Oscar Alexander Hugo Franke was born on 17th May 1843 and baptised at Dresden, Saxony.  Germany. He was the son of Johanne Michael Franke, a farmer. It`s not exactly  certain when he came to Britain,  but it`s known that he was employed  at Wynnstay Hall  as a cook.

He married Sarah Jane Jones who was a widow, her father was Thomas Collins, a weaver.  

The marriage took place on 14 Dec1876  at Saint James, Westminster, London, and both were residing at St James.

Sarah Jane Collins was born in  County Tyrone ,Ireland  about 1843 and she was resident at New Town when she married Lloyd Jones  who was the landlord of the Vaults. The marriage took place on 31 August 1869  at Whitchurch Shropshire. Lloyd was the son of George Jones a plumber and glazier in Ruabon. His father had died in 1856.

In 1871 Lloyd and Sarah Jane were in Bridge Street Ruabon where he was a “Spirit Merchant”

A few years later a   Death Notice was published in the Cambrian News. “On February 26th 1874 , aged 35, at The Vaults, Ruabon, Mr Lloyd Jones.”

Just a short time later Sarah Jane was permitted to take over the Vaults.

 4th July 1874. Wrexham Advertiser.


Transfer of the licence of the Vaults, Ruabon, to Mrs Jones, widow of the late proprietor.

After her marriage to Hugo, they remained at the Bridge and Hugo was given the licence.

3rd March 1877 Wrexham Guardian.

TRANSFERS. The  Vaults, Ruabon, to Oscar Alexander Hugo Franke.

Hugo was soon involved in local events.  He supported the  2nd DRV Ruabon  by donating  goods and  prize money   to some of their  annual events. He also donated to the Cottage Hospital.

Their only child Anna Augusta Adelina was born in 1881 and baptised at Ruabon Church which was not far away from their home.

 In 1882 Hugo was advertising for young men to assist at the Vaults. He seems to have been very particular as to who he employed.

WANTED two young men   of about 15 and 18, respectively, of   clean appearance, good scholars to assist  in a Wine  and Spirit Vaults.—Apply by letter, in own writing, stating former occupation and where references can he had.) H. FRANKE, The Vaults, Ruabon.

Hugo kept pigeons and in 1882 won first prize in the Ruabon Flower Show  for a pair of carrier pigeons. He also owned a sheepdog and a bull dog which he entered into the Wirral Agricultural Show, he  won 1st and 2nd  prizes  over a perod of a few years.

Every year The  Rhyl Advertiser would publish a list of Households and visitors in the summer months, and in 1882 Mrs Franke, family and nurse – Ruabon , were staying on the East Parade,  their names were listed  for quite a few years after that,  it looks like they would spend some time at the sea side each year.

 Hugo ran a good pub and there were very few incidents that made the news.

11th August 1883

Licensing Offences.-Thomas Daniels was charged by Sergt. George Hughes with being drunk at the Vaults, Ruabon, on the 29th June, the landlord, Alexander Franke, being charged with permitting drunkenness on the date in question.—Mr Cartwright appeared for Mr Franke, and after stating that there had never been any complaints whatever against the house, said he would call evidence to prove that Mr Daniels was perfectly sober, that the complainant had been a little mistaken in this matter, and that Mr Franke was not guilty of the offence with which he was charged.—Evidence was then being proceeded with, when the Chairman said the Bench thought that Mr Franke’s house had been so well kept that there was no necessity to call any more witnesses and both summonses were withdrawn.

9th April 1887

BITING A POLICEMAN. Charles Edwards, Rhosymedre, was charged with drunkenness and assaulting the police.—P.S. Jones said that a little after eleven o’clock on Saturday night he was called in by the landlord of The Vaults, Ruabon, who said he had requested the defendant to go away and he refused. He was taken to the lockup.—P.C. Austin said that while he was trying to put the handcuffs on, the prisoner kicked and bit him on the hand.— Fined £ 1 and 4s costs, or fourteen days’ hard labour in default.

26th September 1885 Wrexham Advertiser


These were held at Court-house. Ruabon to revise the Ruabon and Erbistock voting  lists.

 Mr W. H. Tilston represented the Liberals, and Mr Bott and Mr George Bevan. of Wrexham, appeared for the Conservatives.— Mr Tilston objected to a claim made by Mr Oscar A. Hugo Franke, High-street, Ruabon, on the ground that the claimant was an alien and unnaturalized. After some discussion the vote was disallowed.

In 1886 Hugo applied for a Naturalisation Certificate which was granted. His daughter was also named on the certificate. Hugo stated that he had been in the country for about 13 years and was a professional cook and Wine and Spirit merchant.

Tragically Sarah Jane died in 1891.

Wrexham Advertiser 7th March 1891

SAD DEATH THROUGH BLOOD POISONING. During the latter part of last week Mrs Franke, the wife of Mr Franke, The Vaults, Bridge-street, scratched her finger with a pin, and the wound being slight, little notice was taken of it. Shortly afterwards, however, blood poisoning set in. which proved fatal to the unfortunate sufferer about eleven o’clock on Monday evening.

She was buried in Ruabon Churchyard, there is a headstone which reads =

“Sacred to the Memory of Sarah Jane the beloved wife of Oscar A Hugo Franke of Ruabon who died March 2 1891 aged 47 years.   In the Midst of Life We are in Death”

 Oddly Sarah Jane`s burial isn`t recorded in the Parish Registers, in fact in 1891 there were only 5 burials listed. It`s not known what was the reason for this, there were undoubtedly many more, perhaps the parish clerk missed them out.

Hugo and his daughter Anna Augusta Adelina remained at the Vaults until his death on 28th August 1902. By then he was a wealthy man and the Probate Calender reveals he left effects of nearly £12500. Probate was granted to Richard Lawton Roberts MD who lived in Ruabon, Joseph Henry Bate, a solicitor and his only daughter.

31st October 1902 . Llangollen Advertiser. The Vaults was soon sold.

On Monday afternoon there was a large attendance at a property sale at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel, Wrexham. A block of freehold property at Ruabon, consisting of two shops , two dwelling-houses and a butcher’s shop, a cottage and a fully-licensed house, known as Franke’s Vaults, was sold to Ishmael Evans, Wrexham, for £ 6,200.

Shortly after this there were objections to the renewal of the licence, but after inspections were made it was decided to alter the pub for a while before eventually rebuilding it.

February 1903 Llangollen Advertiser.

Mr. W. Wynn Evans, solicitor, on behalf of the East Denbighshire Temperance Association, objected to the renewal of the licence of the Vaults, Ruabon, on account of the unsuitability of the premises and their lack of general accommodation for man or beast. Several old inhabitants were called for the defence who urged that the house was a necessity. The magistrates having personally inspected the premises, decided on their returned to adjourn the matter for a month. They did not approve of the structure of the premises, but would be prepared to receive plans showing any improvement.

March 1903 Chester Courant .

RUABON. ADJOURNED LICENSING SESSIONS.-. All the licences against which convictions were obtained during the past year were renewed, after which the objection to the Vaults, Ruabon, was taken. At the last court the East Denbighshire Temperance Association opposed the renewal, and after the magistrates had inspected the premises they adjourned the case for the production of plans. These were now produced and explained, after which the magistrates retired, and after a lengthy consideration decided to renew the licence on the understanding that the back door and passage therefrom be entirely closed up, and that the room known as the snug be closed, thus confining the premises to a tap-room and bar parlour.

March 1903

RUABON LICENSES. FRANKE’S VAULTS APPROVED. At the Ruabon Petty Sessions, on Friday, the Clerk said the first business would be to decide with regard to the renewal of the licence of Franke’s Vaults The owner had  deposited plans of certain alterations he proposed making to the existing premises. It  was proposed to raise the Vaults to the present ground floor level. There would be three rooms for business purposes—a parlour, a smoke- room and a taproom. It would take five or six months to rebuild. The plans really provided for re-construction of the present premises.

Mr. Bate said they had heard that the present premises were not sanitary, and not adopted for the business, and they thought the only proper course was to raise the business portion of the premises to the level of the street, which could only be done by remodelling the present premises.—The magistrates had decided to renew the licence on the condition that the passage leading from the tap- room to that side of the premises be shut off- this entrance would have to be bricked up. and no drink must be served in what was called the “snug,” and the tap-room and bar-parlour only would be licensed premises for the next twelve months. It must be clearly understood that it was for twelve months.

The Vaults were rebuilt by 1904  and John Batho was granted the licence. John Batho was from Llangedwyn, was there working with Hugo from at least 1881. A plaque above the door reads “1904 rebuilt “

John remained at the pub,  he married Elizabeth Watkins in 1908 and died in 1948.

Anna Augusta Adelina would now be a wealthy young lady, but she seems to have disappeared, there is a possible clue in the Cheshire Observer 18th January 1908.

Dr Roberts Funeral . This was held in Chester and many people attended. It was noted that

“ In addition to the list of wreaths given, floral tributes were also sent by Miss Nicholas, Miss A. A. Franke (Paris), and Mr. and Mrs. Good.” It looks like Anna decided to spend time on the continent.

The next time Anna appears is in 1913 when she married William Dynevor Thomas, a Clerk in Holy Orders who had been living in Rhyl at the time of his first marriage.   Her husband was a widower with two children.

 The marriage took place in Christ Church Broadway , Westminster and one of the witnesses was Jane Nicholas.  Anna was resident at the Ermine Hotel, which was a very luxurious   place to be.

By 1939 Anna and William Dynevor Thomas were living in Lampeter, Cardiganshire. No children have been found.

Anna died on 28 November 1946; she left effects of nearly £11000 to her husband. When he died in 1951 his effect was £951. Administration was to Gwenllian Mary Barnard (his daughter) the wife of George Barnard.

John Batha was still at the Vaults in 1918 when there was sad news of his nephew

12th July 1918 roll of honour Llangollen Advertiser.

Mr. John Batha, The Vaults, Ruabon, has received news that his nephew. Pte. Watkin. has been severely wounded during the recent heavy fighting and is in a French hospital.

Much later the Vaults was called the Roundhouse after the lock up gaol at the side of it, but reverted back to it`s original name.

Researched by Annette Edwards. October 2021

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