Tuesday, March 14, 2006
In Search of Family History: Swansea Castle
A few summers ago one of my companions had the opportunity to go in search of family History. His great grandmother had come to live with his grandparents when he was about 8 years old. His grandmother was born in London and narrowly missed the sinking of the Titanic on her way to New York (but that is a long,) his great grandmother was born in Swansea on the south cost of Wales. She was a delightful person, nearly blind, a bit set in her ways. She loved to listen to talk shows on the radio and talk about her long and adventure filled life. My companion had the opportunity on my trip to Oxford to take a side trip to Wales. We arrived in Swansea with a copy of her birth certificate dated 1884. We made our way to the tourist information center to see if they could help us locate the old neighborhood. The delightful woman at the counter looked over the document and went "oh yes, someplace around here." She called over a colleague who examined the birth certificate and added “yes I am certain that is around here, but I don’t recognize the street name.” The two of them looked at one another and said almost in unison, “Mary! She was here before the war, she’ll know.” Mary emerged from the back room and examined the copy, peering up at us, “great grandmother was she?” She proceeded to tell us that the parts of the old neighborhood that were not bombed in the War were flattened by “urban renewal” in the 1950’s. She said the neighborhood is not far, just across the bridge and up the hill. The street no longer exists there is a senior citizens home where it was. The senior citizen's home is named after the street that it took the place of. She pulled out a local map and showed us the way; one of her coworkers copied the page of the map and highlighted the route. Away we went, down along the River. We crossed the river and something made sense, as if we had been there before. Great Grandmother told many a tale about her father running down the hill, past the pub and jumping onto the back of a train moving slowly out of the station to ride to work. The hill, the pub and the train tracks are still there. The foundation of the train station is marked with a signs describing the station that was there over 140 years ago. We worked are way around the side streets and there it was, the birth place of Mary Louise Broadhurst. At the top of the hill was the parish church that she was christened in 120 years ago. It was like we had been there before.