An 1820s vacation information to Swansea

A guidebook is an vital aid to the traveller offering a wealth of information about a desired destination from the greatest spots to stay to prime points of interest to see – and that was just as correct 200 a long time back as it is now.

The New Swansea Guidebook of 1823 coated just about every thing a effectively-heeled Georgian customer to the spot would have wanted to know about the city and areas of fascination to see in Gower, Carmarthenshire, and the Swansea and Neath valleys. As the title webpage proudly features, it gives a “individual description of the city and its vicinity, alongside one another with a brief record of the county (in no way ahead of printed) and this kind of data as might be considered handy to the traveller by way of the counties of Carmarthen and Glamorgan”.

In the early many years of the 19th century Swansea was increasing swiftly with market of all kinds and a booming port welcoming ships from all around Europe, North The usa, and the West Indies. But it was also a fashionable seaside vacation resort common with those who needed in indulge in the new fad of sea bathing.

The information certainly does a superior work of marketing the city, stating it “stands close to the centre of a most attractive bay, on an angle among two hills, which protect it from the north-west and north-east, while the southerly winds, blowing around a broad expenditure of sea, render the air moderate”. In accordance to the book the bay alone is equivalent with that of Naples in Italy.

And with its newly relaid roads, broad pavements, and gasoline avenue lights the “handsome” town constructed on a curve in the river “is justly regarded the first city of the Principality”. The guidebook specifically recommends taking in the watch from the top of Kilvey Hill – continue to a good alternative some two generations on.



text: An extract from the New Swansea Guide of 1823


© British Library
An extract from the New Swansea Manual of 1823

The initial prerequisite for a traveller is lodging and the guide suggests there “quite a few excellent lodging houses” on the Burrows – the area around wherever today’s Maritime Quarter and marina sits – and numerous general public properties the place “the stranger will knowledge the finest civility and notice”. But there are a few inns which are specially proposed – the Mackworth Arms in Wind Street is explained as “a dwelling of quite top-quality accommodation” which “ranks among the most effective in the Principality” when the Wheat Sheaf in nearby Castle Road delivers “intensive and good accommodation for travellers and is considerably frequented”. The Bush in Higher Street “is really convenient, and in it each individual interest is paid out” though it is “much frequented by commercial gentlemen”.

Acquiring secured rooms, what is there for a customer to do? A excursion to Wind Road is on the list – a street explained as “handsome and well-paved” with “various splendid and elegant shops in nearly every branch of business”. Wind Avenue, the guide says, “is the most trendy in city”. As effectively as extravagant retailers the street offers a post business office and reading through rooms run by a Miss out on Jenkins the place a visitor can peruse the latest London each day newspapers or borrow a e book from the lending library. The prime stop of the road is also residence to the castle and the twice-weekly current market. At the time components of the castle were nevertheless in use as a city hall, a debtors prison, and a industry-house.



An illustration from the New Swansea Guide showing Swansea castle


© British Library
An illustration from the New Swansea Tutorial displaying Swansea castle

The guideline also endorses catching a generation at the theatre on Goat Street – 1 of the primary medieval streets of Swansea misplaced to the bombing of Earth War Two – exactly where admission costs 3d for a personal box, 2d to stand in the pit, and 1d in the gallery. Also on the checklist is a go to to the two potteries situated in The Strand, the Cambrian and the Glamorgan, which are the two “highly deserving of attention”, and for all those who extravagant a video game of billiards there are tables at the nearby Purple Lion community dwelling.

In the meantime the ferry property, the foundation for the River Tawe ferry service, gives “superior entertainment seasoned with civility” even though the ferry alone would be handy if the visitor needed to show up at another attraction, neighborhood namely the two-mile long horse racing observe more than on Crymlyn Burrows.

One of the big attractions in town appears to have been the “Community Rooms” found in the Burrows. The manual notes the constructing is “so ornate it its exterior overall look, and so handsomely fitted up” and it boasts a espresso space, looking through room, billiards place, ballroom, supper space, and a place for participating in cards. In entrance of the Public Rooms was a four-acre “enjoyment ground” with lawns and decorative shrubs and trees, gravel footpaths, and a “grand esplanade” giving uninterrupted sights of the bay.

But it is the waters on their own which had been one of the important attracts. In the late 18th century and early 19th century “using the waters” was starting to be stylish for the properly off with bathing in the sea – in winter season as perfectly as summer time – found as a great for the well being. Some medics also proposed ingesting the briny stuff.

Coastal towns have been booming about the British isles with persons flocking to the seaside and Swansea was no exception.

The 1823 manual endorses a few of Swansea bathing homes in the Burrows as being worthy of a check out with the heat sea h2o and vapour baths run by Mr Collard and by Skip Eveniss singled out. The two, the ebook suggests, are venues the place “notice and cleanliness are studiously noticed”, including: “Expenses moderate”.

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The information also notes bathing equipment – protected carriages where the genteel bather could get undressed in personal before remaining wheeled into the shallow for a discreet entry to the bay – are quickly out there and “the preparations are less than these kinds of rules as to stop imposition or incivility”.

In a awesome switch of phrase the manual suggests Swansea “possesses every single accommodation for making use of the marine fluid with impact”.



a large body of water with a city in the background: The view of Swansea from Kilvey Hill is still hard to beat


© Jason Evans
The look at of Swansea from Kilvey Hill is nevertheless tricky to beat

Nonetheless inside a number of many years of the guide becoming posted the Burrows, with its classy bath properties and bathing equipment, its ballroom and satisfaction grounds, experienced been swept away and changed with the South Docks – modern marina – as the city followed the route of industrialisation. It is really tempting to think about what the metropolis would be like currently had Swansea-by-the-sea prevailed around Copperopolis.

The e-book also goes into good element about the industries and factories to be found in Swansea and facts of the cargoes getting into and leaving the port each calendar year in a way perhaps modern day guides wouldn’t. Thanks to the book, nevertheless, we know that 1,285 hundredweight of potatoes were imported into the city in 1819 together with 812 chests of tea and espresso, 103 tons of cheese, and 15,566 gallons of rum and other spirits.

As well as the attractions of the town alone the Georgian guidebook features recommendations for visits to other elements of the place.

With a boat ride or a trip on the “Oystermouth tramroad” a customer could go to the village of Mumbles with its ruined castle and good church. The manual notes “a excellent quantity of oysters are caught in the bay in the vicinity of the village, and exported to London, Bristol, Gloucester and several other spots in England” and it is an sector which “which presents work to a terrific variety of fishermen who principally inhabit the position”.

Additional afield the reserve recommends viewing Caswell Bay – “famed for the selection of natural beauty of its shells” – as properly as Oxwich Bay, Worm’s Head, Cefn Bryn, Llanmadoc Hill, and Penclawdd, “a village pleasantly positioned under a hill, acquiring a wonderful prospect of the Carmarthenshire coast across the River Burry, which has a great effect at substantial drinking water”. The book’s summary of Gower – or “Gowerland” – however, is a little bit ambiguous. It reads: “In point of landscape, it may be inferior to other components of Glamorgan but the origin and patterns of the men and women, the antiquities and curiosities, render it very worthy of an attentive evaluation”.

In the meantime the ferry from Loughor would choose the visitor into Carmarthenshire. Immediately after crossing river the street west “lies by means of a location of colliers and is somewhat indifferent” though Llanelli is a “smaller and irregular city located on a creek in the vicinity of the sea”. The guide is more enthusiastic about Kidwelly, noting: “The prospect from the battlements of the castle are uncommonly great.”



a large stone building with a grassy field with Kidwelly Castle in the background


© Adrian White
Kidwelly Castle

The guide also implies an excursion up the Swansea Valley and says “by the aspect of the canal the stroll is very nice affording a lot of objects really worth observation”.

Right after the copper works of Landore the tutorial mentions the a short while ago-built village of Morris Town, or Morriston, and then the “sweet, intimate village” of Clydach. As the visitor heads even further up the Vale of Tawe the guidebook claims “the place offers the most stunning and picturesque scenery”.

Yet another proposed vacation was to the Vale of Neath. Leaving from Morris City the route crosses the River Tawe on the Wich-tree bridge in advance of heading east. The traveller first encounters the ruins of Neath Abbey – “the garb of antiquity which it wears is way too attractive not to excite the traveller to a shut examination of its beauties” – and then a little further on is the town of Neath, which is explained as “irregular, slim and on the whole not well designed” but at minimum with a handsome bridge around the river. But though the tutorial does not seem terribly amazed with Neath it does advise a vacation to the Gnoll estate with its fine drinking water cascades and notes that at Gnoll castle there is an aged woman who supplies tea.



a castle on top of a stone building: Neath Abbey today


© Media Wales
Neath Abbey now

Back in excess of the river and heading north from Neath the monitor normally takes the traveller by means of the villages of Cadoxton and Aberdulais and into the Vale of Neath, an region described as “abundant and passionate” exactly where “rocks, woods and cataracts [waterfalls] all lead to render the scenery really chic and intriguing”.

At the head of the valley the reserve suggests a go to to the locations spectacular waterfalls – an place still pulling in the readers pretty much 200 a long time later on.

One more possible excursion from Swansea sees the Georgian traveller having the ferry throughout the Tawe and following the track as a result of the hamlet of St Thomas and in excess of the Crymlyn Burrows horse track to the banks of the River Neath wherever a 1d ferry trip qualified prospects to Briton Ferry, a location which arrives remarkably recommended . The guidebook states that “the effect produced on the mind by thinking about the beauties of Briton Ferry is these as to set up a satisfying pensive serenity, which none but the enthusiast in nature’s perform is able of enjoying”. The Vernon Arms is described as a comfy inn and a handy halting stage for travellers heading to or from Swansea.

From Briton Ferry the suggested route goes via Baglan in which “the scenery however delights, for all is grand, lovely, and different” on then it is really on to Aberavon, Taibach (here spelled Taybach) which is “a modest spot inhabited by coal miners and copper smelters”, and then the Margam estate, dwelling of the highly effective Talbot spouse and children. However the estate is private and not open up to the general public the guide notes the gardener who seems after the grounds will lead people on excursions.

Swansea-based mostly journey writer Victoria Trott, who has contributed to a host of global location guides as effectively as penning the Thomas Cook dinner Pocket Information Swansea, is a fan of the Georgian information, which is held in the British Library.

She explained: “This is an unquestionably fascinating go through and actually not way too dissimilar from a 21st century guidebook in that it covers all areas of daily life for the traveller which include an overview of history, obtaining your bearings and acquiring around, where by to continue to be and try to eat, and wherever you can go for amusement. In truth this guide is considerably more in-depth and comprehensive than modern guides. I think it additional than does its occupation for the travellers of the day.

“It is interesting to see what is actually improved and what is stayed the identical 200 many years afterwards. Some features of the town are straight out of a fashionable guide – ‘our sea shores are delightful’ and ‘the castles are planted thickly’ – but I have to admit that I might alternatively see ‘elegant villas and picturesque cottages’ on my way into town than what we have now.

“It is really also amusing that he refers to Gower as ‘Gowerland’ and I am still left wanting to know what form of concept park that would be.”