As we see the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions here in Wales that have taken over our lives during the last eight weeks I am very glad to report that our contractor Richard Holmes of Richard Holmes Contracting has now started where he left off all those weeks ago and has continued the restoration of the cemetery grounds. We have all become very used to the daily briefings on television of the number of deaths from Covid 19 and this is of course a terrible tragedy for all those families involved and our hearts go out to them. As I walk through the cemetery so often I cannot help but notice the terrible tragedies that befell many inhabitants of Carmarthen during the Victorian era by reading the many inscriptions, especially of so many young children and infants that passed away, in some cases the whole family disappearing within months.
What has become evident and of huge importance historically to this restoration project over the last few days whilst Richard Holmes has carried out his work on our behalf, is that there are many memorials buried beneath the surface that have been there for probably 60 years or more and have never been recorded until now, and their last resting place unknown until now. The survey of 1977 lists one thousand seven hundred and fifty two names with under one thousand memorials. This week alone Richard has uncovered a further three memorials – all buried several inches in the soil and none are recorded in the survey of 1977. The charity will now be mapping out the location of these newly found memorials, photographing them for posterity and will then add them to the website database for researchers. During this very delicate stage of our restoration Richard has been very sensitive to the work he has to undertake and I personally would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the Thomas & Elizabeth Mayhook Charity for all the work he has undertaken so far and continues to do on our behalf.
One of the extremely large white marble memorials that was uncovered last week commemorates the LLEWELLYN family from PARK HALL TERRACE, a street long since demolished but originally existed near the old oak in Priory Street, and where in fact the present housing estate takes it name from. You can see from the lead inscription ( some of which has sadly but not unsurprisingly been damaged) that four members of the same family all died within 11 years of each other, their ages ranging from 18 to 37. George, James and Henry all worked at the tin works in Priory Street ( part of which is now Jewson’s) James lived in the house next door to his parents with his wife Margaret and his son Henry.
The family originally came from Aberavon and like most families came to Industrial Carmarthen for work during the expansion of tinplate manufacturing. What is particularly sad in this case is that George senior himself also died before 1891 taking the number of deaths in the same family to four before tragedy struck when his grandson HENRY drowned in the River Towy aged just 18…………..the following is an extract from the Carmarthen Journal
On Thursday morning, a young fellow named Henry Llewellyn, Park Hall, Waundew, was drowned whilst bathing near the Confluence. He was seen to enter the water by John Edwards, a fisherman, who was fishing in a coracle in the vicinity. Shortly afterwards Edwards saw him go under water, and thought he was only playing. Suddenly he heard Llewellyn scream, and, making towards the place where he saw him disappear, Edwards picked him up, but life was extinct. The body was conveyed to his home at Park Hall, Waundew. Llewellyn was a cold roller at the Carmarthen Tinworks, and 18 years of age. Much sympathy is felt for his widowed mother.
12TH MAY 1893 Carmarthen Journal page 5
Memorials and their inscriptions do not always tell the true tale of the demise of those who are buried beneath them and further research will I am sure reveal more about this unfortunate family in due course. At least now they have a memorial, albeit one that has been buried for 60 years. The other two memorials I referred to at the beginning are shown below and tell their own story, again of great sadness. They will be entered into the database and recorded for posterity, their names no longer forgotten.