A Welsh coastal village used to be a thriving working-class community. But its proximity to beautiful Mediterranean-esque ocean views has attracted a new flock of homeowners, many of them paying upwards of $1.4 million to own a home and only visiting during vacation. Still, one of the town’s only remaining year-round residents resiliently hangs on to his family home and the town he knows from memory at this point.
The only ‘local, local’
When Norman Thomas moved to beautiful Cwm-yr-Eglwys on the southwest coast of Wales 55 years ago, the community was thriving with 62 farms, four or five grocery stores and, five pubs. These days, there are a very few jobs and he’s one of the only people who lives in the village year-round.
“Ten years ago it started going rough – there were no lights at night in the houses,” the 88-year-old widower told The Mirror. “It looks so dark and cold in the winter because there’s not many people.”
Thomas, who is a retired boat club steward, said it gets so quiet that “you can drive up the road with your eyes shut because there’s nobody on the road.”
“There are three houses occupied and I’m the only ‘local, local,’” he added.
The only other year-round residents are Elizabeth and Harry Broughton, who are also in their eighties and moved to the village in 1968.
But Thomas doesn’t mind. He lives in a four-bedroom home that overlooks a beach that has been in his wife’s family for over a century. He raised four kids there and enjoys the peace and quiet.
Accepting his neighbors
Thomas’ current neighbors are all holidaymakers who drive up to the coastal village for vacation. Some of the houses around him are worth over $1.4 million and as far as he knows no one else speaks Welsh.
“I speak Welsh to everybody!”Norman Thomas
Despite the disparity in ways of life, Thomas has no issues with the holidaymakers.
“They’re not doing any damage – in fact, they spend a lot of money here building better houses,” he told The Mirror. “We know everybody who comes here. They’re all nice people.”
Thomas is realistic. He knows there simply isn’t enough work to go around to support a larger, more permanent community. “There’s no work here at all, but there used to be when I was younger,” he said, adding that some in the community have to drive 40 miles to find work. “We had 62 farms sprawled out in the parish, and now there’s not a single milk producer. They’ve all given up because they couldn’t make it pay.”
Making peace with the changes of life
What Cwm-yr-Eglwys is going through is difficult to swallow for many, but it is inevitable with the changing times. Love it or hate it, change happens, and while Thomas might have preferred when his town was more bustling, he seems to have made peace with the way things are, and that’s admirable in and of itself.
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