Fishguard shown within Pembrokeshire
|OS grid reference|
|Community||Fishguard and Goodwick|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Mid and West Wales|
|UK Parliament||Preseli Pembrokeshire|
|Welsh Assembly||Preseli Pembrokeshire|
Fishguard (Welsh: Abergwaun, meaning "Mouth of the River Gwaun") is a coastal town in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, with a population of 3,419 recorded in the 2011 Census. The community of Fishguard and Goodwick had a population of 5,043 recorded in the 2001 Census and 4,869 in the 2011 Census.
The actual town of Fishguard is divided into two parts, the main town of Fishguard and Lower Fishguard. Lower Fishguard (locally known as 'Lower Town') is believed to be the site of the original hamlet from which Fishguard, as seen today, has grown. It is situated where the River Gwaun meets the sea in a deep valley, hence the Welsh name for Fishguard. It is a typical fishing village with a short tidal quay. The settlement stretches along the north slope of the valley.
The main town contains the parish church, the High Street and most of the modern development, and lies upon the hill to the south of Lower Fishguard, to which it is joined by a steep and winding hill. The western part of the town, facing Goodwick, grew up in the first decade of the 20th century with the development of the harbour.
Fishguard is within the historic Welsh cantref of Cemais, and part of the Welsh province of Dyfed, within the historic Principality of Deheubarth. The coasts of Wales were subject to Norse raids during the Viking Era, and in the latter part of the 10th century Norse trading posts and settlements emerged within Dyfed, with Fishguard established sometime between 950 and 1000 AD.
The town name Fishguard derives from old Norse fiskigarðr meaning "fish catching enclosure", indicating that there may have been a Scandinavian trading post, although no evidence has been found. Called "Fiscard" until the turn of the 19th Century when the name was "Anglicized", it seems Fishguard was a marcher borough and in 1603 was described as one of five Pembrokeshire boroughs overseen by a portreeve. The Norman settlement lay along what is now High Street between the church at its north end and the remains of a Norman motte at its south end. Lower Fishguard developed as a herring fishery and port, trading with Ireland, Bristol and Liverpool. In the late 18th century it had 50 coasting vessels, and exported oats and salt herring. In 1779, the port was raided by the privateer Black Prince, which bombarded the town when the payment of a £1,000 ransom was refused. As a result, Fishguard Fort was completed in 1781, overlooking Lower Fishguard. The port declined in the latter half of the 19th century.
Fishguard's ancient Royal Oak pub was the site of the signing of surrender after the Battle of Fishguard in 1797, the last successful invasion of Britain, when a force of 1,400 French soldiers landed near Fishguard but surrendered two days later. The story is told in the Fishguard Tapestry created for the 200th anniversary to emulate the Bayeux Tapestry, and displayed in the Town Hall Library. The 19th century vicar of Fishguard, the Rev Samuel Fenton, wrote the book 'The History of Pembrokeshire'. The ancient Parliamentary Borough of Fishguard was contributary to the Borough of Haverfordwest. In 1907, it was created an urban district, which included Goodwick from 1934 until it was abolished in 1974. During the Second World War, the Fishguard Bay Hotel was Station IXc of Special Operations Executive where submersibles were tested in Fishguard Bay.
The town is situated at the back of a north facing bay known as Fishguard Bay (Welsh: Bae Abergwaun) which offers protection from waves generated by prevailing westerly winds. It has a relatively mild climate due to its coastal position. The winds coming from the west or south-west have a determining influence on temperature and precipitation.
Wildlife around Fishguard is rich in flora and fauna: it shows a wide variety of colourful wild flowers and sea mammals including the grey seal, and even porpoises and dolphins. The local birdlife include Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank and Sanderling regularly foraging in the lower fishguard harbour and European Stonechat, Great Cormorant and Northern Fulmar can be seen from the coastal path.
According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, Fishguard had 3,193 inhabitants and 1,465 households. In 2001, 39.8% of the population could speak Welsh. This compares with 58.9% in 1951 and 90.3% in 1901. The population of 3,193 breaks down as follows:
Outside Fishguard there is a stone monument commemorating the signing of the Peace Treaty after the last invasion of Britain in 1797. Women dressed in Welsh costume are said to have startled the invaders. Also there is the 19th-century parish church of St Mary's containing the grave of the heroine Jemima Nicholas. There is also a Bi-Centenary memorial stone monument in West Street, Fishguard to commemorate the Invasion. A tapestry was created in 1997 to commemorate the invasion and can be viewed free of charge in Fishguard's Town Hall.
Fishguard has many hotels and is the main shopping town of North Pembrokeshire with a busy Thursday market in the Town Hall.
Fishguard hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1936 and 1986.
Fishguard has a thriving Round Table with 20 members doing all sorts of good work including running the Fishguard & Goodwick Carnival which has been voted the most popular community event.
The Gwaun Lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, is also a thriving charitable organisation within the community who host a number of sponsored events and other community works throughout the year thanks to the influx of younger brethren to the Order.
Fishguard has a 180-seat cinema/theatre called Theatr Gwaun which provides a venue for film, music and live theatre.
Enwogion / Celebrities
- Jemima Nicholas (1755-1832), arwraig / rounder-up of drunken Frenchmen in 1797
- Willie Thomas (1866-1921), chwaraewr rygbi / rugby player
- Arthur Wade-Evans (1875-1964), hanesydd / historian
A regular ferry operated by Stena Line leaves for Rosslare in Ireland from the port of Fishguard Harbour (not actually in Fishguard, but a mile away at Goodwick). Fishguard is the terminus of the A40 London to Fishguard trunk road. It is on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Fishguard is served by Arriva Trains Wales from Fishguard Harbour and Fishguard and Goodwick stations.
In the media
Fishguard has acquired a reputation, especially within Wales, as a result of "Hugh Pugh", a comic character in the Welsh TV series Barry Welsh is Coming, who reports from Fishguard and constantly points out the rivalry between Fishguard and Haverfordwest.
Lower Fishguard was used as "Llareggub" in the film of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O'Toole. Many local people were involved in the production of this film as background characters.
- Mark Delaney, footballer, grew up in Fishguard
- Cerys Matthews, lead singer, Catatonia, went to Fishguard High School and now lives locally
- Jemima Nicholas, single handedly captured 12 French soldiers in 1797, armed only with a pitchfork
- Fishguard Ward, 2001 census
- Davies, John, A History of Wales, Penguin, 1994, foundations of pgs 17,19, 43, Migration of the Desi into Demetia, page 52 Demetia 17, 30, 34, ruling house of 52, 72, 85, 87, and the Vikings pages 85, relations with Alfred of Wessex, page 85, and the Vikings/Northmen page 98, and the Normans 106, 112, 114
- Charles, B. G., The Placenames of Pembrokeshire, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1992, ISBN 0-907158-58-7, p 50
- Charles, ibid, p xxxvi
- Owen, George, The Description of Penbrokshire by George Owen of Henllys Lord of Kemes, Henry Owen (Ed), London, 1892
- Barrett, J. H., The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, HMSO, 1974, ISBN 0-11-700336-0, p 44
- Sites and Stones: Fishguard Fort, Pembrokeshire
- Latimer, Jon (12 July 2003). "The Battle of Fishguard: The Last Invasion of Great Britain". Retrieved 7 May 2009.
- historic-uk.com An historic account of Fishguard
- Photographs and description from Strolling Guides
- Panoramic photograph looking down into Lower Fishguard
- Fishguard Music Festival