Memories of Barry


The residents of Golau Caredig, Barry’s new Extra Care Unit, enjoyed a series of reminiscence sessions with poet and artist Francesca Kay last month. Together with Barry Library, Francesca brought archive photographs of Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan to share with the group at their weekly coffee morning. The photographs ranged from beaches filled with holidaymakers; Butlins holiday camp and cable car; the Lilo, dotted with swimmers, sunbathers and ice-cream vendors. Bars and clubs from the 60s and 70s were shown alongside pictures of a deserted Thomas Street, with horse and carriages rather than gleaming cars, in the early 1920s. One lady in particular, who was a remarkable ninety-four years old,  remembered a time when the streets were quieter and there were far fewer houses and buildings lining the sandy coastline than there are now.

Kay, Francesca

Francesca Kay

Together with Barry Libraries, the South Wales Initiative (SWLDI) ran the workshop with the hope of allowing the elderly residents of Golau Caredig to partake in story-telling and creative interaction. The poet Francesca Kay worked with small groups and individuals and used their words and phrases as material for a six poems. These poems will then be accompanied by the archive photographs and displayed at Barry Library and Golau Caredig for everyone to see.

We’re looking forward to seeing the finished exhibition, but – in the meantime – here is the wonderful writing that arose from memories of Barry:



Everything was delivered,

Boys on bicycles,

Butcher, baker, greengrocer,

Money in a twist of paper,

My Mam checking her list,

Food to last the week.


Damaged fruit to make pies,

Salted swordfish, the oils and juices for gravy.



Chips in newspaper,

Salty, too hot to eat,

An ice cream on the beach,

With a little bit of crunchy sand.


Food tasted good then,

Sunday dinner was the best.


Outdoor Bathing

The old pool in Barry,

So slippery,


The sea came over and filled it,

You got into gritty water

Down six or seven steps.


Only a paddling pool really,

Temperature gauge telling you how cold.


Sun bathing,

Bright sunshine,

Thin shivery breeze.



On the Beach


Not a pinpoint between people,

A patch of sand,

Mam and Dad by the sea wall,

Sat under painted numbers so

We knew where they were.


I had a red swimsuit,

A donkey bit my sister.


Old Folk dressed in Sunday clothes,

Sat in deckchairs

In their caps and coats.


Kids had freedom then,

Out all day,

No-one bothered us.


We didn’t have much,

But we had fun,

Shared what we had.


End of the day,

Foraging for bottles

to get the money back.


For sweets?

No – to give to Mam,

She’d buy something nice for tea.


Sunday Best

You didn’t wear it in the week,

Not even socks,

Just for Sunday,

Special occasions.


A new outfit for Whitsun

for the Chapel outing,

a dress,

a blazer,

oh – new shoes

so clean and stiff.


Everybody wore a hat,

They were smarter days.

The Knap, Moonlight Sonata

We would take the car,

Park for free,

Deckchair for nothing,

Sit down and read the paper.


Fish and chips,

Sunshine and sea breeze.


Imagine sitting on the beach

Watching the moon come up,

We’re all musicians.