Thursday, 30 December 2010

Morfan in its former life as The Queen's Hotel, Parrog

I've just been reading Keith Johnson's book "The Pubs of St David's. Fishguard & North Pembrokeshire" which includes a very useful chapter on the pubs of Newport and the Parrog. There were quite a number of them in the area and a thriving Temperance movement too.

Some of the pubs are hard to tie to existing buildings but the former Queen's is easier to trace as it occupied the large house which is now Morfan, the right hand of the pretty row of cottages lining the Parrog Road in the picture below.

The Edwardian postcard at the top of this blog shows the building when it was the Queen's Hotel and enlarging the card shows what may well be holiday makers outside decked out in their finery.

I suspect that people in these postcards must have known the photographer was coming and dressed accordingly or did young boys always wear suits for the beach?

The pub was sometimes simply called the Queen's but by the 1891 census, it was listed as the Queen's Hotel and was run by Margaret Williams, a mariner's wife. It was quite common for the pubs in the area to be run by retired sea captains or the wives of serving mariners. Sea captains often spent several months or even whole years ashore when they were not in command of a vessel so an alternative source of income must have been useful. It is interesting that the census does not list anyone except immediate family members in residence on census night (5th April) so there do not seem to have been any paying guests present, perhaps indicating that it was still more of a pub than a guest house. It was certainly listed as a pub in the 1895 Kellys Directory.

A bit of digging around on Reg Davies' Welsh Mariners' website shows that Margaret William's husband, David Williams took his mate's certificate in 1869, moving on to become 1st Mate. He was a Captain by 1874, commanding ships such as the Asiana and the Anglo American and survived a shipwreck in the Azores on the barque Keewaydin (not connected to the trawler Keewaydin which can sometimes be seen moored at the quay in Cardigan). Seafaring was David Williams' blood. His father was Captain Thomas Williams of the Parrog, who held shares in the barque Ondara and named his large sea front house after his vessel.

Before taking on the Queen's Hotel, David Williams and his family were living in St Mary Street in Newport. The pub seems to have been a retirement venture but he died shortly afterwards in 1891. His widow was still running it in 1895 but after that it had a succession of landlords before closing in the 1920's.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Watching the boats come in from the Parrog seawall

The tide is in, so far in, that a small tongue of water to the left of the photo spills out into what is now the car park on the Parrog. A group of people sit on the seawall gazing out to sea and a small rowing boat with three passengers is making it's way to shore, a typical holiday scene from the early 1900's maybe. That's how I first interpreted this image until I read what Martin Lewis had to say in "Newport Pem and Fishguard Revisited". He thinks that a vessel has just come into the harbour and that the crew are being ferried ashore. Looking more closely at the rowing boat, the man in the prow seems to be wearing a seaman's cap and perhaps the other men have caps too:-

A further look at the people on the seawall shows that the man third from the left is also in uniform:-

In the early 1900's, the Parrog would have still been a working harbour. Large vessels would have come in at high tide when they could cross the bar at the mouth of the estuary. They would then be beached on the sands ready to be unloaded at low water when carts could come alongside. It is still possible to see tracks cut through the rocks to allow laden carts to be driven straight up to Feidir Brenin from the waterfront. The arrival of one of these vessels probably attracted the curiosity of locals and visitors alike.

It is always interesting how smartly dressed people are in these early photos. Did people always dress this formally in those days or was it for the benefit of the photgrapher? Pictures like this would have been taken on a plate camera. A long exposure was needed to expose the photographic plate and most of the people in these photos would have been posing, motionless. You can just see the blur of the oars but the people in the boat are sitting very upright and straight as if they too know they will be in the picture.

Looking in detail at the limeburner's cottage it seems to have a hole in it's roof. I wonder if it was still inhabited at the time?