Dylan’s Sketch of Llareggub

© Dylan Thomas Estate and the National Library of Wales. The sketch can be viewed interactively online at the National Library at


Some twenty years ago, the Dylan scholar, James Davies, wrote that “Thomas’s drawing of Llareggub is…based on New Quay.” There’s been very little dissent, if any, from this view. [1]

Dylan had lived there, in Majoda, for nine months in 1944-1945 but his first known visits to New Quay had been in the mid-1930s. He had an aunt and cousin in the town, and one of his patrons, Howard de Walden, lived just outside. Dylan also returned during the early 1940s, when he was staying a few miles away in Plas Gelli, Talsarn.

Dylan’s sketch matches the view of New Quay, looking across the bay from Majoda towards Pengraig hill, with the town lying below. The sea is on the right in the sketch, as it is in New Quay, looking from Majoda. In Laugharne, however, the river estuary is on the left of the Boat House.

New Quay, of course, is a fine example of a terraced, hill-side settlement. We can see from Dylan’s sketch that Llareggub is also terraced. Laugharne, on the other hand, was not. In Dylan’s time, Laugharne was essentially a piece of coastal ribbon development.

The shape of Llareggub Hill in the sketch is the shape of Pengraig hill. It is high and steep-sided. Sir John’s Hill in Laugharne, however, is low and flat, slug-like even, quite unlike the hill that Dylan drew.

Pengraig, New Quay

Sir John’s Hill, Laugharne

Carreg Walltog, New Quay, lying beneath Pengraig, aerial view

In his sketch, Dylan has drawn Heron Head as a rock at the foot of Llareggub Hill. This corresponds with Carreg Walltog (Hair Rock) lying at the foot of Pengraig in Cardigan Bay. Dylan’s drawing of Heron Head matches the triangular shape of Carreg Walltog.

Mr Waldo carrying on with that Mrs Beattie Morris up in the quarry.

Dylan’s sketch also includes a lovers’ path called Goosegog Lane crossing Llareggub Hill. This corresponds to the path in New Quay that left the end of Lewis Terrace and climbed across Pengraig towards New Quay’s quarry. It was popular with courting couples, as The New Quay Chronicle reported:

Should Cupid pierce the tender hearts of the lovely maidens and brave young men, the quarry
and the lonely cliffs form an unapproachable fortress to guard their faltering confessions. [2]

Lewis Terrace is the top terrace in the photo, with the path clearly visible as it rounds the headland. You can also see this path in the aerial view of New Quay taken in 1932 at Postcards and Photos of New Quay at https://sites.google.com/site/dylanthomasandnewquay/majoda-and-other-photos?authuser=0
It’s not all New Quay, of course. There are also elements of Laugharne and Ferryside in the sketch, namely Cockle Street and Curly Floyd the cockler. I have discussed this at Llareggub and the 1939 War Register at https://sites.google.com/site/dylanthomasandnewquay/Llareggub-and-the-1939-war-register?authuser=0

New Quay and Llareggub: Tops and Downs

Dylan’s sketch includes Donkey Down and Coronation Street:

Donkey Down: the Downs in New Quay is a piece of land that stretches up from the lifeboat station to the Black Lion. In Dylan’s time, and for long before, some of the town’s donkeys were grazed here, including Maisie, the Black Lion’s donkey. Donkeys, long used for pulling delivery carts in the town, were often found roaming the streets. They were almost as emblematic of New Quay as dolphins have become today. [3]

Further on from the Downs comes the town’s Coronation Park/Gardens, created in 1911 to mark the coronation of George V. The gardens can be seen in the 1950s black-and-white photo of New Quay at Postcards and Photos of New Quay at https://sites.google.com/site/dylanthomasandnewquay/majoda-and-other-photos?authuser=0.

Coronation Street: This street was in the script of Under Milk Wood given to the BBC in 1950, so it cannot be an allusion to the 1953 coronation.

In Under Milk Wood, Dylan describes Coronation Street as being at the top end of the town. In his sketch, the street includes Atilla the policeman, Butcher Beynon, Mog Edwards, draper of Manchester House, a school, Mr Pugh the schoolmaster, Mrs Organ Morgan groceress, the Sailors’ Arms, the Welfare Hall, and two chapels.

And that’s how it was in Dylan’s time in New Quay, as he walked along George Street and Margaret Street at the top of the town. At high tide, it would have been his route into New Quay from Majoda, first passing the police station, and then David Lewis, butcher of Cefnfor, the school, Mr Price the headmaster, Mary Evans, grocer of the Emporium, D.E. Thomas, draper of Manchester House, the Commercial pub (previously the Sailor’s Home Arms), the Memorial Hall and two chapels, Towyn and Bethel. [4]

Dylan has also placed “Ogmore P.” and Willy Nilly the postman living a few doors away from each other in Coronation Street. Ogmore Davies’ drapers shop was not on George Street/Margaret Street, but it was certainly at the top end of the town, on the corner of Church Street and Hill Street. Jack Lloyd the postman and town crier also lived at the top end of Church Street, in Noddfa (now Trenova) on the opposite side of the road from Ogmore Davies. For more on Jack Lloyd and his friendship with Dylan, see A Postcard from New Quay at https://sites.google.com/site/dylanthomasandnewquay/a-postcard-from-new-quay?authuser=0 Note [5].

There’s also fuller account of these people and shops in Thomas (2002) pp54-60.

From Cherry Jones, builder to Cherry Owen, plumber and carpenter

One of the most telling details in the sketch is the name of an actual New Quay man, Cherry Jones. He is shown as the occupant of a house in Cockle Street. Dylan also uses the name Cherry Jones in one of his drafts of the play. Dan Cherry Jones, as he was usually known, was a general builder in New Quay. He married Phyllis Cherry in 1933.

Dylan later changed Cherry Jones to Cherry Owen, who Dylan describes as a plumber and carpenter in an early list of Milk Wood characters. [6]

When was the sketch drawn?

The fact that Cherry Jones lived in Cockle Street in the sketch but had been moved (as Cherry Owen) to Donkey Street in the half-script given to the BBC in October 1950 indicates that the sketch was drawn before October 1950. Likewise, Ocky Milkman lives in a farm in the sketch but has been moved to Cockle Street in the BBC 1950 version.

It’s tempting to wonder if the use of the name “Cherry Jones” in the sketch suggests that it was drawn whilst Dylan was living in New Quay or in the years immediately after when he lived in Oxfordshire (February 1946-May 1949). This seems more than likely because we know that Dylan

  • used the names “Mrs Ogmore Pritchard” in his 1945 broadcast, Quite Early One Morning, and “No-good” (Boyo) in a 1944 New Quay letter-poem

  • read excerpts from the play in the summer of 1945 at a party in London

  • discussed the play and its characters with Philip Burton in the autumn of 1947

  • read extracts from the play in Prague in early March 1949

  • showed an unfinished draft of the play to Allen Curnow in October 1949.

The testimony from Prague, when taken with that of Philip Burton, indicates that some of the characters of the play were already in place by early March 1949: the organist, the two lovers who never met but wrote to each other, the baker with two wives, blind Captain Cat and the Voices. [7]

Where is Eli Jenkins?

In Under Milk Wood, the Rev. Eli Jenkins lives in Coronation Street, and he is in the half-script given to the BBC in October 1950. But he is not to be found on Dylan’s sketch, either on two-chapelled Coronation Street or anywhere else. Because Jenkins is a major character in the play, it seems unlikely that Dylan simply forgot to include him. So it’s possible that Eli Jenkins had not been conceived as a character when the sketch was made. This in turn suggests an earlier rather than a later date for its drawing.

Discarded Characters

There are three characters in the sketch who Dylan later discarded:

  • Mrs 22 living on Coronation Street

  • Shad at the end of Cockle Street and

  • Sarah on Donkey Street, who was crossed out and replaced by Lord Cut-Glass.

The presence of these three characters also suggests an earlier date for the drawing of the sketch.

Salt and Peppered New Quay

Perhaps one of the more puzzling aspects of the sketch is Salt Lake Farm on the top of Llareggub Hill. I was once happy with the suggestion that Dylan had taken the name from Salt House Farm in Laugharne, but I’m not at all sure now. This farm is not on top of Sir John’s Hill, but at it’s very bottom and on the other side from Laugharne.

I also find myself wondering why Dylan would have needed a prompt from the name of a Laugharne farmhouse in order to settle on the name Salt Lake. The city of Salt Lake in Utah and its dead salt lake would have been well known to him already, and well before his first visit there in early 1950. [8]

So I’m now inclined to think that, in placing Salt Lake Farm on the top of Llareggub Hill, Dylan was recalling the view from Pengraig of the great, three-sided salt lake that is Cardigan Bay. It wasn’t a dead salt lake, of course, but the salty grave of the long-drowned dead. Not just those sailors wrecked by storms and Hitler’s guns but also the dead of the drowned village and graveyard of nearby Llanina, which Ackerman has described as “the literal truth that inspired the imaginative and poetic truth” of Under Milk Wood. [9]

We might also consider that the Afon Halen (Salt River) flows into Cardigan Bay just a few hundred yards from Majoda, after descending through Cwm Halen (Salt Valley). Nearby are Rhydhalen Farm and Gilfach yr Halen, a secluded beach where salt smugglers once landed their cargo.[10]

Salt had played an important part in New Quay life. It was used for preserving fish catches for winter use, and for curing softwood timber in sailing vessels. The town had its own Salt House, a two-storied building near the pier which supplied most of the salt used in the town. Myra Evans has described being sent as a young girl to carry home blocks of salt in a pillow case. The Salt House closed in the early 1900s; by the time Dylan came to New Quay it had been incorporated into the Blue Bell pub which stood next door. [11]

New Quay’s lighthouse stood at the other end of the pier. Known locally as the Pepper Pot, it was destroyed by a storm in late February 1937, as was much of the pier. The Western Mail lamented the Pepper Pot’s destruction: it had “become almost an institution…the most picturesque landmark in Cardigan Bay.” New Quay, it warned, was in danger of being swamped by the sea, and becoming another Cantre’r Gwaelod, the sunken kingdom below Cardigan Bay. This could have been another fingerpost for Dylan on the path to Salt Lake Farm. [12]

A month later, Dylan was on his Welsh Journey, as he called it, travelling to Aberystwyth and Machynlleth. Perhaps he called in at New Quay on the way and saw the damage for himself. [13]

PS. Neither Salt Lake Farm nor its occupants, Mr and Mrs Utah Watkins, are in the 1950 BBC script. They first appear in the script for the performance in New York on May 14 1953.

Text © D.N Thomas 2021. Acknowledgements, Notes and References follow below.
First published at https://sites.google.com/site/dylanthomasandnewquay/dylans-sketch-of-llareggub?authuser=0

Pepper Pot lighthouse


I am grateful for the generous help of Sue Passmore, Griff Jenkins, Andrew Dally and Roger Bryan, as well as Dafydd Pritchard at the National Library of Wales, Mair Humphries at Ceredigion Archives and Terry Wells at Carmarthenshire Archives.

Images: My thanks to Roger Bryan (Pengraig Hill and the Pepperpot), Colin Shewring and Seren Books (Sir John’s Hill) and the Dylan Thomas Estate, J. M. Dent and the National Library of Wales (sketch of Llareggub).


[1] See Davies (2000) p103-104.

[2] New Quay Chronicle August 1902. You can clearly see the path and quarry on the historical OS maps for New Quay at https://www.peoplescollection.wales/locate Search for New Quay/Historical Maps/4th Edition (1938-1954).

[3] The Downs: mentioned in Passmore (2012) p11, and on the map on p44. Information also provided by Griff Jenkins.

New Quay’s donkeys: For more on New Quay’s donkeys, see Thomas (2000) p212, Passmore (2012) p114, and on Maisie see Passmore (2015) p378 and Wilkinson (1948) p131. For photos of New Quay’s donkeys, see Bryan (2012).

[4] Data on residents/shops on George Street and Margaret Street (Stryd Bethel today) from Griff Jenkins, the 1939 War Register, the 1945 Register of Electors and Passmore (2015). Eifion Price the headmaster lived in Voelallt on George Street. The Emporium and the school were at the junction of George Street and Francis Street. https://sites.google.com/site/dylanthomasandnewquay/map-of-new-quay-in-dylan-s-day?authuser=0

See the map of New Quay at this time at a Map of New Quay in Dylan’s Day on this site.

The Sailor’s Home Arms was often referred to as the Sailors’ Arms: see Passmore (2012) p43 and various reports found searching Welsh Newspapers Online. For example: “William Jones was charged by Mary Jones, Sailors’ Arms, New Quay, with having stolen a bottle of whisky.” Cambrian News May 16 1902.

The Sailor’s Home Arms was renamed the Commercial Hotel and then the Seahorse. Dylan mentions the Commercial in his letter to Margaret Taylor of August 29 1946. A photo of The Sailor’s hung in the bar of the pub until at least the late 1990s, when the landlord gave me a copy.

[5] In a drafton the other side of the sketch, Dylan has placed Ogmore-Pritchard and Willy Nilly living two doors away from each other.Jack Lloyd was John Lloyd Evans and he lived at Noddfa (now Trenova) at the upper end of Church Street. He is at Noddfa in the 1939 War Register and the 1945 Electoral Register, and can be found on page 200 of Passmore (2015).

[6] In 1933, Daniel Johnson Jones married Phyllis Cherry, the daughter of Walter and Edith Cherry of Brooklands (today Eastcliffe), Margaret Street, New Quay, and they lived for a while with the Cherrys in Brooklands. Following the marriage, Dan became known as Dan Cherry Jones. For more on Dan Cherry and Cherry Owen, see Thomas (2000) p218. Marriages Jun 1933 Jones Daniel J Cherry Aberayron 11b 80 (Free BMD).

[7] Quite Early One Morning was recorded on December 14 1944 and broadcast on August 31 1945.

For more on the London party, Philip Burton, Prague and Curnow, see The Birth of Under Milk Wood on this site.

[8] Mormons appear in Dylan’s 1943 broadcast, Reminiscences of Childhood. Throughout the 1930s, Salt Lake City was prominent in British newspapers, including the Western Mail, because of the attempts on the world land speed record by Malcolm Campbell and John Cobb. The activities of “the Welsh colony” in Salt Lake City were also covered by the Western Mail. Dylan gave a reading in March 1950 in Salt Lake City (see his letters to Caitlin of March 11 1950 and to Margaret Taylor of June 18 1950.)

[9] Ackerman (1998) p127.

[10] See Passmore (2012) p6 and


[11] Lewis (1988) p22. Myra Evans (1961) p14.

[12] Western Mail March 30 and April 6 1937. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantre%27r_Gwaelod

[13] On April 3 1937, just a month after the storm destroyed the Pepper Pot, Dylan left Swansea on his Welsh Journey. He visited Aberystwyth to see Caradoc Evans, and then went on to Machynlleth. See Thomas (2000) p43, Dylan’s letter to Keidrych Rees of March 26 1937, and his telegram to EmilyHolmes Coleman sent from Machynlleth on the evening of April 6.


J. Ackerman (1998 ) Welsh Dylan, Seren

R. Bryan (2013) New Quay: A History in Pictures, Llanina Books

J.A. Davies (2000) Dylan Thomas’s Swansea, Gower and Laugharne, UWP

C. Edwards-Jones (2013) New Quay Wales Remembered, Book Guild Publishing

M. Evans (1961) Atgofion Ceinewydd, CLC, Aberystwyth

M. Lewis (1967) Laugharne and Dylan Thomas, Dobson

W.J. Lewis (1988) New Quay and Llanarth

C.A. Page (1972) About Laugharne: The Home of Dylan Thomas, Five Arches Press

S.C. Passmore (2012) Farmers and Figureheads: the Port of New Quay and its Hinterland, Grosvenor.

(2015) The Streets of New Quay.

D. N. Thomas (2000) Dylan Thomas: A Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow, Seren

(2002) The Dylan Thomas Trail, Y Lolfa

W. Troughton (2006) Ceredigion Ship Wrecks, Ystwyth Books.

W. Wilkinson (1948) Puppets in Wales, Bles and also at Hand Puppets in New Quay on this site.