From Academic Kids

This page is about Swansea in Wales. For others, see Swansea (disambiguation).
Swansea city
- Total
- % Water
Ranked 14th
378 km²
? %
Admin HQSwansea
ISO 3166-2GB-SWA
ONS code00NX
- Total (April 29, 2001)
- Density
Ranked 3rd
591 / km²
Ethnicity96.1% White
1.6% S.Asian
1.2% Afro-Caribbean
1.1% Chinese
Welsh language
- Any skills
Ranked 11th
City & County of Swansea Council
ControlLiberal Democrats +
Conservative + Ind
MPsMartin Caton
Sian James
Alan John Williams

Swansea (Welsh: Abertawe - "aber" river-mouth + river Tawe) is a city and county in South Wales, situated on the coast, immediately to the east of the Gower peninsula in the traditional county of Glamorgan. The name Swansea is believed to come from "Sweyn's Ey" ("ey" being a Germanic word for "island") and to have originated in the period when the Vikings plundered the south Wales coast.

The city boundaries are widely drawn: they include a large amount of open countryside, towns like Gorseinon and Loughor, and the Gower peninsula. A healthy proportion of the population of the city and county are Welsh speakers: 13.4% at the 2001 census, as compared with 11% for the capital city, Cardiff.

Swansea is Wales' second city, and it grew to its present importance during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, becoming a centre of heavy industry. However, it did not enjoy the same degree of immigration as Cardiff and the eastern valleys. Consequently, it retains close links with agriculture and rural life. According to the mid-year estimates for 2002, the population of Swansea was about 230,000.



The Gower, to which Swansea is considered the gateway, is Britain's first area to be designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The coastal landscape of the county as a whole is stunning. The wide sandy beaches at Langland, Caswell and Limeslade are the most popular with swimmers and tourists with children, whereas the wide and calm waters of Swansea Bay tend to attract the water-sport enthusiast. Coastal paths connect most of the Gower bays and Swansea Bay itself, and hikers can enjoy breathtaking views throughout the year.

As a coastal region, Swansea experiences a milder climate than the mountains and valleys inland. This same location, though, leaves Swansea exposed to rain-bearing winds from the Atlantic: figures from the Met Office make Swansea city the wettest city in Britain. [1] (http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_objectid=14140027&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=soggiest-city-in-britain-pays-high-price-for-rain-name_page.html)

The south Wales coalfields run right down to the coast in the county of Swansea. This had a great bearing on the development of the town.

The former fishing village of Mumbles (located on the western edge of Swansea Bay) has excellent restaurants and coffee shops, and is a great place to pick up a local souvenir. In addition, the vista of Swansea Bay is perhaps most spectacular when viewed from the promenade at Mumbles. The village, also known as Oystermouth, is home to the ruins of a 12th Century castle of the same name.


Main article: History of Swansea

Archaeology on the Gower peninsula includes many remains from prehistoric times, passing through Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Prehistoric finds in the Swansea city area proper are rare. The Romans visited the area, as did the Vikings, whose name for the settlement on the river is used in English today.

Following the Norman Conquest, a marcher lordship was created: named Gower, it included land around Swansea Bay as far as the Tawe, and the manor of Kilvey beyond the Tawe as well as the peninsula itself. Swansea was designated its chief town, and subsequently received one of the earlier borough charters in Wales.

Swansea became an important port: some coal and vast amounts of limestone (for fertiliser) were being shipped out from the town by 1550. As the Industrial Revolution reached Wales, the combination of port, local coal, and trading links with the west country, Cornwall and Devon, meant that Swansea was the logical place to site copper smelting works. Smelters were operating by 1720 and proliferated.

Following this, more coal mines (everywhere from Gower to Clyne to Llangyfelach) were opened and smelters (mostly along the Tawe valley) were opened and flourished. Over the next century and a half, works were established to process arsenic, zinc and tin and to create tinplate and pottery. The city expanded rapidly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and was termed "Copperopolis".

Through the twentieth century, these industries eventually declined, leaving the lower Swansea valley filled with derelict works and mounds of waste products from them. The Lower Swansea Valley Scheme (which still continues) reclaimed much of the land: the present Enterprise Zone exists almost entirely a result of this scheme, and of the many original docks, only those outside the city continue to work as docks: North Dock is now Parc Tawe and South Dock became the Marina.

Little city centre evidence beyond road layout remains from mediaeval Swansea; its industrial importance made it the target of heavy bombing in the war, and the centre was flattened completely.

The city

In addition to being a holiday resort, Swansea is also a commercial centre, and the recently regenerated dock areas are home to some cutting-edge hi-tech industries. One of the most well-known employers in Swansea is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, or DVLA. Whilst the city itself has a long history, many of the city centre buildings are post-war as much of the centre was destroyed by World War II bombing in the so-called Three Nights' Blitz. Within the city centre, sites worth a visit are the ruins of a castle, the Marina, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea Museum, the Dylan Thomas Centre, the Environmental Centre, and the Central Market, which is the largest covered market in Wales. It backs onto the Quadrant shopping centre which was built in the seventies.

Wind Street is the city's main watering hole and also the location of many high quality restaurants. Many of these buildings were originally banks (or the old central post office) and thus are substantially larger than some of the other city centre pubs. Discos and clubs line the Kingsway and this street is one of two hubs of central Swansea nightlife. The other being the aforementioned Wind Street. St Helen's Road connects the city centre with the Brynmill area, and has many Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants and shops on it: convenient when walking back from the Kingsway to Brynmill in the evening.

Swansea was granted city status in 1969, to mark Prince Charles's investiture as the Prince of Wales. It obtained the further right to a have Lord Mayor in 1982.

The city is currently in the phase of further redevelopment. Many areas have seen changes within the 21st century. The Wales National Pool, of near-Olympic size, is now complete, although at the loss of two other swimming pools in the town. A new National Waterfront Museum has been built and is due to open in October 2005. Massive redevelopment of out-of-town retail parks is currently underway: as of 2005 Fforestfach Retail Park now has a Tesco Extra, along with the city's second openings of stores such as Dixons and Pizza Hut; and an area next to the new sports stadium in Landore has a large new B&Q warehouse and Morrisons supermarket.


Swansea's diverse and interesting past has helped weave a city of character and charm, which has produced many famous personalities. On the literary stage, the poet Dylan Thomas is perhaps the most well known. He was born in the town and grew up at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands. There is a memorial to him in the nearby Cwmdonkin Park. The actress Catherine Zeta-Jones is probably the most famous of the city's recent cultural exports, and she maintains closes links with the city. The singer Bonnie Tyler, author Mary Balogh, singer/songwriter Mal Pope, scriptwriter and producer Russell T. Davies and entertainer Sir Harry Secombe were also born and raised in the city, as was the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. However, perhaps the city's most celebrated personality is Jack - a black labrador. During his seven years of life, he managed to save twenty-seven people from drowning in the murky waters of Swansea docks. There is a monument to commemorate Jack's gallant efforts on the foreshore near the St. Helen's stadium.

St Helen's is one of two legendary sporting venues in Swansea. It is a cricket ground which is home to Glamorgan County Cricket Club. It was in this ground that Sir Garfield Sobers hit six sixes in one over: the first time this was achieved in a game of first-class cricket. One ball is reputed to have landed in the Cricketers' pub just outside the ground. It is also the traditional home of the All-Whites, Swansea Rugby Football Club. Swansea RFC is now a feeder club for the newly-formed (in 2003) Neath-Swansea Ospreys regional rugby club. Swansea RFC remains at St Helen's, but the Ospreys are moving to the new stadium in Landore. Also moving to the new stadium are Swansea City F.C., the Swans, whose long-delayed move from their Vetch Field stadium is now underway. The final Ospreys match at St Helen's was played on the same day as the final Swans league game at the Vetch: April 30 2005.

The Swans' football following are known as the Jack Army due to the regional nickname for people from Swansea. Strong local rivalries exist between Swansea and Cardiff in football and between Swansea and Llanelli in rugby. Swansea/Neath rugby games used also to be a hotly-contested match, such that there was some debate about whether a regional team incorporating both areas was possible. The Neath-Swansea Ospreys in fact came fifth in the Celtic League in their first year of existence as a regional team, and won the league in their second year.

People from Swansea are known locally as Swansea Jacks, or just Jacks. The source of this nickname is not clear. Some attribute it to Swansea Jack, the life-saving dog. Others point to Swansea's long history as a port and the use of the word jack to indicate a sailor.

There are a number of theatres in the city and the surrounding areas. The Grand Theatre in the centre of the city is a Victorian theatre which celebrated its centenary in 1997 and which has a capacity of a little over a thousand people. A new wing of the Grand, the Arts Wing, has a studio suitable for smaller shows (capacity about 200). The Taliesin building on the university campus has a theatre. Other shows are held at the theatre in Penyrheol Leisure Centre near Gorseinon. In the summer, outdoor Shakespeare performances are a regular feature at Oystermouth Castle, and Singleton Park is the venue for a number of parties and concerts, from dance music to outdoor Proms. Although Pontardawe is properly in the county of Neath Port Talbot, the trip from Swansea to Pontardawe for the annual folk festival is a short one. Another folk festival is held on Gower.

There are several Welsh-language chapels and churches in the town and county. Welsh-medium education is an extremely popular choice for both English- and Welsh-speaking parents, leading to claims in the local press in autumn 2004 that to accommodate demand, the council planned to close an English-medium school in favour of opening a new Welsh-medium school. (Swansea Evening Post, September 8 2004, and subsequent issues.)

45% of the rural council ward Mawr speak Welsh, as do 38% of the ward of Pontardulais. Clydach, Kingsbridge and Upper Lougher all have levels of more than 20%. By contrast, the urban St Thomas has one of the lowest figures in Wales, at 6.4%, a figure only barely lower than Penderry and Townhill wards.

Swansea hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1863, 1891, 1907, 1926, 1964 and 1982. The Eisteddfod returns to Swansea in 2006.

As well as its more creditable achievements, Swansea has acquired a less enviable reputation for car crime: the BBC has described it as a "black spot for car crime" [2] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/in_depth/uk/2002/cracking_crime/2262344.stm), for example. Car crime is a central theme in the film Twin Town, which is set in and around Swansea.


The University of Wales, Swansea has a large campus in Singleton Park overlooking Swansea Bay. Other establishments for further and higher education in the city include Swansea Institute of Higher Education and Swansea College, with Gorseinon College in the county but outside the city proper. Swansea Institute was particularly well-known for its Architectural Glass department [3] (http://www.sihe.ac.uk/sihe/glass/baasg.htm); stained glass was a long time speciality.

There are fifteen comprehensive schools under the remit of the local education authority, of which two are Welsh-medium.



Swansea is on the mainline railway. Its High Street railway station is part of the South Wales Main Line railway line, a branch of the Great Western Main Line, and also gets Arriva services on their way to west Wales: Carmarthen, Milford Haven and Haverfordwest. The Heart of Wales train service begins (or terminates, depending on your point of view) at High Street station, its bright orange and yellow carriage travelling via Gowerton to Llanelli where it joins the Heart of Wales line.

Swansea is close to the M4 motorway (junctions 42 to 48 inclusive), the main artery for road traffic through south Wales. It is a National Express stop, and for a short while was on the Megabus route. The Swansea-Cardiff shuttle bus is heavily used. Swansea is also on the Traws-Cambria route which connects the north and south of the country together via Aberystwyth, a bus so well-known in Wales that songs have been written about it. The local commercial bus companies include FirstCymru. Some rural routes in the county are funded by the local council; this includes the majority of the services on Gower, for example, which are operated by Pullman Coaches.

Swansea Airport is situated on Fairwood Common on Gower. It is primarily a domestic airport. It was first built during WWII when there was no need for an inquiry. Air Wales operated services from Swansea, but ceased to use the airport from late 2004.

Some submarine communications cables leave the mainline of Great Britain from Oxwich Bay on Gower.

There is a thriving passenger ferry service between Swansea and Cork.

Much of the apparently baffling design of the public transport system (a bus and train station two miles apart, for example, with until recently minimal connection between the two) results from historical legacy.


See History of Swansea for a more detailed account of the evolution of the transport system.

Railway lines and their predecessors for the purposes of transporting coal and heavy goods proliferated in the 19th century. The world's oldest passenger railway, the Mumbles Railway, began as a tramway line in the 1800s for transporting heavy goods, with a branch line up into Clyne valley to connect with the colliery owned by Sir John Morris, one of the founders of the railway. A few tourists had been carried by the railway in the early days, but a scheduled passenger service only began around 1860. The Mumbles Railway was closed in 1960.

Also used to transport goods rather than people were waterways such as the Swansea Canal.

Swansea was also served by a network of trams, one of which connected the (still-used) High Street railway station with Victoria Station near the Slip on the bay. Some of Swansea was impossible to provide tram services to: the attempt to run a tram up and down the locally infamous slope of Constitution Hill, for example, quickly foundered.

In 1944 the world's first test of a full-scale submarine oil pipeline was conducted on a pipeline laid between Swansea (Queen's Dock) and Cornwall in Operation Pluto.

Local media

The local newspaper is the Evening Post. Local radio stations include Swansea Sound and 96.4 FM The Wave. Swansea is one of the few regions in Wales with reasonable digital radio coverage: this was improved in January 2005 with the launch of the Swansea DAB multiplex.

External links

Sports In Swansea

Swansea Landmarks


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