This is a book that does exactly what it says on the cover, each page like a pinhole camera tightly focused on the detail of a particular story. And not just the stories surrounding CRM Talbot who built Margam Castle between 1827 and 1835, or his family who lived there from around 1836 until the death of his eldest daughter, Emily Charlotte, in 1918.
One of my favourite stories from the book has the 19th century exposé flavour of a 21st century tabloid newspaper. Groes village was built in the late 1830s to rehouse the inhabitants of old Margam village, a collection of houses that stood outside the gate of Margam Abbey and in the way of CRM Talbot's plans for an extensive kitchen garden. Groes was an architectural beauty but it seems that was less to do with Talbot's magnanimous intentions and possibly more to do with his architects:
The cottage and the Groes has been built to an absurdly expensive manner. The window joints and mullions, if made of wood, would have been just as good as Pyle stone. The superintendent throws the blame on Heycock and Eaton who positively deny the truth of his assertion. I wished the commonest sort of cottage that could be built. (p.42)
Let's hear it for Heycock and Eaton!
Glimpses of Margam Life is out of print but you can borrow copies at Port Talbot and Sandfields libraries or pick up your own second-hand copy from Amazon. I urge you to read it and enjoy many more glimpses into our town's rich past.