Next Village of Kilvey

 

Now to the next village of Kilvey

 

The Grenfells built the Church All Saints, The Boys School, the Girls School and the Infant school.

The Headmaster of the boys, was Richard Gwyn a Holy terror to the boys. He was very fond of the cane and showed no mercy when he used it. Parents made no end of complaints about him but were afraid to face him, he turned out many brilliant scholars his two sons one the Editor of the London Morning Post. The other became the Bishop of Khartoum one of the largest parishes in the world. He loved soldiers who were stationed in Egypt to visit him two from Kilvey, had a wonderful reception even granted leave to stay with him for a week, he always paid a visit to his boyhood Church when on a visit to England and many from this Parish would be entertained by him in his hotel where he would stay for about a week.

A Tablet for Richard Gwyn is in Kilvey Church also, one of the school-mistress a Miss Bailey who was a great friend of the Miss Grenfells and attended Kilvey services very regular. The Vicar was a very old man a Mr. Williams who had a beard. A very kindly Gentleman whose Vicarage was near “Maesteg House” the mansion of the Grenfells, on special occasions at Easter, Harvest Thanksgiving services etc the whole family led by the Squire would attend including all the heads of Departments of his Works Managers. Estate supers down to all the Ladies Maids servants gardeners etc etc. There was a very good choir in the Church Conductor (Dave Lamlet) a Welsh bard. The organist Ben Howell a great Pianist who played the accompaniments to Sims Reeves the greatest tenor at that time when he visited Swansea to give Concerts. He died when quite a young man aged about 29 year. He lived in Vicarage Terr St Tomas, and he was buried in Llansamlet Church. He was carried on a Bier, by the whole congregation (male section) & friends with the Choir in Cassocks & Surplices singing his favourite Hymns on the way.

My mother was a Ladies’ maid to Miss Gertrude and used to go with her and the family to their London residence, a mansion in Old Taplow, now the residence of Lord Desborough. I think he would be a granson he attended the Unveiling of 2 Stained Glass Windows after the 1914 War at Kilvey Church in memory of his twin sons. Officers killed in action, one Grenfell was a Field Marshall. ‘Maesteg House’ the Residence of the Grenfells had a Lodge at each entrance and in My Mothers time he would always drive in his carriage a 4 horse in hand, driven by an old Coach man, with his groom in attendance. They would often visit the Mansions at Gower then in turn entertain them. The stables and Coach houses were a treat to walk through. The old Squire was a lover of horses, kept a few out at ‘Tyrgwl Farm’ which he owned. He also built St Thomas Church which was very near to his residence. This was years before my time, but I can well remember the stables and the Mansion, it was used during the 1914 war for Belgium Refugees who done no end of damage to the Property. It was taken down by Swansea Corporation to build Maesteg Housing site David Williams the Swansea Councillor and MP was a page-boy, under the Grenfells and was very proud to be in attendance with Lord Desborough when he unveiled the windows in Kilvey Church. Mr. Williams was in the choir and read the lessons at Kilvey.

There were many public houses in Kilvey; The Rifleman, the Swan, the Smith Arms, The Lamb & Flag, and the Ship Inn. The Ship Inn is the only one now licensed. The Landlord of the Lamb & Flag was Capt. Francis I believe he was a Cape Horner but he sailed in sail vessels. Little ships used to sail up the River to the works. Schooners from France and near Countries. There were a few old sea farers living in the neighbourhood.The ferry boat was another old necessity all Pentrechwyth people used it to cross the river near White Rocks Works, with a road from the river which would bring you out near the Hafod Inn, the Boat-man was John Llewellyn who lived in Quarry Houses near White Rock Arch, which was recently taken down for Road Widening the fare was half-penny, and when the Tide was full in, it was quite a good pull across.

The Music Hall Foxhole was built to be a drill hall for Grenfell Volunteers (still the blood of a soldier family) but now used for concerts and a service on Sundays which was called the ragged school, a good attendance of the young who were too poor to attend Kilvey some good men were turned out of it this also is in a state of bad repair.

The Post Office was the gossip shop of the village. It was kept by a Miss Davids who was very stately and liked to show herself off, by hiring a landau and pair and driving out on very fine Sunday, (dressed to kill) as the saying used to be, with the coachman in a Top Hat and a shabby old livery coat with the brass buttons, shining like glass. She was a great benefactor to the Choir outing although she never attended Church services, and naturally was a favourite with the clergy. The annual outing was a great day. We would meet at 8’30 at the Parish Hall. (The outing to Port Eynon I will now write about). A 3 horse brake would then start off a large box of cake biscuits & fruit would be in the boat under the driver, we would number about 28, few ladies the Vicar and Thomas the Scrip. Most of the Bassos & Tenors were furnacemen Rollermen some refinery ladle men, who were all beer swillers as they were called at that time after travelling to near Sketty Church. The order all out to walk to the top of Sketty hill, then get in, and proceed with this performance at every hill, until we reached Parkmill, all out now for refreshment and a stop of half an hour to Gruel the horses, then walk to the top of Penmaen. Into the Brake again, and unless it was very steep we would keep our seats until we reached Port Eynon, the top of the hill, the brake never went down into the village. We would all proceed to the ship and having a cold luncheon laid for us in the long room. Of course the majority would nip into the bar to have a quick one while the Vicar was talking to the Landlord.

 Then after a bit of commotion we would all be seated the Vicar would say Grace, and what a good slap down it would be, all who required beer would be allowed 2 Pints, the lady members were the only ones with cups of tea. Then after the Vicar in a little short speech of thanks to the choristers, he would ask to be excused until 4’30 when we would be all ready for tea. He would visit the Vicar of Port Eynon taking Thomas the scrip with him. I always thought it a ruse for the male members of the Choir to enjoy themselves. Then to the bar for a few hours enjoyment after a while the Organist, sat at the Piano, and a rousing cheer went up. Solos were sung with great gusto, sometimes with all joining in the Chorus. Dai Bach was always left to the last with his solo “Asleep in the deep” he could sing this excellent with his eyes shut. The Landlord would be serving out the beer in half gallon earthenware jugs as the glasses were lowered so they were filled up again the payment coming out of the choir outing fund. Then the Vicar and Thomas arrived at the long room for tea, after all taking our seats and 3 sheers for the Vicar & scrip repeated quite a few times we would have a splendid tea, meat again if you wanted it. We would now be told by the Vicar to walk quietly up to Brake at the top of hill, so after a quick one at the bar, we would scramble up the hill. Everything in readiness for a start. Then one of the party would ask the driver for his hat a bowler to make a (whip around) which was a collection of money as a tip. The driver always wore a bowler for the purpose. Now all ready for the return journey the horses pawing the ground, ready for home we have travelled for about an hour, when a shout stop. The ladies asked why stop on a level road, the men got down the step with difficulty and went into a field to relieve themselves another quip from the people sitting in the brake, when they were answered that Dai ‘Penwern’ wanted to pick some mushroom back in to the brake and after one more stop reached Parkmill, where we had an ½ hours wait for the Horses to have their Gruel then the box from under the drivers seat was taken around, the men were now making for their last drink. Then walking up to the top of the bend, we again entered the brake arriving back at 11’30 after singing many Hymns en route.