“It’s my town now, warts and all.”
Haverfordwest is a long name for a town,
It’s as though you’d need directions
To find the place without a frown
Of despair. It has aged connections
With Eleanor of Castile, Edward’s wife
Who liked the place and bought the castle.
There was some dispute, some strife
But the King’s the King – so no big hassle.
Her holiday home, opulent and grand,
O’erlooked a priory, all Dominican,
That skirted the river and its sandy strand.
Black they wore, but now it’s an inn again
On Castle Square abutting Victoria Place,
Built in 1839, for estate agents and banks.
By Owen’s Bridge – it made a packet- gave him grace
To rise above the humble throng and join the ranks
Of noble gentry fine and dandy. The old quay
Stands neglected today, no Bristol trade
Comes its way, no French wines tariff-free
Arrive. It’s long gone away, weighed
No more on the iron scales of duty.
The river’s a trickle in these dry days
Only the incoming tide could allow any booty
To come ashore on concrete cracked and crazed
Before the modern council building ersatz
Bastion of the county. It stands so stark,
Slate-grey conical roofs sit like witches’ hats
On towers of primrose yellow beside a park.
It’s my town now, warts and all.
The brass belfry-bell of St Mary’s says with zest –
For Cromwell never shattered that hall –
‘I do my best for Haverfordwest.’