Search This Blog

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend in Wales - Grandfather William J Quick Came From Here

This was the new concert hall on the bay in Cardiff .

Welsh Galloping Ponies on the boardwalk by the bay.

This was one of the coal docks in the harbor in Cardiff. It could also be closed and drained into a dry dock to work on ships.

One of the old main street now turned into a giant shopping mall in Cardiff. Directly behind me was the Cardiff Castle.

Harry in Welsh battle gear - notice the long nose protector.

I never met Grandfather William J Quick - he died in 1945 and I was born 3 years later. He was a time keeper in the mines near Mahanoy City. But his family came from the coal mines of Wales - so it was time to visit a little heritage. It is only about 2 hours by train from London to Cardiff - the capital of this small country. It has a fine harbor so this was a perfect place to ship their coal to the rest of the world. Down in the harbor is a large ornate old building where the Bute family ran their coal empire. They build the railroad and made a fortune by charging a tariff per ton to bring the coal to the docks.

The coal in Wales comes from the same Pennsylvanian Layers of rock that we mine back home in Tamaqua. In Wales - there is soft coal in the eastern area and hard coal (anthracite) in the western areas. The worst mining disaster in United Kingdom history occurred at Senghenydd in 1913 when 439 miners were killed in an explosion. Back home in Pennsylvania - the experienced Welsh were engineers and managers in the coal mines. Laborers came from Ireland - later Italy and Eastern Europe.

We spent the night in Cardiff - the capital - staying downtown in the new Mauldrin Hotel. Cardiff is one of the top 6 shopping attractions in Europe. The streets were removed from downtown making a giant shopping complex. The old buildings were restored but their doors emptied out onto a giant meandering mall paddock.

Cardiff Castle from about 1000 AD is in remarkable condition. It is the cornerstone of the downtown area. In the 20th century the Bute Family lived in the giant castle - they got their wealth from coal mining.

Time flew by and I never got to visit the cemeteries to search for the Quick surname. Popular names here in signage are - Williams - Evans - Jones - Morgan. Nancy's Mom Betty's maiden name is Morgan.

On the way home - I could not help appreciating the UK Rail System. The clock struck 6 when we were downtown in Cardiff. An express train was leaving Cardiff at 6:25 - we had quite a jaunt back to the hotel to pick up our bags. We did not even have train tickets. I went back to the hotel to pick up our bags - Lulu went straight to the station. Usually we do not split up this close to departure - but we were getting comfortable in Wales. I got to the train station - Lulu already bought the train tickets. We were on the platform with 10 minutes to spare. No big deal - because there was another train in an hour. On the way home - the train made just a couple stops - one was in Reading. Just like in the old days - when we were kids coming back to Tamaqua on a trip from Philly --- Reading.

A month in Britain gives you a chance to look back. You wonder what it was like then - that made your ancestors hop on a boat - leaving everything familiar for a new start and promise over the horizon. In this case - they left one coal cracker town to work in another coal cracker town. History repeats itself.

Nothing puts the smile on a coal crackers face - but to see a hunk of coal. Notice the soft hands - the coal cracker never saw the back side of a shovel.

This was inside the Cardiff Castle - looking toward the new 80,000 seat Millenium Stadium.

Lulu and I in front of the Castle Keep in Cardiff Wales.

Weddings are common at the city hall here.

This young couple will honeymoon in their VW camper. Lulu and I eloped in a Chevy panel truck in 1971.

Three times in my life - I have had a professional shave. Disneyworld in 1980 - Oxford in 2008 - and now Wales in 2011. Very few places can one find this pleasure for 12 pounds. ($18.00)

The shave started and ended with a steaming hot towel - just like you see in the old movies. The guy shaved me 3 times - and not even close to a cut or blood.

This is the old farmers market in downtown Cardiff. It is like the Hometown Auction - but spotless. They will slice the bread - then slice the ham and cheese on the spot - and hand you a sandwich. I could not handle the corned beef though.

Souvenirs make of coal are very popular.

People brag about French and Italian bread. I tasted none better than these Welsh breads and pastries. I was buying these small rolls for 30 pence until Lulu showed me that they were 1.20 a dozen! That brings a new meaning to baker's dozen.

No comments: