Bill Belton 62 Squadron
My father, William Arthur ‘Bill’ Belton

Hilary’s Home Page

Welcome to Hilary’s History Pages, featuring some family trees and some of the best bits of my family and local history research. This isn’t like a book, it doesn’t start at the beginning or end at the end, it’s a collection of articles organised mainly under People and Places. Just navigate through the different menu headings and browse.

The family histories of the Belton, Salthouse and Hartigan families

The content from my old website at belton.me.uk has been copied across and I’ve updated a lot of pages, you can see which pages have been updated, some quite considerably, by viewing my posts on the Blog link. NB – Because I’ve copied from my old website to this site, I have inevitably copied errors, too, which won’t disappear until I update those pages. Please visit often as, when the web housekeeping jobs are done, I can start adding pictures, including some new pictures that I was unable to upload to the previous site.

Brooklyn Stores, originally built and opened as the Red Lion Inn

Featuring Bwlchgwyn, Nether Alderley, Liverpool, Manchester, Ireland and Scotland.

And many other people and places, ships and planes, encountered on the way. Q Ships, Blenheim planes, Pennsylvania, old Ford cars. Cornwall and Edinburgh, North Wales and South, Armagh and Kildare, eisteddfodau (poetry and singing festivals), Ontario, artists and musicians, soldiers and sailors – some of the variety in our combined family trees, typical of many.

And the Ford Popular van in the garage, changing the gear required doubling de-clutching.


Bwlchgwyn will always be a special place for me, it’s where I was born, and I was born in the same room in the same cottage where my father was born in March 1920. The cottage was at the top of Wesley Road, overlooking the Nant y Ffrith valley – it is long gone and a bungalow has stood there for many years, but I remember clearly the cottage and the garden, the pigs over the wall and the blue and orange flowers along the path, my mother sewing my summer dresses and my dad taking me for walks on a Sunday, even though I was only 6 years old when we moved down to Brooklyn Stores. They are some of the memories I hang on to, from before television became commonplace and when people met in the Church, Chapels, pubs and shops instead. Dad knew everyone and soon got to know any newcomer or visitor and there always seemed to be people around – something that was lost in later years as different social, work and transport patterns altered the way of life of the nation.

Westminster Arms, Bwlchgwyn, photographed by Hilary Hartigan c2006

Yes, I can be nostalgic, and I’m really going to enjoy showing you photographs of the village that you may never have seen before and telling you the stories that go with them. But I am also a modern woman. Mother and I were among the first to have dial up internet connection and then broadband in her home in Bwlchgwyn, we needed it to run a modern internet based business in the late 1990s, and I love technology, cars, central heating and everything that is good about modern life. My passion is recording the history, ancient and modern.

Bwlchgwyn and Nant y Ffrith

When the young Rev. Ben Davies walked through Nant y Ffrith on his way to an interview in Bwlchgwyn, he described the valley as the most beautiful place. This is a story I researched with Gwenda Lewis (excerpts from her book are quoted in the Bwlchgwyn section) and I look forward to sharing the story with you later. Before the planting of the conifers, everyone in the village knew the paths through Nant y ffrith, the slippery paths down to the Wedding Caves and the long walk to the top of the Penllyn, across sun-heated rock barely covered by heather and buzzed by the insects which had been soaking up the heat or trying to hide in the crevices. The reward, when the white stone was reached (the trigonometrical stone) was a fantastic panoramic view over several counties  and a much easier return walk to the cooler valley!

The Hwntw Arms, Bwlchgwyn

Late Summer in Bwlchgwyn

This picture of Bwlchgwyn was taken sometime in the 60s or the early 70s, before the houses on Whiteoaks were built. In the picture is Graig Wen, with the ridge at the top of Cefn Road on the near horizon.

Temporary picture – the Penllyn (that’s how we said it!) across Nant y Ffrith valley, photographed by Hilary Hartigan c2005

Christ Church, Bwlchgwyn

In my humble opinion this is the most beautiful village Church. I remember the heady days of the 1950s when the Church was packed to overflowing for the Harvest Festivals and the village boys sang in the choir, whilst the Nativity Play, concerts, summer fairs, jumble sales, whist drives and dances were held in the Church House across the road.

Christchurch, Bwlchgwyn, photographed by Hilary Hartigan c2015

The Beltons are synonymous with Bwlchgwyn. A few years ago I was visiting the Church and talking to an undertaker. “Sometimes”, I said, “I feel that I could claim part ownership of this churchyard as I am related to so many of the people buried here”. “Mmm”, replied the undertaker, “you must be a Belton!”

62 Squadron RAF

My father, William Arthur (Bill) Belton is sitting, smiling, at the front of this group with patients in the mountain hospital in the North West Frontier, India (now Pakistan). You can read his diaries, written probably in the 80s, of his times in the Far East and his escape on the good ship Kota Gede. I always welcome contact with relatives of anyone who was in the Squadron or in the Far East with the RAF at that time. More stories and pictures in the 62 Squadron RAF section.

We are fortunate in having some nice photographs, interesting family stories and some records of my father’s RAF service and my grandfather’s Navy service (WW1); they are on the site for everyone to read and enjoy, but please remember that I retain copyright of the text and digital pictures unless stated otherwise.

WW1 and WW2 Memorials

These have their own section on my site; it always makes me feel so sad to record what little I know of these men but at the same time I am proud of them all. It is also a page that links the different sides of my family, my father’s side from Bwlchgwyn and my mother’s side from Liverpool and Nether Alderley in Cheshire.

Bwlchgwyn War Memorial, photographed by Hilary Hartigan c2012

Nether Alderley and the Salthouse Family

Another little village and another set of friendly people who ‘adopted’ me and my mother when we first went in search of her father’s family. Although Jim Salthouse was born in Liverpool, he always said that Nether Alderley was a beautiful place, so we started our search and quickly found that Jim’s father, William Salthouse, was born in Nether Alderley and some of the family were still there in the 1881 census. I try to visit Nether Alderley at least once a year and especially when the Church has an Open Day.

Alderley Mill, photographed in the autumn by Hilary Hartigan in 2008

Liverpool and the Salthouse, Braidwood, Ralston and Ellery Families

These are the four grandparents of my mother. William Salthouse (from Nether Alderley) moved to Liverpool for work and married Janet Braidwood, hence our Scottish connections. His son, Jim Salthouse, married Maud Ralston in Liverpool and she was the daughter of John Ralston, who claimed to be Scottish, and Amelia Ellery whose father was from Cornwall. These four families have left a rich legacy of stories. My mother was from Liverpool and lived there until she was about 17, I was in hospital in Liverpool on three occasions as a little girl and, then, in the 1970s I lived and worked in Liverpool for four years, so I have a lot of fondness for the city.

The sign above Annie Salthouse’s shop in the village of Nether Alderley, photographed by Hilary Hartigan at St Mary’s, Nether Alderley

Hartigan, Dooley, Joynt, Hudson, Keating and McNally

My husband, David, does not have such an easy family tree to research as every line ends up on the census with nothing more than Ireland, Co. Mayo, Limerick, Co. Kildare and Londonderry. Just one branch is from England and even their name sounds Irish – the Dooley family! Even so, a lot of digging has unearthed interesting stories and we have gradually put together his dad’s naval service. Contact from anyone related to this tree is very welcome, too.

Hartigan’s Horse Repository, Limerick, photographed by Hilary Hartigan 2006

It’s about the people…

Family History hasn’t been just about census and parish records, it’s been about meeting people. Lovely people, people we’ve kept in touch with on and off for years now. So it won’t come as much of a surprise to you to know that I also help other other people with their research. With their agreement I hope to include some of their fascinating stories.

The Gallery

How I handle the photographs in the gallery, and there will be more of them, will be determined when I see how much digital space the site is taking up. I have elected for the free WordPress website because, if I am unable to maintain it, it should stay around for a long, long time and not suddenly disappear because I haven’t paid an annual fee. That’s the plan. I might link the thumbnails to a separate account or I might split the website into a number of smaller websites. Whatever I do, it won’t happen until after I’ve fixed all the text pages. So please hang around and see how it goes.

Corrections and Contributions

I’m only human. I can get things wrong, things that were right can now be found to be different, and I love getting Christmas presents. If you can see things on the pages AFTER I’ve corrected and improved them, that need to be altered, feel free to tell me. And if you want to send me pictures and stories to add to the site, I shall be delighted!

A Genealogical Summary

A hundred years ago, or so, tourists flocked to Bwlchgwyn to admire the wonderful scenery and to benefit from the pure, clean air enjoyed by this little village in its lofty position. But really Bwlchgwyn was an industrial village, most of the men were lead or coal miners or rockmen at the local quarries; later they also worked at the steelworks in Brymbo. Even the landscape had an industrial feel as gorse, wimberry bushes and heathers clung to the natural rock and to the spoils from abandoned quarries, mines and shafts.

My mother’s family, the Salthouses, arrived at Nether Alderley in about 1840 when John Salthouse, a shoemaker, completed his apprenticeship and set out on his own account. John married Lucy Walters of Nether Alderley. Their daughters stayed in the village but their sons moved away and so, by 1911, the Salthouse name had disappeared.One son moved to Liverpool and it is from that great city that the Braidwood, Ralston and Ellery families eventually joined together.

Most of my husband’s family can only be traced within Salford. His great grandmother, Margaret Joynt, and his great grandfather, Martin Hartigan, were both born in Ireland but it has not been possible to trace their Irish connections. David’s maternal relatives, the McNallys, Kennys and Keatings are also difficult to trace; only the Dooleys of Tunstall can be traced easily and they connect with the Meir and Harrison families and the different lifestyles of workers in the potteries.

Woollam Place, off Liverpool Road, Manchester, photographed by Hilary Hartigan in 2005

It’s not just about the history, it’s about the people you meet on the way,

Hilary (Belton) Hartigan 2005

“I Remember……Bwlchgwyn”

Temporary Picture, Stryt Maelor, Bwlchgwyn, photographed by Hilary Hartigan in 2005

Gwenda Lewis recalls her years in Bwlchgwyn between 1939 and 1943. As a young girl from London, she came to stay with relatives in the village.

See Bwlchgwyn through the eyes of a city girl, full of wonderment at this little place with such a different way of life.

Gwenda’s book is sold out now but I have Gwenda’s permission to copy extracts onto my website and I hope to copy some more soon. (added 2018)

Please remember that the information on this website is only accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief. If any of the information is relevant to your own research, please double-check the sources.