Local writer, Kerry Steed, took to the streets of Haverfordwest during festival week in July 2017, stopping to ask people their thoughts about the town – memories, descriptions, impressions – and writing these down.

These poems are composed entirely from the words and sentences collected. Some sentences are written as heard, others have been undone; words have been moved around and strung together like beads to create a different whole, but always the intention has been to stay true to the context and meaning in which they were originally spoken. (The poem Everything is written verbatim, as spoken by a very young member of the town’s community).

Thank you to all the people who gave their words to create the poems of Haverfordwest.

The Poetry of Haverfordwest was supported through Ideas Lab – a test-bed for arts and regeneration projects in Haverfordwest.


Stop Beautiful

And after a while you stop thinking about it,

of driving down the hill, seeing the castle,
and wasn’t it lovely to come and see
a castle surrounded by green.

After a while of going in and out,
of scurrying around, you stop thinking

of how it was special, that first Christmas,
with music and lights and the shops shut,
of how it was a special place to live.

You stop thinking

of when you came on holiday, and bunting,
there’s always bunting, and why people
come on holiday and never leave.

You stop thinking

of when you first came down, of liking
all the old architecture, and it seemed
that way, attractive, and it was, it was beautiful

beautiful buildings,
beautiful spires.

After a while of going in and out,
after a while of scurrying around,
after a while you stop thinking

it’s beautiful






Come for a walk!

We’ve just come for a walk
it’s a bit run down, but it’s still nice
walking around, around the castle
seeing the views around town, it’s nice

It’s a bit run down, but it’s still nice
down there, see all the little shops
seeing the views around town, it’s nice
down the Milford Road, seeing the Preseli’s

down there, see all the little shops
along the river, past the well, taste the water – take a bottle
down the milford road, seeing the Preseli’s
you want to go to fortune’s frolic for a walk

along the river, past the well, taste the water – take a bottle
walking around, around the castle
you want to go to fortune’s frolic for a walk
we’ve just come for a walk



I’m to be found here, away from the main
building, watching the river,
watching the progress of this tree –
in March it can be bare then suddenly it comes.

With the old old past, I’m to be found
with the castle and the churches, I’m to be found
with the priory, when it’s peaceful I’m to be found
sensing the history, remembering
picnics and tree swings and dens and hide and seek

and find me here with the river, when I was three,
when I was playing, when I fell in.

Find me connecting with the past,
driving past the house where
my grandmother was born here

born in Barn Street,
I’m to be found, still there,
it’s home.

And I’m to be found to be part of a place

of family, a community, close to people,
close knitted knowing everything
to be found about you about them,

and I’m to be found to be part of history
looking through what used to be,
just through looking
I’m to be found.

I’m to be found sitting here, people come, talk to me

come, come, come
I’m here to be found.



Waste some time
going to the shop
buying bubbles

Standing on the bridge
blowing bubbles

I like blowing

BUBBLES                                                        BUBBLES


bubbles                BUBBLES




I like blowing bubbles in town


Called to the Edge

And its river, a flowing heart,
bringing through the town a heart,
flowing the change of changing time
and the change of heart, and some time
fast and other time like treacle slow,
and walking along how I love and come to know
the wonderful, natural ebb and flow of the wild:
for we are wild beings and to nature held
to seek its texture, shape; to our need
to be uncontained: wildly we are called to meet
again and again with the edges of this place,
where cement meets water wild, a flowing space.

Here, meeting with our wilderness, exploring our edges, in the perfect quiet;
here, the flow, the change, and yes, the river, it’s the river really, its perfect quiet heart.


On paddling forward in the LABRAT canoe



Game of Skate

We used to skate on the multi-story
we got kicked out, that’s another story
now we live here, end of …

It means a lot, every teenager comes
and skates, enjoy themselves, skates and some
sit and chat s**t, it’s a place where you come

to forget when you ride, the stress, the s**t,
if you’re stressed you ride, it takes you out of it
riding over the rainbow, you get rid of it

it takes you out of the stress at home;
it feels like you’re floating, like being in your own
over the rainbow floating time zone.

It feels like gliding, like you’re gliding through,
when you’re riding, you’re being, you’re being you.
When you fall


it slams

slam skate slam, the whizz around
the skate bowl, slam, the skate around
the shout whizz slam of the skate park sound.

Swapping boards, swapping skills, it’s cool when your swapping,
when your swapping tricks and someone’s paying,
when you’re sponsored to do tricks, you know what I’m …

You know the scary ones they’ll try anything,
some people like me, don’t land anything
but we still enjoy the riding, gliding, it’s exciting.

Not a lot of fighting, but there’s rivalries and generations,
you got second, third and fourth generations;
you got us, and you got the parents don’t listen

to the rules, don’t check what their kids are doing
and the kids don’t look at where they’re going,
but it’s their place, too, so we won’t do



There’re scooters and skaters and bikers and twelvies,
there are too many kids, and they’re like bees,
the park is filled with scooters and bees.

It’s the best thing but people disrespect it
they take it for granted, abuse and use it
but it’s the best thing this park we



We come here every day, every other day,
basically live here every other day,
we love this park
whizz slam skate
love this park
glide ride skate
love this park
rainbow skate
love this park


Down Town, Up Town

We like the top of town

walking down

the steps

to the High Street

the High Street

going up

an escalator

useful to have

It would be


Thank you, ta

I love walking down the road, imagining what it used to look like…

The streets bustling with all the characters,
the hustle, there’d be so many characters.

…my brother, called Milko, and Jimmy Lightening the Barber – his half price haircuts, you’d pick them out at a hundred yards. And when they were building on Trafalgar Road and timber came off the lorry, a young boy, he crawled out; got known as Dai the Rat for crawling. Quick Dick was famous, like the clappers going round the town, so quick cleaning the roads he was. And Dai the goat, the town cryer. And Doughie Thomas the Baker, and…

The beauty of it, of nicknames;
I’ve a list, somewhere in boxes,
everyone had nicknames.

I love walking down the road, imagining…

everyone walking down the road speaking to everyone else.

…my father worked in the post office, in the back of the old post office. Everybody knew everyone else…

…my parents owned a shop, a leather goods shop; we lived above, on Bridge Street…

I love walking down the road, imagining…

Bridge Street, High Street,
walking down the streets bustling with all the shops,
the hustle of busy roads, and lots of shops, every sort of shop.

…the butchers and little supermarkets, and years ago House of Hobson’s sweet shop, and the black and white of the newsagent, and Deveroes outdoor gear, and household wares in a tin hut. Joey Harries the Chemist, all sorts of bottles and apothecary stuff, real old fashioned and dark, if you couldn’t get anything there you couldn’t get it anywhere….

And years ago, and oh

…you used to drive over the old bridge, and oh, what was her name, on the old bridge, the scary old lady who ran the sweet shop. And the tobacconists, the Maypole shop and Mackenzie’s toyshop. Where Superdrug is, it was Woolworths, and then Woolworths where the pound shop is, and the shop called Thank you, ta, that’s what they always said, you see, Thank you, ta…

And years and years ago and oh

…gas lamps and a man coming to light them and two way traffic and…

I love walking down the road, imagining what it used to look like.


Very English

i. The Historian
The castle is here
because over there

is Wales

Over there, past Withybush,
that’s where all the Welsh are:
Edward 1st was controlling the Welsh.

The embankment,
keeping the Welsh out,
opposite Lidls there’s twelve foot


is Wales

ii. The Tourists
So many English,
we’ve always found that
compared to other towns
very English.

iii. The Schoolgirl
I went to Fenton School, it was very English. Welsh was frowned upon. On St. David’s day my mother put me in a Welsh costume, there was no one else. One teacher spoke Welsh, I’d be sent to that teacher. I wanted to lose my Welsh and be the same as everyone else.



Before the Reformation,
the Church disassociation;
the Guilds moving down town,
the town used to be
run from the top
of the hill.

The whole street is going down the hill,
St Mary’s Church, literally, it’s sliding…

down hill
run down.

No work, see
only come in to use the bank
nothing here, nowhere to go

sad to see
shops closing
used to be thriving
empty shops used to be
all full.

Awful parking
at the end of the road
at the end of the day
it’s awful.

Used to be different,
it’s different
from when I was younger,
I mean
used to
enjoy coming here
used to
hang out
used to
come here all the time.

I’m made to come into town.

It’s a shame,
it’s lost
in the building up of it,
it’s lost
character, heart, beauty,
its tradition lost
in town planners apathy.

They’ve lost its character, heart, beauty.

Don’t look too deeply: it’s dying.

It’s dead.

Can you
the spirit?

towns are changing,
can Haverfordwest change?

I’m hoping
its reincarnation
is special,
even though
it will be


Open Heart

Open it up! Open the streets, the shop fronts, do up
what we’ve got: what we’ve got, it’s historic: the harbour,
the medieval guild houses, the magnificent Georgian buildings. Open them up!

Bring back the life! Bring back the shops; bring life
into this lovely square; this town’s design that can flow,
that reflects the river, its dynamic. Bring back the life!

Weave the colour! Paint the history, with the colour
splashing by, weave it through the structure, see again the beauty,
lift the fading neglect, weave the colour!

Encourage inspiration! Encourage community things, getting together things; inspiration
for all different, developing tiny things: people want to come,
to find something, start to see and do something. Encourage inspiration!

Look for the keys! The keys to make things happen: the keys
they’re the people, getting together, getting involved, getting positive.
The people are key to the vision, to the new booming explosion. Look for the keys!

Be proud! People shy away, think it’s shabby but be proud.
It’s resting at the moment; we’re going to wake it up, going to pull it’s socks up;
we’ve got stuff to do. People be proud!

Feel the heart! People of Haverfordwest have good will, have heart.
People of Haverfordwest, the heart is here, walk through the town,
sense the heart, take heart, love this place. Feel the heart!


Hidden Depths

The town, she thought, was like a treasure hunt. It was part of the charm of the place, its slow revealing of its hidden gems. She was constantly discovering the hidden walking, the unexpected places and the beautiful views out of nowhere. And there were so many charity shops, she just didn’t know what she was going to find – the other day she’d come out with a brand new pair of sandals. Sometimes she’d not look that hard, just park up near the river, look out the window; maybe see the seals that reached the weir; there were otters one day. There were too many pigeons – she’d once watched one chase a crisp packet across the square. She’d look above shop fronts to see the real buildings, the original buildings. So much had happened here, and she’d look for what she could see from ancient times. There were so many little places along the river bank all the way to Sammy Candle’s ruins. And the Priory, the wall at the back with the old door, there was something about that wooden door, it was leading somewhere…
Getting to know this town was like a romance but, after a while, just as when you get to know another person, she began to note the odd things; she discovered  where the town hung out its dirty washing. She found herself calling the town Harford instead of Haverfordwest. And she knew then that she’d served her time, become a local. And she wondered what would happen if she kept on looking…



You want to see everything
the river and the ducks and the castle
that’s where everyone might see me
where they might wave at me
I’d wave back and be a princess


Drink It All In

But if you sit back, drink it all in,
look at the architecture, the history, drink it all in.

County Hall is lovely: the shape of it, the turrets, reflecting the castle.
What other town can you sit underneath a castle, drinking it all in?

This town it’s a sanctuary for me, after being at war:
the pace, slower, the river, lovely; I can sit, relax, drink it all in.

I used to love the raft race, when the river had steps, all the steps leading down,
they’d be crowded, the town brought together, watching the race, drinking it all in.

The Friar’s used to be full of the Navy, it was the place to be; the Bristol Trader,
I knew everyone – ‘Be careful her ex-husband’s over there,’ drinking it all in.

When the sun shines, when you see the town full of people, makes you realise
it’s not as bad as you think; it’s nice to see so many people drinking it all in.

How exciting Bridge Street was as a child, the pet shop with a miniature alligator;
back then you’d drive along Bridge Street, drinking it all in.

We should have the carnival: the carnival was huge, full of people decorated;
you’d go with the family, drink it all in.

It’s a bit old fashioned, that’s the charm, charming is the right word to use;
it’s not perfect but that’s what makes it so nice, drinking it all in.

We can look shabby but it’s been around for ages; look at the buildings,
they’re beautiful. Sit back, watch the town changing around you, and drink it all in.


The Boys and the Girls

I was a kid then, free and easy, the times
and all the places: up at the parade, the tennis courts;
the naughtiness and the frolic; after the dances all
down that riverside way, the courting boys and the girls.
The free time spent down and up onto the hills;
the everything happening time at the race course – there were larks and such wild-life.
A kid then underneath the railway bridge climbing;
up the castle climbing, and soccer in the meadow – was there a nicer place to play football?
By the brook, to the ruins, the walking boys and the girls,
here some fellow lived – don’t s’pose many remember.
The thirteen hundred seat cinema, I remember,
the dance hall, at the top, the cafes and shops, I remember all
Pembrokeshire’s dancing girls and boys – take your feet off the floor,
all the boys, the girls carrying you along.
And all there in caravans, big trailors, the wintering
fair boys and girls coming to our school for a few weeks,
every year, the going down Barn Street float after float carnival,
I’d wave at them. We’d wave.
And the husbands and the wives waving
to the waving boys and the girls,
when a free and easy time,
when I was a kid.