Explore Swansea Bay and Mumbles

Center map

Swansea is home to the world’s first passenger railway service running between Swansea and Mumbles. Originally built in 1804 to move limestone from the quarries of Mumbles to Swansea, it carried the world’s first fare-paying railway passengers on 25 March 1807 (the same day the British Parliament abolished the transportation of slaves from Africa). It later moved from horse power to steam locomotion, and finally converted to electric trams, before closing in January 1960, in favour of motor buses. At the time of the railway’s closure, it had been the world’s longest serving railway and it still holds the record for the highest number of forms of traction of any railway in the world – horse-drawn, sail power, steam power, electric power, petrol and diesel

History of Swansea

It is believed that Swansea was established by Vikings during the 7-8th century and that the name is derived from the Norse words SEWYN and EYE. The city was developed along the lower reaches of the river Tawe that enters the Bristol channel at Swasea docks. The welsh name for Swansea is Abertawe that translates as “mouth of the river Tawe”. The Normans established the Borough of Swansea in the 12th century and by the end of the medieval period the Town was a prosperous trading centre. In the late 18th century, Swansea known as the “Brighton of Wales”. The Burrows (sea front around the current marina area) was laid out as a pleasure garden with public assembly rooms and a marine promenade.
With the onset of the industrial revolution Swansea became one of the most heavily industrialised towns in Britain and was known as Copperopolis. It was the centre of the worlds copper smelting industry, controlling the world price of copper, and the third largest coal port in Britain. The Swansea Metal Exchange was opened in Wind Street and became the international centre for trade dealing in tinplate. The Bank of England opened its first branch outside London and over thirty Vice Consulates from all over the world were opened in Swansea.
Two other interesting facts to emerge from this time are that Birds Custard Powder was invented by Alfred Bird in his chemist’s shop in Port Tennant Road and that Swansea was the first town in Britain to have its own telephone exchange.

Swansea continued being a sea side holiday destination throughout the 19th and 20th centuries up to the present day. With the development of the docks the bathing site was moved further west to the area known as the Slip, close to Victoria park. The hey days were during the late 19th and the early to mid part of the 20th century and many guest houses and hotels were developed along the Oystermouth road. The Victoria bridge crossing Oystermouth road, steam railway line and an electrified mumbles train railway was built in 1915 to allow holiday makers safe access onto the beach at the Slip. Other popular areas of the bay were at Brynmill, opposite the entrance to Singleton park, Sketty lane, Blackpill and Mumbles.

Cottages in Wales

Dylan Thomas

Wales, the Gower peninsula, Swansea and Mumbles has an abundance of self catering holiday rental accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets. In fact, the birthplace and family home of Wales’s most famous poet, Dylan Thomas, now provides self catering holiday accommodation. However, if you are looking to rent a holiday cottages in Wales, particularly in the Gower peninsula, then look no further than Hill House self catering holiday cottage. Hill House provides spacious, comfortable, homely and affordable self catering accommodation for your extended family holiday in the Gower peninsular and full details are given on the Accommodation page.

Swansea and Gower Culture


Despite the failure of Swansea’s bid to become the UK City of culture in 2021 the city council and the Swansea 2021 bid team are determined toimplement the programme of local, national and international events that were compiled in the bid. Click on the image opposite to view one of the Swansea UK City of Culture 2021 promotional videos.

Our other explorer pages gives you detailed information on the Accommodation and facilities at Hill House, the village of Llanrhidian, and the Gower peninsula.