Lock’s Common, Porthcawl

Lock’s Common, Porthcawl

porthcawl_pines_airways_planesHere the Wales Coast Path runs across Lock’s Common, a local nature reserve. Inland is the site of a pre-war airfield where thousands of holidaymakers enjoyed the thrill of flying for the first time in their lives (see below).

The common’s heath and grassland – with patches of limestone pavement – support many types of plants and animals. Birds you might see include kestrel, rock pipit, stonechat and lark. Harbour porpoises sometimes swim nearby. Notable plants here include squinancywort (Asperula cynanchica – small white flowers in limestone areas) and eyebright (Euphrasia – white flowers with yellow centres and purple lines).

Commoners grazed livestock here. In 1919 Nottage farmer Richard Jenkins was fined £3 for allowing his cattle to stray from the common into a nearby domestic garden.

Part of the common was a golf course in the late 19th century and into the 20th. Local churches complained of golfers “desecrating” the Sabbath by playing on Sundays. In 1910 a visitor to the common from Aberdare complained to Porthcawl urban council after a golf ball struck him!

Around the same period, various regiments (including the South Wales Borderers and Welsh Regiment) held summer camps on the common, where soldiers were drilled. Mock fights were sometimes held. Between 4,000 and 5,000 men took part in the 1899 camp.

In the 1930s open space across the road, east of Lock’s Common, was used by Pine’s Airways, founded by local garage owner George Pine. Holidaymakers took trips along the coast in his planes (pictured above right by Raymond Clark). The site was taken over by the RAF in the Second World War. George received the MBE for his work in the wartime Air Transport Auxiliary, which flew new planes to operational airfields.

About the place-name:

Lock’s Common probably relates to a person who was named Lock. A small gully on the adjoining shoreline is named Gwter-y-Locs (Gwter-gryn-y-locs in 1877). There are a number of instances in Glamorganshire where natural channels on the sea-shore have gwter (“drain, channel') in their names.

Postcode: CF36 3UP    View Location Map

With thanks to Richard Morgan, of the Welsh Place-Name Society, for place-name information

Website with more about the reserve

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