White Rock Digital Trails Oral History Transcript
Interviewed by Tudor and Janet Price. Transcription by Rachael Lovering and Sarah Daly.
This is an oral history recorded with Mr Ken Frederickson and his wife Margaret on the 31st October 2013, at their home in Swansea. The recording is part of the Connected Communities project, White Rock Digital Trails. The interviewers are Janet and Tudor Price. Transcription by Rachael Lovering and Sarah Daly.
T: Mr Ken Frederickson, could you tell me when you were born please?
K: 27. 1927. Makes me…um
M: You’re coming up 87.
K: Yeah. Coming up 87.
T: And where were you born?
K: I was born in Grenfell Park, one of the first houses ever built on Grenfell Park and I was born in my grandfather’s house, 42 Windmill Terrace.
I drew two plans on the boat and I handed them to this lady and the one I drew to scale was the one I put a lot of time into, but when they printed it, they printed the rough one which I had drawn.
[looking at the drawing: ( Swansea Museum LSV Fact sheet 1)]
K: That’s the railway bridge. That’s the rough one now. I dunno somebody must have pinched the good one. Um… There’s Foxhole Road and Kilvey Road coming down. Down over the railway bridge from St Thomas. And then you walk along by a little wall and you turn down steps yeah? Well you can’t even find the steps now, so overgrown. And then as you turned the corner, there was a bridge… a little footbridge up by here, which was put there because a stream ran out from the railway line.
T: So what’s your first recollection of that?
K: My first recollection was, going down to where my grandfather lived and then after that at the end of every month he’d say ‘come on lad’ and he’d walk me up to White Rock Works. And there’s only one building left there and that’s where they pay… paid my grandfather out for the workmen who had gone back and fore over the ferry.
T: So who was your grandfather Ken?
K: Dai Clarke
Clarke’s Way is named after him up somewhere up the Hafod. Not the Hafod. Other side of the river. Dai Clarke. The Ferry boat was opened around 1871, and strangers had it at first, first part of his life but then… my great uncle or something, Llewellyn, took it over. Well he had it for a number of years. I’ve got a photo of him here, I’ll show you now..
T: So did your grandfather own the ferry, or did he rent the ferry?
K: No. he rented it. It was…a bit complicated, because it was on LMS property [London, Midland and Scottish Railway]. and the railway owned all the ground over there.
The corporation had something to do with it, I’m not quite sure what., But they took it over in the end and they had…they had two men drown on it, on the boat and …the railway took it over and…
T: So did your grandfather make a living working the boat?
K: Oh yes
T: That was his occupation?
K: Yes. It was a full-time job. He’d start in the morning about six. Get the workmen into work. That was the earlyshift. Foxhole one side and Hafod the other side. It came out in…
M: Maliphant Street.
K: Maliphant Street. Always helps me now I’m a bit fuddy
It come out in Maliphant Street in the Hafod. And there was the Hafod Isha Works on the Hafod side. A lot of women worked there. Right by the entrance to the ferry boat.
And where White Rock started, the ferry boat was just by there. So, it had the workmen to go across to the Hafod Isha Works and women. And it had people living in the Hafod going back and forth to White Rock.
T: So did you go across on the boat?
K: I used to take the boat across, but not when it had a fresh wire on, with the heavy rain. It’s not like it is now. Permanently in since they put the barrage there. It used to go right down low and you know it was fully tidal. And when it was nice and a lovely day I used to take it across, but my grandfather wouldn’t let me take it across on my own until I could swim. But when I was walking home and was looking a bit despondent because my grandfather wouldn’t let me take it over, you skulled it from the rear, from the stern of the boat, and I passed my youngest uncle. There was only eight years between him and I – my mother’s youngest brother. So he said “what are you looking so miserable?” I said, “Bampy won’t let me take the boat over ‘cause I can’t swim.” “Oh we’ll fix that,” he said, “come wi’ me”. Took me down Weavers and threw me in! (Weavers’s Flour Mill basin)
T: You learnt to swim!
K: Willy that was, and he was a bit of a boy. He was in the Atlantic three times during the war. He was an ack ack gunner on a navy gun boat.
But anyhow that’s enough..
T: So people would pay your grandfather?
K: Yes, but what you got to remember is, the shopping centre for Swansea then was High Street
So it was easier to go across. People from Bonymaen, Grenfell Town had to walk right down to St. Thomas and go over the St Thomas Bridge, then walk up High Street again. So it was far easier to go over the ferry boat.
T: Do you think, in the time that you remember it, was it mostly work people or was it mostly…?
It was relatives from families that lived in the Hafod and Foxhole. And Foxhole was a wonderful community ,… and you know it was all integrated sort of thing. And my grandpa knew everyone. He was a sort of nosey parker of the area, ‘cause well people would tell him “when you see my wife go shopping later, tell her this and tell her that”.
Yes and I’d be there in between.
My Grandfather had it about, twenty odd years I think he had it, then he passed it over to:-. There’s two sons, George and Davey, it was left to Georgie and Georgie was there till 1942 when he was called up by the army. And then, the railway took it over and then they bound it over to the council. Five men got drowned altogether ‘cause they didn’t understand the fresh wire.
So it finished about…1945 really but my family had it ‘til 1942.
T: ’42 and your, grandfather and then his sons would have carried that on and they were all.. you began to tell me how they settled up the dues? Settled up the moneys?
K: Well, my grandfather knew everyone that came over on the boat. And…if they were going shopping, they would pay him. Penny single, three ha’pence return. And then the weekly was four pence ha’penny weekly. Go back and fore return, every day o’ the week for four pence ha’penny. And then he’d go up and …um…and he’d get hold of my hand every month and say, “Come wi’ me lad” and I’d go up to White Rock and they’d pay him the money for the workmen that had gone over for that month.
T: So White Rock would pay him?
K: Yeah. White Rock would pay him.
T: There’s a story that George Clarke …went to war, second war…
T: Yeah, and that he was called back?
K: Yeah. Well. My grandfather knew every bit of that river. And if there was anybody… a woman was seen jumping off Morriston Bridge. The main… bridge over Morriston.
T: Wychtree Bridge?
K: And of course they had no clue where she was, so they’d come and ask my grandfather. I went down there one morning and he said, he called me over and he said, “Go to the police box down the bottom of Maesteg Street and go to the little cubbyhole and open it and connect the phone and ask the policeman to come along and see Bampa down the ferry”. Which I did and being nosey I went back there. And two policemen come down. My grandpa pointed up on the furthest corner of the Hafod Isha Works. There’s a little mud bank there and …there the lady was who’d jumped in at Morriston.
And he found another one then lower down where the old River Tawe, the original River Tawe came back into New Cut. There was a bit of an eddy there, he’d find them in there. So he knew where anybody on the river had jumped in, where he’d find them.
T: Can you tell me, Ken, where your grandfather’s family came from? Were they Swansea, or were they…?
K: Another …touching a shady area here! My grandfather originally was a Llewellyn, the anthracite people. Um, like my uncle Llewellyn…um…who had the ferry boat before him. But they, he was illegitimate as far as we can understand and if you read…um there’s a woman down Mumbles that writes these books… all about Swansea?
J: Gower; Iris Gower
K: Well Iris Gower wrote one book called Fiddler’s Ferry and that explains the family more or less. Um… We know we was related to the Llewellyns somewhere along the line but um…
It were nothing in them days
T: Yes, I was interested in whether they were Cornish? Whether they had come across, as so many people did.
K: Right. My grandmother come across. She was part of a family that were road builders and they’d just…just discovered Tarmacadam. And she lived in one of the four cottages where the entrance to the docks was. Right alongside the entrance to the docks. They got knocked down years ago. I can only just barely remember them. But my grandmother came from one of those cottages. She was a Devonshire woman.
T: What was her name?
K: Cairl, before she got married.
T: So can you tell me about where your grandfather lived?
K: Yes, he lived,… And when he first took over the ferry boat, he lived in the…There was four houses just above the ferry boat, and above White Rock Works, there was a piece out of the road, and there were four houses built down there. He lived in number one.
M: What were they called Ken?
K: Quarry Houses they were called. He lived in Number One, Quarry Houses. And when they knocked it down, they wanted it for road widening, widening Foxhole Road, – they give them £70 for the house to knock it down. And then afterwards they wanted to charge them £70 for taking the rubble away.
K: And then he went from there to 42 Windmill Terrace…where I was born.
T: So if I said that Quarry Road or Quarry Cottages was Samlet Row, would that be the same thing,or not?
K: The top of Foxhole Road that would be
T: Was it not the same thing; Samlet Row, Quarry Road, Quarry Cottages?
K: No, as far as..I know, it only went, up to the side of Pentrechwyth.
I think it was starting at Foxhole. And you could make out the a bit of a thing you know where the houses were but they took most of it for the road as I say.
T: So …none of your family was Welsh speaking?
K: not really.
My Grandfather Dai, David, and my grandmother can… can you know. When he was a youngster, he had a wonderful voice and they used to take him round the pubs in Swansea. Send him in pubs, just singing but then um…once he started work that was forgotten about .
T: So was he a bass? A tenor?
K: A boy soprano
I haven’ got a photo of Dai, only his wife Maria and the family.
T: Well I may be able to help there .I’ve got some photographs. Where did you go to school Ken?
K: Well, St Thomas. It was the only school around there then.
T: And did you go to church or Sunday School?
K: Oh aye. Kilvey.
T: The parish church?
K: Kilvey Church
T: So in the sort of community that existed then…can you tell me a bit about that? In Windmill Terrace and…………
K: Oh it was a wonderful community and real church people. Um…my grandmother, Dai and Maria, his wife. They had distant relatives, a long way back living up on Kilvey Hill. Now Dai had nine children and they also had nine children,
But two of them died. And in the meantime two of Dai’s children died. Philly and Phillip…Phyllis and Phillip. They both died, with the ‘flu in 1914.
K: Aye well 1914, I think. 14 is on the gravestone you know. And so Dai and Maria..um…they took over two of the children, of the family that died on Kilvey Hill.
Took two of the children. So that made it up to nine again . So the family went up to nine again. And well the…one of them, the girl they took over, Jenny. Jenny emigrated in 1927. Canada. She’s only just died 100 year old.
But …that’s a different family you’re on about. But, that’s the way they were in Foxhole, they were all one, one happy family. Nobody locked the door in Foxhole. Nobody. They had oil lamps and things like that. Um and us boys as we got older kept them going in coal. Cause we’d go to the Rifle Wall, over the Rifleman’s Row walls part of Foxhole wall further up from The Ship (Inn). And we’d jump into an empty coal truck going back up the Valley.
I don’t know if I’m proud of this. I probably shouldn’t be saying this..And we’d get off just before Morriston, where the old station used to be and where the railway line turns, the trains slow down. Anyhow the drivers knew we were doing it.
But we’d jump out again, up by there… and wait for the full ones to come down. And we’d jump on the full ones and throw bits of coal out all the way down. And the bigger boys, at Foxhole then would go on with a pushbike … a sack and fill the sack up and put it in the frame of the pushbike, and they used to dump the coal, and it wasn’t for any one individual, it was for everybody, in Foxhole, next door to um…Mathias’s house…where they had a stable and pony and they’d dump all the coal there. And as people ran out of coal, they’d go over in a morning and get a bucket full from there.
K: but …uh…the train drivers knew the coal had been weighed that end as it got out the colliery, so they didn’t care. They went straight out to the tip in the dock, in the South dock and tipped into the ships.
T: So when you remember people, and other boys… …did you consider yourself poor, or well off?
K: Noooo we’re just an ordinary family. Your parents were struggling. My parents only had one child because it was so hard, and was bad enough to bring up one. That was me. And I don’t blame my mother, my mother was very small and I was 12lb born, so……
T: So do you remember children going to school?…Can you describe conditions?
K: Well. St Thomas was a bit of a la dee da area, because all the kids had shoes to go to school, as we had. We went over for joinery lessons, over to Danygraig and half of those kids didn’t have shoes. So we were a bit above them you know. We were richer than them!
T: Good pecking order. So as you, your family, went about and as you grew up, how did you travel? If you were going anywhere……….?
K: Well, we had no transport at all. We used to go, look forward to, school picnics. Where they, um…they only went from St Thomas Station up to Glais.That was the Sunday School picnic and then the other one was from East Dock over on Jersey Marine Road there. East Dock, just below St.Thomas Church, to Jersey Marine. And we used to think that was wonderful. Up until I went to the army, the furthest I’d been is Mumbles and Glais when I’d gone with the school.
T: And how old were you…were you conscripted or did you volunteer?
K: Well I, well now in the army…..
M: You were conscripted
K: Conscripted when I was 18.
On my 18th birthday
T: so before we go to that, what was your father’s employment?
K: My father. He was with a timber company on the dock. Lugging timber round. Until the war and then he went up to Baldwin’s up the Hafod, up in Landore um, making bombs for the war.
Yeah. I was the first one to have a car in Grenfell Park. After I got out of the army. The roads weren’t made or nothing then. All rough roads, so when one lorry tried to get up there, a coal lorry and bust his axle, it was down, Maesteg Street one wheel this way and one wheel that.
T: Some hill, Maesteg Street… So just staying with your father, you’re saying he was with RT Landore
So can you tell me? The QF factory. Can you tell me anything about that?
K: You know when it started, it was making ammunition.
T: So it’s not that one you’re talking about, you’re talking about RTB, across the water?
K: Yeah over to Landore the RTB works.
T: And he would have had a free ride on the ferry?
K: Oh, well he didn’t have to go on the ferry, ‘cause they walked, up the line from St Thomas, to the works. There was a footbridge up there to go to RTB.
It’s still there now.
T: It is still there. Ok…so…you were conscripted. Can you tell me about that?
K: Well, there’s not much to tell. Called up and they asked me what I wanted to go in, and I said the Navy first or the Air Force. Thank you very much and when I had the call up papers a week later, it was for the Welsh Guards!
So I spent till ’49 in the Welsh Guards. And the one photo up there…
K: That photo up there, is the first time we were allowed to wear a tie and shoes after, as the war finished and that was Lubeck in Northern Germany. They’re all dead except me. One man ended up a millionaire, in Australia. Frank.
T: So were you working before you joined up?
K: Oh yes. I joined school and two of us joined the same day and he was a skinny tall boy and the other boys started picking on him. Well that was my swan song. As you know I enjoy that like, but I got very friendly with Dai. And um…we left school the same day and we went to work for McSymon and Potter the ship chandler down the dock.
And, we stayed there until we were….. both of us. No I went from there then to Tir John Power Station. I spent three years at Tir John Power Station, before I got called up. But Dai got called up as well and, after the war I went straight down to his house. He lived in number 3 Grenfell Park Road, number 3 or 4 and his family had moved, I didn’t know where he was, well I didn’t know what had happened to Dai. Well years and years later I got in touch with his regiment. Paratroops and they told me he got killed in Arnhem. So last year we went out to Arnhem and found his grave. It’s in Oosterbeek, seven miles from Arnhem. He was killed out there on the second day of the fighting. He was killed on the 19th and the fighting started on the 17th. So that was then, so I had a cross and I wrote on it ‘Fishing haven’t been the same without you Dai’. And stuck the cross on his grave like. I got photos of it somewhere. But I never knew what happened to his family. If I had known I’d have took some extra photos and I could have given them to them. If they hadn’t been out there like.
T: So…up to the war, into the war were you conscious…how conscious were you of the river and… the Copper Works, or had those days passed by then?
K: No they were always in my mind. We used to have airgun fights with Foxhole boys, Uncle Georgie then would take the boat to the other side of the river. ‘Cause young Georgie his son, he’ve been dead for quite a long while now, he had to dig a slug out of his back. Me, I had a slug here in my leg . Georgie, my uncle Georgie going with a penknife digging it out.
T: Happy days!
K: Old Foxhole boys, we went down to the new estates, there was only three or four of us up there, of the age. And the Foxhole boys had, we had a little gun club you know, for Foxhole.
T: But in terms of the Copper site; White Rock. You’ve got a clear picture in your mind of it of the buildings still there?
K: Oh yeah.
T: What can you tell me about the, the atmosphere, the pollution or…?
K: Well what I remember….vaguely about White Rock, was the people working on the lead there used to go blind like that! And my mate’s father…I was going down the boat one day and on that railway bridge before you get, to the boat, he was leaning on the railway bridge crying. He’d just gone blind. Totally blind. Freddie Travis’s father. And it was common for …White Rock Works.
T: It would have been lead and silver then?.
K: and Gold
T: And gold not copper by then?
K: Matter of fact after it all closed up my grandfather hired it. Who he hired it from I don’t know, but he hired it to put his boys; his six boys now, there, he showed them where there were culverts full of lead. And he had his boys digging out the lead. And he bought a boat, a lifeboat from Wards Ship breaking yard. Well, Llewellyn was a good joiner, cabinet maker.. He built a cabin on it. Sid was more a mechanic, so he bought a Thorneycroft engine to put in it. Ivor was a good painter, that was his work he was a painter, so they did this lifeboat up. Oh it was a treat. Beautiful. And he bought a net and give it to the boys, so when they were short of money, go out and catch a load of fish, bring it in and sell it in the market; fish market. So he had his finger in everything , Dai.
T: So could you eat the fish out of the Tawe?
K: Oh no. No, you wouldn’t, right next door down to the boat was Mossedale. Now they used to pick up all the cattle and cut the feet off ‘em, the hooves, and make glue out of the hooves. Well you used to see all sorts of stuff coming down that went out of that works.
So my grandmother used to warn us, “don’t go……” My grandfather got blood poisoning from it. Had a cut on the hand and the blood got in.
That was when Georgie took over from him then. He retired after that.
T: Can I ask you specifically as a child, or your teenage years, if you were ill, what happened?
K: Well now you just …called I don’t know whether you can still see it, I got hit in the head here, somewhere, I don’t know where and they couldn’t stop it bleeding; stone; and there was a brick; and they couldn’t stop it bleeding and it was for hours. So they got a bit frightened and they had to call a doctor then. Well it happened that it was old Hefferman. Hefferman was a rough old boy and he said “Oh it’ll stop”; put a pad there, tied it up, but that’s’ the sort of thing I had. My mate then went to work for Hefferman as a junior doctor. Tom Gammage.
T: So. Would you have had to have paid for that?
K: Well my mother and father did all that, I didn’t have ….
T: And were you aware of people coming to the house to collect payments for different things?
K: Well what’s that…Liverpool…man used to call from the Liverpool um every week and they used to, my mother used to pay him so much money. What that was for I don’t know.
T: Was that a friendly society or…?
K: Yeah. Liverpool uh…you know. It’s going now, its LV now, but it used to be….
T: Do you ever remember the Ivorites Friendly Society? Do you remember hearing of that?
K: Yeah but we…it was a new estate and.. The only thing I really remember about the new estate was a little van would struggle up there every week on a Thursday morning and my mother would give him sixpence and he’d give her a fresh accumulator for the radio. It was like a big battery.
Like a long tension battery. It used to be sixpence to recharge this accumulator every week.
T: Incredible and finally, again back to childhood in terms of illnesses. Were you ever aware of serious illnesses?
K: Well no…. Up until I was 70 years of age…
M: In the family.
T: Just around you, in the streets?
K: Yeah. My father died when he was76.
T: Do you remember any children with diphtheria or…?
K: Oh yeah. They were round the area. Whole family went that I got friendly with ,they used to come across the boat from up in Halfway in Llansamlet. And the whole family was wiped out with um…what’s this lung complaint?
K: TB. The whole family was wiped out from TB. Myself; I never had an illness, in my life.
M: What did you end up in Hill House with?
K: Oh aye; scarlet fever. We walked round the drain. Taking the drain up from down through the estate and we had to run down the drain; you couldn’t walk around the road like; three of us and we all ended up with scarlet fever. But that was all .Next real illness I had was when I was 72. Everything went wrong when I was 72.
T: Can I ask you where you met your wife?
M: We worked together in The Electricity Board?
T: So are you from…
M: Originally from Killay, but Gowerton.
T: And your family’s occupations?
K: And she’s still at it. She’s got 50-odd pigs
M: Over in Gowerton.
T: So in terms of say the two, three generations behind you…are they solid Gower?
M: Yes. Um. Let me think …yeah. Carmarthen for my father and the Austins are from Cornwall. Which is Sally’s (cousin) relations as well, yeah. But all in service in the Park; with the Vivians.
T: Parc Wern?
K: Singleton Park.
M: Singleton. In the Abbey.
We were in the Abbey. Sally’s (cousin)and my grandfather, was a groom.
In the Abbey and we had a cousin and then… Grandpa Austin and Granny Austin. They met in service in the Abbey. Granny Austin was…um…dairymaid and Grandpa Austin was a coachman. And then they had three boys; one named Eaton. Eaton was a gardener and finished his time in Singleton. And Eaton always used to prepare the clock (floral clock display) on Mumbles Road. If you remember the clock? Eaton was in charge of, you know, setting out the clock and everything. And they …he lived in Singleton, which was a tied cottage until…oh…six years ago, when he died.The tied cottage was…for Eaton’s life.
K: And Eaton um… was blinded and spent his later life totally blind and still used to do gardening. And brilliant gardening as long as he was on his own little patch. He was on a destroyer trying to take supplies to Tobruk….. Tobruk was cut off and he was in this destroyer, loaded with aviation spirit and shells and bullets and everything and just a quarter of a mile off Tobruk they got sunk. They got torpedoed. And, Eaton was in that oily water with the aviation spirit and everything; got in his eyes and blinded him…. And they wouldn’t give him a pension earlier on, about 40 year ago because the eyes wasn’t quite so bad then. But they wouldn’t give a pension, turned him down, so Eaton didn’t bother any more. But we went to a military Tattoo up in London and went into the office there, complaints office and told them and the following week they were down looking at Eaton and he had a pension. And then he goes and…on top of that he goes and dies.
T:. Can you tell me the oldest relative you can remember….ever meeting…ever seeing?
K: Well, all my father’s family; Dai, my uncle Dai and all that family. Um. I can remember all of them…vividly.
But I can’t remember my Uncle Llewellyn, the one before Dai, he wasn’t there long on the ferry boat, but ah, they were like, sort of family, out of our family and yet they were in it,
T: And for you, the oldest living relative you can remember?
Was it your grandparents or could you even think…?
M: Mmm. I’m trying to think..
K: The only one past my grandparents was my Uncle Llewellyn that was on the boat. There’s a photo of him here.
T: Right okay, we’d better come to that I think.
K: They lived in Maesteg Street. I always used to think that was a mansion, ‘cause it was so long and so big, that um, it was always immaculate, except for one thing. In the kitchen was a clothes horse, oh on the pulleys now, over the fireplace. And that always used to amaze me that the thing pulled clothes up like that. They were like, a different generation.
T: Can I ask you as well about occupations and the type of people who lived in the area. If I use the… distinction skilled and unskilled. How did you see people?
K: Well, as I say, my own family. I got another photo in here I think. There was, six boys, starting with the eldest Davey, He used to help George on the boat sometimes, and then Llewellyn, he was a cabinet maker, made all his own cabinets for when he got married. Then there was Sid. Sid was a footballer. Played for Huddersfield and different teams up there. Then there was Ivor, Ivor was a painter. And then there was Willie my youngest uncle, who was only eight years older than me. I used to follow him around like a little dog everywhere and then one day, ‘cause he went to meet this girl, he got hold of me and he put me on a ash cart by the Queen’s dock and pushed me out the dock and left me, left me, left me there most of the day !
T: And what did Willie do? What was his occupation?
K: Willie? He worked with Llewellyn, the cabinet maker in the West Wales Timber and Joinery. Llewellyn was manager and overseer of the Timber works on the dock. They made windows and all, you know.
T: Yes I was talking, recently, to someone whose uncle used the ferry coming the other way to get to the Aeron Thomas timber merchants. Regularly came across, through Maliphant Street, to get to that ferry.
K: Well I was amazed when I went up, like I say, I only went up about a fortnight ago, three weeks ago. (On the river boat The Black Prince)There’s no, you can’t even see where the ferry boat was, either side. Now the river is full all the time because of the barrage.
I told them on the boat when the river was tidal, at low tide, below the ferry boat, was a walkway, and if the ferry was closed you could walk across knee deep. The tide would go out that far. But being as it was, tidal, when they had heavy rain up the valley, the water would come down there in torrents and you had to put the freshwire on.
And it made it very easy, the easiest job of all, ‘cause all you had do was turn the boat..
Just put the bow slightly into the torrent coming down and you shot across and just straighten the boat up when you got out the other end.
T: So when you got to the other side, to the…Hafod Isha side,
K: Maliphant Street
T: Maliphant Street. So even on a high tide, presumably it was quite a way up to Maliphant Street?
K: Well as you know, Swansea tidal race …is second highest in the world. Place in um…Newfoundland is the highest, but we are just…fractionally behind it, so it can rise right up, but opposite the ferry, we were landing on the end, by the Hafod Isha Works. Well there was a jetty going along there, with proper boards put in for the yachts that come up there. I remember them coming up there and tying’ up and now it’s all overgrown. It’s just one mass ……of greenery now.
T: So you remember commercial boats coming up the Tawe?
K: Yeah. What they were doing and picking up, I dunno; there was …one shed half way up, where Maesteg Street is, it was all houses along there. Joyles the grocer and the meat bloke and …the big houses just opposite by there. Well …Georgie used to live in one of the houses with the backs to the river, at the bottom of Maesteg Street and by the river there often there was a sailing boat right opposite by the big shed; used to come up by there regular. He’d be up there for a week, then he’d be gone and he’d be gone for about a month and he’d be back then, but…um…the highest up the river I ever saw one was tied up on by the Hafod Isha Works. I’ll show you on here…(photograph of ferryboat with Dai Clarke and his son David Clarke at the river side)
Have you any idea why it’s called White Rock, Ken?
K: Well it, all the stone work, well you can’t call it a bridge and the foundation of it is still, on the far side of White Rock there, it went right up to the top, above White Rock and there was all parts of the works up there.
The foundation of it, where it went from, is still there now. And we used to climb it, look, go all the way up, after young pigeons, newly born pigeons and we were hanging on bits of string virtually, swinging across to get these pigeons out.
T: In one of the maps it shows a, a urinal… on the bend in the road?
K: That’s in Pentre Guinea.
There was a urinal man, a First World War man, had his hand blown off. And he spent all the morning, he’d get up early, do a urinal by St Thomas, that urinal in the wall in the Foxhole and one up in Bonymaen, the far end of Bonymaen. And he’d walk up with this big hose pipe over his shoulder and his hard broom – only one arm he had – and he’d do the one by the wall and the one in Windmill Terrace and he’d go down the boat for his cup of tea and his toasted tea cake and that was my chance to row the ferry boat over… ‘cause him and my grandfather were great mates.
T: So this bothy here, you’re talking about?
K: Yeah. That’s the boat house. Oh now that’s the lodge, there’s the…
T: So people lived in these? Did they live in them?
K: No. The boat house was only for keeping the oars. After a while the oars would bend. One oar, there’s a lot of pressure on it, and the oar would come with a bend. Well then the boat house was big enough to take the oar with a big brick tied in the middle of it to straighten the oar out….and soaked with water every morning and they used to keep the oilskins just inside the door… and the spare………
T: Okay so just tell me again, so these are Clarkes?
K: That’s Dai Clarke That’s my grandfather and that’s the…the second oldest boy.
Oh no, that’s the oldest boy, Dai.
K: And all the women would come out dinner time (Hafod Isha Works) when it’s nice weather and sit on a log of wood along here with their feet hanging over the top eating their sandwiches. This was White Rock here.
That’s called the Hafod Isha Works.
T: Isha as in …
T: Isaf yes, so it would be ….Hafod Lower, yeah Hafod isaf.
K: That’s where it used to tie up. Where the yacht used to tie up.
T: So we’re looking now at the two men in a boat …um… the White Rock side? Yep.
K: Well here’s a Clarke family photo My eyesight’s gone, with this stroke now…um…that’s me, that’s Dai…that’s…Sid, the footballer, that’s, that’s the painter, that’s Ivor and that’s Llewellyn; that’s the cabinet maker. And that’s Willie, the youngest, my youngest uncle… he had a rough time, he did in the war…um…that’s my grandmother on her eightieth birthday;
M: Is that Ronnie…Kenneth?
K: No, it’s long before Ronnie’s time. No that’s the early part of the century, that is.
T: So we’re looking at a family photograph with lots of Clarkes . Um…that’s the second photograph and now we’re looking at a superb flat-bottomed boat; so skulled from the rear Ken?
K: Yeah. that’s it. The spare boat was always anchored on the flat where they’d built a wall. You know these heavy stones from the spelter-works, these black stones, they built a wall in front of the boathouse – and steps up the middle of it.
T: So there were two boats?
K: Yeah, spare boat we used to anchor under the… where the steps were under this wall, on the side.[looking at the photo]
There you are, spare boat, under that wall.
There you are now, this is where there was the pole the fresh wire.. A big pole up by there, …I’m guessing now, big pole that side and it come off the shed…where… On the Maliphant side, yes, here’s one here where its coming off the shed.
T: How many passengers maximum do you think?
K: Oh well, he’d take about ten, if he had a fresh wire going. Be busy in the morning; six o’clock, but you know, in the day then, they’d be coming all the time, , shoppers going.
T: If it was very low tide Ken, could he skull then or not?
K: Yes, there’s enough water between….[long pause – looking at photos] oh, my eyesight. I can’t see it on that one, since I had a stroke.
K: But that’s the Hafod Isha Works and a little loco used to come around there. I don’t know whether you can see, there’s a track, The loco track used to go round, and go round here and back up to the Morfa, by by the clock tower. And the engine houses there. This little engine used to come around here every day, through the Morfa and then pick up stuff and then go on his way back around up to the loco shed.
T: So climbing up, it’s quite a height difference yes.
K: And I dunno why I put this one in here. This is when Grenfell Park was being built, I think.
T: Good. Ok, well we can just…stop there now.