Albert Furlong - Livery Stable proprietor
Albert Furlong was born in 1840 at Robeston Wathen although by the time he was a year old the family had moved near Rosebush where his father was the landlord of the Nantyddwylan Arms. As a child, he moved to Fishguard c1848 with his parents where his father ran the Kings Head Inn on Fishguard Square. His father subsequently purchased the Great Western Hotel c1858 and ran it as a posting house.
In 1876, following the death of his father, Albert purchased the Great Western Hotel at auction from his father’s estate. At the time he paid £1300 which was over four times what his father paid for it some 17 years earlier – it was reported at the time that Albert was prepared to pay that amount because he could see the potential for tourism in Fishguard!
Although he was for a period the proprietor of the Great Western Hotel, his primary work was in conveying travellers around the three counties. He had a livery stable at the rear of the Hotel where he kept his various carts and coaches. It was said that he was a delightful travelling companion to all his customers as he had ” an inexhaustible store of remarkable incidents connected with a life teeming with adventure”
As a young boy, he rode postillion (on the lead horse of a carriage) and was said to have been the “preferred pilot” of the good and the great. These included the Lord Chief Justice when visiting the assizes, Admiral Fitzroy, Baron Pollock, Sir George Tyrone and even the nephew of the great Napoleon Bonaparte, Prince Lucien Jerome Bonaparte.
In 1861, when just nineteen years old, together with a companion, he battled raging seas to rescue sailors who had been washed up on rocks off Carreg Wasted. For this he received a Silver medal from the RNLI, and Bronze medals from both the Royal Humane Society and the Board of Trade – such awards were not given out lightly.
On another occasion he was accompanying Lord David Kennedy on a seal hunting trip off Dinas Head ( this was the 1860s!!) – he tied the harpoon rope around his wrist and then harpooned a seal – he was towed overboard and through the water until eventually the seal tired because of his injury and Albert was able to be dragged back aboard. It was said that this was the most daring adventure of his life and was the talk of the County for many months.
In the great snowstorm of 1881, Albert had gone to Haverfordwest to collect a young governess. His coach got stuck in a drift in Letterston and so Albert bravely made his way on foot to the Harp to get assistance – upon his return it was discovered that the young lady had wandered off in the snow and it was only through the dogged persistence of Albert, that she was rescued and lived to tell the tale.
On another occasion, in 1903 Albert was returning from Crymych with his cob and dog cart and attempted to cross a swollen river at Pontyglasier (near Crosswell). Apparently he misunderstood the hand waving of the locals on the opposite bank – he though they were greeting him rather than trying to deter him entering the water! He was instantly washed away as was the horse and cart. By his immense strength, he managed to regain the cart but was again overturned minutes later and survived only by the efforts of the locals who helped pull him ashore.
It was said that until 3 months before his death he had never before been ill – he was a big man for the period, standing at over 5ft 10″ and much of the folklore about his life stems from his strength and physical appearance and his love of all things daring.
On the day of the funeral, as the coffin was being conveyed to the graveyard the skies opened up and a tremendous rain storm ensued. So much so that mourners were forced to take shelter under hedgerows. The graveside service could not be heard because of the heavy rainfall and a loud thunderclap was heard overhead. It was considered that the weather was a most fitting send off for one who had lived his life by braving “storms and tempests innumerable”
4-1-1894 The County Echo
HEROISM BY MR ALBERT FURLONG The following particulars of the heroism performed by Mr Albert Furlong, of Fishguard, appeared in the Haverfordwest, Telegraph, last week. In the early part of the month of February, in the year 1859; a terrible gale on the Pembrokeshire coast there was a vessel driven ashore on the coast near Fishguard, and two of the crew were seen to be clinging to a piece of rock separated from the main land. The lifeboat was launched but the violence of the surf was such that she was swamped. Scores of men were present, but rescue was considered impossible. Albert Furlong — then a young fellow of nineteen — made a resolve that he would swim to them with a line. The sailors endeavoured to dissuade him from his rash, purpose, and failing this ran away that they might not, to use their own words—” see him drown before their eyes.” He, however, after repeated failures, having been in the water about four hours, succeeded in rescuing them. For this heroic conduct he was awarded three medals—one from the Humane Society, another from the Lifeboat Association, and a third from the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society.”