a local where is the third loggerhead, you are promptly told that it is yourself, the beholder.
A popular venue
So much for that. It explains (perhaps) the name Loggerheads. The nearest town is Mold, about three miles away, and Mold is at the edge of the great agricultural area that separates the Welsh hills from the industrial areas located in the north-west.
At Loggerheads the land rises sharply, the road passes over a great rocky escarpment and the scene changes; this is North Wales, and the foothills of the mountains are spread before one.
Where the road drops over the crest it passes between a private estate on one side and the wooded flanks of a rocky hill on the other, with the Loggerheads Inn at the foot where the road bridges the River Alyn, a small winding stream that wanders through the woodlands in the district.
Naturally such a place had in it all the makings of a popular venue; woodlands, river, the precipitous rock face, the inn, and the comparatively short journey from the big towns (Chester, Birkenhead, Liverpool, Warrington and so on, all within a 30-mile radius) all tended towards is popularity, and it became a recognised venue in the earlier days of the “chara” before that vehicle attained the dignity of “coach”.
That was in the day of the Crosville Motor Co Ltd, which preceded the present Crosville Motor Services Ltd, and a service from Birkenhead via Mold to Loggerheads was in operation. At that time the inn was the only accommodation available and it was not planned for catering of the type required. Therefore, when a part of the woodlands and fields adjoining the road and river came on the market, the Crosville Co acquired them and laid out gardens and erected a tea house. The woodlands along the river and the paths up the rocky cliff were left open for visitors, so that considerable walks and rambles could be taken without let or hindrance.
Subsequently more land came up for sale and the Crosville Co’s Loggerheads estate now extends to about 70 acres.
Service buses and excursion coaches reached Loggerheads from Chester, Liverpool and the Wirral (Birkenhead, Wallasey etc) and the estate served a dual purpose. It provided a destination for excursion parties, thereby encouraging traffic, and it catered for their needs during their stay. Thus both the traffic and the catering departments were under mutual obligation to each other.
So far the development of the estate was a venture that produced excellent results, and the provision by a coach operator of a self-contained objective for excursions justified itself; it was an example that could undoubtedly have been followed in other places, particularly in the early days of post-war coaching.
Subsequently a change took place in road usage, and the private car had its effect on the volume of coach-borne traffic to places such as Loggerheads. More and more private car people tended to call at the tea house, and the result has been to revise completely the style of catering and the amenities generally. The gardens adjoining road and river were more attractively laid out. The building was considerably enlarged and modern equipment of every type has been installed. But the woodlands are quite untouched and no effort to exploit the scenic beauties of the place by introducing any garish “attractions” is tolerated. True, there are a few swings and a children’s boating pond opposite the Loggerheads Inn, but these are not connected with the Crosville estate.
The establishment has now been renamed the Loggerheads Road House in order to signify its more general appeal. Meals and light refreshments are available all day throughout the year.
Car parks are provided and hitherto there has been no charge. Latterly, however, due to the way in which this facility was abused, a system of issuing a sixpenny parking ticket has been instituted, this ticket being credited on any purchase or meal obtained at the Road House.
Coach parties are catered for in bulk, and as many as 200 people can be seated for a meal at one time. This class of catering is not, of course, confined to parties brought by Crosville vehicles, and other operators make use of the facilities. The large pre-booked party is still the mainstay of the business, for it justifies the facilities which are enjoyed by the casual caller.
A further change in social habits following upon the popularity of the private car is also having its effect. A growing number of former patrons is establishing week-end cottages in the district, and to cater for these people and retain their custom, the making of home-made cakes, jams and so on is being developed, while the institution of dancing in the winter week-ends is proposed.
In general, the establishment may be said to be almost completely self-contained. Electric lighting is generated by a small plant, while steam is provided for boiling water and for heating the washing-up water. Thus by maintaining steam pressure in the boiler constant hot water can be obtained at various points.
As no gas is available, and as the lighting load and refrigerators already tax the electric plant unduly, it is not possible to cook by either of these means and a large anthracite range has recently been installed, incorporating ovens, hot plate, toaster etc.
The grounds keep a gardener, an assistant and a boy in full-time work, both the men being handy at dealing with any odd jobs. Overhaul of the power plant is dealt with by the firm’s own engineering department, likewise any plumbing work about the buildings. On the catering side a kitchen staff and waitresses, numbering six or more, are required according to seasonal fluctuations.
Various vegetables and flowers are grown on the spot, while dairy produce is supplied by the farm attached to Colomendy Hall, the adjoining estate, and thus the entire enterprise is a sound development of local industry.
General control of the estate is in the hands of a manager, who has been engaged on the traffic side of the Crosville Co for many years. At busy week-ends a considerable responsibility falls upon him in the regulation of traffic, since the place is not one in which visitors can be allowed to become stranded for the night. Requirements are therefore passed on to various depots and garages (Mold for purely local needs; Birkenhead, Denbigh etc for more distant places) to ensure that duplicate vehicles shall not cease to start out from their points of origin until it is quite certain that all visitors can be cleared to their destinations. Should the place be cleared before all the requisitioned buses arrive, the network of Crosville depots throughout the Wirral and North Wales provides a sufficiency of telephone points at which the unwanted vehicles may be intercepted and turned back to their garages.
Granted that the Loggerheads estate is a natural beauty spot and so was a venue ready made, as it were, the Crosville Co is to be congratulated on its possession of such an attractive objective for its passengers; still more so is it to be praised for avoiding the blatant commercialisation of scenic charm that so often occurs in similar circumstances. And finally, the adaptation of the catering to the changing of social conditions during the firm’s ownership is an obvious indication that those concerned have their finger on the pulse of public requirements.
*The Loggerheads Inn is now called ‘We Three Loggerheads’ and still stands, opposite the Loggerheads Country Park, on the A494 some 3 miles outside Mold.