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Stella & Rose's Books

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Ivor Waters

Ivor Waters - for us, working here at Stella books, a familiar name among the thousands of books lining the shelves. Born in Chepstow in 1907, Harry Ivor Waters lived at 41 Hardwick Avenue. His family have roots in Chepstow going back to the late 1600s, at least. Perhaps it was only natural that he had a deep interest in all things pertaining to the history of Chepstow and produced many booklets and books about the area.

In the late 1920s Ivor won a poetry prize run by Britannia Magazine and used the prize money to finance foreign holidays. He studied Spanish and French at degree level, becoming so successful in Spanish that the Spanish Government presented him with a book! The war years were spent with service in Intelligence where his language skills proved to be immensely useful.

In 1934 Ivor became friends with a pharmacist in Barcelona, whose (then) infant daughter Mercedes was later destined to become Mrs. Ivor Waters and to illustrate many of the books written by her husband.

In 1948 Ivor hired a room in the old Tudor Café (sadly no longer in existence) in Beaufort Square, Chepstow and invited anyone interested in local history to attend a meeting at 7pm on 12 th March. A letter was published in the Chepstow Weekly Argus the day before the meeting, outlining a proposition to form a local history society to arrange lectures, excursions, the 'preservation of books, pictures, old records and objects of local interst, with the objective of setting up Chepstow Museum archives; to publish brief monographs on particular aspects of Chepstow history or customs', etc.

10 people attended, agreed to the proposition and thus founded Chepstow Society of which Ivor Waters was Hon. Secretary. The objective of the society is: To advance education by the study of local and natural history in the town and hinterland of Chepstow.

The first Chepstow Society publication was written by Ivor Waters himself and was entitled 'Chepstow Lords and Commons'. For many years the Chepstow Society publications were printed by R.H. Johns Ltd. of Newport and Ivor learned much from his frequent visits to the printing works in Dock Street . Armed with knowledge gained during those twenty years, Ivor began printing from his own private press which came to be called 'The Moss Rose Press' and was also the only independent press in Wales.

Ivor researched much of his material in Newport Reference Library and sometimes further afield. When people became aware of the fact that he was recording local history, the local people were very helpful and Ivor was able to view many documents that are now in official custody. It is doubtful that Chepstow would have such a well documented history if it hadn't been for the drive and dedication of Ivor Waters who sadly passed away in 1992.

Contributed by Sonia Bryant

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