pembroke story oral histor


When many people think about history, they think about the broad sweep of national events, of kings and wars. In fact history is all around us, in our own families and communities, in the living memories and the experiences of older people. The late Victorian age is still within living memory of those elderly residents who remember their parents and grandparents and a way of life, which has all but disappeared. But it need not disappear altogether if we can capture those memories now and preserve them for future generations. 

Armed with a laptop, scanner for copying photographs and a sound recorder we have visited many Pembroke residents to record their memories and copy photographs to continually expand our sound and photographic archive.  However, we have taken this a step further by venturing into digital storytelling and have now published 45 of these in a DVD and book which is available to buy.  We have called it 'Pembroke and Monkton: a Community History' - a history of Pembroke told by the people who have lived it.

Below are a few snippets put together to give a little picture of past times in Pembroke and Monkton .


From the beginning, the sea was Pembroke's life blood. It grew prosperous through its sea trade but this was to decline in the nineteenth century. The Pembroke River was not easily navigable and when the Pembroke and Tenby Railway opened in 1866 trains provided a far easier way of transporting raw materials. However, the Coastal Trade continued and sailing ships could be seen trading at the Pembroke Quays well into the 20th century. The last to do so was the Kathleen and May in 1960. There is little reminder of these once bustling quays:but sea trading is still within living memory

Joyce Colley

Joyce Colley remembers the Coastal Trade


Bill Harries remembers navigating the Pembroke River

Pembroke's recorded history began with the Normans and the founding of Pembroke Castle.  Pembroke town grew in the shadow of the castle and the mediaeval town, consisting of one long street flanked by buildings constructed in burgage plots and encircled by town walls, is still easily recognisable.  There are many interesting buildings in the Main Street from different periods in time.  It is one of our projects to trace the history of the Main Street and record stories about some of the buildings there.


Dilys Hanmer once lived in Main Street and tells of the fate of this Victorian veranda.


Peter Hurlow-Jones tells of his family's engineering business in the Main Street.

The nineteenth century saw a downturn in Pembroke's importance as a port losing out to Milford and Haverfordwest. However the building of the Royal Dockyard a short distance away gave Pembroke a boost. Many found employment in the new shipbuilding industry in the Dockyard and Pembroke itself grew alongside the building of the new town of Pembroke Dock with suburbs at Orange Gardens and Monkton

Betty Harris grew up in Long Mains, Monkton



Vera John remembers her gran's cottage in Cross Mains


Bill Thomas remembers India Row, Monkton

.An industrial estate developed on the Commons with a Gasworks, limekiln, Slaughter House (now the Library), Tannery (Youth Club), smithy and Iron Foundry (Community Centre): a toxic mix of smell and pollution. This is still remembered.



Lyn Davies remembers the rabbit factory on the Commons.






After WW2 Pembroke changed greatly, expanding northwards.  Houses are now built on the green fields which is now 'The Green' in name only.

Jean Williams remembers the time when the Cricket Club played on the Green.


Orange Gardents was the location of the first social housing in Pembroke following the war - the prefab estate in Jogram Avenue.


Peter Dawkins remembers staying in his uncle's prefab here.