Skewen 1983 4 - a Memory of Skewen.
I lived in Skewen from September 1983 to May 1984 - only a short time in my life but it made a big impression on me. My wife Fiona, new baby Siobhan and I rented a house at Caenant Terrace facing the railway and the mountain. We had moved to Wales from the south of England and although our new environment felt strange at first and looked rather harsh with its heavy industry and mountains, we were struck by the exceptional warmth and friendliness of Skewen.
I remember arriving at Caenant Terrace in the rain - it seemed to rain most of our time there - but somehow this was all part of the cosiness we felt in out stonebuilt, centrally-heated and comfortable house in the heart of the village.
Our daughter, who turned one year old there, would stand up at the low window frame in our bedroom in the morning and stare out at the trains that hurtled past below. She spoke her first word, "Bay-bee" in a good Welsh accent. Skewen folk loved babies and children so this was a good way to get talking to neighbours, or to people in the street and at the shops or up at the park.
I wish I could remember the names of these people but we were only there a short time in our lives and it was all very casual. There was the man and lady at the upper cake shop who made a great fuss of Siobhan; ditto the two ladies at the lower cake shop; the friendly couple at the butcher's with an ornamental tiled frontage, where the delicious smell of casserole simmering wafted out on to the pavement; the lovely lady at the post office; the golfing man who ran the newagents; the friendly barber's where you could join in interesting philosophical debate and storytelling; the man from the mountain who invited us to Guy Fawkes celebrations there... and many more!
Our neighbours at Caenant Terrace had not had easy lives but they were a cheerful and hospitable lot. The Thomas family next door to us were sociable and kept a beautiful home. On our other side a lonely elderly, churchgoing lady lived in some poverty. Easter 1984 was a heatwave and we were all sitting out in our backyards. We attended the Skewen Carnival shortly before moving away to the house we had bought at Alltwen.
I remember Skewen had a character very much of its own, quite distinct from neighbouring Neath. Skewen people were proud of their community but totally welcoming to outsiders like us, especially if you had children.
I should like to hear from any "Skewen people" who might find these memories interesting. As I say, I only lived there 9 months but Skewen is definitely a part of me.
A memory shared byon Jan 9th, 2007.
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