Despite the appalling weather conditions a capacity crowd attended Hook Sports Club  to witness the launch of a book commemorating the end of World War One. The publication has been produced by Hook History Society  and highlights the role of a Pembrokeshire village during that period.

World War One was one of the, if not the, most horrific conflicts the world has ever had the misfortune to experience. Over 900,000 men died fighting under the British Flag and tens of thousands of others were wounded. These were the days of the Empire and at one time there were more Indians in the British army than Britons!

The dragon topped memorial in Haverfordwest bears the names of 1,300 Pembrokeshire service men who were killed in action.

Although many miles from the carnage of Flanders Pembrokeshire villages had a significant role to play during the War. ……and the Society, naturally, focused its attention on the former mining village of Hook.

Hook lost two of its sons in the conflict. One on the Somme and the other on the catastrophic landing at Gallipoli. Many others served; were wounded but thankfully survived. One young Hook man although living in America rushed home to volunteer for the Navy.

On the home front Hook colliery was producing 10,000 tons of top quality anthracite each year. This was at a time when virtually all power was produced by burning coal. The colliery was no soft option as working conditions were dreadful and dangerous; wages minimal and the hours long. Often men worked in ankle deep water and in the narrow seams dug coal while kneeling or lying on their sides. At the outbreak of the War there were 70 men working in the colliery.

During this period two men lost their lives when a torrent of water broke into the working area from a long-forgotten gallery.

Some village men cycled each day to Neyland and were rowed across to the Royal Naval Dockyard to build warships and submarines. The boatman charged sixpence a week.! ( two and a half pence n today’s money). During the War two warships and two submarines were launched at Pembroke Dock.

The German U-boat fleet did its utmost to starve an island nation into submission at a time when 60% of the nation’s food was imported as was 80% of the required wheat. They sank literally dozens of food carrying supply vessels; many off the Pembrokeshire coast.

This emphasised the important role of the cluster of comparatively small farms in and around the village which produced essential food under ever increasingly strict government control.

There are articles on the callous White Feather Campaign and other major events which impacted on the village at that time. There are many colour posters of the era featured ranging from campaigns urging women to persuade their menfolk to leave home and join the fighting to pleading with families to eat less bread!


The book…….24 pages; A4; full colour….. is on sale at both Hook and Llangwm village shops and costs £5..or via e mail contact within these web pages.  

The Society has available for sale varied interesting material dealing with the history of the riverside former mining village of Hook,

It includes: WHERE THE RIVER BENDS … eighty page well illustrated book which deals in detail with the industrial and social development of the community. The book sells at £5.

THE BLACK DIAMOND VILLAGE ….. is a highly acclaimed 40 minute dvd which relates aspects of the village ranging from the once thriving anthracite mining industry; the rare form of compass net fishing which is based in the village and in very few other areas in the United Kingdom; and from agriculture to the band of local heroes who laid down their lives in two world wars. The dvd is priced at £6.

There is also a fifteen minute dvd based on the Society’s successful attempt to restore an ancient lime kiln. Entitled the REBIRTH OF THE BOGGY LANE LIME KILN it can be purchased for £2 a copy.

There are also a walks leaflet and a leaflet dealing exclusively with the history of mining in Hook which are free of charge.

Most items would be available at the village shop but arrangements can be made for postal delivery via this web’s contact page. There would be a small charge to cover postage.

Forty supporters of Hook History Society recently followed the route taken by ocean going ships as they made their way up the river Cleddau to collect Hook mined anthracite to transport to countries in many parts of the world.

The occasion was a river trip from Neyland upstream as far as Little Milford and was part of the village of Hook’s week of festivities.

The river was tranquil and picturesque and passengers had the opportunity to see the remains of the old quay from a sailor’s perspective and also such landmarks as the Pill where lime boats discharged their cargoes for smelting at the recently restored lime kiln; Benton Castle and Lawrenny.

A few days later over 20 walkers walked the shore line around the Fowborough/ Picton Point area and back to the village through meadow and wooded areas.

Author and journalist, Keith Johnson, spoke to members of the Society on the History of Pembrokeshire Pubs……. An event which was particularly well attended.

Mr Johnson traced the history of the public house from the time hospitality was offered to weary travellers and pilgrims to the modern period when the “local” was the centre of social life of the community. Sadly, many feel, times and people’s habits change and many of these characterful hostelries have disappeared. In Dew Street, Haverfordwest, for example four public houses which were an integral part of the fabric of social life of the vicinity have all closed. They were the Plasterers Arms; the Lamb, the White Lion and the Kings Arms.

Mr Johnson explained that many pubs developed close by major places of work such as coal mines; steel works and agricultural marts. Hence names like The Colliers and the Farmers Arms.

In Hook’s case the original village pub was opened on the quayside where ships from all over the world berthed to take on anthracite which was due to be exported having been mined in the village colliery. The name of the pub…………………….the Anchor Inn. When rail transport replaced shipping the pub transferred from the riverside to the village and became the New Anchor Inn. Sadly that too closed in the early 2000’s.

Mr Johnson spent some time telling the story behind pub names for example : Three Crowns (after the three wise men); the Bush (from ancient times when a bush or vine was displayed outside the premises to indicate refreshment was available) while retired seafarers who opened pubs often opted for names like Hope and Anchor and Sailors Safety.

An exception to the rule was the Railway Inn, Jeffreyston ………………a village without any rail facility. The hostelry has now been renamed more appropriately.