Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
Penarth Dock, South Wales - the heritage & legacy . . .

Volume Two - The Era of Optimism, Investment & Development - Some reports . . .

St. Margaret's church at Roath, Cardiff

St. Margaret's church at Roath, Cardiff, with its pink alabaster interior stonework which was mined at Penarth Head. Lavernock cliffs. [058]

I was contacted in June 2016 by Michael Statham who informed me that alabaster was not mined at Penarth Head but at the Lavernock cliffs. What was quarried on a small scale at Penarth Head up to WWI was gypsum which was typically utilised for plaster production. Thank you Michael. [412]

geological survey of Penarth Head

above : The reference to a disused alabaster mine on Penarth Head in the newspaper report of a hermit being arrested for not maintaining his wife intrigued me, so I decided to investigate further. The above geological survey map lists alabaster 'gypsum in the cliffs' at Penarth Head. [050]

below : When a Penarth cave dweller was arrested! was the headline to an article within the Cowbridge GEM newspaper who ran the following story :

'A local historian, Brian Keitch of Penarth, recently discovered a number of fascinating old photographs of the area – taken by a relative more than 100 years ago! Brian explained: “Over 100 years ago, my great grandfather, John Lewis, lived in the Penarth area and was a very keen photographer. “A collection of the glass plates he took circa 1905 to 1910 have come down to us and provide a glimpse of what interested him all that time ago.

Brian has called this ‘Penarth’s Caveman! This is the only known image of the once famous ‘Alabaster Cave’ – situated on the beach between Penarth and Lavernock – probably near the point known years ago as the Seven Sisters (a row of trees at the end of Cliff Walk. It is most likely that it was the outlet of a local sewage system – but the press of the day gave us this report: ‘Penarth Hermit Arrested!’ Samuel Baldwin, who for some time past, has lived on the shore at Penarth, occupying a cave which formed the entrance to an abandoned alabaster mine, has been arrested on a warrant for neglecting to maintain his wife.' - The Cowbridge GEM [638] [639] - 14th January 2018.

The photograph was probably taken by Mr. John Lewis sometime after December 1906. I contacted Brian who gave his kind permission to use this photograph on the Penarth Dock website. Thank you and best wishes Brian.

When a Penarth cave dweller was arrested!
 

1906 - From Cave to cell - Penarth Troglodyte in Court - "She Has Ruined Me." - Sent Down for 2 Months - 'The Penarth cave-dweller is still solitary, and for two months, by order of the Cardiff stipendiary magistrate, will continue to be more or less a hermit, not by his own choice, but compulsorily, which is a very different thing.

Samuel Baldwin (59), was brought up on a warrant at Cardiff Police-court on Friday charged with neglecting to pay £5 5s., arrears and costs due under a maintenance order.

The recluse respectfully saluted the magistrate ; then he leant his arms on the dock rail and glared about with a gloomy, not to say defiant, air. He looked particularly hard at his wife, who stepped into the witness-box - an elderly little woman, dressed in black.

"Do you admit owing it?" asked Mr. Nash (magistrates'-clerk).
"I have no work," said the hermit.
"But do you admit owing it?"

Answering the question thus repeated, Baldwin said : "She is suing me for it, sir. This is my second summons, you must understand. I have no work," added the recluse, despairingly.

The Clerk : Have you any goods?
Baldwin : No. She (looking at his spouse) - she has all my goods.

The wife (Mrs. Jane Baldwin) said she was separated by an order of the court made at Abertillery on October 24, 1906, under which defendant was ordered to pay 7s. 6d. (37½p) a week, but she had received nothing. The amount was made up of three guineas (£3.30) arrears and two guineas (£2.20) costs.

Mr Nash to the cave-dweller : Have you any questions?
Defendant : I don't wish to speak to her any more. I have finished with her. She has ruined me. As he said this defendant strode about the dock.
The Stipendiary : Can you pay anything to-day? - I have nothing to pay.
You must obey the order. - I can't help it ; if I can't get work I can't get money. I should be only too thankful if I had the money, but I can't get work. She has ruined me.

Court-officer Sergeant Price : He makes no effort to maintain his wife. He has caused a sensation by living in a cave at Penarth and collecting money from visitors with a box.

His worship : Is he able-bodied? - Yes.

Prisoner : I only walk six or seven times up the beach of an evening, and the box is inside the cave for anyone to put money in if they like.
Superintendent Durston said the man had collected a large amount.
Prisoner : I have not. They put in the box what they choose.

The Stipendiary : Two months.

Prisoner : "All right" ;  muttering as he went below, "I hope you'll get two months."

From cave to cell is a sorry, sordid ending to a romantic sensation.

We understand that prisoner was brought from the cave to Cardiff by Police-constable Beetle, police-court officer, Cardiff, and not by one of the county constabulary, as reported. When arrested he had just partaken of the soup he had prepared for his supper, and there was under his "pillow" a whiskey bottle (empty), which he said a friend had given to him the day before.' - Evening Express [135] [361] 22nd December 1906.

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