David Raymond Hughes
The Town Hal! in Ear! Road, Mold., was the gift of Peter Edward Roberts and was officially opened on 1 October 1912. Mr. Roberts, born in 1840 and a native Mold, was apprenticed to a draper in the town during the early 1850’s and then became a draper himself, first at Chester, and soon afterwards at Bury in Lancashire. During the American Civil War ( 1861-5 ) he resided in London but later returned to Lancashire and set up a drapery business in Ramsbottom, where he lived for about five years. In the 1870’s he moved to Burnley where he established a large drapery business. He sat on the Burnley town council for nine years and was offered the office of mayor, a position he declined. In the late 1880’s he became successfully involved in the rubber-heel industry and accumulated a large fortune in a relatively short period of lime.
It was towards the end of the nineteenth century that public interest grew for acquiring rubber-heeled footwear. Several enterprising men recognized the possibility in meeting this demand by establishing companies for rubber-heel production. One of these men was Peter Edward Roberts who founded the Wood-Milne Company in Leyland, Lancashire. He developed the idea of a revolving rubber-heel which could be fixed to the heel of a boot, it is probable that the firm originated as Whitehead & Roberts Limited, who shared the same address as Wood-Milne Limited in Leyland in 1907.
Wood-Milne Limited was a pioneer in the commercial production of the rubber-heel and revolving-heel pad and by 1912 had become one of the major producers of rubber-heels in Britain and having a world-wide market. By that time the company was producing over 50,000,000 rubber-heels (of all types) per year. Also by this date, the managing director of the firm was Mr T.H.Roberts, a son of the founder.
Peter Edward Roberts, on his retirement from the firm, returned to Moid in 1906, where he purchased Bromfield Hall ( now demolished), He was elected Chairman of the Mold Urban District Council in 1911-12 and re-elected for 1912-13. During his first year in office on the council he gave £5,000 for the building of a new Town Hail in Earl Road. The foundation stone of the building was laid by his wife on the Coronation Day of George V, 22 June 1911. On completion, the Town Hall was officially opened I October 1912.
The Town Hall consisted of a Council Chamber, Lecture Hall, Public Library and Reading Room. The library was presented by the Mold Cosmopolitan Society ( of which Mr. Roberts took a personal interest ), and a donation of £100 was given by Mr. J.W. Summers, M.P. for the Flint Boroughs, towards providing further books for the library.
The council presented Mr. Roberts with a large photograph of himself. He thanked his fellow counsellors and stated that the picture would be hung, in the Council Chamber. Presumably, it is the one on display at the top of the stairs in the Town Hall today.
About 1916 Mr. Roberts moved to Bournemouth for health reasons and died there on 22 March 1922, leaving effects to the value of £62,856 resulting from a successful career, particularly from his pioneering work in the rubber-heel business.
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