Market Street

Market St (pictured above in 1900 in 2013), was named because of the market that took place behind and beneath the Town Hall. It then became two rows of shops, but only one business premises remains - Poon's Street Food (below)

It would have been lovely to have had craft, art and coffee shops here, as in other picturesque towns, but once the shops closed they were turned into much needed houses.

The Friday market behind the Town Hall was once the hub of the community, but had disappeared almost completely by 1880. This is very curious as Laugharne was self-sufficient in food from the surrounding farms. So why?

Well, a theory is that upmarket shops started opening in Market St and King St and so perhaps the people of Laugharne, who tend to be very particular, started using the shops instead of the market.

Standing by the bus stop above, looking towards the Castle you had Manchester House which sold groceries, tobacco, toys, presents and postcards, then Gwalia, which sold cottons, materials, curtain rails, wools, silks and many other drapery items, then finally The Globe which was a hotel, then a butcher's shop.

This view is looking away from the castle, taken in the 1930s. On the right-hand side next to the Mariners were Midland Bank (now the Old Bank House), an ironmongers where Poon's Street Food is today, and next to that, a bakery.

William Watts of Gwalia was the inspiration for Mog Edwards, with his straw hat, butterfly collar and bow tie. Latterly it was owned by Margaret Edwards, mother of Jess Treacy who used to work in the Boathouse for many years, and now lives on Market St where a bakery once stood. Jessie still has the old bread oven in her living room.

Laugharne still has several businesses, but if we go back to 1835, we can see a much wider range of businesses that were registered in Pigot's directory.

1 Attorney, 3 Schools, 3 Coal Merchants, 4 Lodging Houses, 3 Milliners and Dressmakers, 3 Painters and Glazers, 4 Bakers, 4 Blacksmiths, 5 Boot and Shoemakers, 2 Butchers, 4 Carpenters, 1 Chemist, 2 Coopers, 1 Flannel Weaver, 15 Grocers/Drapers, 2 Ironmongers, 4 Maltsters, 1 Merchant, 5 Retailers of Beer, 23 Pubs, 2 Hotels, 1 Watch and Clockmaker, 1 Straw Hat Maker, 1 Coast Officer, 1 Glover, 1 Auctioneer, 1 Currier, 1 Spirit Dealer, 2 Surgeons, 2 Ship Builders, 1 Tallow Chandler, 8 Stone Masons and 1 Professor of Music. Along with servants, grooms and cooks, in a place with a population of around 2000, similar to today.

And one unusual business in 1859 was that of John Collins of King St - Agent to the Assam Tea Company.

Laugharne Township School on Market St, wraps around the Old Gate House (see above) and the main entrance was down Newbridge Road. George Bowen, of Llwyngwair, Pembs. successfully enabled Madam Bevan's (The Great House) wishes in her Will, for the Circulating Charity Schools to be continued.

In May, 1833, he granted a 99-year lease on a malt-house in Newbridge Road 'with full power to pull down the present building and to erect a school-house on the site.' That was at the rear of the present school building.

It was a Church of England school and in 1925 there were 109 infants and 143 juniors. The present Laugharne school above Orchard Park has 70 children. In 1925 R.H. Tyler, headmaster of the school, and his senior pupils wrote a book called Laugharne: Local History and Folklore and is well worth tracking down. Some material has been used for this site.

(The Old Gate House occupies the footprint of the town gate - see Stoneyway.)

The Infants School on Newbridge Road

In 1847 the notorious 'Blue Book' inspections where magistrates were sent from London to report on the perception that Welsh people were uneducated, militant and troublesome, described a boy's, girl's and infant's schools in the same building:

'One room extends the whole length of the building, divided in the centre by a wooden partition... The mistress... had a switch (stick) in her hand, but I did not see her use it... I heard the mistress make them spell simultaneously 'fair, fail, corn, half, rice, veal, coal, seat, rule, true, eyes, sure, high, show' all which were done correctly.'

And of the girls' school:

'Every afternoon is given up to sewing... There are two spinning-wheels in the room which I found at work... The instruction does not profess to extend beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.'

And the Boys' school:

'This appeared well-organised and well conducted... The master used a black board in teaching arithmetic to a class, the boys working (orally) as called upon... After the books and slates had been collected by the monitors, the boys sang a hymn; the Master read some prayers from the Evening Service and the boys, class by class, filed out as he called upon them to 'face' and 'go', in a very orderly manner, each one bowing and saying 'Good evening, sir' before he turned his back.'

Initially the Corporation funded the education of the children of Burgesses, but even with that the school's annual income was only £46.19s 5d, so the community held bazaars and balls to fundraise.

Following the Education Act of 1870 this school became part of the National School provision. It closed in the 1980s when the new school was built, and the building was recently converted into private dwellings.

Here's a pic of children from Laugharne School crossing Market St on St David's day sometime in early 1960s.

And going back to the market, if anyone has any more information about this print, we'd be delighted to hear it. Contact details are in the credits. Fairies marketing? Then again, this is Laugharne...

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