Shortly before 11pm on Saturday, February 12, Priscilla Davies’ attention was caught by a flickering light at the rear of the row of properties known as Lamb Buildings.
At the time she was completely unaware of the dramas which had infolded just a few minutes’ walk down the road at Star Stores and which would remain undiscovered until the following morning.
The block, a row of low cottages with a couple of larger buildings at the western end where Upper Station Road joined the valley road, had been built by Priscilla’s father William ‘The Lamb’ Thomas after he had taken out a lease on the plot from Lord Dynevor in 1874.
Over the following years, William had transformed himself for coal miner to property developer to Baptist minister.
The Thomas family were one of Garnant’s oldest, with William – who was born in nearby Llandybie on the outskirts of Ammanford in 1833 – setting up home at Nantmain Cottage on the valley road sometime in the early 1850s.
Priscilla was born in 1876 – the seventh child of the household – and married builder Thomas Davies in 1909. The couple had daughter Hannah in 1911 while living with at Anchor House, the detached property at the end of the row built by her father. Mary Ray had followed in 1915 during the young family’s short stay in the nearby town of Pontardawe.
By 1921 however, they had returned to Garnant and were back in one of the Thomas family properties – this time at Lamb House, next door to Anchor House – which was now being rented out to paying tenants at 18 shillings a month – and the building in which Priscilla had been born.
As Priscilla peered out through the window into the darkness on that cold February night she could see the source of the unmistakable flickering light.
It came from the rear of Anchor House, where despite the hour and much to her surprise, her neighbours were having a small bonfire.
It seemed however that the fire would not last long for, from what Priscilla could make out by the light of the dancing flames, all they were burning was a few rags.