The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868
"SWANSEA, (or Abertawe of the Welsh), a parish, market town, bonding port, municipal and parliamentary borough in the hundred of the same name, county Glamorgan, of which it is the county town, 36 miles N.W. of Cardiff, 60 from Bristol by water, and 260 from London by road, or 216¼ by the Great Western and South Wales railways, on which it is a principal station; it is also the terminus of the Vale of Neath, Swansea Vale, Swansea and Mumbles, branch of the Oystermouth, besides various local mineral lines from the extensive collieries and copper and ironworks. Steamers ply to Bristol, Ilfracombe, Gloucester, Liverpool, Milford, Singleton, Tenby, and other ports on the coast. It is situated on the right bank of the river Tawe, at its confluence with the Bristol Channel in the centre of a bay, to which it gives name. The harbour, which is left dry at low water, is formed by means of piers of masonry projecting from either side of the mouth of the river 1,800 feet, and 900 feet long, and 215 feet apart at the mouth, with a cross pier within the harbour. It has recently undergone many improvements at a cost of above £100,000, and in 1859 a spacious new dock was opened by the side of the harbour in the Burrows, containing an area of 13 acres; the half tide basin is 430 feet long by 370 broad, and communicates with the docks by a lock 300 feet in length, having three pairs of gates. On the western pier are a watch-tower and a lighthouse with a fixed light 28 feet high, and visible for 9 miles. The bay outside the harbour is about 9 miles across from Scar to the Mumbles point light, and has from 1 to 5 fathoms of water, but in the harbour at high-water it is from 10 to 24 feet. Along the bay are the ports of Aberavon, Neath, Swansea, Oystermouth, and the Mixon Rock, with the Skarweather Shoal in front. On the N.E. and N.W. the bay is backed by lofty hills, and the beach in front of Swansea consists of an extensive level of firm sand. The town itself occupies an acclivity formed by an angular piece of ground between two lofty hills, and consists chiefly of a main street running N. and S. for nearly a mile parallel to the river, which is crossed by a ferry. The other streets either diverge from the High-street, or proceed W. and S.W. nearly in the line of the bay. The houses for the most part are modern and well-built, and the outskirts of the town are studded with villas and marine terraces, formerly the resort of numerous visitors who were in the habit of coming to Swansea for the purpose of sea-bathing, but the promenades have been swallowed up by the docks, and the bathers have been forced to retreat to the Mumbles; added to which the fumes of the copper works, whenever a N.E. wind blows, render it anything but pleasant as a residence. The effect, however, of these changes, which have taken place in the last thirty years, have been eminently beneficial so far as the wealth, population, and size of the town are concerned, which now contests with Cardiff the metropolitan supremacy of South Wales. The port is a bonding-port, having for its sub-ports Aberavon, Loughor, Neath, Newton, Oxwick, and Pennard. It is also a sessions and assize town, and the seat of a Poor-law Union. The principal public buildings are the townhall, a Grecian structure with Corinthian columns, in front of which is the statue of the late J. H. Vivian, Esq., M.P. for the borough; the post-office in Castle Bailey-street; the new market-house, 320 feet by 220, erected in 1830 at an expense of £20,000; the castle, originally founded in 1099 by Henry de Bellamonte, Earl of Warwick, and rebuilt by Bishop Gower in 1333, but now used as a storeroom for the militia,-the part remaining consists of a massive square tower surmounted by an open gallery supporting a carved parapet; and the Royal Institution of South Wales, a Grecian building, with a portico erected in 1840, this last comprises a theatre, library, and museum of antiquity, natural history, and geology, in which is an unique collection of bones of the mammoth and other animals found in the limestone caves of Gower, also a series of coal plants from the surrounding pits, with rolled pebbles of coal found by Sir W. Logan, apparently the debris of prior seams of coal which had been broken up and transported by the tides thither; other buildings are the house of correction, public assembly rooms, theatre, barracks and gaol at the castle, union poorhouse, infirmary, mechanics' institute, savings-bank, three commercial banks, baths, and gas-works. Along the northern side of the docks are extensive warehouses and straiths for shipment of coal, and on the eastern side of the harbour are the extensive copper works of Port Tennant with their great chimneys. In the Swansea district are seventeen other copper works, also many tin, iron, zinc, alkali, pottery, and patent fuel works extending along the banks of the Swansea canal up the Vale of Taw, and from the Port Tennant Dock by the Neath Junction canal towards Llansamlet. The average quantity of copper ore smelted being about 200,000 tons annually, at an average price of £7 7s. per ton. The ore which is imported from distant parts is sold at a kind of auction held in one of the hotels, termed ticketings. A large trade is also done in coal, anthracite coal, timber, lime, grain, and patent fuel. The population in 1851 was 31,461, and in 1861, 41,606, inhabiting 7,578 houses. It returned one member to parliament in conjunction with Cardiff and other towns from the reign of Henry VIII., but by the Reform Act was made the head of a district, including Aberavon, Kenfig, Loughor, Neath, &c., which now sends one member. It claims to be a borough by prescription, having been first chartered by King John, and under the Municipal Act is divided into three wards, governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors, with the style of "Portreeve aldermen and burgesses of the borough of Swansea." The municipal revenue is about £6,000. The Cambrian, the oldest of the Welsh newspapers, is published in the town. There are several societies, including the Swansea Literary and Scientific Society, the Society for the Acquirement of Useful Knowledge, and a society for instructing the deaf and dumb. There is a lunatic asylum for the counties of Glamorgan, Caermarthen, Cardigan, and Pembrokeshire. In front of the town is a sandy beach of 3 miles, and the geology of the whole district is full of interest, forming part of the great coal-field of South Wales. The hill of Kilvy to the E. of the town and the town hill overhanging it on the W. are composed of Pennant sandstone, which is of enormous thickness, and possesses some valuable seams of coal. The living is a vicarage* with the curacy of St. Peter's annexed, in the diocese of St. David's, value £300, in the Church Patronage Society. The parish is 25 miles in circumference. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, was rebuilt after the fall of the old one in 1739, and has three side chapels. It contains a brass of 1481 to the memory of Sir Hugh Johnys, of Llandymore Castle, in Gower; also a monument to Lady Elizabeth Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntley, and who was given in marriage by the King of Scotland to the Pretender, Perkin Warbeck, but subsequently married Sir Matthew Cradock, high steward of Gower. In addition to the parish churches are the district churches of Holy Trinity and St. Paul's, Sketty, the livings of which are perpetual curacies, valued respectively at £170 and £60. The church of St. John is a small edifice. built on the site of an ancient chapel of the Knights Templars, who had a preceptory here; and there is just completed a Gothic church, dedicated to St. Luke, as a chapel-of-ease to the mother church. The Wesleyans have two chapels. Calvinistic Methodists, Welsh Baptists, Independents, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics have chapels, and the Jews a synagogue, one episcopal seaman's chapel, and one for Dissenters. The free grammar school, founded in 1682 by Bishop Gore, has an income from endowment of £120, and is attended by about forty scholars. There are also a normal training college, supported on the voluntary principle; National and infant schools for 800 children, built in 1848; St. Peter's schools, situated among the mining population, built in 1858; the parochial schools, on the Oystermouth road, capable of containing 400 children, built in 1862; St. Helen's National schools for infants, erected in 1864; and the Swansea Industrial Home for Orphan Girls. The foundation-stone of a hospital, to contain 100 beds, has been recently laid. There is a library of Welsh history, formed in connection with the Royal Institution, South Wales. The principal residences in the vicinity are Singleton, Sketty, and Sketty Lodge. The races take place annually at Crumlyn Burrows, and a regatta in August or September. The poet Gower and Beau Nash, the celebrated master of ceremonies at Bath, were natives of Swansea. Market days are Wednesday and Saturday. Fairs are held on the 2nd May, 2nd July, 15th August, and 30th October.
"COCKET, a village in the parish of Swansea, in the county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 1 mile from Swansea."
"CROSSRIM, a village in the parish of Swansea, in the county of Glamorgan near Swansea."
"DAN-Y-GRAIG, in the parish of Swansea St. Mary, county of Glamorgan, 1 mile E. of Swansea. Here is a lunatic asylum for Glamorgan, Pembroke, Cardigan, and Carmarthen."
"MORRISTON, a village in the parish and hundred of Swansea, county Glamorgan, 2 miles N. of Swansea, within which borough it is situated. It lies on Swansea Bay, near the mouth of the river Taw, and takes its name from the Morris family, by whom it was founded. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in the copper works and potteries. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of St. David's, value £90. The church is a modern edifice."
"PENYRHWEL, a hamlet in the parish of Swansea, county Glamorgan, adjoining Swansea."
"ST. THOMAS, a hamlet in the parish of Swansea, county Glamorgan, near Swansea.
"WEEG, a village in the parish of Swansea, county Glamorgan, near Swansea."
[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2018