Today we look at another of Merthyr’s prominent citizens, Simon Sandbrook, who died 95 years ago today.
Simon Sandbrook was born at Dolpwill, Pembrokeshire in 1850, the fifth son (of six) of Mr John Sandbrook. At the age of 18, he was apprenticed to Mr Levi James, an ironmonger in Cardigan, and following the expiration of his apprenticeship, he moved in 1872 to Pontypool to work with his brother William at the hardware business Davies and Sandbook.
In 1879, Simon Sandbrook moved to Merthyr and acquired the failing South Wales Ironmongery Company which had been established in the High Street. Within a short time, he had reversed the fortunes of the business, and established it as one of the foremost businesses in the town. In 1896, he took over the business of Mr John Sibbering, his father-in-law, a timber merchant which was located at the Great Western Station Yard. In addition he also became the agent for an important Midlands firm of builders and contractors.
Upon his arrival in Merthyr Tydfil, Simon Sandbrook became a member of Zoar Chapel, and within time was elected Treasurer, a position he held for 21 years, and later became senior deacon and trustee of the chapel, and throughout his life he made many gifts to the chapel, always quietly and unobtrusively, sometimes without his fellow deacons knowing. As well as his duties at Zoar Chapel, Simon Sandbrook also served as Treasurer of Brecon College and Treasurer of the Welsh Congregational Union.
Simon Sandbrook had five children – a son and four daughters. His son, Captain Rupert Sandbrook, served with distinction during the First World War, and fought with the 5th Battalion Welch Regiment at Gallipoli. His eldest daughter Gwladys became the wife of Henry Seymour Berry (later Lord Buckland) in 1905.
On 13 September 1922, just a month before his death, the deacons and members of Zoar made a special presentation of a solid silver salver to Simon Sandbrook in recognition of his service to the chapel. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to attend the service due to ill-health, but he was represented at the service by his son.
Simon Sandbrook died on 12 October 1922 and his funeral service at Zoar Chapel a few days later was attended by hundreds of people, the chapel being packed to its capacity and with people lining the streets. The service was conducted by Rev H E Rogers of Zoar Chapel; Rev Jacob Jones of Bethesda Chapel gave the eulogy saying:-
My dear friends, we are met under a shadow. He was a loving father, and an affectionate relative has crossed the bar. A friend whom we all loved is with us no longer. Our loss has been great. Mr Sandbrook of the Hawthorns is dead, and all Merthyr today is in tears, because we have lost one of our best and most influential citizens.”
Simon Sandbrook is now best known through the name ‘Sandbrook House’. Simon Sandbrook’s daughter Lillian moved into a house called Brynteg. In the mid 1930’s the house was converted into a rheumatic fever hospital and renamed Sandbrook House in honour of Simon Sandbrook.