Last of the Summer Wine and Westminster Night Vigil

Family History with Charles Wilson Watkins

This month Charles delves into the history of one of Swansea’s oldest buildings – The NO SIGN BAR in Wind Street, and also tells us of his visit to the Night Vigil at Westminster Abbey on 1st July.

If you have a question regarding YOUR family history that you would like to put to Charles, he can be contacted at – he’d be delighted to hear from you.

Charles pic 1I will look at two different avenues of information for one of Swansea’s oldest buildings. Firstly what information the records shed light on, and secondly what building is willing to give away! The building in question is the No Sign Bar, located at 56 Wind Street.

Where to start? The first thing was to look at maps of the local area. The first map that was published was in 1852, Swansea Local Board of Health – Survey of the Borough of Swansea. The purpose of this series of maps was for the creation of drainage in Swansea and to show how many properties were sharing privies. Notable buildings were named on the maps, and surprisingly the No Sign, isn’t mentioned as a public house. It was located two doors away from the Cambrian Newspaper offices. Could there be a mistake? I then looked at the next maps published, in 1878 – this is the first one to be published from the Ordnance Survey, but still 56

Charles pic 2Wind Street is not marked as a public house. This map shows clearly the footprint of the building. I then try the 1897 map. Still no success. I go forward to 1951; 56 Wind Street still isn’t marked as a Public House, likewise with 1971. I have some success with the 1988 map, the first time that it is marked as a Public House (PH).

Ordnance Survey maps would have been published when there was a major change in an area. Maps are very useful to a researcher as they show the changes made to a building.

Charles pic 3aMy next line of enquiry was to look at a variety of trade directories, which hopefully would give me the answers I required.

What is a trade directory? It’s a book that lists all the businesses and business people located in a town. Swansea library have a good selection, the earliest dating back from 1816 to 1970.

The three examples I have used have been the 1856, Pearse’s Swansea Directory, which indicate that 56 Wind Street, was a Wine and Spirit Merchant under the owner-ship of William Clark. 1910/11, Purrier’s Swansea Directory, is listed by road and 56 is now a Wine Spirits and Importers, under the ownership of F. C. Williams. Also present is a stock broker, William Morgan Davies.

1930/31, Swansea Directory, has both the business directory and road listings, both have 56, as a Wine and Spirit Merchant, still under the ownership of F. Clarke Williams, but what else? The road listings mentions, accountants, Tribe, Clarke, Cawker, Owen & Co. are in the same building.

Another source of interesting information is the use of telephone directories, which were first published by The Telephone Company in 1880, and then printed every 2 years. You can let your fingers do the walking on this one. Anyone who has walked down Wind Street, and looked at the upper windows will have noticed the words – Munday’s Cocktail Bar.

Charles pic 3bThe earliest telephone directory in the library is dated 1941. I found Munday’s Wine, Beer, Spirits, at various Swansea business locations, but not 56 Wind Street. 3 years later, 1944, Munday’s Wine, Beer, Spirits is still at various Swansea locations, but for the first time is listed at 56 Wind Street, telephone 4321. Business must have been good for Munday as in addition to the wine merchants and off license shops there is also Munday’s Properties located at 56. This is the first time that it’s mentioned as a Wine Bar, telephone 55332. By 1980, Munday has all but disappeared from the tele-phone directory. I understand that Tim Munday was tragically killed in a car crash whilst in France during the 1980s.

Another important source of information is the census. I will write a series of articles next year where I will cover censuses in more depth, though for this ex-ample I am using the one of 1881. Living at No 56, is a Frederick E. Williams, and his wife, Emma.

Who is he? He was one of William Clarke’s nephews. Frederick was an art lover who had taken part in amateur productions at the Theatre Royal, Temple Street. He died in 1901. It isn’t the first time that No Sign Wine Bar was to have a connection with the stage – in 2009 the building was used as an Italian restaurant Angelos in the ‘new’ Sherlock for the BBC.

Let’s now turn our attention to the building of 56 Wind Street. First we can look at the overview of the whole road. Wind Street today follows the same route as in medieval times. Salubrious Passage was once the town ditch, watch you don’t fall in! Moving forward to 1941, Wind Street survived the destruction that was inflicted by the German Luftwaffe bombing of the 3-nights blitz. Back to the present, we are walking down the road towards the seafront, the buildings on the eastern (river) side date back to the 19th century. The buildings on the other side of the street are somewhat older, typically dating from the Georgian period, with some buildings even dating back to medieval period. 56, is one of these buildings. Step through the front door of the No Sign and you have the feeling that you have stepped back in time.

Bay TemplateOn the wall above the fire place there is a portrait of William Clark, keeping a watchful eye over the place. There is certainly an air of the culture from bygone Swansea. The Main Bar in the lounge area provides a tranquil atmosphere. During the 1930s, the No Sign Bar became the hotspot for Dylan Thomas and his contemporaries “the Kardomah gang”, downstairs is the wine cellar that dates to the1400s. By the 1690s it was under the ownership of Richard Gwynne the cellars are newly renovated and now named The Vault – it’s where some of the best live music can be heard. The vaults were to feature in Dylan’s short story “The Followers”. Upstairs is Munday’s Cocktail Lounge, a private bar, named after Tim Munday. This elegant bar is used for private parties from 20 to 100 people.

A finally note of interest, the No Sign Wine Bar, gained its name by not hanging a painted name board outside. In 1393 King Richard II compelled landlords to erect signs outside their premises. Pictorial signs would have been used during the medieval period, as the population would have been illiterate. Today the sign bears the name both in the words and pictorial representation.



1852 Swansea Local Board of Health – Survey of the Borough of Swansea map – with kind permission, West Glamorgan Archive Service, Civic Centre

1951 Ordnance Survey map – with kind permission, West Glamorgan Archive Service, Civic Centre

1971 Ordnance Survey map – with kind permission, West Glamorgan Archive Service, Civic Centre

1988 Ordnance Survey map – with kind permission, West Glamorgan Archive Service, Civic Centre

Various Trade Directories – with kind permission, Swansea library, Civic Centre

1941, 1944 & 1979 Telephone Directory – with kind permission, Swansea library, Civic Centre

1881 census entry



I received an email from Mr Meilyr James, proprietor of The Herbal Clinic, King Edward Road, regards to my overnight stay at Westminster Abbey of the night of June 30th – July 1st. It wasn’t a ticket event, as all were welcome during the night

Men in World War I gear in Oxford Street, Swansea, south Wales UK. Friday 01 July 2016

Men in World War I uniforms in Oxford Street, Swansea, Friday 1 July 2016

Last November the Commonwealth War Grave Commission opened a ballot box for those who wanted to apply for tickets to attend the Somme centenary ‘celebrations’ at Theipval Memorial, northern France. I applied, but was not successful, as you can imagine there were thousands of applications.

Nearer the time of the July 1st, I had a look at what other ‘celebrations’ were being carried out in the UK, locally to me in Surrey or Swansea. It was then that I noticed that Westminster Abbey was having an all-night vigil. I made a phone call to the Chapter Office, to see what the score was and if anyone could attend. I was told that there was a televised service which the queen was attending during the early evening of June 30th, but otherwise I was more than welcome to attend the all-nighter.

This was the second time in the long history of Westminster Abbey of having an all-night vigil. The first time was some 50 years back during the Cuban Missile Crisis

I travelled up to Westminster Abbey and arrived there on the stroke of 23.00 o’clock, shown to the Nave, where the Unknown Warrior is buried. During the course of the night there was a change of watch around the grave. Each watch lasted 15 minutes, with the last watch at 07.15. During the night there was a handful of people sat in silent mediation. By morning the Nave started to fill up. The short service in the morning was being covered by the BBC. 07.25, there was a bombardment fired off in Parliament Square, lasting for a 100 seconds. 07.27, the actor, Luke Thompson, read an Account of the Battle from an officer whom was present at the time. Then finally 07.30, a 1915 issued trench whistle was blown thus marking the ‘zero-hour’ the moment the Battle started in 1916. The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, conducted a very short service

The vigil was held to remember those who lost their lives during the battle, amounting to over a million lives.

Men in World War I gear outside Swansea Railway Station, south Wales UK. Friday 01 July 2016

Men in World War I uniforms outside Swansea Railway Station

During the morning of the July 1st at various train stations around the country including Swansea and Waterloo where I was travelling back to Surrey there were groups of actors placed in silent tableaux depicting soldiers of July 1st. They did break into a rendition of ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ a popular song sung in the trenches. I understand that in Swansea, a group of ‘soldiers’ stood at and along the Dyfatty Bridge. This must have been a impressive sight to behold. A fitting conclusion to this historical day.

Last month I challenged you to name all 118 places of worship in Swansea. Well done Mrs Gaynor Mitchell of Tycoch who named 35. The full list is listed below:

Churches – Answers


  1. The former Argyle Presbyterian Church, St. Helen’s Road
  2. The former Bethesada Baptist Church, Prince of Wales Road
  3. Brunswick Methodist Church, St. Helen’s Road
  4. Christ Church, Mumble Road
  5. Christ Embassy Church, Ivey Suite of the Grand Hotel, Ivey Street
  6. Christian Spiritualist Church, Lower Oxford Street
  7. The City Temple, Dyfatty Street
  8. Ebenezer Baptist Church, Ebenezer Street
  9. Ebenezer Newydd Chapel, Henrietta Street
  10. Gospel Hall (Zac’s Place), George Street
  11. Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, The Kingsway
  12. Quaker Meeting Hall, St. Helen’s Road
  13. The former St. Andrew, St. Helen’s Road
  14. David Priory Church, St. David’s Place
  15. Mary, St. Mary’s Square
  16. Matthew, High Street
  17. The former St. Nicholas Seamans Church, Gloucester Place
  18. The former Singleton Chapel, Bathurst Street
  19. Swansea Christadelphian Hall, Nicholl Street
  20. Swansea Citadel (Salvation Army), Richardson Street
  21. Swansea Mosque & Islamic Centre, St. Helen’s Road
  22. Swansea Spirt, Pleasant Street
  23. Unitarian Church, Hugh Street
  24. York Place Baptist Church, York Place


  1. Adulam Baptist Chapel, Cefn Road
  2. Mount Zion Baptist Church, Mansel Road
  3. Margaret, Manel Road
  4. The former Salem Chapel Y Cwm, Cwm Chapel Road


  1. Clyne Chapel, Mayals Road


  1. Bethel Mission Church, Hopkin Street
  2. Brynhyfryd Baptist Chapel, Llangyfelach Road
  3. Peter, Trewyddfa Road
  4. Wesley Methodist Church, Eaton Road


  1. Argyle and Rhyddings Park Presbyterian Church, Rhyddings Park Road
  2. Imam Kheoi Islamic Centre, St. Helen’s Road
  3. Pantgwydr Baptist Church, corner of Ernald Place & Glanbrydan Avenue
  4. Gabriel, Bryn Road
  5. The former St. Paul, St. Helen’s Road
  6. The former Wesleyan Methodist Church, St. Albans Road


  1. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cockett Road
  2. Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Station Road
  3. Peter, Cockett Road


  1. Carmarthen Road United Reformed Church, Convent Street
  2. Cathedral Church of St. Joseph, Convent Street
  3. Gorse Mission, Carmarthen Road
  4. The former Libanus Baptist Church, Carmarthen Road
  5. Luke the Evangelist, Stepney Street
  6. Mark, Park Terrace


  1. Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Llys-Teg
  2. Ebenezer Congregational Church, Dunvant Square
  3. Martin, Fairwood Road


  1. Bethlehem Chapel, Carmarthen Road
  2. Illtyd, Ystrad Road


  1. Gendros Parish Church, Penrhos Place
  2. Gendros Congregational Church, Carmarthen Road
  3. Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Upper King’s Head Road


  1. Bethel, Penclawdd
  2. Bethesda Presbyterian, Burry Green
  3. Ebenezer Presbyterian, Old Walls
  4. Horton Methodist, Horton
  5. Murton Methodist, Murton
  6. Pitton Methodist, Pitton, Rhossili
  7. Providence Baptist, Knelston
  8. Reynoldston Methodist, Reynoldston
  9. Andrew, Penrice
  10. Cadoc, Cheriton
  11. Cattwg, Port Eynon
  12. Cenydd, Llangennith
  13. David, Gwernffrwyd
  14. David, Llandewi
  15. George, Reynoldston
  16. Illtyd, Ilston
  17. Illtyd, Oxwich
  18. John the Baptist, Penmaen
  19. Madoc, Llanmadoc
  20. Mary, Pennard
  21. Mary, Rhossili
  22. Nicholas, Nicholaston
  23. Peter, Newton
  24. Rhidian, Llanrhidian
  25. Teilo, Bishopston
  26. Tabernacle Presbyterian, Penclawdd
  27. The Barham Centre, Mount Pisgah, Parkmill
  28. Tirzah Baptist, Llanmorlias
  29. Trinity Presbyterian, Cheriton
  30. Zoar Presbyterian, Crofty


  1. Hafod Parish Church, Aberdyberthi Street
  2. The former Philadelphia Baptist Chapel, Neath Road
  3. John, Odo Street
  4. Salim Baptist Church, Neath Road


  1. Hillary, Gower Road
  2. Siloam Baptist Chapel, Goetre-Fawr Road
  3. The Pines Congregational Church, Gower Road


  1. Glynn Vivian Miners Mission, Pentre-Mawr Road
  2. Paul, Cwm Level Road
  3. The remains of Siloam Independent Chapel, Llangyfelach Road
  4. The disused Siloh Chapel, Siloh Road
  5. Siloh Newydd Chapel, Siloh Road


  1. Christ Well Manselton United Reformed Church, Manselton Road
  2. The former Manselton Gospel Hall, Phillips Street
  3. Manselton Welsh Baptist Chapel, Cecil Street
  4. Mount Calvary Baptist Church, Cecil Street
  5. Michael and All Angels, Manor Street

Mount Pleasant

  1. Hill United Reformed Church, North Hill Road
  2. Presbyterian Church of Wales, Terrace Road
  3. The former St. Jude, Terrace Road


  1. All Saints Church & Norton Church, Church Park
  2. All Saints, Western Close
  3. Mumbles Baptist Church, Newton Road
  4. Mumbles Methodist Church, Mumbles Road
  5. Mumbles Methodist Church, Mumbles Road
  6. Our Lady of the Sea R. C. Church, Devon Place
  7. Red Café, Mumbles Road
  8. Peter, Marytwill Lane
  9. Tabernacle United Reformed Church, Newton Road


  1. Bethany Evangelical Chapel, Eiddwen Road
  2. Cornstone Church Centre, Mynydd Newydd Road
  3. Teilo, Cheriton Crescent


  1. Pentre Cwyth Congreational Chapel, Pentre Cwyth Road
  2. Peter, Pentre Cwyth Road


  1. Camel Chapel, Carmel Road


  1. Dinas Noddfa Baptist Church, Dinas Street
  2. The disused Ebenzer Chapel, Neath Road

St. Thomas

  1. All Saints, Kilvey Road
  2. Calvary Chapel, Ysgol Street
  3. Ebenezer Gospel Hall, Wern Fawr Road
  4. Fabian’s Bay Congregational Chapel, Balaclava Road
  5. Forward Movement Church, Port Tenant Road
  6. The former Mount Calvary Baptist Church, Ysgol Street
  7. The former Norwegian Church, King’s Road, Swansea Waterfront
  8. Illtyd, Longford Crescent
  9. Stephen, Dan-y-Graid Road
  10. Thomas, Lewis, Street
  11. Waterfront Community Church, Langdon Road, Swansea Waterfront


  1. Spring Terrace Church, Spring Terrace


  1. Bethel Chapel, Carnglas Road
  2. Bethel United Reformed Church, Sketty Park Road
  3. Holy Trinity Church, Parkway
  4. Lifelink Community Church, meets in the Bible College of Wales, Derwen Fawr Road
  5. Parklands Evangelical Church, Maes Y Gollen
  6. Paul, De La Beche Road
  7. Seventh-day Adentist Church, Gower Road
  8. Singleton Hospital Chapel, Sketty Park Road
  9. Sketty Baptist Church, Carnglas Road
  10. Sketty Methodist Church, Dillwyn Road


  1. Ebenezer Gospel Hall, Heol Y Gors
  2. Our Lady of Lourdes, Penycraig Road
  3. The Church of St. Nicholas on the Hill, Dyfed Avenue
  4. Townhill Baptist Church, Powys Avenue


  1. Caersalem Newydd Baptist Church, Llangyfelach Road
  2. Church of St. Alban the Marthyr, Llangyfelach Road
  3. The Church of the Redeemer, Llangyfelach Road
  4. Treboeth Gospel Hall, Llangyfelach Road


  1. All Souls, Glan-Yr-Avon Road
  2. The former Cefn Coed Hospital Church, Maes-Yr-Gruffydd Road


  1. Dharmavajra Buddhist Centre, Ffynone Road
  2. Gomer Chapel, Carlton Terrace,
  3. Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Walter Road
  4. Memorial Baptist Church, Walter Road
  5. Pantygwdr Baptist Church, Ernald Place
  6. Barnabas, Hawthorne Avenue
  7. Benedict, Llythrid Avenue
  8. James, Walter Road
  9. Swansea Synagogue, Ffynone Road
  10. Trinity Chapel, Glanmor Park Road
  11. University Catholic Chaplaincy, Llythrid Avenue


  1. Bethany English Baptist Chapel, Bryn Road
  2. Barnabas, Victoria Road
  3. Sardis Independent Chapel, Swansea Road
  4. Zion Baptist Chapel, Swansea Road

West Cross

  1. Bethany Baptist Church, Bethany Lane
  2. Church of the Holy Cross, Fiarwood Road
  3. Linden Christina Centre, Elmgrove Road


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