Swansea Family History
Swansea Family History 


Last of the Summer Wine

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.


I 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

Wind 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.

My 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 1856Pearse’s Swansea Directory, which indicate that 56 Wind Street, was a Wineand Spirit Merchant under the owner-ship of William Clark1910/11Purrier’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.

1930/31Swansea 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 Williamsbut 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.

The earlies 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, 1944Munday’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 1980Munday 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.

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© Charles Wilson-Watkins