On this date…18th January 1934 – and the history of the Mumbles Press

The Mumbles Press reviewed the Swansea Little Theatre’s performance of The Way of the World. Dylan Thomas played the character of Witwould but his performance does not receive a special mention within the review. 

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The Mumbles Press was published every Thursday, and sold for one penny. It provided local news, natural history, religious notes and romantic serials. The boys who sold the paper were paid 1d per dozen sold.

The following is a piece by Sylvia Bagley about the newspaper, a fixture of Mumbles and Swansea life for many years until the mid 1930s. Her father was its founder C.E. Tucker.

“For over thirty years, the Mumbles Press was a key institution of Mumbles life. My father, Christopher ‘C.E.’ Tucker, was its founder and driving spirit. In 1956, when he retired, he was described as ‘the man who put Mumbles on the map’ and he worked tirelessly to promote the Mumbles that he loved.”

“He first set up a printing business in the Dunns, where Solo now stands. Then in 1903 he bought No 8 The Dunns. And for over thirty years, until 1936, he promoted Mumbles through the Mumbles Press. At the same time, with my mother, Florence, he ran a local shop for both residents and visitors, with all sorts of seaside materials, smokes – and his very own lending library.”

“He and my mother were married in 1912, and the Mumbles Press chronicles in detail the clothes and jewellery of the bride and the bridesmaids – and all the presents received, and from whom. It was a grand wedding, at Clyne Chapel, Blackpill. And the reception was at the the Ship & Castle Hotel, the site of the present-day Conservative Club. Among the family records is one of continuing interest to present-day Mumbles. In 1916, a young apprentice printer was indentured to my father, to receive 5 shillings for the first year, increasing by one shilling per year for seven years. It was one Richard Cottle, son of Charles Cottle – none other than the grandfather of Tony Cottle known in this generation as the ‘eyes and ears of Mumbles’, and still providing a printing service. Charles Cottle (Tony Cottle’s grandfather) was the last lighthouseman of Mumbles – a real character, who had a cat which could swim and catch fish… Richard did not complete his full seven-year training, and the Indenture was eventually cancelled.”

“The Mumbles Press was published every Thursday, and sold for one penny. It provided local news, natural history, religious notes and romantic serials. The boys who sold the paper were paid 1d per dozen sold.”

“My father was also a Councillor, a Member of Mumbles Urban District Council and was instrumental, following its closure, in getting a Branch Library established on the site. When the Urban District Council was abolished in 1923, and Mumbles came to be run by Swansea Corporation, he used to complain that there was much less local news to report.”

“The Corporation has not done a lot for the district’, he observed in 1956, ‘not as much as they should have. It was different in the old days when we had our own urban council. Things were a lot livelier…”

“He was also for many years a member of the Swansea Improvement Association, publicising the Mumbles area – though his view remained that ‘Mumbles does not properly cater for visitors…”

“The present City Council should think about that – while the Community Council does now try to address my father’s concerns about local interests, local colour and community identity.
My daughter Susan, who lives in Malvern, is carrying on the family tradition: she and her husband run a printing company there. My father would have been very proud to know that the family tradition is being maintained.”

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

 

On this date…16th January 1934

The Swansea Little Theatre began their five night run of performances at Southend, Mumbles, of their latest undertaking, the 18th Century William Congreve comedy, The Way of the World.

Dylan played the part of the foolish young Witwoud. The programme however, listed him as ‘Dilyn’ Thomas.

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Mrs. Evelyn Burman a fellow cast mate of Dylan’s at the Little Theatre recalled Dylan’s impromptu trips to the ‘Prince of Wales’ pub or ‘Cheeses’ as it was known locally due to the owner being one Mr. Cheddar. She said…

‘In 1934 I played the very minor role of Mincing..woman to Mrs. Millamant in The Way of the World and as Dylan was Witwoud, a follower of Mrs. Millamant, it meant that we were often waiting in the wings. He would say to me ‘Mincing! I’m mincing off’ (the pub was less than two minutes from the theatre.)

She went on to say,

‘he never failed to appear ready for his next entry’ by all accounts Dylan was a burgeoning great actor and could hold his audience in a transfixed state.’

Of the performances of this Congreve play Evelyn recounted,

‘One of his (Dylan’s) lines, ‘Gad, I have forgot what I was about to say to you’ he used more than once to cover up a whirlwind entry until he composed himself.’

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

Dylan and the whiskered beast of Pwlldu.

At about this time in early January 1934 it is believed that Dylan wrote the following piece detailing a close encounter with a furry ‘beast’ at the beautiful cove of Pwlldu, Gower.

he recounted to Pamela Hansford Johnson…

“I was sitting in the porch of the Pwlldu Inn on a cold, sunny afternoon, eating an unnaturally large sandwich and sipping at a quart mug-both sandwich and mug were almost as large as me. In the midst of my meal I heard a loud stamping (that is the only honest word to describe it), and, looking up, saw a rat immediately in front of me, his eyes fixed on mine. A rat? This was a rat with a capital R, a vast iron-grey animal as big as a cat, with long, drooping whiskers and a tail like an old frayed whip. Normally I am frightened to death by rats, even by mice, and certainly by moths, but this monstrosity of a creature did not alarm me at all. He couldn’t move quickly anyway, he was much too fat. He merely stood there in front of me until I threw him a piece of cheese. He sniffed it, swallowed it, and stamped away. Again ‘stamped’ is the only word: he went away like a fat old soldier from a canteen.Thinking of him when he had gone, I came to the conclusion that he must be the Father of all Rats, the First Rat, the Rat Progenitive, the Rat Divine.”

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*The Inn that he refers to is likely to have been the ‘Beaufort Arms’ which is the building just right of centre in the photograph.*

 

 

 

An appalling affair! – An early critique of Dylan’s ‘New Verse’

Amongst the discarded cigarette packets, empty sweet wrappers and manuscripts underneath Dylan’s desk here at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive you will find a book that had upset Dylan in December 1934.

Published by Duckworth in late 1934, Aspects of Modern Poetry by Edith Sitwell was savagely critical of New Verse, a periodical ran by poet, novelist and critic Geoffrey Grigson. In her scathing review she used Dylan’s poem Our Eunoch Dreams, which had been published in New Verse in April 1934 as one of its bad examples. As an added insult she didn’t even mention the author of the piece by name!

She wrote…

‘An appalling affair! Metaphysics have not helped here. The idea is really of no importance, and the thick squelching, cloying, muddy substance of the “which,” “itch,” “shapes,” “starch,” “welshing rich” verse, and the equally, or almost equally hideous, “kicks,” “sack,” “trash,” “quick,” “cock,” “back,” “smack,” affair – these defeat criticism. In muddiness and incapacity, they leave T.E. Brown’s “God wot plot” arrangement at the starting post.’

Dylan wrote the following in a letter dated December 1934 to his friend and fellow writer and poet Glyn Jones

“So you’ve been reviewing Edith Sitwell’s latest piece of virgin dung, have you? Isn’t she a poisonous thing of a woman, lying, concealing, flipping, plagiarising, misquoting, and being as clever a crooked literary publicist as ever. I do hope you pointed out in your review the real points against the book (you did, I know, but I like being dogmatic) The majority of the book was cribbed from Herbert Read and Leavis, actually and criminally cribbed. She has misquoted Hopkins at least twenty times, reprinted many poems without the permission of the publisher or poet. Yes, that was my poem all right, reproduced without my name, misquoted at the end, and absurdly criticised. I duly sent my protest to Gerald Duckworth and he replied to the effect that so many protests of a similar sort had been received, that he could as yet do nothing about it. It is being hoped that he will have to withdraw the book.”

In less that a few months Dylan and Sitwell would change their respective tunes about one another. Fierce critic and fellow poet Edith Sitwell would become a patroness and champion of the young poet from Swansea…

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

Published in: on 31 December, 2016 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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