David is secretary of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society.
He talked about ships torpedoed off the Pembrokeshire coast in the final months of World War 1. A restored memorial at Angle Church has led to new links with Japan in recents years, both at ambassador and family level.
This talk covered the evolution of Postal services from the 1600s to the middle of the 19th century, initially serving Government needs, then the well off, before the penny post made its use widespread. Pembrokeshire featured in the early postal service, as mail needed to get to Ireland, and Rev Antell showed maps of the evolving routes and photographs of envelopes with challenging limited address information.
After the meal, Chris Harding entertained us with stories from his life at sea, rising through the ranks to become a Captain, in the Merchant Navy. His subsequent career was more local as a Pilot on the Milford Waterway.
A presentation was made to Arnold Williams, to say “thank you” for the many years he has served on PNTA committee, arranging many varied and entertaining talks in his valuable, long stint as Programme Secretary; a post that he has recently relinquished.
Jim Price was handed a badge and certificate to commemorate 20 years service on PNTA committee, having been there from the outset. His work as Vice Chairman, organiser of summer walks, and Newsletter compiler has been invaluable.
Paul Culyer is the Senior Reserve Manager for NRW in Pembrokeshire.
After a brief description of the development and role of the Natural Resources Wales, he went on to look in more detail at the great variety of National Nature Reserves, across Pembrokeshire, and the integrated work with The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, the National Trust and RSPB.
Aerial photographs highlighted the challenges of establishing/ maintaining wildlife corridors in a county where the vast majority of land is managed primarily for agriculture.
For more detail please click on Jim Price’s summary of the talk –>Talk 121019 pdf
Margaret Price, with help from Lyn Humphries, has liaised with Richards Bros to set up a tour to Cheshire in May 2020, based at Rowton Hall Hotel. The coach trip is likely to take in National Trust Properties at Dunham Massey, Attingham, Croft Castle and Tatton, as well as the Anderton Boat Lift and the Paradise Mill and Silk Museum.
More details and booking forms are available in the recent newsletter. If you have mislaid the printed version, it is available on our website. If you intend to come on the tour to Cheshire, it would help Margret Price a great deal if you could send your deposit before the end of October. The hotel needs an initial payment then, so we want to know, by then, whether we have a viable trip. Numbers are encouraging so far, but we need to have a few more signing up, for the trip to happen.
The TMH entertained a party of Pembrokeshire NTA members for a Cheese and Wine evening at Tudor Merchant’s House to enable us to visit the Tudor garden to see how our donation had been spent. Mair, the volunteer gardener, had worked tirelessly on the garden every week and her efforts have given us all a lovely garden to enjoy. Visitors regularly comment on her knowledge and the level of relevant detail she has at her fingertips. Jonathan Hughes, General Manager gave a special thanks to Mair for all her hard work and to the other staff members and volunteers who came to help on the evening. Many members enjoyed a tour around the house as some had not visited for a while, and the garden looked enchanting with all the lit candles that Mair had placed around the plants. Biscuits and wine were all bought from our National Trust shop in St David’s and all the varieties of cheese were made in Pembrokeshire.
This was our first visit to Llanelly in 20 years and we visited three historic houses. Our first stop was Llanelly House. It was owned by the Stepney family in the 18th Century. They had moved from London to share in the wealth that Llanelly was creating with its local supplies of lead, tin and coal. The house was extensively renovated in the early 18th century and is seen to be the best example of early Georgian architecture in Wales. At that time the house was home to Sir Thomas Stepney, the 5th Baronet, and his wife Lady Elizabeth. They acted out the acrimonious state of their marriage for us, with Sir Thomas complaining about his lack of funds, and Lady Elizabeth talking about her latest trip to Bath that enabled her to buy all those things that would keep her up with the latest fashions.
The House was later owned by a number of families but as Llanelly’s wealth decreased it deteriorated and it was finally bought by the Town Council for use by local businesses. Its resurrection began in 2003 when it was runner up in the BBC Restoration series. Following a period of fund-raising, renovation commenced in 2011. This work was done with great care so that the House was brought back to its 18th Century design. However as a 21st century addition, it was fitted with splendid Audio Visual displays which included a court action against the Butler for inappropriate behaviour with one of the maids. It also has a very good café.
Our next stop was Parc Howard, a. Victorian stone House built in 1885 by the Buckley family, the local brewers. It was gifted to the town in 1912. It is now a museum and art gallery which shows various facets of Llanelli’s growth through mining and shipbuilding, and becoming the largest tin plate centre of manufacturing in the world, acquiring the nickname of Tinopolis. It also houses the largest public collection of Llanelli pottery. This shows how the manufacturing of pottery progressed and the problem of balancing of quality and cost. Few local potteries survived into the 20th century.
Our final stop was Stradey Castle, built for the Mansel Lewis family around 1850. We were welcomed by the current custodians, Patrick and Claire Mansel Lewis, who have lived there since 2009, who were our guides. The House was built to impress, and has a grand staircase and large rooms. The pictures on display were also impressive. From the tower you have a good view down to the sea, but this was only achieved by moving another large house which blocked the view.
Patrick and Claire were very open about the financial constraints of running the House. When they took it over, the Insurers demanded that the roof had to be made weatherproof and there had to be up to date electrical wiring. This work was costly but has now been done. As with all historic houses, trying to bring them up to modern living standards is not easy.
Our tour finished off with tea and biscuits in the dining room prepared by Claire followed by a short walk in the garden.