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Swansea and it’s maritime past

by Gary Reading, Feb 2018

Swansea possesses a fascinating maritime history, as a popular seaside resort, attracting all manner of trippers both young and old, but with it’s connection to the sea it has a proud history.Swansea had a major role in the industrial revolution, so much so that the German Luftwaffe tried but failed to destroy the port and docks during World War Two.

Welsh coal was taken all around the world in exchange for copper-ore to support the industries back home.

Amazing tales of numerous shipwrecks and smuggling have been passed down through generations over the years.And we should never forget the heroism of the crews who volunteered to man the Mumbles Lifeboat station.

Between the years 1780 and 1830 Swansea had a reputation as a fashionable seaside resort.Which saw a proliferation of accommodation from simply boarding houses too much grander hotels and inns.

However, in 1859 the South Dock was opened which paved the way for Swansea to become part of the ever-expanding industrial revolution.But it has been tourism which has driven the city’s fortunes over the years.

More than two hundred ships have been wrecked around the Gower Peninsula.Showing just how treacherous the coast is aside from the incredible beauty.And we should not forget smuggling has been rife in the area and lucrative!

Many artists have tried to capture this ethereal beauty such as W.H. Yorke of Liverpool, who produced ship portraits much prized by their owners.And Calvert Richard Jones, who tried to capture the ships and crew with a photograph and succeed.

Swansea Jack was a black retriever born in 1930, he lived in the North Dock with his master William Thomas.Jack became infamous for saving people at sea.He first rescued a 12-year-old boy in June 1931.A few weeks later Jack rescued a swimmer from the docks.

He appeared in the local newspaper and as an award, the council gave him a silver collar.He also got Bravest Dog Of The Year as a silver cup.Legend has it that he saved 27 people in his lifetime.He died in 1937.His memorial stands on the promenade near St.Helen’s Rugby ground.

Local people are often referred to as Swansea Jacks.

So there you have it a very brief history of Swansea and it’s relationship to the sea