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Amman Valley business celebrates 100 years

Gower Coast Seafoods: Operating in Ammanford for 100 years
Gower Coast Seafoods: Operating in Ammanford for 100 years
Gower Coast Seafoods: Operating in Ammanford for 100 years

FOR MORE than 100 years one family has been selling cockles and laverbread to people in the Amman Valley.

Liz Williams of Gower Coast Seafoods can be found at Ammanford Outdoor Market every Friday – as she has done for around 20 years and her husband’s family before her.

The business was started by Liz’s mother-in-law Miriam Williams from Penclawdd who started selling cockles, with her mother, in Pantyffynnon, Ammanford, in 1912 when she was just eight-years-old.

“She used to get there by train,” said Liz. “Her uncles went to live in Pantyffynnon because they had work in the coal mines, and that is why she ended up going there to sell.”

As Miriam got older she sold further afield – to Brynamman, Gwaun- Cae-Gurwen and even as far as Trap – travelling by bus.

“Miriam would get on the bus with her baskets of cockles and bags of shell cockles. She would ask the conductor to stop the bus at certain places and he would then place a basket of cockles and a bag of shell cockles on walls. Miriam would stay on the bus with the rest of her cockles until her stop and then would start walking back selling her cockles by knocking on peoples doors. As she walked back selling her cockles she would pick up the cockles that were left on the walls and carry on selling.

Some people, if they were going out, would leave a bowl with the money and Miriam would leave the cockles,” said Liz. “Some people would ask her in for a cup of tea or something to eat or even on wet days dry her clothes in front of the fire whilst she had a rest and a cup of tea.

“My husband then started selling with his mother around the doors but when he started driving he would go around and Miriam would sit outside the Cross Inn in Ammanford and that’s when we started to trade in Ammanford town,” added Liz.

Liz’s husband, Jeff Williams, took over the selling in Ammanford and their son, Spencer, after him.

The cockles and laverbread are collected, cooked, sold and eaten by the family who live in Crofty, just a mile from Penclawdd.

The only time the family haven’t been selling in the town is during the oil disaster in Milford Haven in 1996 – resulting in them not being able to work for 17 weeks.

“The people of Ammanford are lovely, really good down-to-earth people. I really enjoy going there to meet and talk to and have a joke and a bit of banter with everyone,” said Liz.

“Ammanford people are very loyal and I see my customers every week and I mostly know their order when they come to our stall. Some of my customers now are the children and grandchildren of Miriam’s customers.” said Liz.

Ammanford outdoor market is held every Friday on Quay Street.