That reminds me of… the Commercial, chucking out time and local art

This week’s column comes under the ‘mixed bag’ category.

It’s long been believed that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and who am I to argue, after all, it’s the photos in my TRM which often lead to many stories and recollections from those halcyon days of yore. Like today’s pics.

Firstly, the snap of the Commercial. Sadly, like so many other old Milford pubs, now extinct, seen here from the front side which faced Milford’s Market Square.

Whenever I see this photo I’m reminded of tales about my maternal grandfather, ‘Pop’ Edwards, who used to live in Robert Street, who was one of the regular ‘weekenders’ who frequented this hostelry during the late 1940s and 1950s.

Pop was a character. A blaster by trade, with many a hair-raising tale to tell from his dynamite days. He was a round, powerful bloke, with a walrus moustache, a twinkle in his eye, a thick leather belt, and a pipe filled with shag tobacco, bought from Smedley’s shop in Dartmouth Street.

My dad told me this particular story.

It was a Friday night, and he’d accompanied Pop to the pub, which, as usual was full of noise and good natured banter. Then, at ‘chucking-out’ time, while Pop was bellowing out his fifth rendition of ‘I’ll take you home again Kathleen,’ one of his favourite songs, one which always brought tears to his own eyes, let alone anyone else’s, a local police constable came into the bar checking that the ‘shut tap’ procedure was being followed. Pop, in mid-song, stopped singing, smiled ‘happily’ at the young policeman, who was himself quite a largish man, then lifted him off the floor with a ‘Big Daddy’ bear hug. The shocked lawman’s face quickly turned beetroot and he gasped: “Get him home before I nick him.”

My dad, almost convulsed with laughter, duly obliged.

Other stories that emanated from the Commercial included ‘the man who could walk on water’ and ‘the great, gold watch swindle,’ and maybe I’ll get back to them some other time.

The ancient photo of Hubberston Fort reminds me of an entirely different kind of tale.

In 1875, Northampton-born Philip Carroll Walker, a lieutenant who was based at the Battery at South Hook, was stabbed to death during a heavy drinking session with fellow officer, a Dr Alder.

Alder was charged with murder, but a Pembrokeshire jury acquitted him.

And there’s a chilling addendum to the tale, which was thus described in Jack Warburton’s excellent book, ‘Milford Haven in Old Picture Postcards.’

“An 11-year-old farm boy was impeded by a cortege moving along a cartway to Herbrandston Church. Nothing extraordinary about that, except that there was no cortege that day! One week after this vision, a real cortege passed that way with the body of the dead soldier to be buried in Herbrandston Church. When a fissure appeared on the marble tombstone in the shape of a hand holding a dagger, it was believed that Walker was reaching out from beyond the grave to point the finger of guilt at his former friend.”

About 30 years ago, a good friend of mine, Bob Reeves and I, started writing something together, a comedy about a bank manager called Peabody. But, as is often the case, work and life got in our way so it was never finished and can be found in my attic along with many other unfinished scripts. Last Sunday, at Bob’s invitation, Carole and I visited The Waterfront Gallery, on Milford Docks to view Bob’s latest, (his 12th) Art Exhibition, which is on show until Saturday, July 24.

The colourful and powerful work is truly mesmerising, and shows what a huge talent Pembrokeshire has in the extraordinary Bob Reeves. An exhibition well worth a visit; one piece on display is his ‘Benediction,’ Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia.

Now for our teasers. Last week: A farmer has 17 pigs and all but one of them die. How many are left? Lots of you said 17, but the answer is 9 as spotted by Les Haynes, Geoffrey Sizer, Anne and Jets Llewellyn, Margaret Jones and Phil Jones.

No TRM next week, so no teaser this week.

I was extremely saddened to hear of the passing of a well known Milford boy, and old school friend Andrew ‘Chuffo’ James, one of the most prolific local entertainers for over 50 years.

He was, of course, Don Wade from the Wayfarers, as well as the front man with the Rhythmaires.

But his first venture into the local band scene was around 1959/1960, with the Mike Walters Group, he joined just after I’d left them. And in his memory, here’s a photo which I think was taken at the Astoria.

L-R Mike Walters, Richard Askwith, ‘Chuffo,’ Ken Picton and Dave Wigham.

RIP old friend, and sincere condolences to the family.

That’s me done and dusted, see you next time.

Stay safe.

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