High living

Prior to his retirement, Cllr Peter Stock and I used to have good-natured arguments about which was the largest town in Pembrokeshire – Milford Haven or Haverfordwest.

Peter was keen to bandy figures around to support the county town’s claim, but they included the population of Merlins Bridge.

And, as it has its own community council, Merlins Bridge is no more part of Haverfordwest than Herbrandston is of Milford Haven.

So Milford Haven takes the prize which is why it has six members on PCC compared to Haverfordwest’s five.

However, during my investigations into Pembrokeshire’s various grant schemes, Old Grumpy has come across something of which Haverfordwest can justly be proud – the smallest four-storey house in Wales and probably the United Kingdom.

Plans for this unique property, which is on the site of the former Yard of Ale pub off Haverforwest’s High Street are reproduced below.

As can be seen, some 40% of the floor area is taken up by the staircase, and as that is roughly six feet wide you can make a fairly accurate estimate of the size of the four rooms.

Normally, this sort of ratio between living and circulation space would make a dwelling uneconomic, but, as I said above, this property had the benefit of a grant.

And the thick black walls on the plan are the outside walls of other buildings on the site so the only building involved is the cavity wall on the left.

Another reason this horizontally-challenged dwelling is of interest to Old Grumpy is that it is owned by Mr Cathal McCosker – dubbed the “Bedsit Baron” by the Pembrokeshire Herald because of his activities in Pembroke Dock.

Careful study of the drawings shows that, if you are having a quiet drink in the lounge and are overtaken by the need for a pee, you are faced with a trek down two flights of stairs to the nearest available loo in Bedroom 2.

And goodness knows what happens in the case of a fire on one of the lower floors.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, Pembrokeshire County Council provided a £25,000 grant for this dwelling and another £75,000 for the conversion of the other buildings in the yard into three less than salubrious “townhouses”.

There are those who believe that Mr McCosker’s apparently unlimited access to property improvement grants was the result of a close relationship with former chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones.

Fortunately, I am in a position to knock that particular conspiracy theory on the head because about three years ago when my socialist friend David Edwards put in a Freedom of Information request to PCC for the times and dates of meetings between Mr McCosker and Mr Parry-Jones he was told that the two men had never met.

The drawing below shows the general layout of the site.
The four storey townhouse is at bottom right.
The other three houses are labelled B, C and D