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Before It's Forgotten

A Doctor Remembers
Castle Hill House, 1 Spilman Street, Carmarthen was built in 1815. On the north-west corner of the house there is a large hopper or rain-water head with this date on it. It is a lead casting and a very fine piece of work. The downpipe is also of lead.

There was originally about nine feet more ground around the house, the whole site being about 533 square yards. This was taken away when Castle Hill road was rebuilt. A broad flight of steps descended from the front door to the street and at the bottom were two iron gates with a lamp, similar to a street lamp, in a bracket over them. The lamp was, of course, lit by oil. The ground on the west side of the house was bounded by a high hedge. Below the back gates were the stables with loose-boxes for two horses.

The front door of the house had a very large iron lock, and above this a latch operated by a latch-key. When you enter the house the first room on the left has two rather fine glass fronted wall cupboards, designed, I believe, by Nash. There was also a wooden fireplace and mantelpiece by Nash, but this has been removed and replaced by a modern one since I left. At the end of the hall or passage on the right is a small room which was at one time the bathroom. Over the bath was a cupboard which contained a large lead tank; it must have weighed about two hundredweight. It was fed by a large lead pipe which carried water from the roof. This was, I think, before there was piped water to the house. In the yard was a covered cesspit for the house drainage; the overflow was later connected to the town drainage. My father had the cesspit filled in about the beginning of this century.

In the kitchen, over the mantelpiece is a small iron door which opens into the chimney. It was, so I used to be told, to allow the small boy to get into the chimney to sweep it. The old gun-rack is still there over the mantelpiece. Behind the kitchen is the wine cellar. You can still see the marks on the walls made by the barrels. The wine bin disappeared many years ago.

When the pillars of the back gate were pulled down at the time of the rebuilding of Castle Hill, Mr. Martin, the engineer in charge, arranged for them to be rebuilt with stone from the old Carmarthen bridge. It is, I think, the only stone left from the structure.

The first occupant of Castle Hill House was the Rev. David Archard Williams. He was headmaster of the Carmarthen Grammar School in the days when it was either situated in Priory Street or at Parc y Berllan, beyond the Parade. He was also vicar of St. David's Church and Archdeacon of Carmarthen. He was responsible for the rebuilding of Christ Church. (see correction --ChrisJones)

The next occupant was Mr. Bagnall. I am not quite sure who he was, but he was a Justice of the Peace, and a Carmarthen street is named after him Parc Bagnall. He was followed by Charles Jones Charlie Jones the slates who had a builder's yard on the Quay. The yard is, I think, still there. My father, Dr. C. P. Parry, M.D., J.P., moved into the house in 1893.

Westwood House, Westwood, Wilts.

Gold In The Rivers
Everyone knows of the Roman Gold Mines at Dolaucothi, but few realize that there is gold elsewhere in the county.

In the thirties, in a cottage between Llanfynydd and Court Henry, dwelt an itinerant preacher called Jenkins, but known to all by the eisteddfodic name of Ceitho he came from Llangeitho and competed in local eisteddfodau. At week-ends he occupied any pulpit that was vacant, but during the week he was occupied in panning gold from the sandbanks of the river Sannan, a few hundred yards above Llanfynydd. He kept the recovered gold dust in a bottle and when it was full he sold it. It was about three-quarters full when I saw it in 1932. I afterwards found that several local farmers knew of his gold-panning and had seen the gold in the bottle.

The farm which bounds the river at this point is Cwmban. On this farm are outcrops of rock with veins of quartz. Traces of gold can be seen in the rock; there cannot be much or there would have been a gold rush ere this. Other local rivers show traces of gold too, among them the Felindre, which joins the Sannan about a mile below Llanfynydd.

Glasbant, Gorslas.

A Carmarthen Pioneer
Rolling-contact ball-bearings loose in their races were not employed until the last quarter of the 18th century. They were then introduced in windmills, the earliest known (about 1780) being in a post mill, where the whole mill structure has to revolve about the central post. But radial ball-bearings do not appear until 1794, when Philip Vaughan, an ironmaster of Carmarthen, patented them for the axle-bearing of a carriage. From then on through the 19th century, but especially in the 1850s and 1860s, a great number of patents were taken out, using ball-bearings with the axles of everything from merry-go-rounds by way of the propeller-shafts and gun-turrets of warships, to armchairs and bicycles. All the same, the invention was not really taken up until the development of powered vehicles with metal parts in rapid motion, risking great loss through friction.

The Sunday Times Magazine, 12 7uly 1970.
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