The Mumbles Mile, Victorian Style

by Harry Libby

A view of Mumbles from Southend, 1958

From my house at Southend to West Cross, there were sixteen public houses. The Pilot, The George, The Beaufort, The Mermaid, the Ship and Castle, the Greyhound, the Prince of Wales, the Antelope, the Waterloo, the Marine, the Nag’s Head, the White Rose, the Rhondda, the Talbot, the Railway and the Currant Tree. The Rhondda, Talbot and Railway were like a trinity, two alongside each other and one opposite near Oystermouth Station.

The Currant Tree was the first pub out of Swansea where folk could get a drink on a Sunday under the then existing '‘bona fide Travellers' Act', whereby it was necessary for folk to travel at least three miles to get alcoholic refreshments on Sundays. The Currant Tree was just outside the three mile limit from the town, at least, by road, but one great temperance advocate in Swansea discovered that by rail on the Mumbles Railway, the distance was just under three miles. So it was established legally that if you wanted a drink at Mumbles on Sunday, you had to walk to the Currant Tree and not travel by train.

The law did not seem to prevent a return at night by train, however. The sight along the railway track at West Cross on Sunday evenings had to be seen to be believed, with drunks literally sprawled all over the place on the little embankment, stretched out ‘quite blotto’ waiting for the train.

Harry Libby was born in 1896

First published in The Mixture-Mumbles and Harry Libby, 1963

Harry Libby, Mayor Swansea

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