King Street

A hundred years ago the pavement from Rosetta to The Mariners was known as 'The Flags' and the retired aristocracy, naval and military officers who liked Laugharne's seclusion perambulated up and down on Sunday evenings. The locals of Laugharne were expected to keep out of their way and to walk in the middle of the road. If they approached the Toffs they had to curtsey or bow if they wanted to speak.

Clifton St, further north from Market St and King St was once called Uptown St, and this area is still called 'Upstreet', whereas the area below the castle is called 'Downstreet'. A local saying is, 'Upstreet for the toffs, Downstreet for the tuffs.' It was renamed King St after Henry ll who visited Laugharne in 1171.

The three pics below are from the 1920s, 1941 and 1955.

Elm House (the sandy-coloured house above) is noted elsewhere as the home of Colonel Bolton. It's also notable for having the first TV set in Laugharne, and Dylan Thomas, a keen cricket fan since childhood (and a close friend of BBC cricket commentator John Arlott who discovered Dylan when he was a young arts producer), used to watch test matches here.

Apart from the size of the houses, a less obvious example of the wealth of this street can be seen when you compare the boot-scraper outside Elm House (top pic) to one outside a smaller house - 14 Victoria St.

These two houses were formerly one house. The green building is Exeter House, which used to house the Post Office (in the gap between when it was in Gaisford House before it went to the current address), and is now home to The Ferryman Delicatessen.

The Pines (originally Pynes) was re-modelled into two properties by Thomas David in the mid-19th century, but still had a shared corridor and a split garden. David lived in The Pynes and his draper sisters lived next door. David met his wife in Devon. She was from Upton Pynes, hence the name.

Below is Exeter House when it was a ladies' hairdressers in the 1950s.

Ashcombe House, above was the family home of E.V. Williams, the Classics teacher at Carmarthen Grammar School and Laugharne Choir Master. Everyone went to choir and those who passed the 11+ visited Williams for free Latin or French lessons.

Williams' father ran a tailor's business from the premises. Nat West, previously National Provincial, rented the front room on the right for a few mornings/days a week until the early 1980s, and staff came down from St Clears. To preserve confidentiality, only one person was allowed inside at a time so people queued on the pavement. (It was the same for Midland at Bank House and Barclays in Kington House, featured lower down).

The window of Ashcombe House was cracked on carnival night in August 2013 and police carried out house-to-house enquiries. Despite the weekend roistering Laugharne is a relatively crime-free zone. The perpetrator was never identified.

Other shops which operated on King St decades back included a cobbler at Reigate House (above top) and a butchers and greengrocers in Abercorran House (above), across the street.

Below is Kington House next to The Chapel, which housed a butcher's shop. A newish property was built on the site of the former Georgian building in the 1980s and Albie's Silversmiths and a hairdressers are on the ground floor.

King St was once full of cherry blossom trees and the petals used to blow into peoples' homes and annoy them. They were badly pruned and so very few remain.

Dylan's Coronation St from Under Milk Wood is clearly based on King St.

From medieval times to 1838 a game of football was played every Shrove Tuesday in Laugharne. The goals were either end of the town and hundreds of ruffians scrapped and battered each other to try and score a goal. The ball was bizarrely known as 'The Head of John the Baptist.'

King St houseowners hated this violent and bloody spectacle and boarded up their windows, to prevent damage to their properties until 1838, when a local magistrate banned the sport.

The Royal Shrovetide Football match is still played in Ashbourne, Derbyshire on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday each year. The pic above shows why the wealthy and powerful, who forced impoverished locals to walk in the middle of the road, might not have liked it.

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