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, ON TRAMP IN NORH WALES

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ON TRAMP IN NORH WALES THE "SPIKES" AND "DERRICKS" OF HOLY- WELL, ST. ASAPH AND CONWAY AND THEIR OCCUPANTS. (By an Amateour Casual). I well remember the first time I ever heard that curious word "derrick" aieizitioned. It was in Gloucestershire, and I was only just setting out on my long journeys to investigate and learn something of the curious existences led by these norocvds of the "Main Drag"-t.-he Tramps. "Go-in' inter the deniok, kidit" asked a stout. weli-buiit tiiynp, whetto clothing was a true medley, and whose skin was tanned and coarsened by all kinds of weathers. "Derrick;" I repeated interrogatively. "Ay, derrick, spike, grubber, which yer like." Then seeing that 1 dt-ill did not understand lie jerked his thumb towards the workhouse, for it is by these three curious terms that Lhe casual or vagraart ward of a workhouse is known to the teamp. Mudh has recently been written respecting- the tramp pest1 in Wajeo. As one who has Tawsit-iy viateci many oasuail wards both in Eisglaaid Mr<1 Wales it certainiy appears oorrect tii-st ;r,A&y parts of Wales are over-run with tramps, ahieifsy m the writer's opinjon beeauce of the "easy- going spikes" and the kindheartodnesg of the Welsh pooipOe towards tiiese nomads. I loc-all a "roadster" in St:;fT-ordaiv.ine telling me tliat ILe was downright sick of bread and butter and bread and cbococs. "I've been stuiied with this all week," he said; "now if I was to go inter J WCG, I sfiiouki get plenty er meat." He meant tlnat his bagging propensities in Stafford- Sibro were only rewarded with bread and butter or chee»s, whereas m Wales he ooukl have ob- tained meat, and indeed I have seen tramps bring into some of the casual wards in Wales bug- parcels of food together with tea and sugar witih whieili twi eke out the woekh-cfase tare. However, it is my endeavour in this article to iiriefiest the readers of the "Pioneer'* by re- lating eometrihiaig- of ivitat I saw whilst staying in the "Spikes" of HdyweM^ St. As-aph, and Conway all of which are on the l'Dr~g (road) that tho tearnp takes wh<m patronising Nortli Wales. At each of the three plaoee mcuitlcned it is nec- oe,sc,iry for the tramp before he can enter the oasooi ward' to visit at 6 o'clock m the evening the p,I,, S'bation. oj the respective towns. Here his 71 a .a: ^erapaticai, age, height, ocrnplex-ion, dieatLi.ai •„», .etc., are taken down and then he is given a ticket of admission. This ticket is similar to the one below. 64. July 24, 1910. To tihe Master Workhouse, Pfesaae admit John Smith, AGE 49 TRADE labourer, HEIGHT, 5ft. 10 ins., OOivlPLEXlON fresh, TRAVELLING FROM Holywell to ,y Lim, St. Asarh to the Night Asylum, TIME, 6.10. Signed. It is only by this ticket that he can gain a night's shelter. Of oour.e the tramp boasts aHaiicet as mei-iy names as there are Saiiits in the calentdar, but usuaEy he only possesses one trade. If he soUi -hintseM down as a. La bower, you can generally dtepend) he is a regular tramper of the highways and byeways. For a tramp will work ooiiiebi'mes. lis wild hold oil to a job for several days until a few shilli-D.gs are due to him, then draw tfLa b.t of wealthy stop at some low tavern until he's spent it, then "bad with the beer" as lie expresses it once more takes to the road. I have oil inoro tli;&ii. OJIC ocoaejon ooai-e- across tramps on the verges of delirium tremens, a menace to tivemselves, 8-nd certainly a grave danger to unprotected pei'tions. THE CASUAL WARD AT HOLYWELL. But let us look at Holy -veil "Spike." On en- tesing I handed! in my ticket, end undressing, roiled my clothes into a. bundle. Then cajrrying these aaul my possessions, I was conducted to a small cell-like compartment, on tlie fleer of which lay a small bicck of wood, and two rugs. The bloek was my piKow, the wooden floor my bed. and the rugs my covering. After en- deavouilii'g to find tlie softest spot in the Doards I gave it p, a.n welcomed sajppex, which con- histedi of a pint of fair broth with bread. The folloivin.g morning I awoke with pains in the hmbs as if I had suffered the tortures of thc- rock, but a rapid bJt of exercise soon aeciled theoe. Seven o'clock came, and with it break- fast, consisting of about a pint of skihy (gruel) amid biead, then, afterr dresaing I prepared for work. There was only nine of us; of these, 5 were got to brea.k a tanall quantity of stones, a task moist of them performed .im an hour, whilst I and three others went out into the yard and sawed wood until abooit 10 o'clock wnen we were allowed to go. "A rough lay down," Holy- well! Qtsual Ward1 may be, but thetra.mp should have notliing to complain of the treatment. Two days aiterwardb I journeyed to the little Cathedral City of St. Ac.aph and SpGut. a night in the spike there. Høre- the- -guardians' hearts have rejoiced1 lately at tho diminution of the tramp element into St. Asaph. It is accounted for by the good weather and- the hay-making season. These two factors have much to do with the difference in the figures, but there are many tra.mps also "skippering it" (sleeping out). At least, six slept the other night in a hay- ahed not 200 yards from the workhouse. "FREE AND EASY" AT ST. ASAPH. St. Asaph Casual Ward) io a veritable and Easy: One sf.rolls into it" lights his pipe, brews his tea. mixes with his felJows and generally makes himself at home. The sleepnig aecom- m<«Iation oaneists of three rooms, one of which is devoted to female vagrants. When I entered I took up my bed, a large padded quilt, and settled Oil): a laived bench to hold- nine sleepers. Supper ooaislsted of broth with bread, and this consumed and pipes lighted, the conversation of the eight in my room waxed1 voluble. Often it was very vivid, full of expletives, and -the awing of many counties. One related his adven- tures in a certain village, how he had hood- winked a. policeman, then expressed his opinion of that useful body in no measured terms; another gontly oonhdled to his bed-mate, the secrets of the road; .he was to follow on the morrow, how this shop waa good, for a penny, how that house never refused food, how to avoid the man in blue, and where to obtain tea. Two others; cursed loudly as they spoke of certain "spikes" where the porter, had been down on them, whilst in a corner a literary inclined tramp read aloud) extracts from scraps of old newspapers picked up on the road. It was nearly ten o'olook before quietness fell on the placv, but not for long, for axi old owl hoot 1 hoot 1 somewhere near the buikfeng roused the one woman vagrant in an. oining room amd her cries wakened the sleepers. Before the ohatter subsided, however, I fell asleep, and only awakened at the call tor break- fast which- consisted' of gruel ajid broad. After dressing we strolled abo-at and smoked1, laughed at the drl owL then went out to work. Two Slat down aimi broke a small heap of stones, departing at, 9 o'clock. I*.aaid a number of others, far too inaiiy for the job, dug over seve- ral amall plots of ground, aiid at 9.15 were allowed to go. As with Holywell, the treatment at St. Asaph and, the food is good, the porter supervises in a kindly fashion the work, but again the regime is "Too Free and Easy." From &t. Asaph to Gdtaway is a good 6ta.ge for a. tramp who, if he can possibly avoid it, does not care to walk more than 10 or 12 imles each, day. For twelve miles of the walk tho rain came down, drizzling' and soaking, spoiling alto- gether one's ieeOing of appreciation as beauty spot after beauty spot was passed. I came along with a little old tramp who appeared in his abnormally long coat to be all bcdy and no logs. For 22 years he had tramped England and W7aies, winter a.nd sum user. Occasionally, he told me, he got a. job on. some public works, but then. lie womfc on to say, "I eanna stick it long an' wonce I gets on the bcoze, I carina stop until all the money's gome." I suppose if I were to state that in my opinion 70 per cent, of the tramps to be found in England and Wales were directly or indirectly brought to that state through drink, many folks would thinK I was exaggerating, but I can assure my readers that a large number piod the road througii this, cause. This ol-d tramp was a capital "moucher" (bwgnx), his little wizened face with twinkling eyes appeal-rig successf ully to tender hearted cot- tagers. His bag" this dav consisted of at least a. dozen slioes of bread and butter, about half a pound of cold fried1 ham, two cold sausages, a piece of gooseberry pie, and two good-sized portions of bread amd cheese. Near Old Colwyn we sought out a friendly shelter m a shed, obtained some hot water from a neighbmiriffl# ootta-ge and "drummed" up (made tea). But it was two very wet objects that crept over Caoway Bridge., and after a visit to the Police Station went up to the workhouse en the Bangor Road. SPRING MATTRESSES AT CONWAY. Once admatted we were taken to an upper room where welcome of welcomes, a fire was burning brightly. The place was already ooou- pied by aemm other vagranta, but we soon j — -s doSed our clothes and set them Out to W. The room was bright and LeAm, and with about a doaen beds with spring a welcome sight to one whose bones had eX*jL<> enced hard boards for several nights, & gcodi rugs oo-niprified the bed clothes, an small quantity of back numbers of illustra papers made up the library. Soon I was stretched comfortably on my well wrapped in the rugs. In the next to me lay a ya mV fellow about 24 years of age :cJ1 that morning had boen released from Oarn^ Prisotn, where lie had served 14 days for beggd His story of his bruef spoil m prison was 1^ to by all, and -many questions were aske<:t;, "It's alrigait, he eaid, "plenty tommy' I only got 2 lbs. ot oakum to pick a_jerg) Finished it at 5 o'clock and the screws (wa were air.gbt" 1 Two rough-looking tramps laughed at i>l^egll citad, and recounted some of their exper-^ ApjuJ-resitly not a few prisons had heid ti' What's a fortnight V" roared ene, JQCk rØ name, apparently onoe a. soldier, "just a sjw and a turnover. How much stone in Oa- ÚlØ von if "7 cwt., and it's easy ter talk," s ex-prisoner, "Gaw.d s trum, only 7 owt. t st-1- 1 couid eraek that, wiv' me teeth. Whate Tom, snail we uave Carnarvon ?'' "Weil, I'm got.n' in somewhere fer^ a said the '10111 addmssedi, look at these a clotkes. I'll tear em up or pinch some dfOOTway, and we mignt get a pair of (boc'iv-) out." Titse.i ioii-j'ved a long discussicn until ally theou two rog-ues ag'ieed to get arrea^ some oimie or other tlie followin^ day 011 ,VjgC0 ing- Bangor, and so get- sent to Camaiwon 1r for a i-eat, and a new riff out. hire As the Ciuid Oon#aole 01 Carnarvonshir10 the otiier day, "he was rather aupriscd tilat < tramps who vistf&ed the couaity weie not g\1 01 more serious oh'enoes." With tw<_v, sudh a^ ihe above, it is surpris1^^ Coinway Casual Ward provides vagrants a go-xl nighi's rest, and' gocd warm fo°" sistang of g-mei and biead. 1¡¡c following IT ing we were all conoiucted down into the s ¡.c1I ce. where a heap of stones to be ¡,:O' to awaited us. There is no particular quajiti hij be broken, but each tramp is expected to d best for 3 hours. THE KNACK OF STONE-BREAKING. Now stone-breaking is an "art" and fí!4uiJ:, cultivating co become an expert hand. 1 I ter with his small hammer wJl make the o ,0 01 stone tly apart as if touoiied wiuh a we-ajxxa. It is no trouble to him, he will .rjV up his hall-ton of stone easily m 6 or 7 J1 But to the amateurs stone-break ing is p'Lir'^ He will gra?p the siiaft of the hammer too US £ ly, and dicai too mighty blows. Little flint fiy up and cut his hands, some-times fa-oe, the stone-dust powders his clothes. r^ busters rise in unusual places on his However hard he may try if he lias not the k his efforta will, like the writer's at Conway, of avail. a¡IJ16 I was remarkably glad whoft 11 o clock c"t. and I was allowed to depart from eon Casual Ward. In cOTiokidiiig1 this article on tramp may interest my readers to know that aL not "regulars" who tramp die roads. A number are genuine working-men out of pioymeu-t. whikt another class are the 1).Tofosl sional "moaichers" who alwavre. manage tO srufficlent money to provide tnem with a bed a common lodging house. Amongst- the gloat army of tramps one in North Wales are some who have cast tn selves in the teoth of the world's fespeota others who have "I)een weighed in the ba-11" ajid found wanting." There cue men of ad c-^ ses. Men who shamble through OXIC-ri Cambridge with downoa;.t heads, aira, d to » at ti e famil.ar walls of their college lest sights shouxl l-oeali their happy days and them; men who will walk miles off their roa/lj avoid their birthplace, and men whose in^e,-tt]ar tho life has so dwarfed, that now they are U better than, ii).beciles.

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