Victorian women’s refuge, Carmarthen

button-theme-womenVictorian women’s refuge, 17 Spilman Street, Carmarthen

This building could be regarded as Carmarthen’s first women’s refuge. One of its rooms was opened weekly to poor women by Margaret Morgan, who helped the town’s neediest in many ways.

Ealier the plot of land was the premises of coachbuilder and wheelwright Rufus Jones, who moved here from the quay in 1873. The house was built c.1880. By 1881 Margaret Morgan (born in Llandeilo in 1835) was living here as a widow with her son, aged nine.

St Peter’s parish raised money and employed her as a ‘Mission Woman’. She lived here rent-free, and received a small salary. In return, she visited all the poorest and worst parts of the parish, making known to the clergy the many cases of sickness and destitution which would not have come to their knowledge without her intervention.

She was willing to give help in any way. She tended the sick and made their beds, prepared their required food, saw that things were clean about them, and helped to carry out the orders of the doctors in all important respects.

At her home here, she made available a room once a week for the poor women of the town to sit, safe and warm, to do a little quiet reading or working, or to receive help to sew clothes. Margaret also started a savings club where the poorest women could save a few pennies to get them through difficult times. Her work was particularly valuable during the very harsh winters of the early 1880s and at one time she was visiting well over 100 families in a week.

In later life, Margaret moved to Pershore, Worcestershire, and became housekeeper to a family originally from Carmarthen. She died in 1908.

With thanks to Dr Mary Thorley, of Women’s Archive Wales

Postcode: SA31 1JY    View Location Map

Women’s Archive Wales website - download the Carmarthen Women’s Heritage Walk leaflet