Matt Houlbrook: mobile historian; beard growing, head shaving; occasional cycling.
Thomas Marriott sent this postcard of Mumbles Island and Bay to his wife and children at home in Mexborough, a small mining town in South Yorkshire. Thomas wasn’t on holiday: he had come to the Club Union Convalescent Home in nearby Langland Bay for respite — a brief stay to give his body at least some chance recover from the physical demands of working underground. Although the postmark is illegible, my guess is that he sent the postcard at some point in the mid-1920s. Originally known as Llan-y-Llan and built in grand style as the summer residence of the wealthy Crawshay family, the house was briefly part of the Langland Bay Hotel before it became a convalescent home for miners in 1922. Thomas would send a similar postcard in 1929: he wrote to his daughter Edna, by then in domestic service in Bradford rather than living at home, on the back of an image of Lake Windermere while he was staying in another convalescent home in Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria. What look like idyllic images of the English landscape and coastline are bitterly ironic markers of one workingman’s struggle with recurrent ill health and industrial injury.
This is what he wrote:
Dear Wife & Children
Arrived here safe about 8 o’clock going on nice its a grand place the photo is were we are close to sea hoping you & Children are all right writer a letter later just had photo Photo taken in a group Tommie
Neither Tommie’s visit to the Lake District nor his brief chance to take in the sea air made any real difference in the long-term: he died in 1936 when he was in his forties.