Oral snippets

An important part of this project is to record memories of local people in Pembroke and Monkton. When many people think about history, they think about the broad sweep of national events, of kings and wars. In fact history is all around us, in our own families and communities, in the living memories and the experiences of older people. The late Victorian age is still within living memory of those elderly residents who remember their parents and grandparents and a way of life which has all but disappeared. But it need not disappear altogether if we can capture those memories now and preserve them for future generations.

Important too are old photographs - below are some photographs with accompanying oral testimony. Click on the photograph or speaker icon for audio files.

The Colley Family Click here for audio file

Miss Joyce Colley talks about her family history.

memories of the Old Quay Click here for audio file

Memories of the Old Quay by Miss Joyce Colley

Shi at Pembroke Quay Click here for audio file

Mrs Vera John remembers ships sailing up the Pembroke River

Mr Peter Hurlow-Jones talks about his family story Click here for audio file

Mr Peter Hurlow-Jones talks about his family story


"A good soldier, a firm friend and a gentleman"

Over and over again when we publish mystery photographs in the Pembrokeshire Life Magazine there is a reader who will tell us, "I know about it" or "I was there." Readers from all over the country rushed to tell us that a photograph of troops in the January issue of the Pembrokeshire Life Magazine was taken in St David's; but 84 year old Mrs Dorothy Rees of Angle was actually there on the day. As a girl of nine or ten, Dorothy Paish (as was) had been taken to see her father CSM George Paish, who was one of the men leading the column of Pembroke Territorials, and she was able to provide a number of other photographs which were taken on the same day.

She remembers that it was a lovely day, that the family had a picnic as a memorable treat, with curry pasties (her mother had spent eight years in India when CSM Paish was Sheriff there) and that the family had been taken there from their home in Pembroke in a friend's car - an event in itself in those days before the First World War.

The reason for the parade was obviously of much less interest to the young girl, for this is something Mrs Rees does not remember although she does know that the men had marched to St David's on the way there.

Research into the activities of the 4th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment, to which CSM Paish was attached, shows that they took part in a fourteen day training exercise in August 1913. This was a big event, with the units which formed the South Wales Infantry Brigade taking part. The 4th Welsh was commanded by Colonel A. F. Beddoe, with Major W.J. Jones and Major W.O. Jones. The Adjutant was Captain A.F. Linton.

Although George Paish had been born in Cheltenham and had served in many countries, he became one of South Pembrokeshire's best known citizens. When he died in 1954 his funeral at Angle was the largest ever seen at the church there. He was born in 1857 and joined the Army when he was only fourteen; and he was still serving at the age of forty eight, when he went with the regiment to the Dardanelles. There his life was saved by a local man, Willy Devote, who crawled to get water for him. A bout of dysentery after the terrible conditions at Gallipoli led to his being invalided out of the service, and for a time he was RSM of the civilian guards at Cardiff Docks. After the 1914/1918 War, along with other Boer War veterans, he was called up to train the troops, and he did not finally retire from the Army until he was over fifty, when he had served thirty six years with the Welsh Regiment.

During his early years, while serving in South Africa, George met Lord Baden Powell, who never failed to visit his old Boer War comrade whenever he came to Pembrokeshire to stay with other old friends the Gaddum family.


Photograph left: With his service days behind him George Paish (second from right, back row) played cricket for Angle cricket team. The two photographs to the right are unfortunately very faded and also somewhat damaged. The middle photograph shows men of the Pembroke Territorials on the range at Penally, some time before 1913 as Colour Sergeant Paish is there. The only man in uniform, and the other two men standing with him, would be range Officers. In this period these men would have probably been Captain Loftus Adams, Lieutenant Lewis of Narberth, or Lieutenant Bowling of Pembroke Dock. The right hand photograph is of the unit at Manorbier. George Paish is on the extreme left, a colour sergeant still, but none of the other faces have yet been identified. We would be grateful for any information on these pictures from website visitors.


A Family Story

On 2nd July 1936 Lena Griffiths from East End House was a bridesmaid once again, but this was the first time in Pembroke. I wonder if she thought of the old saying "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride"? - especially after her own engagement had ended. This time the bride was her friend Mary Lowless who was marrying John Mendus (the local chemist) in St Mary's Church. Barbara Thomas (nee Colley) was the older bridesmaid and the two of them had truly beautiful dresses and hats - plus enormous bouquets. The wedding photographs were taken in the grounds of Pembroke Castle. The little flower girl Daphne Colley was dressed in the style of the children's illustrator Kate Greenaway ;and there were two little page boys named Brian and Garth Jones - however Brian refused to be in the photographs! Irvine was a guest at the wedding, (and almost 70 years later his invitation to the wedding was given to John and Mary Mendus's daughter Rosemary, who had never seen a copy. She was making a file for her children and grandchildren).

Irvine was in the Royal Navy. He was based on H.M.S. Drake, in Devonport - just as his father had been. He used to travel from Pembroke Dock to Plymouth on his motorcycle, often having to journey to Gloucester if the tide was not right for the ferry from Beachley (near Chepstow) to cross over the River Severn to Aust. This added a further 60 miles to his already exceptionally long journey. During one of these trips he got very wet and had to remain in his soaking wet clothes for several hours. Consequently he caught rheumatic fever; and being on the medical side of the Royal Navy he was immediately put into the Naval Hospital at Stonehouse where he worked. Lena was not able to visit him due to the distance, so she wrote to her Auntie Doll and asked if Doll and 'Nunc' - (Lena's pet name for her Uncle Bill)- could visit Irvine. Of course they did visit, and Auntie Doll became very fond of Irvine, especially when she found out his date of birth: every year Doll had seemed to suffer from appendicitis, and while living with Bill in Ireland she was taken into hospital and operated upon. It was the only time Doll was ever pregnant, and she lost the baby she was carrying. It would have been practically the same age as Irvine.


Memories of Angle

Mrs Elena Joy James talks about these old photos of Angle

Pill Farm camping site (picture above) was run by Joyce & Lenny Johnson. There were only two static caravans on the site; and these were not like the caravans of today. One was along the top hedge, ane the other along the west hedge. Every year a double decker bus came to stay at the site, giving extra accommodation on the bottom deck and sleeping on the top. The site was always quite full, with the same people coming year after year.

Big Dock and The White House

In this picture (above) is a boat which belonged to Jimmy Gwyther, who was the man who put Prince Charles on welsh soil for the first time. In the background – to the right – is Angle Brickworks, started up by Colonel Mirehouse after returning from army service. He brought several men with him to start up the brickworks; one being Tom Wainwright known as Tom The Brickie (Elena's grandfather).

"You can see the stream running down through the village, with the bridges across to the cottages, to us it was known as the lake; sadly most of it has been covered in now. In my childhood most people had ducks and they swam around in the lake; I used to love to watch them. I don’t know where the soldiers are coming from - could be from church or the pier as there was a landing stage there for the troops. They were probably on their way to Blockhouse were their billets were. White Hall Farm [on the right of the above picture] with the two ladies standing by the side – these two ladies [very well dressed] are on lots of Angle postcards taken by Mr Allen of Pembroke Dock. Mrs Wisbey who was a great Angle historian once told me that he [Mr Allen] always brought someone with him in case there was no one around when he took the photos."


Memories of Pembroke Main Street

Mrs Lain's recollection of Pembroke Main Street:

"In the early 1920s, when I would be roughly 5 years old, I remember that every Saturday evening the Salvation Army, in traditional uniform, would bring their tambourines and sing hymns in the little square formed by the Lion Hotel and The Dark Lane – no traffic to disturb them, of course. I believe they would have come from Tenby.

I recall the very early dawn tramping of hobnailed boots, plodding their way to the Dockyard, probably from Lamphey, Manorbier and later on, back home again.

I recall the Langum fisherwomen, in traditional Welsh costume, who would walk then cross the Ferry by small boats, then sell their goods in Pembroke etc. – with heavy wicker baskets on both arms. When all were sold they would then buy various commodities at what was known as the Town Hall – every Friday there were small stalls set up there for trading purposes, china, vegetables etc.

Sometimes, and at regular intervals, the Army would march, either Llanion or Defensible Barracks. They would march on foot, bringing several wagons with weaponry and each was attached to two or four mules. I remember one wet night, when they were struggling up the Dark Lane, that two of the mules slipped and fell and we all watched as the soldiers tried to get the poor creatures on their feet again.

I can remember the very first time we saw a motor car in the Main Street. It was, of course, the Mirehouse’s from Angle – registration D.E.1, with a carriage lamp on either side, holding a candle.

My father used to farm at Welson Farm in Lamphey. He had a milk round in those days chiefly supplying Defensible Barracks. Sadly his cows were poisoned after breaking through a hedge and eating [Yew?] in another field. Of course, there was no compensation or help in those days, so they left farming and bought a little general store known as Slees [?]. It was a great change from farming. The country life was reasonably healthy, but Pembroke town was sadly very different. In those early years, Pembroke had no proper sewage – so the raw untreated sewage lay stagnant in the Mill Pond. As a result, epidemics such as scarlet fever, diphtheria were regularly repeated. My own brother Douglas, aged 8, almost died from diphtheria; as indeed did many others did die. My father, together with Dennis Rees, who I think was a cousin of Walter Simon, both got elected to Pembroke Town Council and it was because of their efforts that a Health Minister from London came down and following his remarks etc. a proper sewage correctly treated was at last installed.

I recall what was known as Long Entry, which ran like a little street – now a car park. It had little one roomed cottages where old age pensioners would reside – they would often come outside and gossip with one another. Opposite that near the castle there was a shop known as Reynolds the Saddler; he lived there with his daughter.

The Old Kings Arms was run, in those days, by a very gentle lady called Mrs. Davies. There used to be an entrance on the right of the main door [next to 11 Main Street] and ponies and traps would drive in from Angle etc. and park there where there would be a number of stables. The next landlord that I can recall was Mr. Mathias who had one son. He was followed later by Mr. George Wheeler, who took down the old stables and made a parking space. The entrance was closed and the hotel was extended over the entrance. When war was declared the Army requisitioned the kitchen area of number 11 as a cookhouse. [It has now of course been completely modernised and brought up to date with parking facilities etc.]

In the early days, mostly all of our goods were brought by train. There would be large flat wagons to distribute goods all over the town and I recall a very large grey horse bringing the wagons through the town.

Then on Monday, there would be the Cattle Mart away at the East End of the town. The farmers, with no transport suitable, would drive the cattle to Mart, through the Main Street. Quite often they would have little calves trotting beside the mother cows. Then, of course, the gardens were very large (now I know they were called burgage plots) and most of them would have a pig sty at the bottom.

At about that time the portion of land between West Street, moving left towards Stratford’s Fruit and Vegetable Shop [now closed and upon which a new chapel is said to have been built] was at one time flooded like a small lake. The lake had two small islands in the centre and a swan always used one as her nesting place. I never heard of lads throwing stones or anything to drive her off when she was sitting hatching her young!

Starting at the Lion Hotel on the West Side of the street, would next be a chemist shop run by a Mr. Williams – I remember the huge glass bottles on the top shelf filled with a vivid blue liquid. He also ran a little Post Office, which we did not have in those days.

Next came Willing's (11 Main Street) – a little general shop run by a very old gentleman, who was indeed called Mr. Willing. I remember he would put a white wooden barrel outside the shop front door, filled with sawdust and usually rosy red apples. On the other side of the door he would hang a bundle of little penny canes of likethal [?] – I wonder what they were used for? He used to wear a long black robe affair, not trousers, and he also had a skull cap. I think he must have been very elderly! Sometimes his equally elderly housekeeper would appear out of the heavy oak door and she too wore long black clothes. Her name was Mrs. Brighty.

11 Main Street is where my parents then lived. When I married my husband he was a captain in the Army and was stationed abroad during the War and I lived with my mother in Pembroke. After my mother died I lived abroad and the 11 Main Street shop was rented to Mr. Stratford, who ran a fruit and vegetable shop in[side] the larger shop, and a lady rented the smaller shop called the Little Gem. When we returned, I set up a sweet shop in the small shop and then my husband, having ill health, had to leave the Army; so we decided to open the larger shop and sell fruit and vegetables.

Back to the Main Street – The King’s Arms was next to 11 Main Street, followed by the original Town Hall. Next was an ironmonger’s shop known as Richards the Ironmonger. After that the Castle Inn – I cannot recall what it was named, but it was not an inn. Mr. Williams ran it and I rather think it had something to do with an electricity generator. After that was Mr. Roch the Outfitters, run by two brothers. Next would be Mendus the Chemist, then the old Co-op stores, followed by Campbell’s Garage – no run though, of course – followed by Percy Sear, selling mainly fish. The shop had an open window and a marble slab. I recall one of his sons was an early drowning fatality at Freshwater West.

On the East side, the earliest I can remember would be Pannell’s Removals, the house on the corner. I think Mrs. Laura Pannell later used the house as a small guest house. Then came the Dark Lane or Darklin which we still call it. Mrs. Price in the Dark Lane ran a small grocery shop where large loaves used to cost 4½ pennies. The end of the street used to be a little fruit and veg shop. And round the corner, under the castle, was Harry Davies or The Quay as he was known – he was a wheelwright. At the top of the Dark Lane was St. Mary’s Church, followed by The Brick House occupied by the tobacconist, Mr. Billy Gwilliam; then The Town Clock where Smith and Sons were. This was followed by several buildings run by Mr. Wally Simon. Part of his business was for all sorts of farm fodder.

Next came Lloyds’ Bank, then Haggar’s Cinema, then Hall the Bakers run by the Grist family and later by Mr. And Mrs. Ricketts. I cannot quite recall what came next but after that was a small shop run by Williams the Plumber. Then there was a wallpaper shop run by the Bagshaws; and next to that was a newspaper shop at one time run by Mr. And Mrs. Hall and then the Townsends. Then we had a quaint little shop, which only sold a few little white pipes – run by a Mr. Pike.

Next door was the Star Supply stores; and then an old fashioned general clothes shop run by Mr. Toombs, whose wife I think was Mrs Francis Poyer Toombs. Then we have Tracy the Jewellers. [Since he finished many years ago this shop still remains empty and is in a poor state of repair.] I have seen old postcards of the shop a few down, owned by Austin Lewis and his son and daughter, showing the many items it use to sell.

Then there was Smith The Butcher who had six children...."