Bygone Fishguard with Martin Schell
I was searching online for some histories of Pembrokeshire and came across the books of Martin Schell. He has penned a book on Bruce Lee, the mysteries surrounding Paul Mcartney, and a book about his formative years entitled Small Town Life Fishguard in the 1960s and 1970s
I asked Martin to tell me what inspired him to write the Fishguard book?
“I left Pembrokeshire in 1989, and on my many trips back to the county over the intervening years I noticed that fond landmarks had been whisked away. Shops fundamental to my formative years had closed, buildings had been pulled down, and roads had changed: overall it wasn’t very uplifting.
“While I was born and raised in Fishguard, I quickly noticed that this experience wasn’t solely limited to my home town. Haverfordwest lost ‘Scotch Corner’, the model shop near the railway station, Wimpy, Swales, Pembrokeshire Technical College, and the swimming pool, while out at Martletwy the Cross Hands Hotel had closed.
“I decided, initially as a reminder to myself, that I needed to write down what I could remember of my years growing up in and around Fishguard and Goodwick before I forgot them. The paragraphs kept coming, and almost without realising it I had a book on my hands.”
What was life here like back then ?
“You’d have to know Fishguard and Goodwick in the 1960s and 1970s to understand it. I’m sure that anyone who grew up there at the time will immediately relate to places such as the concrete tunnels leading from Goodwick Moor to the sea, the Gasworks bend, the Heol Dyfed Corner Shop, the Cawdor Café, Nicholls, the Studio, Birches, the Candy Box, the Man’s Shop (Cliff’s), Dyfed Sports, Hilary and Phil’s, Martin’s, Conti’s, and also to characters nicknamed Daisy, Maisie, Jinks, Skinhead, John S, Big G, Mousie and Chalkie.”
There must have been huge changes.
“The book is set not long after the end of the Second World War: the gap between 1945 and 1960 is only the same as from 2005 to today when you think about it. The pace of life was slow and friendly in the 1960s and 1970s, shops were closed half-day on Wednesdays, all day on Sundays, and there was a weekly market in the Town Hall. Yet, at the same time, the Harbour was already well established, the area was a tourist destination, and the locality was buzzing. More people holidayed in the UK in those days, and there were shops to accommodate the requirements of both the locals and the holidaymakers all along West Street. Pretty much anything was available: buckets, spades, fishing nets, bait, electrical items from Roy Morris, two quality shoe shops where you’d even get your feet measured, high-end fashion from Carmen’s, parks to play in, cannons to climb on… there was even a saddler’s!”
Do you feel much has been lost?
“Even in the 1960s and 1970s there were changes happening which would perhaps have disappointed people at the time. They possibly regretted the decline of steam trains, and the removal of the petrol pump opposite Clive Road, in much the same way that I did the closure of the Frenchman Motel and the seafront paddling pool.
“There’s doubtless been a lot of progress in the area since the late 1970s, but bygone times still have an immense appeal to many of those who lived through them.”
All of Martin’s books are available to buy on Amazon Kindle and SMALL TOWN LIFE – FISHGUARD IN THE 1960s AND 1970s is a snip at £2.50. We will be publishing some excerpts from Martin’s book soon to whet the appetite, so watch this space…