An Expansion of Swansea

As the years went on and the Swansea & Mumbles Railway moved away from industry into a fully-fledged passenger service, the railway; along with Swansea’s trams slowly began to link Swansea with its suburbs. Eventually, the railway would seamlessly connect Swansea Town with the small fishing village of Mumbles. The Mumbles Train effectively contributed to Swansea’s new city status, which occurred less than a decade after the railway had closed down.

A look at the historical notes of the company published in 1898 gives us a bit of an Impression of what Swansea was like in the early 1800s:

“At that time [1804] there was no turn-pike road from Swansea to the Mumbles; all traffic carried along the beach. When the road was made an arrangement was come to between the Tramway Co. and Country Roads Board to run the tramline and new road alongside each other as they are now.”
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©FirstGroup plc
Source: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University

In other words, the railway guided population movement around Swansea and the surrounding areas as much as the new road (now Mumbles Road) did. Indeed, the population of Swansea and Mumbles grew at similar rates throughout the nineteenth Century. A quick look at population figures shows that during the railway’s early period the population of Mumbles had grown considerably from just over 700 in 1801 to more than 4,000 by 1891. Meanwhile, the main town of Swansea had grown from 6,000 in 1801 to roughly 220,000 by the Second World War.

So, what evidence is this of this growth and the Swansea & Mumbles Railway’s contribution to such a growth? At the Richard Burton Archive, there are masses of documents that outline negotiations between the Railway and the local authority of the time as well as land-owners.
Most negotiations centre around the extension of the line in 1898 which was accompanied by the building of Mumbles Pier.

The map below is of two plots of land that appear to have been auctioned by the Swansea and Mumbles Railway in order to provide more entertainment for locals if they decided to stop off at ‘Oystermouth Station’ before moving onto the Pier.

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©FirstGroup plc
Source: Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University

Plot 2 would see the ‘Tivoli Cinema’ being built upon the grounds; the building is still present today but has since been converted into an amusement arcade.

Please click here to find out more about the ‘Golden Years’ of the Railway.

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