Number 13A. That is the address of Tonia's Ladies' hairdressing establishment in Wind Street , Ammanford. And the number lived up to its traditional reputation for bad luck when, on Monday night, the building was extensively damaged by fire.
In Ammanford's worst fire for almost four years, equipment and furniture at the town's largest hairdressers were damaged beyond repair by a blaze which engulfed almost the entire ground floor of the premises.
Plastic hair-dryers and conditioners melted in the blaze: walls, ceiling, windows and mirrors were blackened and cracked by smoke and heat: few, if any, of the expensive and contemporary items of equipment survived the ordeal.
And by morning it was painfully obvious that what only the day before had been a modern, stylish and efficient business, was now reduced to a charred, blackened ruin.
The shocked proprietress, Mrs. A. Williams, of Brynmawr Lane , Ammanford, surveyed the wreckage and told me that she thought the fire had caused “about 90 per cent damage.”
The main salon, a reception room and the three other ground floor rooms of the premises were all severely damaged. The pieces of machinery that had been salvaged stood huddled together under tarpaulin sheets in the salon.
Mrs. Williams, who said she did not know if the establishment was insured, added that so far she had not been able to calculate the exact extent of the damage.
The salon, modernised only a few years ago, was one of the most up-to-date and best patronised in the area.
Established 20 years ago, nine assistants were employed at the hairdressers.
There is another branch of Tonia's at Llandeilo, managed by Mrs. Williams' daughter.
On the day following the fire, Station Officer Cyril Rogers, of Carmarthen , was carrying out investigations to establish the cause of the blaze.
The first indication of trouble at the establishment came at 10.50 pm on Monday when a passer-by, Mr. John Hughes, of Penybank, gave the alarm to the Ammanford Fire Brigade.
Firemen were quickly on the scene and forced an entry through the front door. The ground floor was well alight and the building was filled with smoke mixed with chemical fumes.
Breathing equipment was employed in a search of the upper floor, where firemen feared that people might be trapped. But the flat above the shop was unoccupied.
Station Officer O. B. Coggins, of Ammanford, said that the brigade had the blaze under control in ten minutes. He said the damage extended from the front windows to the rear of the premises.
The manageress of Tonia's, 19 year-old Miss Gillian Morgan, of Arthur Street, Ammanford, who has worked at the hairdressers for four years, and the longest-serving member of the staff, said that she did not hear of the fire until she was on her way to work on Tuesday morning.
“Some people told me about it, but I thought at first that they were joking,” she said.
Miss Morgan recently gained second prize in a South Wales hair-styling competition at Swansea .
The young hairdressers employed at Tonia's before tragedy struck on Monday night will not be out of work.
For Tonia herself – Mrs. Tonia Boult, Llandeilo, daughter of Mrs. A. Williams, proprietress of the Ammanford establishment – has manage to find new hobs for the girls.
The supervisor, Mrs. B. Smith, said the establishment would be redecorated, and there is every chance that it will re-open in the New Year.
Mrs. Smith added: “The telephone has not stopped ringing with customers telling us that they will continue to patronise us when we open up again.
“We were to have received 85 customers in five hours on Christmas Eve alone….”