My chiropodist, in common with many people in West Wales, has at least two jobs – the other one I know about is being a supply teacher. The economics of living here have always been more difficult than some areas of the UK so residents tend to be versatile and enterprising. Not many years ago I worked on surveying and ‘listing’ buildings, a poorly paid (shame on you Cadw) but extremely interesting job. Not all the buildings were houses. We listed bridges, milestones, canal locks and all manner of industrial and agricultural features.
I used to love the industrial remains; ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, canals in the Neath Valley, coalfields in Pembrokeshire and especially the limekilns which are scattered around the coast near many of our beaches. These curious stone structures were once used to produce lime to improve the soil on local fields and also lime for ‘lime washing’ houses. Limestone and culm (inferior coal) were brought in by small ships and loaded into the limekiln ‘crucible’ in alternate layers. This was then lit and the fire burnt for several days at a very high temperature to produce quicklime.
You can see examples in West Wales near the beaches at Llangrannog, Mwnt, Cwmtydu, Newport, Tenby and many other places. These relics of a simpler but harder age are the survivors of many more that rapidly disappeared due to the ravages of time and the changes in farming practices.