Swansea is home to the world’s first passenger railway service running along Swansea bay from Swansea to 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. In fact this was the same day that 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. 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
In the seventh century Vikings established a port at the site now known as Swansea. The name has its origins in the Norse words SEWYN and EYE. The settlement developed along the lower reaches of the river Tawe that now enters the Bristol channel at the 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. By the end of the medieval period the settlement was a prosperous trading port. In the late 18th century, Swansea known as the “Brighton of Wales”. A pleasure garden covered the site where the current marina is situated. It was known as the Boroughs 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. It was the centre of the worlds copper smelting industry and given the name Copperopolis. As a result It controlled the world price of copper and it was the third largest coal port in Britain. The Swansea Metal Exchange opened in Wind Street and became the international centre for trade dealing in tinplate. The Bank of England opened its first branch outside London. In addition Vice Consulate offices opened representing over 30 the worlds trading nations.
Two other interesting facts to emerge from this time. First of all, Swansea was also the first town in Britain to have its own telephone exchange. Also, Alfred Bird invented Birds Custard Powder in his chemist’s shop in Port Tennant Road.
Cottages in Wales
In 2017 Swansea’s bid to become the UK City of culture in 2021 failed. The bid contained an extended programme of local, national and international events. Despite the failure the city council and the 2021 bid team will be implementing this programme of events. Click on the image opposite to view one of the Swansea UK City of Culture 2021 promotional videos.
Swansea is Wales’a second city but, apart from the prominent firsts detailed above it has some additional accolades. It houses the oldest and the youngest museum in Wales, It has the largest indoor market in Wales. It is the home of Wales’s talent building. It’s where Sir Garry Sobers hit his famous six sixes from one over. Finally it is home too Wales’s only premiership football club – The Swans.