Today, “Pilton House” is arranged over three storeys, and comprises the right-hand half of a semi-detached house, as seen in the adjacent photograph.
Around c1893, and long before the property was a twinkle in its builder’s eyes, Francis Frith – the Victorian pioneer of Travel Photographs – appears to have commissioned at least one photograph to be taken within the historic village of Newton (Gower).
As to whether the Photographer employed by Frith was possibly M.A.Clare, of Mumbles, has yet to be proven, although there do appear to be two identical versions of a c1893 photograph showing the village from the Nottage Road end. One of the photographs just states “Newton” and is freely available, whilst the other doesn’t state anything as to its location (N.B. the latter is part of the present-day Francis Frith Library Collection. and can be seen (and/or purchased) here (N.B. the image shown below, appears to have been the version taken and sold by the local photographer).
Examination of the photograph clearly highlights how the ‘southern’ end of Newton village appeared approximately 130 years ago (i.e. c1893).
Where the Photographer stood with his camera (on a tripod) is now known as Southward Lane, whilst the ‘road’ leading out of the picture, to the left, is now named Nottage Road.
The road which appears in the bottom right-hand side of the photograph, and then goes past white-washed front walls of cottages, is Newton Road, whilst back in c1893, three ‘landmarks’ of that period have now long gone, having been replaced by properties constructed in the early part of the 1900s.
Of those ‘landmarks’, the rough ground to the left of the image (i.e. above the word ‘Newton‘) is now taken up by a high wall, behind which is a raised garden, and an imposing large property. Although – judging from old maps of the area [input co-ordinates of 260500; 188000 for Newton] – the property was possibly constructed in the late 1800s, its high wall appears to have been added post-1900. Whilst its construction greatly reduced the width of the road (now named Southward Lane), such was probably of no significance at the time, as motor vehicles were in their infancy, and walking was the main means of local transport. However, the raised garden (behind the wall) probably meant that the owners of the house could then enjoy a garden at the same level as the house!
Another ‘landmark’ of the time, long gone by the early 1900s, was a ‘small’ farm. Known locally as “Bidder’s Farm“, it isn’t presently known whether the farm derived its name from its original farmer or occupier, or from a different source.
Certainly – according to several Newton (Oystermouth) Censuses – there had been a Farmer named John Bidder in the village, and he and his family were shown on the 1841, 1851 and 1861 editions. Although in both 1841 and 1861 he was just said to be a ‘Farmer’, on the 1851 Census, his occupation was somewhat extended to “Farmer of 10 Acres“. It’s rather a leap in the dark however, to say that John Bidder and his family actually lived at “Bidder’s Farm” and thus had ‘given’ their name to the farm, without anything to definitively prove such, so until the proof becomes available, the origin of farm name’s has to simply be conjecture.
What is more certain however, is the existence of not only a (strategically placed?) farm cart outside the farm, it being in the middle of the original photo, but also (and a magnifying glass is required for this) there appears to be a person (milking a cow?) to the right of the cart! (both are best viewed on the original photograph, as opposed to digital versions, due to the amount of definition afforded by the former).
The third ‘landmark’ of the original photograph (seen below, on the left-hand side of the page), shows two men who appear to be standing by some steps. Behind them is what appears to be a ‘walled enclosure’, whilst to the right of the latter, and adjacent to the road, appears to be a ‘ditch’, with an open ‘drain’ to its side.
As can be seen from the image at the beginning of this page, “Pilton House” and its adjacent property was, post-c1893 (when the photograph to the left was taken), constructed on the site where the ‘walled enclosure’ and the ‘ditch’ once stood.
Two years after we purchased the property (in 2000), a major transformation to the property took place between 2001/2002, one major change seeing “Pilton House” being turned into a three-storey previously only two-storeys high) property.