In 1934, an eminent and successful London businessman visited his Welsh home and influenced the lives of the people of that town for the next 50 years.
David Howells or “Howells Chelsea” as he was known in later life, had left Fishguard at an early age and built up his own business in the King’s Road, Chelsea. By 1934 he was treasurer of the Chelsea Chamber of Trade; on a visit to his family, who still lived in Kensington Street, Fishguard, he expounded the advantages of this system of co-operation amongst traders, to the individual shopkeepers and businessmen of this town. He asked that a meeting be held in the Town Hall and at the invitation of B. Miles Thomas, who owned at that time an ironmongers shop in West Street, Fishguard, the meeting was held on Friday August 10th 1934. The enthusiasm of the fourteen traders present at this hastily convened meeting was sufficient for a second meeting – a General meeting – to be held on September 4th 1934 when 45 traders and professional men from the twin towns attended. Mr B. Miles Thomas was elected to be the first chairman of the new Fishguard & Goodwick Chamber of Trade and Mr T.J Williams (Chemist) the first secretary. At these first meetings, Mr David Howells told of the advantages of a strong united Chamber of Trade and gave examples of what this unity could do for the betterment of trades in Fishguard.
Amongst the early resolutions was one that Green’s Motors of Haverfordwest be approached with a view to altering the concessions on the Haverfordwest to Fishguard bus route; and another that a “shopping week” be held during the first week of May 1935.
Both of these proposals, according to the minutes of these early meetings were an unqualified success.
In 1935, a tradesmen’s holiday was taken on September 11th when the the members of the Chamber decided to take a trip to Swansea to meet the Swansea Chamber of Trade and the Swansea Pembrokeshire Society. (see Chamber of Trade – Swansea -1935 )
The next year, 1936, was the Eisteddfod year and after this hectic year the Chamber of Trade meetings lapsed and it was not until 1945, nearly ten years later, that the next meeting actually took place! The Chairman was again Mr B. Miles Thomas and the main reason for the re-formation of the Chamber seems to have been to settle the question of shop opening hours in the town. The meetings by now had moved from the Town Hall via the Rechabite Hut (Unity Hall) to the Bwthyn in High Street. Membership remained high through the 1940s with similar problems raising their heads again & again such as the bus service, postal addresses, holiday closing hours and the annual dinner!
A note in the “Any Other Business” section of a meeting held in 1949 states that now the West Cambrian Power Co. had been nationalised and was to be renamed S W E B.
At an annual meeting in 1951 came the first mention of a tourist guide for the area. Whether this guide ever got off the ground is unknown as is not recorded! Following this meeting, attendance again seemed to fall off and the early 1950s followed much the same pattern as the early 1940s! Despite the strong pleas of B. Miles Thomas, there were no regular meetings held until 1958 when 37 members met once again in the Town Hall to revive the Chamber of Trade. Part of the renewed enthusiasm seems to have been caused by the local government bill which could have affected the boundaries of the local Urban District Council i.e Fishguard and Goodwick would lose their position as an authority. Other matters which took up a lot of the members’ time during these years were the celebration of the Festival of Wales, the opening/closing hours of the Post Office, the bringing of a Mart to Fishguard, a Saturday market and the attraction of visitors to the area. This time the plan to have a tourist brochure published did come to fruition! About this time as well – May 1959 – Mr Billy Butlin was looking for new sites for his increasingly popular holiday camps. Mr Norman Williams (Royal Boot Stores) who was Chairman of the Chamber at this time, immediately sent a telegram and plans and drawings of this area to Billy Butlin. However, for all their enthusiasm, the the Chamber was unlucky in this venture.
By 1960, 71 tradespeople in the twin towns were members of the Chamber and it was agreed to extend the boundaries of the Chamber to a 10 mile radius. Tourism now played a big part in the economy of the towns and they became officially registered as a seaside resort. It was not until the 1980s though that tourism became officially recognised by the Chamber and the Fishguard & Goodwick Chamber of Trade and Tourism was born!
David Evan Howells was born in Fishguard in 1882 to parents William (B. 1850 in Llanfair) and Margaret Howells (B. 1850 in Fishguard). David Evan Howells died in 1957 and is buried in Hermon Cemetery.
Minutes of the first meeting held in the Town Hall, Fishguard on Friday Aug. 10th 1934.
At the invitation of Mr B. Miles Thomas, a meeting of local traders was held in the Town Hall, Fishguard on Friday August 10th 1934 with the object of discussing the advisability of forming a Chamber of Trade in the district. Mr B. Miles Thomas was elected chairman.
The meeting was addressed by Mr Dd Howells, Treasurer of the Chelsea Chamber of Trade who gave an interesting and illuminating account of the activities of the Chamber of Trade in that area, and strongly advised the formation of such an association in Fishguard & Goodwick.
Owing to the short notice given, only 14 traders were present and it was decided to circularise every trader in Fishguard & Goodwick, with a view to inviting them to a general meeting to be held at a future date.
It was unanimously decided that a Chamber of Trade be formed comprising of the traders & professional men of Fishguard & Goodwick. It was proposed, seconded and carried that Mr B. Miles Thomas and Mr T.J Williams be appointed Chairman and Secretary respectively.
The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to Mr Howells.
Mr Spenser James Mr Morgan James
Mr Prosser Mr B.R Lewis
Mr E.A Thomas Mr B. Miles Thomas
Mr E.H James Mr T.J Williams
Mr W.D Noot Mr C. Lloyd
Mr Phillip Lewis Mr Jones, Emporium
Mr Thomas, Railway House Mr T. Hutchins