What has happened to the smells of yesteryear, the days where you could walk down the street and tell near enough where you were by the smell? Passing the numerous bakehouses the smell of hot bread and cakes made you want to go in and buy. Nowadays it's wrapped in plastic and the smell has disappeared, and in some cases so has the taste. This was one of the many pleasant smells that can bring back happy memories.

Here are a few that evoke my memory and I hope yours too.

In Cardiff -

Coming off the train or from the bus station and walking up St. Mary Street, the smell of roast coffee from the Costa Rica Coffee Company at the corner of Mill Lane and St. Mary Street.

The KD (Kardoma) in Queen Street.

The smells from the Breweries in the area, Brains in Caroline Street, and Hancocks near the station at Riverside. Brains always smelt the better of the two.

Open a bottle of Sarsaparilla and the smell brings back memories of a trip to "Saspa Thomas's" shop in the Arcade in Cardiff.

In Barry -

The resinous smell of fresh cut timber from the sawmills, especially Meggitt & Jones on the Docks, and of fresh sawdust spread on the floors of some shops and pubs in the area.

The smell of tar and pitch used on the docks, and of tar when road mending took place in the town.

The smell of new mown hay from the numerous dairy farms in the area, which were getting in the winter feed for their cattle, and then later the smell of muck spreading taking place.

Walking over the Penny Bridge at Coldbrook sidings and through the smoke of coal being burnt by the steam engines shunting up and down below. Sometimes the coal being burnt smelt of the sea.

Fish shops had a smell of their own. Kippers were occasionally smoked on the premises, and shellfish were boiled, each having their own distinctive smell.

Cobblers shops and shops that sold leather had a smell peculiar to them, but it was not an unpleasant smell.

Mondays were wash days, when the old copper boiler bubbled away in the corner, filling the wash house with steam, with clothes being taken out with a dolly stick and allowed to drip or dropped into a tin bath until they cooled off sufficiently for them to be mangled.

The smell of schools, with their wooden floors being cleaned and waxed, then resealed with teak oil.

Smoke from the burning of wood fires when cash for coal ran out and a trip to the local woods or the beach was necessary.

Even the drains had a smell of their own, especially after they had been cleaned. Jeyes Fluid or coal tar disinfectant was the favourite.

The lane at the back of Main Street had a smell of its own. This was Penningtons Sweet Factory, with its particular brand of black and white mints. Mr. Pennington sold mis-shapes and scrumps to almost every child in Cadoxton. When the sugar was being boiled the smell pervaded the air around Cadoxton School, drawing youngsters, bees, and wasps to the factory in equal numbers.

In Vere Street, Winnie James' home-baked ham and faggots cooked over a wood fire had a smell and taste of its own.

Finally the smell of fish and chips, which must be the last traditional British smell left. On a fine summer's day, fish and chips being cooked on the Island could be smelt in Barry.


© T. CLEMETT 2000

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