John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)


Sea of Change by Anthony 'Gaffer' Galvin

The Seafaring History of Tenby

I grew up in the Tenby of the 1950s, and that growing up centred on the harbour. I swam and played, had summer work on fishing boats and pleasure boats, helped around the lifeboat house, and occasionally went on a lifeboat service. This was unquestioned normality to us teenagers at that time.

I came to know the sea and coast from Amroth to Old Castle Head, the tides and the rocks, the fishing grounds and the anchorages.

In the mid 20th century there were still older members of the harbour community who had trawled under sail and rowed in the lifeboat. What I did not realise until later was that I was absorbing a culture and a tradition that, although diluted, would have been recognised in the 1850s.

Over the last 40 years I have nurtured an interest in the maritime history of Tenby and district and become fascinated in the way the maritime scene had changed over the last 200 years. How fishing and the transport of coal, limestone and other goods had been entirely replaced by the use of the sea for recreation. I could see the remnants of these industries in the landscape and the traditions but I wanted to piece together the story.

This book is the result of a lot of sporadic research over those 40 years in museums, libraries and archives combined with the memories and traditions absorbed as a youth. What I found from reading a range of published works ranging from the 12th century impressions to recent 'postcard compilations' that no one had looked at this subject as a whole. There was a lot of general but superficial coverage, contrasted with some very focused specialised works. What I have tried to do in this small volume is to trace the change in the maritime activity of southeast Pembrokeshire, from the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century. This has been done with my own balance between absorbing fact and diverting illustration. Only time will tell if I have got it right.

Tony 'Gaffer' Galvin

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Sea of Change by Anthony 'Gaffer' Galvin