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Barnard’s Tower ‘belongs to the people’

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Barnard’s Tower: Will the Town Council change their minds about the tower

Barnard’s Tower: Will the Town Council change their minds about the tower

ONE of Pembrokeshire’s most historic buildings is currently up for sale but there is a reluctance to do anything with it.

Barnard’s Tower in Pembroke, has been up for sale since July 2013 and many discussions have been held over what to do with it.

The tower is described as being ‘part and parcel of Pembroke’ by Cllr Jonathan Nutting who feels that Pembroke Town Council should take ownership of the building for the people of the town.

However, Pembroke Town Council have said they do not want to take the tower on because of potential costs that may be incurred in the future.

Cllr Jonathan Nutting says that the council should work together with organisations to turn the tower into a tourist attraction.

Pembrokeshire County Council have said that they may be able to gift the tower to the Town Council but there has been no movement since.

The Town Council has discussed the Tower at a number of its Town Council meetings but in January, it was agreed that the Town Council would not go ahead with the purchase.

Many people in the town see the Tower as an important part of Pembroke and are willing to work with the Town Council should they decide to take the building on.

HISTORY

Barnard’s Tower is of great historic importance to Pembroke and is a 13th century three storey tower which is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The building overlooks the Mill Pond and forms part of the town wall.

It was founded by William de Valence and flanks the north-east angle of the medieval town wall of Pembroke, it was built for independent defence.

The entrance to the fore-building was once defended by a bridge-pit and its vaulted passage was guarded by a gate and a portcullis. A spiral stair case , gives access to all the floors and the dome-vault roof supports the remains of a parapet.

The deep, plunging arrow loops are similar to those seen in the Barbican Tower at Pembroke Castle, where they date from c.1260 and from which they were probably derived.

The roof dome is intact, and the whole structure with its fireplace and lavatory is a strong, almost self-contained defensive unit; this was probably necessary as it was isolated on the north-eastern end of town, almost half a mile from the castle.

Barnard’s Tower has been subject to regular and on-going programmes of consolidation and repair since at least the mid-1970s, including the construction of the low walls against the southern face of the tower.

Today the tower is home to a nursery roost of Daubentons Bats.

TAKE A CHANCE

Cllr Jonathan Nutting wants to convince the Town Council that they should take ownership of the tower to take a chance for the future of the town of Pembroke.

Pembrokeshire County Council has been in talks with interested parties in the past about the Tower but they are now looking to gift the tower to the Town Council.

Barnard’s Tower, along with two other buildings, was put up for sale by the council in July 2013.

At the time a spokesperson said that the main reason for selling the Tower was that the Council does not have the resources to hold underutilised assets.

The Council also said they would welcome expressions of interest for the tower from the Town Council.

There was anger at the plans to sell the buildings in the community as it was felt that there had not been enough dialogue between the Council and Town Council about their plans.

Cllr Jonathan Nutting said that Pembrokeshire County Council had acted disgracefully in their advertisements of the buildings as there was no consultation with Pembroke Town Council.

He even suggested that the Town Council should make a starting offer of £1 for the tower and another offer was also made in April 2014.

Two months later Pembrokeshire County Council said they were happy to work with Pembroke Town Council to create a plan for the tower.

BAT SURVEY COST £1,270

Almost a year later, after meetings about purchasing the tower, the Town Council was asked to do a bat survey of the building.

It was revealed that the survey would cost £1 , 270 and some councillors felt that was too much and asked for another valuation.

However, a second valuation came back higher than the first and in June 2015, it was agreed to go ahead with the survey at the price originally quoted.

The results of the survey came back to the Town Council in November 2015 but councillors were still unsure over the cost of the building.

COUNCILLORS CONCERNED OVER FUTURE COSTS

Cllr Wyn Jenkins said that they should not purchase the building as, in his opinion, they could not afford it.

Cllr Keith Nicholas stated that he was originally in favour of the council purchasing the building but added that they may be expected to pay further costs of services in the town which meant that the Town Council could not take it on.

Cllr Jon Harvey said he was concerned about costs which could be involved in the upkeep of the tower and asked for full costs to be prepared.

Cllr Jonathan Nutting said that the Town Council should not make knee-jerk reactions and felt that they should be looking at the long term and not the short term.

Following a vote of 11 in favour and two against it was resolved to withdraw from the purchase of the tower.

Despite this, in December 2015, Pembrokeshire County Council said that they may be able to gift the Tower to the Town Council.

Councillors were still unsure about the future costs of the building while Cllr Nicholas commented that nothing had changed from the previous meeting.

Pembrokeshire County Council had received other offers but it was felt that the best option would be to pass it on to the Town Council.

This could be done by a Community Asset Transfer at less than market value for local social, economic or environmental benefit.

At the Town Council meeting in January, it was agreed that the matter would be laid on the table and that they would not be going ahead with the purchase of the Tower.

PEMBROKE NEEDS ATTRACTIONS

Speaking to the Herald on February 2, Pembroke Cllr Jonathan Nutting said: “It’s all part of a plan. Pembroke needs attractions to keep people in Pembroke for the whole day rather than just going to the castle and then going off to the beach.

“Barnard’s Tower is part and parcel of what I see as integrated plan because what I did try and sell to them was that it would make a possible interpretation centre for the Town Walls, it would make a possible interpretation for the bats of south Pembrokeshire and we have to take them into account.

“It would make a brilliant interpretation centre because the Mills Ponds are a brilliant bat sanctuary and a place where you can pick up lots of things so it gives a potential for other visitors to use the town in a different way rather than just going to see the castle.

“What we’re trying to get them to do is see the castle as a start off point and they actually go around and in a circle of things that are happening in the town.

“The Council now want to gift the tower to Pembroke, they’re not interested in money, Pembroke doesn’t desperately want to take it on because they can’t see the money for where to do the tower up and put the floors back in.

POTENTIAL IS THERE

“CADW have got no worries as long as the structure is not changed, the bat people have got no problem as long as we take the bats into account. The potential is there but there is no money.

“All the Town Council can see at the moment is that they might have a white elephant on their hands where they have to pay for insurance and then maintenance which could be horrendous.

“We don’t want it just sitting there as a dead tower. The vast majority of visitors don’t even know it’s there because they never get that far and it is quite an important part of the town walls.

“Obviously Pembroke is now looking to invest in the future, we’ve got 21C, the Town Walls Trust and lots of different groups working in the town but they are not coordinated very well and we need a professional so what I am trying to get from the county council and Welsh Government is for them to put a town coordinator in.

“That has the potential to coordinate these groups, coordinate where the income comes from and where the town goes forward.

“We need a tourist industry that attracts people all the time so the tower is an integral part. There is potential to bring together the Town Council, 21C and the Town Walls Trust on a joint project.”

PEMBROKE 21C

Gareth Jones from Pembroke 21C told the Herald: “I was part of a group working in partnership with the Town Council to scope out any potential uses for the Tower.

“Pembroke Town Council are still in discussions about it and we will wait to see what their response is before moving forward.

“We are happy to work with anyone who is trying to retain Barnard’s Tower.

“Barnard’s Tower is a fantastic feature in the Town Wall and it could paint an even richer picture of town and its history as a heritage centre or information centre. Obviously we would have to consider the bats that are in there at the moment.

“It is a great opportunity and I would certainly be up for it and I think we should just go for it and I would like to be a part of any group dealing with this in the future.”

PEMBROKE TOWN WALLS TRUST

Janet Drogan from the Pembroke Town Walls Trust confirmed that they had been to two meetings with the Town Council about the tower.

She added: “The Town Walls Trust has got plenty on its plate to deal with the town walls but it is a part of Pembroke’s heritage. All things need funding.

“It is definitely an asset but there are so many assets that have a potential for the future but we can’t deal with all of them at once.”

In April 2014, The Town Walls Trust posted the following about the state of the wall and Barnard’s Tower on their website. They said: “While some stretches remain well maintained and other parts have been patched up from time to time, other stretches of wall are showing signs of long-term neglect – ivy-covered and in urgent need of re-pointing.

“The town’s three great medieval gateways are all long gone and it is partly in order to ensure that the remaining walls do not go the same way that the Pembroke Town Walls Trust has recently been formed.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Although the building may have been declared surplus to requirements there is definitely an appetite to do something with the Tower.

Pembroke Town Council held a full council meeting on Thursday (Feb 11) after The Herald went to press.

Nobody wants this to become a ‘dead tower’ but will the Town Council change their minds to help bring this tower back into use?

Will the Town Council also accept Pembrokeshire County Council’s gifting of the tower to them?

It is clear that there is potential for the tower to become an important part of the town and the people in Pembroke would clearly like to see something done with it.

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The Pembrokeshire man on the Titanic

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ON the morning of April 15 1912, in the North Atlantic some 450-miles south of Newfoundland, the RMS Titanic slowly slid beneath the sea just two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg.

Stories from that night are famous, from the lookouts misplacing their binoculars to the ship’s band playing even as the sea washed over their feet, the sinking of the Titanic holds a special place in the public consciousness and continues to grab our attention some 109 years after the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank.

Over 1500 people lost their lives in the biggest maritime naval disaster at that point.

Among the dead were American and British millionaires, White Star Line employees and countless anonymous immigrants from across Europe who were all seeking a better life in America.

908 crew were on board the Titanic when it left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, one of the crew was a man called Charles Essex Edwards, 38, who sometimes gave himself the first name of ‘Clement’.

Charles was born in 1862 to John and Harriet Edwards of St. Martin’s Place, Haverfordwest.

He worked as a carpenter as a 19-year-old man and would end up moving out of Pembrokeshire and going to sea.  By the time he married a lady called Lavinia Ann Poulter, from Llanstadwell, in May 1892 he was living in Newport.

Lavinia, a Pembrokeshire woman herself, was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poulter who lived on Lawrenny Terrace in Neyland.

By 1895, Lavinia had returned to Pembrokeshire following the death of her mother. Charles and Lavinia’s marriage suffered but Charles would continue visiting Lavinia and stayed at his father-in-law’s house when he was on shore leave.

Although still married in the eyes of the law, Charles and Lavinia were basically separated by 1901.

Charles signed on to work on the brand new RMS Titanic after it had completed its sea trials in Belfast Lough, he gave his address as 7 Brunswick Square, Southampton. He worked on the Titanic as an assistant pantry-man steward who earned a monthly wage of £3 15s on his previous ship the SS Zeeland.

SS Zeeland: The ship Charles worked on before the Titanic

When RMS Titanic left Southampton a massive crowd had gathered to see the newest addition to the White Star Line fleet depart. Charles Edwards was there. He was there when the ship picked up more passengers at Cherbourg and Cobh.

He would’ve been working during the day, his job entailed keeping the ship’s pantries stocked with food and wine, a vital job on a ship with such a high-class passenger list as the Titanic.

He was, more than likely, sleeping when Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path at 11:40pm on Sunday, April 14. He would’ve been woken by the noise of metal on ice and the ship shuddering as it was torn open on the starboard side.

As the ‘unsinkable’ ship took on water Charles, as a White Star Line employee, would’ve been given the unenviable task of waking up passengers, informing them of what happened and getting them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the scale of the situation on the Titanic became apparent, the command structure effectively disintegrated.

Captain Edward Smith would’ve cut a forlorn figure as he wandered around near the wheelhouse and his last words to his crew, according to reports at the time were:

“Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you.

“You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”

This would’ve been around 2:10am, at that point Charles would’ve faced a literal up-hill battle with male members of the crew only having a 24% chance of survival and many people gathering ‘like bees’ on the stern of the stricken liner which, experts say, raised to a 12 degree angle.

The Pantryman-stewards from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic

Many male crew members elected to stay at their posts as, according to Victorian culture it was better for men to die than to live and be perceived a coward, so the lights of the ship remained on until about 2:18am, just two minutes before Titanic broke apart and began its journey to its final resting place some 12,000ft below on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But now you know there was a man named Charles Edwards who was born in Haverfordwest and who died when the Titanic sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body, if it was recovered, was never identified and we don’t even have a picture of him.

When news of the disaster broke, The Pembroke County Guardian described the tragedy as ‘one of the most appalling calamities in the long history of shipwreck’.

Four men from Maenclochog, it was later revealed, had a lucky escape as their plans to emigrate that April on the Titanic were thwarted by one of their number being unable to travel, so the group decided to wait for their friend. That decision saved their lives.

Pembrokeshire responded to the sinking by raising money for the Titanic Relief Fund, Pembroke Dock raised £12 2s 0d through a collection at the Royal Dockyard and, in Haverfordwest, Sidney White, who would later go on to own The Palace Cinema, hosted benefit performances to packed houses which raised £5 15s.

Lavinia, after a legal battle with Charles’ brother William, was given £192 in compensation for Charles’ death and went on to look after her father at Railway Terrace, Neyland until he passed away.

Lavinia went on to move to Middlesex where she lived until 1934. She left her estate to her chauffeur.

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case

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A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Derek Lister: Accused of making child abuse images
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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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