The photographic series Jacob’s Ladder aims to capture the past movement of working people in the rural port of Fishguard and Goodwick, West Wales.
A poem accompanying the photo series by Zillah Bowes
The path slips down, its gravel browning
with pinheads of moss dropped by the sun
through winter bracken-fern-bramble, line
crossed by the green breakwater, previously
the red before the north and east lights were
switched they said last night in the rugby club.
The bay seems to rock the dormant string
of lamp posts, missing only a casing and bulb
or two, as if they’ll amber-awake at dusk.
These strewn rocks, were they always here
or did someone roll them, weekend boys
fifty years ago playing football then down
to the ball alley, hollow concrete reservoir
on the cliff edge. This cut branch was right
here last week, un-knocked by the storm.
Cream-grey lichen on a knee of rock, shine facing
the sea and opposite headland, wind coming in
from somewhere I don’t know, its past mixing
with me here, the people who built the harbour
and Alan’s dad who walked first the wooden then
the concrete steps to guard the train to London.
This view over, over. A new incomer understands
the old pride here: 32 cruise liners this summer!
I instinctively think bus when Jan says they ship
them off to places like St Davids for the day. We’re
above the passing-through, looking beyond. Sea. Dai
walks Humphrey down to the port with the gate key.
Ferry once a day. Stop-start of traffic below. Kinship
on a level with Dinas Island. The main village road
even with fences, the back road bowed with DIY walls.
Directly above Fishguard Harbour, Harbour Village was built to accommodate railway workers during the construction of the harbour, which opened in 1906 for ferries to Ireland and then further afield. Descendants of the first residents still live in the village. On completion of the railway to London, the Cunard Line sailed between New York and Fishguard for a number of years.
The steps at the end of the path from Harbour Village down to the harbour are known locally as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. See the photography series accompanying this poem here.