The Welsh town where more than a third of people identify as 'English only'

The Anchor landlord Alan Banks says only one of the customers at his Saltney pub, on the Wales-England border, is a Welsh speaker
The Anchor landlord Alan Banks says only one of the customers at his Saltney pub, on the Wales-England border, is a Welsh speaker -Credit:David Powell

Over a third of people living in a Welsh town say they identify as "English only." Broughton and Saltney have 38.9 per cent of their residents associating themselves more with English ethnicity than Welsh, British or other nationalities - even surpassing some regions in England, according to government Census figures.

North Wales Live ventured to Saltney to get a first-hand experience of its residents' feelings. Are they likely to fly the St George's Cross flag on April 23 or would they prefer the Welsh dragon flag on St David's Day?

To be fair, these towns' proximity to the border could explain the pattern; however, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals a similar trend in parts of Flintshire and Wrexham. For instance, Shotton and Garden City have about one in four people defining themselves as "English only", amounting to 26.1 per cent, while Queensferry and Sandycroft are at 25.9 per cent, and Kinmel Bay and Towyn in Conwy hit a high 31.8 per cent.

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Englishman Tristan Conoley, 59, who was spotted at a bus stop on Saltney High Street, said: "There were two camps at school in the Seventies - an English one and a Welsh one. It was kind of sad." Despite his open-minded outlook on nationality coexistence, he reminisced about a time when he lived in Brisbane, Australia for 24 years, proudly displaying a Union flag on his living room wall.

Mr Conoley, a bedding shop owner in Saltney, shared his views on national identity and sportsmanship: "Just because you're carrying an English flag or a Welsh flag does not make you a racist. It makes you a nationalist and we have to get on," he said, highlighting the friendly rivalry and camaraderie that exists between fans. He also noted the different levels of enthusiasm for national days: "You get a lot of younger people (in Saltney) that see themselves as English. But people should celebrate St George's Day or St David's Day - whichever they want - although no-one will celebrate them with as much gusto as people do on St Patrick's Day!"

Sam Mac, 36, who lives in England but works at Sterling Barbers in Saltney, feels a strong connection to England, influenced by his Liverpool-born parents: "I feel more English. My Mum and Dad were born in Liverpool." As for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2024, Sam is all set to support England despite Wales' recent loss to Poland in a penalty shootout.

Backing the Census findings, local businessman Mike Foden suggested that the number of people identifying as "English only" in Saltney and Broughton could be even higher than reported: "Most of the people in this area and in Broughton are English."

He attributed this demographic trend to economic factors, saying: "They're living there because they can't afford to live in Chester," and pointed out the proximity of Chester with a sign welcoming visitors just down the High Street.

The Anchor pub in Saltney High Street is a prime example of the prevalence of "English-only" inhabitants. The 71 year old landlord Alan Banks revealed: "I've only got one customer who speaks Welsh."

Interestingly, the pub is situated close to the Wales-England border, with what Banks believes to be a waymarker stone indicating the border along one outer wall. Part of his car park sits on land owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council, yet he pays his business rates to Flintshire County Council.

The pub's proximity to the border has caused some resentment for Banks. His establishment had to temporarily shut during the Covid-19 lockdown due to former First Minister Mark Drakeford's Welsh Government rules, while The Brewery Arms, located on nearby Chester Street, was allowed to remain open.

Banks' heritage straddles both sides of the border, with his parents hailing from Cwmcarn in South Wales and Handbridge in Chester respectively. Despite this, he said: "My Mum was from Cwmcarn in South Wales and my Dad was from Handbridge in Chester. I still feel English."