picture shows Mr Arthur Coles of the Hanbury Hotel serving 'Billy
the Swan' his daily pint of ale. The picture and account below come
from Primrose Hockey's book "Caerleon Past and Present"
published by Starling Press, 1981, now unfortunately out of print:
"The tenant of the house (The Hanbury), Mr Arthur
Coles, found Billy half frozen on the slipway one cold February
morning in the early thirties. He took him inside, fed him and brought
him back to health. Billy decided that he liked his new home and
stayed. His favourite spot was in the old bar under the 'Old spit'
near the fire, but, on Summer evenings he stayed on the courtyard
in the front of the house. When he was hungry he would wander around
and rap, with his beak, on nearby doors asking for food. He was
so tame that he was never refused but he always returned to the
Hanbury in time for his evening glass of beer. He remained for several
years but, one day, disappeared and never returned."
Now, one swan looks like another to me
but it seems likely
that this is Billy on one of his jaunts (right). This photo was
sent to us by Steve Wilmot. Steve thinks it was taken in the 1920s.
The children and swan are standing in Isca Road, Ultra Pontem (The
Village). Behind them is Glanyravon Stores. Steve thinks the boy
is possibly Jim Cook. Jim was something of a character. He once
said that as a boy he had to cross Caerleon Bridge to get to school
- but he preferred to balance on the parapet wall rather than use
the pavement! Understandably, his family tried everything to get
him to stop doing this - all to no avail. Eventually he was made
to complete his education at Christchurch. We are left to wonder
what method he chose to descend Belmont Hill!
The two older girls are believed to be sisters
living in Glanyravon House. It is thought that the girl on the
end with her hand to her head was Glenys Hollister. We do not
yet know who the child in front is.
UPDATE 10th Feb 2016
We have heard from Marion Sillick in New Zealand: "I am Marion Sillick (nee Hollister) and lived in Glan yr Avon, Isca Rd, Caerleon. The photo with the swan was taken in 1935 when I was 4, Glenys was 3 and Wendy was 2. I do remember the Cook Boy and the Hanbury Arms. Our house is next to the shop which later became our coalshed.
We all crossed the bridge to go to primary school in Caerleon and later went to Pontypool County School for Girls.
In 1949 we emigrated to Australia.( Fred, Cess , Marion, Glenys, Wendy and Ian.)
I am now 84 and have lived in NZ since 1953. Ian also lives in NZ and Glen and Wendy still live in Melbourne."
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