A Present From Mumbles

by Carol Powell

A souvenir cup and saucer, from Mumbles

By Victorian times, Mumbles was fast becoming a popular destination in the summer months for holiday-makers and day-trippers alike. The village offered a chance to ride on the steam railway from Rutland Street as far as its Castle Hill Terminus; copious fresh air away from the smoke of Swansea town; a leisurely walk along The Dunns, then along the path beside the Horsepool Harbour and onwards to The Parade, sampling oysters from the stalls set up along the road-side, or perhaps, having a drink in the Oystermouth Coffee Tavern or in one of the multitude of pubs such as The Greyhound, The Railway Inn, The Talbot or The Ship and Castle. Or maybe dipping into the numerous shops and 'fancy repositories,' where it became the fashion to purchase a trinket or two as souvenirs, perhaps embellished with illustrations of landmarks such as the Lighthouse or Oystermouth Castle.

Mumbles Train at Rutland Street

It was on one such sunny summer's day that Usk-born William Bladen, who was working at the Mackworth Arms Hotel in Wind Street in Swansea, decided to take a young lady, Matilda Lewis who had moved from Crossgates in Radnorshire, to work at the same hotel, on a day-trip out to Mumbles. There, he bought a souvenir cup and saucer set for her and tried to present it to her, but she kept teasing him by putting it down on doorsteps as they passed, necessitating him repeatedly picking it up and trying to give it to her again!

Although the course of true love did not run smoothly that day, eventually, she must have succumbed to his attentions, because she kept the china and, in due course accepted his marriage proposal. They were wed on 6 January 1884 at York Place Baptist Church, Swansea and went on to have twelve children, nine of whom survived to adulthood. My maternal Granddad, who often recounted this story with a twinkle in his eye, was child number eight . . . and this is a photograph of that very same cup and saucer, now treasured by some of William's and Matilda's descendants, which began it all!

Carol Powell is a regular contributor to Mumbles Times and Oystermouth Radio

Mackworth Hotel, Wind Street, Swansea