History of the House
History of Langland Road B&B
Harry and Diane at the front gate (see the house number 17 on the gate) circa 1951
Lots of guests ask us about our house and how we turned it into a B&B. Before we tell the story of our ownership of the property – we can tell you about the previous ownership of the house. We had a knock at the front door in April 2014 from a lady called Diane Topham from Canada. Diane told us that she grew up in this house and we invited her in to tell us her story which goes back nearly 60 years. Interestingly later in April 2014 we also had a knock at the front door from Diane’s brother (Christopher Jones or Kit to his friends). Kit who now lives in Leamington Spa also told us about his time growing up in this house.
Copy of the Original House purchase document from 1951
Diane Topham with her husband Cliff
Diane moved to 17 Langland Road around 1951 when she was 4 years old. She moved with her family from Abergaveny (her brother Harry, brother Christopher (Kit), her mum and dad (Edward and Barbara Jones), her grandparents on her mothers side, her grandmother on her fathers’ side and her auntie). Kit told us that Edward (his dad) was a trainee accountant. Diane’s grandmother on her fathers’ side (Mary Jones) lived in the ground floor front room – what is now our breakfast room. Mary Jones had a wee baby belling stove and made most of her meals on it. It was a bedsit. She would always have Sunday dinner with the family and Christmas dinner. Mary Jones lived in the room until she was aged 94 around 1973. Kit told us that Mary Jones had a black bible which she would study and she would attend the local Baptist church in Mumbles every Sunday.
The grandparents on the mothers side (Diggory William and Florence) had the middle floor as a flat and when they moved in and Diane’s Aunt had the back room (middle floor) as her bedroom (this is now Room 1). The Aunt married and moved out after about a year or so. Diane then moved into this room until she left home in 1967. The front room (Room 3) was the grandparents living room and Diane remembers growing up sitting at her grandparents dining room in the window overlooking the park. The next room (now Room 4) was the grandparents bedroom. All the family shared the bathroom and toilet (now the ensuite for Room 4) and they had a small kitchen next to the back bedroom.
On the second floor Diane’s mum and dad (Edward and Barbara Jones) had their bedroom on the front (now Room 2). The room behind Room 2 was Kit and Harrys bedroom after Diane moved downstairs. Kit and Harry shared this bedroom until they moved out.
Diane left for Canada in 1967 but did return for visits over the years. After the death of her grandparents (her mothers’ parents living on the first floor), Harry (Diane’s brother) and his wife lived on part of the middle floor and part of the top floor. Harrys wife (Judith) – her mother moved in to the front room at the top (now Room 2). After Diane’s mother (Barbara Jones) died in 1981, her father had the ground floor and Harry and Judith had the middle floor and the back room at the top. While Diane’s mother was ill she was in the front room on the middle floor (now Room 3) and in the bay window they put a false floor so she could sit and look out over the park. Harry and Judith eventually had this room as their living room.
In September 2013 we had an e-mail from Naomi Jones - Naomi was Harry's daughter and she grew up in this house. She told us by e-mail that she enjoyed watching us on 'Four in a Bed' and would love to come and see the house. We invited her over and she had a look around the house.
In July 2014 we had contact from Caroline Wilcock (nee Jones). Caroline also grew up in this house with her sister Naomi. Her mum and dad were Judith and Harry Jones. It was lovely to meet Caroline and show her around the house. She had lots of great stories about the house and her family to share with us. Caroline and Naomi helped us finish the history of their families ownership of the house – Edward Jones died on 10th December 2001 and was pre deceased by his wife Barbara who passed away on 11th December 1981. Naomi said that her grandfather spoke of his wife every day until he passed away. Caroline kindly showed us the photo’s above and permitted us to include them in this history.
Forward to 2006 and Giles and I bought the house at auction. The property was in disrepair and needed to be gutted. It was uninhabitable for the first year after we bought it. We lived in a house nearby and set about renovating the house.
The back of the property from the kitchen door had to be completely reconstructed. We tried to retain any original features in the house – fireplaces and plaster work while renovating.
We moved in a year after purchase (around March 2007). The house was still not ready to live in but we had to sell our other house to carry on with the refurbishment of Langland Road. When we moved in we had no kitchen and no floor at all in the kitchen!! We only had the ensuite bathroom in what is now ‘Room 1’ which we had to use as a kitchen sink as well as a bathroom!! Progress was quick after we moved in and the house slowly started to take shape. We got used to living in such a big house. Our lounge was on the first floor (what is now room 3) and our bedroom was on the top floor (now room 2).
We lived in the house as a private house for about 3 years before starting with the B&B. We were seriously considering selling the house when it was fully refurbished. Indeed we went to view a flat in the ‘Meridian Tower’ (the large tower in Swansea Marina). However going from such a big house to a 2 bedroom flat didn’t really suit us. We decided to rent out one room (now room 1) as a B&B room at weekends only. We envisaged it might be popular during the summer and it might give us some money for holidays. We were unsure how our neighbours would react to a B&B but they were absolutely marvellous. They explained to us that there had always been a B&B on this row of houses – Number 3 has been a B&B many years ago and Number 13 has been a B&B during the summer months over the years.
It was very slow at first – we designed a website and waited for the phone to ring. One Saturday afternoon it did ring and we were terrified!! It suddenly felt very real and we started to panic about getting Room 1 ready to let. We spent a frantic Bank Holiday weekend cleaning and de cluttering the room before our very first guests arrived on a Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. They were a lovely couple from London who were attending a family funeral in Langland. They were a great introduction to B&B guests for us and they set us on the road to future guests.
We only had 1 room for the first few months and we both carried on working full time. Giles worked for a local hotel and David worked at the local Council in the Legal department. We started with 2 rooms from Easter 2011 and it began to get really busy. We continued to work full time and by summer 2011 it was becoming difficult to manage the B&B and 2 full time jobs! We opened ‘Room 3’ at the end of August 2011.
By January 2012 Giles gave up his full time job at the local hotel and concentrated on the B&B full time. This proved to be an exciting time as we were contacted by the TV show ‘4 in a Bed’ to appear on the Channel 4 show. We agreed and filmed the show at the end of March 2012. On finishing filming we came back to a busy Easter weekend. After the weekend David gave up his job at the Council to work at the B&B full time.‘4 in a Bed’ was transmitted in July 2012 and we had many phone calls, letters and e-mails about the programme. It was a great experience and we were really pleased with the positive feedback.
We have now finished renovating the B&B rooms and are enjoying life as B&B owners. It’s a good life and we both appreciate being our own boss!!The best part of the business is the people we meet. We have guests from all around the world – take a look at the world map in our hallway. Blue stickers on the map are places our guests call home.
We had a guest (Rachel) check in during autumn 2011 who was working as a seamstress at the local bridal shop. Rachel was due to stay with us for 2 weeks as a B&B guest. However Rachel ended up staying for 4 months as a lodger! We are still very much in touch with Rachel who we regard as a good friend.
David, Rachel and Giles – Christmas 2011
We hope you have enjoyed reading about our house – tell us if you have any questions and we will do our best to answer them!!
David and Giles
A very old photo of Langland Road - the church at the end of the
Road wasn't even built! See Oystermouth Castle in black on the hill.