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 was 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.
Visit Swansea Bay and Mumbles
Swansea continued being a sea side holiday destination throughout the 19th and 20th centuries up to the present day. During the industrial revolution the port grew and the bathing moved further west to the area known as The Slip opposite Victoria park. This was the most popular part of Swansea bay during its hey days in the late 19th and the early to mid part of the 20th century. The remnants of the numerous guest houses and hotels open at the time are to be found along Oystermouth road between the city centre and The Slip. Built in 1902 the Victoria bridge, at The Slip, safely. carried holiday makers onto the beach over Oystermouth road and the railway lines. Other popular areas along Swansea bay were at Brynmill, opposite the entrance to Singleton park, Sketty lane, Blackpill and Mumbles.
The first five images in this slider are reproduced by permission of Huw Williams, Gower Retro Art.
Cottages in Wales
Wales, the Gower peninsula, Swansea and Mumbles has an abundance of self catering holiday rental accommodation to suit all tastes. 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 for a holiday cottages in Gower, then look no further than Hill House. 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.
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 it has more FIRSTS than any other city in Wales.
Apart from the prominent firsts detailed above 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, you can read more about Swansea in our posts Swansea Jack and Culture and Entertainment.
Gower Beach Guide smartphone App
If you are visiting Swansea download our Gower Beach Guide App onto your mobile phone before you leave home.
The App has a section dedicated to Swansea Bay and Mumbles. It details all of the main visitor attractions located along the 5-mile promenade that follows the sandy shoreline between Swansea and Mumbles head. These include the maritime quarter, beach access points, parks and gardens, boating lake, lido, skate park, etc.
It is free to download and use and available for Android or iPhone. Also, there are no annoying advert or in-App purchases.