The Badfinger Convention

Day Three

by Keith James

Gwent Gardens gathering strolls to Ham Home

I learnt many things during my time organizing the 2006 convention and not all of these necessarily had anything to do with Badfinger. One thing I discovered was that most bus or coach companies in the South Wales footprint are run by very strange people indeed.
I had made enquiries about a coach company to accommodate our Sunday tour around late November, 2005. By the time Christmas arrived, I had a company very much pencilled in to do the convention tour; we okayed a price and agreed the availability of the firm in question. Then, as the new year beckons, I receive a telephone call from said coach company: They had discussed the matter internally and agreed they wouldn't be sending me a written estimate because "that's something we don't do."
"Okay then," I threatened the owner, "I'll take my custom elsewhere." He laughed and asked if I wanted the name of any other local coach companies!
And that seemed to be the lax attitude employed by the many other coach companies I approached. It was almost as if they were shunning my business. I had to have written confirmation of any verbal transaction because I was trying to keep the convention accounts up-to-date and as clear as possible.
It was closer to February 2006 when I finally located a company happy to provide me with a written guarantee they would carry out the work: Gemini Coaches.
To be brutally honest, I didn't really want to organize the coach trip, because I had enough on my plate just administering the convention day itself. I had toyed with the idea of simply giving some handouts to all the convention attendees, providing information on how to get to all The Iveys and Badfinger haunts around the Swansea area. In the end though, I felt I owed it to everyone who came to provide them with a properly organized coach tour and with our man in Swansea's help - that's Laurence - I managed to put together an itinerary for two o'clock on Sunday, May the 14th. This would be the last event for the 2006 convention.

Gwent Gardens

Whilst on walkabout through Townhill, I decided to call in on the current occupants of 15, Gwent Gardens simply to forewarn them that about fifty people from around the world would be congregating outside their front garden on Sunday and having innumerable photographs taken. I thought it was simply courteous to inform them.
To my amazement, the current occupants - a husband and wife, Phil and Debbie Mills, invited me in and were thrilled that their house was on the coach rota. There and then, they gave an astonishing invitation to everyone on the tour - they could come in and browse around Pete's house and gardens for as long as they liked! I was dumbstruck. It had never even occurred to me that they would make this offer.
I felt duty bound to offer Debbie and Phil some financial restitution, but they flatly refused any money. This gesture was from the bottom of their hearts and many Badfinger fans worldwide would be eternally grateful for their kindness. One might ask, how you could put a price on that?

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I don't drive and I no longer live in Swansea, so I had to try and imagine what the optimum route for the coach tour would be. I booked Gemini Coaches for two hours and we could not go over this. One afternoon, I studied a Swansea A to Z and then wrote up what I thought was a workable route:
Ron Griffiths boyhood home
21, Heol Frank, Penlan - This was the childhood home of Ron Griffiths.


Pete Ham primary school

Gors School, Gors Avenue, Townhill - Pete Ham's first school.

When I announced via the coach's tannoy system that the tour party would be physically going inside Pete's childhood home, there were shrieks and woos of unexpected delight. I think for many - possibly even for myself - it was the high point of the day, if not the weekend.

15, Gwent Gardens, Townhill - The childhood home of Pete Ham on the street known as The Keyhole.

 

Pete Ham childhood home - 15 Gwent Gardens

The Gwent Garden neighbourhood (some of whom lived in the same house when Pete was resident at number 15) are fascinated at the hordes of people gathering around 'The Keyhole'. Many are asking questions of the gathered fans, others are quietly observing the scene.

 

Gwent Gardens kids on bikes

 

Eventually, we had to go into Pete's old house in two separate groups and each took about fifteen minutes inside, snapping away at Pete's old bedroom, the garden (seen in the 1973 Japanese documentary of the boys) and the stairwell where a painfully shy young Ham would play his first harmonica recitals to relatives - on the proviso they wouldn't look at him!

 

Pete Ham's parent's room at Gwent Gardens

Pete Ham's parent's bedroom

Pete Ham's bed room at Gwent Gardens where he was born

Pete Ham's bedroom - where he was born in 1947

 

Phil Deere, Paul Almond

Phil Deere, Paul Almond

Adam Standring, Cassandra Pearce, Paul Almond

Adam Standring, Cassandra Pearce, Paul Almond

Pat Allen

Pat Allen (Pete Ham's cousin)

Bob Allen, Dan Matovina, Pat Allen, Steve Jewell

Bob Allen, Dan Matovina, Steve Jewell

Walking back to bus from Pete Ham boyhood home

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171 Oxford Street, Sandfields, Swansea - The childhood home of David Jenkins and 'halfway house' for The Iveys.
The day before the convention, I had walked through some of the route to see how long the Townhill locations would take to navigate. It became clear then that I would probably have to take one of the proposed areas off the agenda. So it was goodbye to any thoughts of going to David Jenkins' former des res.
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628, Middle Road, Ravenhill - The home where Mike Gibbins was born and raised.
The extra time taken at Pete's meant I had to knock Mike's old home in Middle Road, Ravenhill out of the itinerary, but most agreed it was worth it.

New Cut Road, Hafod, Swansea - An area of Swansea which influenced Pete to write, 'They're Knocking Down Our Home'.
New Cut Road
The New Cut Road location was the most difficult to man, because there was no optimum place to view the area that influenced Pete's 1968 Iveys classic. In the end, I had us all assemble on a bridge across New Cut Road, but it proffered a fairly poor vantage point for conversation and photographs.

 

Ivey Place, Swansea Central - The street that gave The Iveys their name.
As planned and right on schedule, we finished the tour at Ivey Place, which is adjacent to Swansea's train station. Initially, there was no street sign at Ivey Place, but thanks again to Laurence's persistence, Swansea Council erected one especially for us. Again, this was a wonderful gesture, as they were under no compulsion to do so.

Ivey Place - crowd in front

Ivey Place - along with 15 Gwent Gardens - was the big stop-off point for photographs, and soon - all too soon - everyone was out of film, or megabytes, and the Swansea Memories tour had come to an end. Most of us who had the time stayed for a goodbye drink to celebrate the end of the convention, but others had to leave.

Everyone who took part in the Swansea Memories tour takes the time out to personally thank Phil and Debbie Mills for their hospitality. Dan Matovina says he'll send them a complimentary copy of his 'Without You' book and everyone else (and I do mean everybody) agrees to send them a thank you card when they return to their native countries. In some cases, these cards are accompanied with gifts.

What a day - what a convention. Ruth, Laurence, and I are so honoured to have been part of something so special, so beautiful and so timeless. For me personally, I have done nothing but discuss Badfinger, read about Badfinger, reminisce about Badfinger, explain Badfinger, listen to Badfinger and watch Badfinger. Perhaps, I will never play another Badfinger song again. Well, maybe tomorrow…

Keith James

Keith James

Here - to finish - is a list of everyone who went on the Swansea Memories tour on Sunday, May 14th, 2006:
Bob Allen, Pat Allen, Paul Almond, Jake Almond, Tom Brennan, Marlies Baars, Herman Baars, Peggy Burneka, Mark Budgen, Sandie Carter, Pat Casey, Kelley Casey, Maxine Cunnet, Terry Cunnet, Phil Deere, Laurence Haynes, Shirley Halstead, Cynthia Harding, Alan Harding, Hilary Hudson, Keith James, Ruth James, Steve Jewell, Paul Lochhead, Dan Matovina, Sarah Morris, David Munday, Vanessa Munday, Kaz Nicholls, Lee Nicholls, Fumiko Okumara, Masahiro Okumura, Cassandra Pearce, Mark Perkins, Tyler Perkins, Sean Perkins, Irene Roberts, Steve Sage, Jane Sage, Jan Sears, Adam Standring, Alan Wallis, Anne Wallis, George Wood

photos contributed by Peggy Burneka, Paul Almond, Terry Cunnet, Mark Perkins, Janet Sears, Steve Sage and Anne Wallis

Go To Badfinger Convention - Mark Perkins

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