The White Rose Story
by Brian E Davies
Mumbles, from Oystermouth Castle, late 1850s
The photo shows, J. WILLIAMS'S WHITE ROSE, on the pub, after he moved there in 1856, confirming that the name was in use even before the building was extended.
In 1854, John Williams was refused a spirit licence at the White Rose, Clements Row, Mumbles. This was on the sea front and was probably a basic beer-house. He clearly needed better premises and in 1856, he took over a private house at today’s location and was granted his full licence. At this time limestone quarrying and oyster dredging were booming in Oystermouth and there was a burgeoning tourist trade.
Passenger services on the Mumbles Railway resumed in 1860 and at around this time an extension was added to the front of the alehouse and then some shops were built alongside.
The White Rose Inn, post 1877
The licensees, Richard and Mary Hobbs, are standing in the slanted doorway that is still there. It is easy to see that the word WHITE was not visible from all angles, especially on many of the photos taken from the direction of Oystermouth Castle.
The White Rose, viewed from Clements Quarry, c1880
In the early 1900s, at the time of the Religious Revivals, there was pressure on the Licensing Justices to close down many of the Mumbles alehouses. There were thousands of visitors from the Mumbles train and their behaviour could be a bit riotous! The White Rose was described at the time as ‘better than the others’. It had a stable for four horses and Mary Hobbs was ‘an exemplary landlady, keeping the house very clean’. Although it was threatened with closure, it survived despite the objections of Thomas Grimshaw (who admitted having been an abstainer for 50 years!)
In 1907 it had small, dark rooms and was considered ‘structurally unfit for visitors’. Soon afterwards the pub was rebuilt and the mock-Tudor style we see today first appeared. The rebuilt pub was sold in 1912 for £2425.
It continued to improve over the years, female toilets were introduced in 1947 and in 1977 one of the adjoining shops was included in the bar. Further expansion took place in 1984 when the premises on the corner of The Dunns were incorporated at a cost of £75,000.
The ‘White Rose’ was the badge of the House of York and it is also said that the Rose was the emblem of silence – however, a visit to The White Rose today will be met more with merriment than quiet meditation!
The lady is standing at the 'slanted' doorway to the original building and this can be seen in the photo dated 1877.
THE WHITE ROSE has always had the same name and this can be noted in the photos dated late 1850s and 1877 and is supported by other documentary evidence.
Also by this author
A new book on Mumbles and Gower Pubs
The Historic Inns and Taverns of Mumbles by Brian E Davies The social history of any location is inevitably reflected in the history of its inns and taverns, and the parish of Oystermouth is certainly no exception ...
The book has been substantially rewritten with lots of new material (and full colour) and sits happily alongside the original book, rather than replacing it!
Illustrated with over 180 old photographs, postcards and promotional advertisements, this absorbing collection offers the reader an insight into the life of many Mumbles and Gower pubs past and present, and highlights some of the changes that have taken place during the last 150 years.Included are images of the Antelope Inn – one of Dylan Thomas’s first calls when he visited Mumbles in the early 1930s – the Beaufort Arms in Kittle, the Greyhound Inn at Oldwalls and the Royal Oak in Penclawdd, as well as snapshots of pubs along the renowned Mumbles Mile. Glimpses of the working and social life, including a charabanc outing of the Pilot Inn’s regulars in 1924, and some of the pubs’ more lively clientele – including characters such as Dick the Fish and Mr X – are also featured; each image recalling the fascinating history of the peninsula’s pubs.
Signed copies can be obtained from the author
If you would like a signed copy of the book, please contact the author,
Brian E. Davies,