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by Barrie Griffiths

  For those who do not know it, Kenfig is a tiny village in Glamorgan, located slightly inland from an earlier borough whose demise is directly attributable to the relentless invasion of sea and sand. An old legend tells of the medieval village under the lake, whose bells can be heard ringing on a windy night, below the waves. As the author of this book hastens to reassure us, that particular story is a complete myth.

  In recent years, a series of quality monographs has been produced by the Kenfig Society, which, its members would emphasise, is not a historical society but acts as an umbrella for various aspects of community activity. However, since the Kenfig area contains a number of features of historic interest in addition to the wonderful nature reserve, it would be surprising if their publications did not concentrate largely on the past.

   Like several of the Society's other monographs, Welcome to Kenfig is the work of Barrie Griffiths, and, the minute we open its pages, we recognise that we are in the presence of one who is not merely an enthusiast, but who is capable of imparting his enthusiasm to an audience. His written style, though marred by syntactical errors (like so many other private publications, this one suffers from lack of proof-reading), is lively and colourful, and draws us in from the very first paragraph. My instinct is that even those who have never heard of Kenfig and have no idea where it is could still find themselves hooked.

  The illustrations - which include drawings, black-and-white photographs, and maps - contribute much to the charm of this book, which, at 2.50, represents a real bargain, either for the holidaymaker or for anyone with a personal interest in the area. The content is wide-ranging, and is not limited to the discussion of historic landmarks such as Sker House and the ongoing excavation of the medieval town; Mr Griffiths also deals with the natural environment and gives a technical, yet easily comprehensible, explanation of how Kenfig Pool and its surrounding sand dunes were formed.

  One feature I found slightly irritating was the tendency to repeat pieces of information, such as the account of the 1971 court case in which local residents defeated the Margam estate, proving that the common lands around Kenfig Pool belonged to them and not to the descendants of their one-time overlords. Yet I do not think this repetition is caused by carelessness. It is presumably intended that a reader can pick up this short book and dip into an individual section without having to read through all the others. Personally, I don't think this is likely - simply because, once I had started reading, I felt no desire to stop until I had arrived at the last page. It would be difficult to think of a better recommendation.


No ISBN     Published by the Kenfig Society, 2002.

52pp, illustrated paperback    Retail price 2.50

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher