The Steeles of Treflach

(Left to right) Ian, Andrew & Jamie Steele

I have been asked to write on this subject.  A few brush strokes on a huge canvas would be no master piece, so I will try and paint a tiny cameo and if I miss anyone out I apologise in advance, but take comfort in your DNA.

The first Steele of Treflach bought Treflach Hall in 1930. James Steele who married his sweetheart Alice Jones in 1926 who came from Treflach Farm.  She was in service in Liverpool, he was a dairy farmer/milkman and they met on the doorstep.

His father Oliver Steele was a gardener to a shipping magnet in Liverpool.  To keep the family in food all year round Oliver milked a cow.  Oliver met his sweetheart Anne Price daughter of Thomas Price of Oswestry, blacksmith to the town.  Originally situated where Argos is today and where Arthurs Garage used to be, he shoed the horses of Park Hall camp in WW1; she too was in service in Liverpool.

The Steele family didn’t move to Treflach till 1947, although every family holiday was spent at Treflach Farm as Treflach Hall was rented out.  Daughters Joan and Cilla and son James and Bob would stay with Grandma Jones (Harriet nee Ellis), Uncle Bob and Uncle Elliot, both brothers to Alice, their mother.

Elliot lost an eye as a boy he was playing with his two older brothers at Treflach Pool skimming flat stones.  When one bounced it was literally a blinder; they didn't tell their father (John) that Jess the oldest brother had done it or he would have whipped him. They said he lost it to a thorn while bird nesting.  Jess died aged 18 in 1918 to Spanish Flu.

John Jones was a blacksmith and was educated and respected even though he was a tenant.  He was born at Ty-Draw Treflach, the source of Bellan Brook - he had a saying 'lions drink water and they are strong', as a blacksmith he would drink a lot of water because it was always so hot near the furnace - at a time when drinking alcohol was discouraged.

He got on well with the local squire, George Dunville-Lees of Woodhill who was a very well-liked gentleman.  A benefactor to the poor, George Dunville-Lees was also a very industrious man, his memorial stands today outside Trefonen Church.  He died in 1906 from falling off his horse onto rusty barbed wire - double death duties meant the entire estate went up for sale in 1929 when his son died.

John Jones, my great-grandfather had advised him to change his horse the last time he shod it, but like the Poldark figure he was, he took risks and the rest is history...

Harriet Jones was the daughter of Thomas Ellis owner of Treflach Quarry.  The quarry eventually went bankrupt because the rock strata went the wrong way.  The rock had to be levered out whereas the quarries at Whitehaven it was more economic as the rock fell out easily.

Harriet wanted her daughter, Alice, closer to home and she encouraged the purchase of Treflach Hall.  And so on 13/2/1947 the family moved to Treflach Hall.  There was no electricity or running water like there was at Oak Farm, Speake, Liverpool; a 300 acre corporation farm that was taken over for the extension of Allerton Cemetery. The day they moved in a storm raged that blocked them in for 6 weeks, snow drifts blocking all the sunken lanes.  In the end the army had to dig them out.

Treflach Hall was very poor land and the War Ag which was a government organisation to improve agriculture after the war nearly evicted the family from the farm; farmers locally were evicted if they did not produce enough crops.

In 1958 James Steele brought 3 phase electricity from Llynclys at a cost of £7,000 (the price of a farm) which the following generations benefited from, Jim Steele, James’ eldest, and his sons Andrew and Jamie.

Like their cousin Oliver Steele of Moelydd; Jim and Bob all had, and now Jamie has, a natural mallen streak on a dark head of hair making them very distinctive.

Jamie and Andrew (sons of Jim) at Treflach Hall and Ian (son of Bob) at Treflach Farm have a steely volition that has its roots as far back as the battle of Culloden 1746 when some Macgregor changed their name to Steele and fled years of persecution in Scotland.  This was a time when the children of the mist could be shot or baited for entertainment for being Clan Macgregor.

Treflach Hall and Treflach Farm are separate units, the former being the last dairy in the village but both farms have similar cattle, rare breed Great British Friesians, Herefords and their cross British Friesian / Hereford.  These animals maintain the beauty of a yet unspoilt part of England, enriching the land by the spring water they drink and the grass they eat and sharing it with nature in a sustainable manner.