Back to the past
Our small makeshift local history collection has re-opened after being rendered Covid-compliant with a screen, one-way route and hand-sanitiser. It stayed closed all last year. The borrowed premises are damp and shady but the prospect of anything better remains a distant dream unless serious funding can be rustled up.
A rota of volunteers, of whom I am one, keeps the place open most days of the week. There's rarely more than a trickle of visitors at best. What I enjoy most is when people who live, or were born, locally come in and share memories. Today a man started telling me about his wife's grandfather, Walter Hurle. He worked as a guard on the railway - the Fishguard to London run - but he was also had a boat and fished in the bay like every other local chap. One day he shot a whale in the harbour. Yes, an actual (small) whale which is now in the Natural History Museum London, apparently. It caused quite stir in the town and was reported in the papers - and the police went round to check that Walter had a gun licence.* Another time he gaffed a human body floating in the water (a gaff is a hook at the end of a pole, used for hauling in large fish). The coroner asked him 'How did you know the individual was dead?'
I always request that these memories be written down so they won't be lost to history, even better would be the possibility of recording them orally. At present Facebook seems to be the place where most reminiscences are shared. Perhaps it's doing a useful job that way.
*The best known local whale story concerns a mock whale, a prop for the movie Moby Dick which was filmed here in the 1950s. It broke loose one stormy night and had to be rescued by the lifeboat crew.