It’s not all cutting edge news journalism at The Daily Swansea, so occasionally we like to step out of our serious news box and deliver some interesting, historical pieces to our readers.
As Swansea prepares for huge changes in the coming years, we thought it would be useful to look back at the rich history of the city, so we can all remember where we came from.
Here are some things that you probably didn’t know and probably shouldn’t share with your children or Grandchildren:
- The Mumbles Train
To people outside of the city, the Mumbles Train will always be known as the World’s first passenger railway service. Those of us around in 1807 however, remember this wasn’t quite the case.
The Mumbles Train was certainly a first of its kind, but not for carrying fare-paying passengers. It was actually an early trial of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) which was authorised by Government in partnership with American film producers.
The grainy images we see today are the product of ground-breaking animated content, which paved the way for the production of films such as Kung Fu Panda and Shrek, which was loosely based around a limestone magnate who moved to the city and lived in marshland in Llanmadoc.
- The origin of ‘Copperopolis’
These days we associate ‘Copperopolis’ with growth of Swansea as an industrial centre, but the term was actually adopted from the city’s criminal underworld in the early 18th century.
South Wales Police were in the midst of a recruitment crisis in the early 1700s, crime was on the up and so the city reached out to Malaysia to temporarily recruit police officers, where they are known as ‘polis’ in their native language of Malay.
Criminals at the time would identify a SWP officer as a ‘copper’ and a Malaysian officer as ‘polis’. Renowned egg thief in 1707, Pete Bowen, told us: “We used to go on the rob a lot, there was no CCTV back then of course, so it was a lot easier.
“When the Malaysian officers arrived it became harder, there was old bill everywhere! The Malaysians were a lot quicker, so when we saw a police presence we’d go on the run and shout a warning to the others, they’d usually ask “is it a ‘copper or polis’” and that’s where the term originates from.”
- Dylan Thomas’s real birthplace
Dylan Thomas is unquestionably Swansea’s most famous son, because Alan Curtis was actually born in the Rhondda.
However, despite the history books claiming that Thomas was born in the Uplands, new evidence has emerged that he was actually born and raised in Cockett. Dylan Thomas fans have rejected this claim for years, on the grounds that Cockett isn’t trendy enough to be associated with a poet of his stature.
Historian Theresa Connell told us: “He was born in Cockett and lived on Waunarlwdd Road, but of course neither of these sounds particularly glamorous.
As he became more and more known for his literary prowess, a decision was made somewhere to say he was from SA2. Unfortunately as SA2 also incorporates the equally unglamorously sounding ‘Dunvant’ that decision was revoked and from that day on, Dylan Thomas was from the Uplands and his favourite restaurant was Wasabi.”
- The Gower Peninsula wasn’t always in Swansea
If you’ve ever studied a map of South West Wales, you’ll notice that the Gower Peninsula is a near perfect fit in jigsaw terms to an area of the Pembrokeshire coast (see image).
Swansea claims ‘the Gower’ as its own, basking in the glory that it was awarded the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956 but until the great storm of 1859, it belonged to our neighbours in West Wales.
The weather conditions were so ferocious during the storm that the area we now know as the Gower Peninsula broke away from the Pembrokeshire coast, before high winds and rough seas pushed the area around the Bristol Channel, before it docked onto the side of Mumbles.
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments.
photo credit: Cloud070 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/143483413@N05/29616921945″>Sunset at Swansea marina</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>