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MR. SOLOMON ANDREWS AND THE…

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MR. SOLOMON ANDREWS AND THE ABERDOVEY COMMON. THE RIGHTS OF THE PUBLIC DISPUTED. GENEROUS OFFER TO THE INHABITANTS OF ABERDOVEY. On Wednesday afternoon Mr Solomon Andrews, who is now well-known throughout Wales as a speculator, met the Aberdovey Commons Com- mittee, to confer as to the right to the Common, and if possible to arrive at an amicable settlement, and thus co-operate for the public good. The following were present: Mr Edwards, chairman of the committee, Messrs E L Rowlands, Arthur Tom- lins, Capt Enoch Lewis, Capt John Evans, Mr Win Jones, C.C., and Mr Vaughan Thomas (secretary to the committee). Mr Edward Davies, the chairman, introduced the members of the committee to Mr Andrews. The Chairman said he had been appointed chair- man over a Common Committee formed some two years ago at a public meeting, which had been called to take into consideration matters connected with the Common. Mr Andrews Aberdovey Common ? Where is it? The Chairman: It extends from the Railway Station to a place opposite Dyffryn Glyncul. Mr Andrews Where is that ? The Chairman There is a fence that has been fixed to divide the TowvD Common. That com- mittee has held several meetings since its formation to consider the question of the Common. In the meantime they heard that a certain gentleman of the name of Mr Solomon Andrews had acquired the right to the Common. Mr Andrews: Allow me to state that I have never acquired the rights to any Common (laughter). The Chairman: We understood you are the gentleman who acquired the rights to the Common. Mr Andrews: You understand what is wrong then. I have never acquired the rights to a Com- mon. The Chairman: May I ask if you are acting for a Company? Mr Andrews You need not ask anything of the kind. That is not your business. I do everything for myself and not for anybody else. The Chairman I think it is a fair question. Mr Andrews: Yes; if I was acting for a Com- pany it would have to be registered. The Chairman This place is Common land in the opinion of the inhabitants of the town. It appears to be an indisputable question that it has been con- sidered Common land from time immemorial. Of course, the Crown have certain rights over every Common land. Those rights had been sold first of all to a gentleman of the name of Mr Soden. He sold part of it to Mr George Lewis, and it was afterwards bought by Mr J Hughes Jones and Capt Enoch Lewis. Mr Howell, Craigydon, bad acquired the Crown rights in the Common. Mr Andrews I am glad you have said that. The Chairman: We now understand you have acquired Mr J Hughes Jones's rights to the Com- mon. Mr Andrews: I have not done anything of the kind. Capt Lewis: Crown rights, he means. Mr Andrews Not that, either. The Chairman: I am speaking as far as my knowledge goes. That is how I have always under- stood the matter. Mr Andrews: Then you understood altogether Wrong. The Chairman We ought to know something a.bout it, I should think. Mr Andrews: I want to know what you have got belonging to you ? I have come here to see your Common. The Chairman I have just told you that the Common extends from the Station to about half- way to Towyn. That place has always been con- sidered a Common. Mr Andrews: There you are. Always consider- ed." I am exceedingly proud of that word 'consid- ered." It is the best word you can use. Let me point out to you that I make friends everywhere, and enemies nowhere. I will explain everything after you finish (applause). The Chairman: I hope you will accept every statement in the spirit in which it is made. Mr Andrews: I will. Captain E Lewis observed that the Chairman might withdraw the word "considered" in regard to their claim to the Common, and claim it as their own, and fight the matter out. Mr Andrews There you are. We would under- stand each other, then. The Chairman re-iterated that the word "consid- ered" was strong enough in the sense he had used it. They did consider that the place was a Common. Mr Andrews If it is yours you will get it. I don't want other people's property. The Chairman We thought it would be right for you as a gentleman to concede the rights of others. There are Commoners at Aberdovey who have certain rights, and they, of course, intend to stick to them. No one is willing to fling away any rights, whether big or small, and I did not think that Mr Andrews would try to force upon us what was not real and fair. Mr Andrews: Quite so. The Chairman We should be glad if we can find a way by which we can co-operate for the benefit of all concerned. We could do a great deal together. Mr Andrews That's quite right. The Chairman And especially is it to be hoped we will not fall out at the very beginning. Mr Andrews: I am very glad to hear that. Mi Andrews then addressed those present. He pointed out that they were all sent to the world to do their best. He had not so far stolen anything and he felt sure he was not going to start now. Having referred to his new estate at Barmouth Junction he said that if the land at that place was Common land then the Crown bad sold what it had no right to sell. If any part of the property he had bought was Common lund then let them show it. He could not read very much and was not a great scholar, but he was enough of a scholar to have that deed read to him and to understand it. L f there was one word in it that showed it belonged to them then let them have it, he would say. The only condition was that the Government had power to take the minerals. They could see the deed for themselves and if there was one syllable about Common rights then let them take it. He had not come there to steal their property. He had come there to do good and to develop the place. If they went to law he was prepared to spend money and to fight the matter out. He, however, would not take the initiative, but would turn the cattle off the ground, and if people put them on again he would turn them out again. They could then, if they so desired, try him, and if they succeeded put him in prison (laughter). He would point out that he had bought the place honestly. He brought his man- ager from Pwllheli to see the place and he would have paid for it that day had he got his cheque book with him. If they said it was theirs let them prove their title to it. They could see his title without coat and without law. The Chairman Where ? Mr Andrews: In Cardiff. When I come next you can see it. The Chairman Can we have a copy of it ? Mr Andrews: No; you can see the original. If that place was a Common then they could stop the railway running through. Capt E Lewis said the Railway Company bad an Act of Parliament behind them which Mr Andrews had not. Mr Andrews I have bought 291 acres of land, and it is on the deed. I would rather give you £ 1,000 than steal a farthing. I have come here to do the place good (applause). You think you can fight; sureiy I can fight also. I am not a fighting man and never go to law. If they were going to fight with him he would also fight. He had never lost at law yet and that was because he had never fought without having a just cause. If they sup- ported him he would do a great deal of good in North Wales. He was glad they had called him to see them. He believed they were under the impres- sion they had a right when they had not. Capt Lewis: You cannot expect to have more than I got. Mr Andrews: I don't know what you got, but I know what I've got. He would say once more-if it was theirs he did not want it. Capt Lewis We want to meet you if we can and to consider the matter in a kind and conciliatory spirit and, if possible, arrive at a compromise. The Chairman (continuing) said that some time ago an application was made for a provisional order and a Commissioner from the Government came down to hold the inquiry. There were a number of lawyers present who were not only clever but very bouncing. Mr Andrews: I dare say so (laughter.) The Chairman And they endeavoured to make out that the land was private property and that Commoners had no rights to the Common. You can hardly believe that in a few words the Com- missioner knocked them down." Mr J Bell (interrupting from the body of the hall) Who were these great lawyers ? I did not see great lawyers here ? The Chairman: Mr Morgan, Machynlleth, Mr Corfield, and Mr Edwards. This Commissioner from the Government convinced the lawyers in very few words that this land was Common land and had been so from time immemorial. I will read a few words from a letter I have received from a society with which we have been in com- munication The Commons and Footpaths Pre- servation Society. Mr Andrews: I don't want to hear anything from any society. The Chairman And this is what they say "The land being Common land at the time of the conveyance from the Crown to Mr Arden, that gentleman could only have bought the rights of the Common the Commoner's rights would have remained absolutely unaffected. The soil of the Common, no doubt, was vested in the Crown and they parted with it, reserving, however, the right to dig for minerals. This in no way interferes with the claim of the inhabitants of Aberdovey to Common rights on the land." The Chairman I suppose you dispute all that P Mr Andrews Yes. The Chairman It is only natural for us to believe what we have heard and seen from our childhood and what has been told us by our fathers and forefathers. The Common rights have been exercised from time immemorial. You come here as a stranger to dispute our rights for the first time. Mr Andrews: I dispute nothing. If it is yours you will have it. The Chairman: Of course, if you prove your title to it I shall have nothing to say. Yon need not be our enemy. Mr Andrews I do not want to be your enemy. I have no enemies. I should be the last to take what does not belong to me. Mr Andrews' Manager What do you want from Mr Andrews ? The Chairman To concede our rights. We don't want to see them taken from us forcibly by any means. The Manager: What do you think are your rights ? J The Chairman We have a right to the pasture, to the surface of the ground, and no one can inter- fere with the surface of the land without our per- mission or consent in some way or other, and we consider that it is very difficult to deal with the land unless with a provisional order, regulation order, or an Act of Parliament. We have exercised our power to play and walk on the ground, and have also used it as a recreation ground. These things are of great importance to a seaside resort like Aberdovey. Mr Andrews replied that if they had rights they had not exercised them. They allowed people who had no right to send their cattle on the land. If they were Commoners why did they allow this kind of thing to go on ? The Chairman said he believed some persons had been encroaching on the rights of the Commoners by sending their cattle there. Gipsies visited the place and camped there. In that respect they had been very lenient rather too kind. Mr Andrews: You have been kind with what has cost you nothing (laughter and applause). I have come here to develop the place and to make it worthy of the Old Aberdovey we had heard of (applause). I have come here to do good to spend money, to give employment. If money was spent in fair legitimate labour it would do everyone good. Here I come and buy a property, and I am going to do something there whether you say I shall or not. But if they as Commoners met him and said they had a school, or something that was worthy of support—he did not know "what they had-and called upon him to endow it or to give a < couple of scholarships in the name of Aberdovey he would not mind helping them. A thousand was not so much to him. He could wear the same coat afterwards (laughter). Captain E Lewis: That. is what we would like to bave-a scholarship or two to Aberdovey. Mr Andrews I should be pleased to help you in that direction; or if you want to get anything for the Army, and I have heard you want to make room for your soldiers, or if they fancied they had a right to the land and withdrew it he was pre- pared to do anything that was right. He had bought the land and paid honestly for it, and he intended to teep it. But if he could do them good in any way that they felt that would do the town good he was prepared to do it. They had a library in the town. Tt was not. at present a free library. If they said, now look here, give us so much a year towards the library and so much towards scholar- ships, or anything they thought best, he would consider it, and if he could see his way clear to carry them out he would do his best. If they went to law they would have to spend money on both sides, and he would prafer to spend money in that way. It would be a good thing for them to under- stand each other. Capt E Lewis hoped Mr Andrews would remem- ber the Golf and the Cricket Club. Mr Andrews I shall frighten you, not with what I shall not give you but with what I shall give you. If they spent £ 500 in law it would be a great loss to the town. Capt Lewis mentioned a gentleman who once commenced to turn cattle from the Common and he had ultimately to run away himself very quickly. Mr Andrews I shall not run away. If you kill me I shall only die once (laughter). If they took that land from him they would also have to take from the Cambrian Railways Company. Capt Lewis said the Cambrian Railways Coy had bought from Mr Soden. Mr Andrews The same thing as I have done. Capt Lewis By Act of Parliament ? Mr Andrews I have thrown out the suggestion the best way I can. If you suggest that you want a scholarship I shall be prepared to give you one under those conditions and not to spend it in law, and if you want a donation for your library I am prepared to give you one. Capt E Lewis What about the right of way ? Mr Andrews: It is my intention to make a tramroad through the place. There was nob one word in the deed about the road. Mr A Tomlins pointed out that there was a road going towards Towyn. The Chairman 1 cannot do anything unless Mr Andrews acknowleges our right. Mr Andrews I cannot do that. The Chairman and Mr Andrews then shook hands and the meeting seemed to have come to an abrupt conclusion. Mr Andrews and several of those present however continued to discuss the matter, and Mr Andrews again promised to consider any suggestion from the Common Committee, three weeks being allowed to consider the matter. Mr W Jones, C.C., proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Andrews for meeting them in the spirit he had done. Mr E L Rowlands seconded, expressing a hope that they would be able to come to an amicable settlement and to co-operate together for the good of the town. Mr Andrews acknowledged and the meeting now came to a close.

t WELSH BREACH OF PROMISE…

. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF NORTH…

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