Goodwick Sands Beach
The little North Pembrokeshire town of Goodwick is not so well-known as its twin on the other side of the bay - Fishguard.
But, somewhat paradoxically, it is at Goodwick that Fishguard Harbour is situated together with the terminus of the former Great Western Railway line from Paddington to the western tip of South Wales.
Before the harbour and the railway were built in 1906 with the intention of accommodating trans-Atlantic liners in competition with Liverpool and Southampton, Fishguard was a flourshing herring fishery and busy trading port, and Fishguard Harbour was tucked into a narrow inlet on the opposite side of the bay from the present day Ferry Port. And Goodwick was just a small village with only a few houses and a fishing quay on the more sheltered side of the bay.
Old photographs show Goodwick with beached sailing vessels on the wide stretch of sand separating it from Fishguard, with no sign then of the breakwaters built later to develop the new port.
There were a few holiday guest houses along the shore at Goodwick for it was beginning to develop as a seaside resort for fashionable Victorians, but it was the building of the harbour and the extension of the railway line that kick-started its growth, with a new church and police station built in 1912.
The trans-Atlantic trade started in a small way with visits by the Cunard liners Mauretania and Aquitania, but the want of a deep-water quay and pressure from vested interests in the two rival ports, soon caused the pipedream to fade and the twin towns were forced to return to reliance on fishing and ferry traffic with Ireland.
Goodwick sands is still popular with families as its shallow, sheltered waters are ideal for bathing and messing about in small boats. Twice daily the Stena Ferries sail to and from Rosslare in Ireland, the large white vessels attracting shore watchers’ interest. Ferry passengers often take in the local tourist attractions and learn something about the area’s interesting history. Goodwick beach was the scene in February 1797 of the surrender of French troops and mercenaries who took part in the Last Invasion of Britain when they landed on the coast near Strumble Head. An undisciplined rabble, many of them convicts released for the occasion, they soon became so inebriated from their pillaging of the local rural farms and cottages on the Pencaer Peninsula that they quickly succumbed to the Pembrokeshire Militia. They were taken in, says local folklore, by the militant local women, led by a formidable woman named Jemimah Nicholas, a local shoemaker, who led the ladies on forays into the invaders’ territory, capturing some at the point of their pitchforks. They also fell for the cunning plan played out by Jemimah and her feminine foot-soldiers, who, clad in red Welsh flannel with tall black conical hats, marched round a hill at Fishguard deceiving the drunken French mercenaries into believing they were Militia reinforcements arriving.