Letter from Haverfordwest
Postcards are in essence a snail mail form of Instagram or Twitter posts. They inform and amuse. They are not tour guides but snapshots of a location or place. They are collectable and historically valuable.
The phrase ’Having a wonderful time wish you were here’ is synonymous with sending a postcard to a loved one or friend.
I’m afraid ‘Having a wonderful time wish you were here’ does not apply to this set of photographic postcards.
I use pictures to tell my stories. They are the basis of my photojournalistic credentials. Photographs can be powerful, revealing, mundane but even the mundane can tell truths.
I have been living in Haverfordwest for eight years and nothing much has changed in that time. The town is tired and littered with charity shops and empty buildings.
The out of town shopping has gutted the town, deprived it of its lungs. County towns should exude confidence. Haverfordwest or Hwlffordd as I wish to call it does not. A huge dollop of imagination is required by council officials to make Hwlffordd buzz.
Foot fall by tourists here is limited because there is very little to draw them here which is a great shame.
Yes, there is a castle and a small museum. A farmers’ market every Friday and there are plans to create a pathway from the town centre to the castle and a revamping of the museum.
A recent archaeological dig created some interest. Unearthing lots of skeletons is always a good draw.
A new bus station and multi story car park are under construction.
Things are moving but at a snail’s pace.
Glan yr Afon Library and Gallery is a revelation. The gallery is part of The Riverside Library development that also includes a café, an advice hub, a public library and a tourist information centre.
It also hosts a programme of thematic exhibitions, and a permanent exhibition on the history, culture and legends of Pembrokeshire. Its recent exhibition ‘Gaze’ was superb.
It featured Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study by Edgar Degas, from the National Gallery alongside works from the National Library of Wales by Seren Morgan Jones and Sir Kyffin Williams.
Regeneration through art and books is inspiring and it would be good to see an exhibition of Augustus and Gwen John art on the walls of the gallery one day. Augustus John lived here and his sister born here in 1876.
‘Hub’ seems to be the ‘go to’ word to describe places where cultural events happen and Haverhub on the banks of the Cleddau promotes yoga pilates and small gigs.
My postcards are a snapshot of a town in decline in September 2022.
Regeneration takes time, money but above all else, imagination.
Councils however in my experience have never been truly imaginative when it comes to change.
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Blame councillors who prefer out of town big business back handers than see town centres thrive
Marks and Spencer were trying to open up a store in Haverfordwest for decades, but faced fierce opposition from local retailers such as Ocky Whites. This actually hurt trade in the town because Pembrokeshire locals preferred to do their shopping in Carmarthen rather than their own county town, because Carmarthen had all the major retailers.
Now that M&S, Next etc are at the Withybush Retail Park, and with the advent of online shopping, sadly there is very little reason to venture into the town centre these days, unless you want a cheap pint from Wetherspoons.
Out of town=kiss of death.Not a centre if no centre
Merthyr is exactly the same, the out of town retail centre has completely killed the town centre