Olive Clarke

Mrs. Olive Clarke, born 1907, recorded on 31st January  1995 by Swansea Sound

Olive Clarke née Nicholls, the widow of the last White Rock Ferryman, describes her family experience with the ferry and its customers and characters. The good times and not so good are remembered and the social and community value of the ferry is amply described.


  • Member of Kilvey Church Mother’s Union for 60 years.
  • Father worked in Vivian Lead Works at White Rock.
  • Grandmother, from N. Ireland sailed from Liverpool by Coaster arriving at North Dock.
  • Brother Charlie unable to walk – other school boys ‘piggy backed’ to St. Thomas school day after day.
  • Attended an outdoor concert at Lord Grenfell’s mansion, ‘Maesteg House’, in  1914 in aid of comfort for the troops.
  • Recalls unofficial midwife Sarah Thomas who attended countless deliveries when called to assist, as long as a jug of beer was provided!
  • Remembers Grenfell Copper and Vivian Lead production at White Rock.
  • Understood that the rights of the ferry were secured by Grenfells and Vivians from Duke of Beaufort for £1000 in compensation. Rent paid also to Swansea Vale Railway.
  • Ferry worked each day, her husband George worked the afternoon and night, and his father David the morning stint until David became ill.
  • George paid 25/= per week by his father .Wages came from White Rock Estate. Ferryman kept the fares.
  • Shoppers used the ferry to reach the Hafod and a tram into town.
  • Husband called up and spent 6 years in forces.
  • LMS operated ferry from 1942 employing dock workers, until closure in 1945.
  • Christmas Eve 1942, Arthur Rees, 14 year old apprentice at Aeron Thomas Timber yard fell from ferry on a stormy night and drowned. George on leave, asked to locate the body.

TJP      4/11/2013


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