What a fascinating history exists around Hael Farm Cottage in the old Parish of Pennard in the late eightenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Aptly named Brandy Cove and Pwlldu Bay were ideal beaches to land contraband being largely concealed from observers on top of the cliffs. Contraband was landed and carried by pack horse up Bishopston valley to Hael Farm Cottage, Great and Little Highway farms to be secreted in hidden cellars.
For years the smugglers were untouchable by the Customs men and there are many tales of them being outwitted by the guile of the smugglers. The “Mr Big” of smuggling was Arthur Griffiths.
One story about Arthur’s resourcefulness relates to a lieutenant and two officers who called to Highway Farm with a search warrent. On finding a keg of “best geneva” brandy the officers were despatched to requistion a horse to take the evidence away together with Arthur, now under arrest. Fearing that the keg might some way or another disappear the lieutenant sat on it and waited for the return of his subordinates.
Meanwhile Arthur instructed his servants to create a terrific dim under the loft while he drilled an augur hole through the floor and into the keg, thereby draining the liquor. The lieutenant stayed tight believing that the din was created to entice him away from his capture. When the officers returned and proceeded to handle the keg, much to their dismay they found it empty. No recourse was left to them other than to retreat ignominiously.
However all good things come to an end and Arthur Griffiths was “busted” a few years later when the Customs men found his hidden cellars at Little Highway and Great Highway farms, in all confiscating over 3000 gallons of strong brandy. The gang was broken up and as excise duties were reduced smuggling lost its attraction and the good folk of Gower and Pennard returned to more legitimate activities……….. like tourism!!
Sadly there is no more brandy secreted at Hael Farm Cottages, and if you take the wonderfully picturesque walk down the valley to Pwlldu expecting refreshment at on of the two hostelries which existied in Pwlldu you will be disappointed because they have long since closed and reverted to domestic residences, but the walk is still woth it!!.
I am indebted to the very excellent publication by Heaher Holt “Pwlldu Remembered” for the information in this blog. It’s well worth the read, and a copy can be found at Hael Farm Cottages