Wiseman’s Bridge industrial sites

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If you walk along the beach between Wiseman’s Bridge and Amroth, look out for remnants of mining, including entrances to tunnels which were driven under the cliffs in the 19th century to remove minerals.

That shoreline was divided into four main “patches”, an old legal term for a piece of land and used here to represent a plot of mineral ground. The Bridge patch was nearest to Wiseman’s Bridge, followed by Lloyd’s or Rook’s Nest patch. Crickdam and The Burrows patch were near Amroth’s Temple Bar area.

Before Grove Colliery at Stepaside was established in 1840, iron ore was dug from the cliff along the shoreline and loaded into boats on the beach for transport to Pembrey harbour. Men, women and children were involved, and vast amounts of mined material would be spread across the beach. Anthracite coal from Stepaside was also loaded into boats here.

After Grove Colliery opened, mined material was taken through the tunnels from The Bridge and Crickdam patches to the newly built railway at Wiseman’s Bridge. The railway, known as the Dramway, connected the ironworks and later Grove Colliery to the newly created port at Saundersfoot, passing through tunnels where you can now walk.

Before the Dramway’s construction, an attempt was made to convert the stream here into a navigable canal, but the gradient proved too steep. The stream is rather straight in places and has stone walls – relics of the aborted canal.

The stream is called Ford’s Lake. ‘Lake’ is a common South Pembrokeshire term for a running body of water.

During the Second World War, John Henry Mathias, licensee of the Wiseman’s Bridge Inn (known as ‘Jack the Bridge’) was appointed a Coastguard because of his local knowledge. Although the whole area had been sealed off for security reasons and a 10pm curfew imposed, Jack was exempted and wandered at will. The troops weren’t allowed to drink alcohol but for 1s 6d they had all they could eat – ham, eggs, fried bread and apple tart. Jack entertained them with tales of a ghostly monk in the tunnels between Saundersfoot and Wiseman’s Bridge. He later said his daughter had served Winston Churchill at the pub during a supposed visit to the area in 1943, but there’s no official record of the Prime Minister visiting during the war.

In July 1943 the beach here was involved in Exercise Jantzen, a military logistics rehearsal for D-Day.

With thanks to Mark Harvey

Postcode: SA69 9AU    View Location Map

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