Some parts of Mumbles had & have wonderful old names, like the area of Plunch Lane.
Looking at old maps, Plunch Lane began at the junction with Thistleboon Road & Higher Lane & headed down towards the sea & rocks. The place name Thistleboon is now believed to to have come from ‘Pissleburn’, a very expressive way of describing a place where streams poured down!
‘Plunch’ is also of a watery origin, an adaptation of the onomatopoeic Welsh ‘Plwnch’ meaning a wet place.
This area was clearly wetlands in times gone by, & people squelched about.
‘Mear Pool’ on the Lane became over time Mare’s Pool or Marepool & was probably used for many years as a source of water for a nearby Malthouse. It was also caused a constant run-off of water down Plunch Lane, leading to the lane being named Plwnch.
It’s still called Mear Pool on the 1844 Tithe Map but, by 1877, was marked as Marepool.
It’s tempting to think of ‘Mere’ as meaning a pool as it does now, but then you get ‘Poolpool’. But the word ‘mear’ or ‘meer’ denotes a boundary in Anglo Saxon, so some think it marked a boundary say between two fields or field systems.
As with ‘Horsepool’ however the Anglo Saxon root ‘pool’ or ‘pole’ doesn’t mean a stretch of water but literally a pole used like a toll gate denoting a place where tolls were levied.
No-one is 100% certain of its origins, though several experts in Swansea/Mumbles history now definitely favour the latter explanation.
Though not coming to conquer like the Normans did later, there must have been constant early contact/sharing of language elements & culture between Mumbles/Gower & West Country neighbours.
Behind Marepool was Mare’s Pool or Marepool Cottage as pictured below in 1952. If you carried on towards the sea down a lane from there, you reached a cove once called ‘Ginny’s Gut’.
Marepool however is long since filled in & the lane to Ginny’s Gut has also gone.
Alongside the Marepool ran Sheep or Sheepy Lane, which still runs behind the Cricket Club: it led appropriately out to the Ram’s Tor & cliff paths.
Plunch Cottage sat in about half an acre of land, & was therefore a decent smallholding. The footprint of the cottage still exists: it stood where 128 Plunch Lane is now.
If you were taking a walk down the lane many years ago before reaching Plunch Cottage you would have passed on your right three long, thin strips of land in ancient style known as ‘Silly Verland’, becoming the sites of the Langcliffe Chalet Park, the Allotments & Rossers’ Field.
As the 20th century began, over time grew up round tin huts, bungalows & various holiday homes on & around the lane as seen below: now it’s lined with houses. Its character thus slowly changed from rural to a suburban & holiday area & it now leads down from Higher Lane & New Villas to Mumbles Road/Limeslade.
But the name of the lane at least has survived pretty much intact, reflecting its marshy & more rural past. There are detailed articles & many 1st hand memories of the area on the Mumbles History Site & more on the mysteries of some of the unusual place names.