Step back a hundred and fifty years, and Neyland High Street was a thriving buzz of commerce with no fewer than 116 commercial enterprises that served the town’s many and varied needs.
As well as the customary butcher, baker and candlestick maker, Neyland shoppers could indulge in the latest victuals displayed by the watchmaker, the jeweller, the butcher, the cycle store, the sale maker, the confectioner, the shoe maker and last but buy no means least, the grocer.
“In 1906, the number of businesses that extended along High Street and Kensington Road
stood at an incredible 116, and this excluded the public houses,” commented local historian Dr Simon Hancock, curator of Haverfordwest Town Museum and a resident of Neyland.
“And even though the town itself wasn’t particularly large, it served the wider parish that surrounded it which included Llanstadwell, Johnston and Rosemarket.”
But with the advent of time and as more and more people began acquiring motor vehicles, Neyland’s shops began to feel the knock-on effect. Sadly, only one of those original businesses remain, namely the Neyland Pharmacy at 94 High Street from where it has traded for over a century.
“A lot of those commercial enterprises included public services such as HM Customs but it also included an enormous range of other retailers with the result that the High Street was once an exceptionally busy place thanks to the skills and crafts of the people who ran those businesses,” continued Dr Hancock.
“And as a result, the local people could buy virtually everything they needed or wanted.”
Dr Hancock has now launched a major drive to unravel as much of Neyland’s commercial past as he can gather.
“It’s so important to remember what was once in the town which gives a great sense of pride to the place,” he continued.
“This is why I’ve launched Neyland Shops Heritage. I’m appealing for anyone who has old photographs, billheads, till receipts, memories and absolutely anything that may relate to these former shops to get in touch and help record this important past. And naturally I’m not just focussing on the Victorian and Edwardian eras but right the way through the 20th century, up to the 1980s.
“It’s so important for us to preserve these memories before they’re lost forever.”
If anyone has any items or memories which can be included in the Neyland Shops Heritage, they should log on to [email protected]
Simon Hancock is hoping to collage all the information for a talk and a public exhibition later this year.