The electrical connection Welsh bright sparks

One of the most interesting photographs in the collection held by cousin Islwyn is this one of the electrical shop in Llanelli. Known to Islwyn as Thomas Brothers, that doesn’t appear to be the business name in 1937 (19th January to be precise). The white-coated person is Bill Walters, husband of great aunt Miriam Watkins.

Bill Walters outside Llanelli electrical shop, January 1937

As very few of the old photos are dated (many don’t have any label), perhaps there is something significant about that day.

Bill’s full name William John Walters is hardly rare, but various clues have narrowed down the possible genealogy records. There was still a choice of birth year of 1894 or 1903 but fortunately the matching 1911 census was obvious. For a start his father John appears as an electrical engineer, music hall {1}, a good background for an electrical equipment salesman. And for second, the address matches one that I had noted from the piles of old documents (either a rent book or a life assurance policy) for the married Miriam Walters {2}. I am sure Islwyn was puzzled by my note taking here, but such little details can really help.

It is perhaps also of note that mum recalled Bill and Miriam’s son Bryn (Brinley) being a trainee cinema projectionist when she briefly stayed with them in 1941. Another performance-related electrical occupation.

Mum had often mentioned uncle Frank as being in the electrical trade in Llanelli, but hadn’t been clear on other family involvement. It’s now apparent that Bill was the earlier arrival, with Frank only joining later, after brother David (who had a knack with radio kit) had declined to move from Tonypandy to join the expanding business. But Frank had strong business skills and eventually was running the show.

Frank in later life.

Googling Thomas Brothers Electrical brings up the address 10 Thomas Street, which now appears to be the Llanelli premises of Vaughans. At some stage Frank was at 13 Thomas Street – very handy, but the house is now demolished by the looks of things on Google StreetView.


1. The enumerator for the 1911 census appears to have made various amendments to the occupation entry for John Walters. Electrical Engineer has been changed to read “Electrical Engine Driver”, which is a little implausible, and the place of work (New Hippodrome) which had been entered under Industry has been crossed out, substituting Music Hall.

2. 94 Kenry Street, Tonypandy.

3. More on the Watkins family.

2 thoughts on “The electrical connection Welsh bright sparks

  1. My name is Phillip Walters, I live in Llanelli. I have just seen the photo of my grandfather standing outside Thomas Brothers taken in
    1937. I am the son of Bryn Walters who sadly died in 2006. I have been trying to trace the Walters family in the Rhondda but have not been very successful so far but have learnt a lot today on this site.
    I would be very grateful if you would get in touch with me.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Always good to hear from “new” relations, Phillip! I’ve sent you an email, do let me know if it doesn’t arrive (I know there may be problems with yahoo addresses at present).

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