Bryn y Don Park, August 17

On Sunday August 17 The Friends of Bryn Y Don Park are holding a history event to share memories and photographs of North Hill and Mayhill at Hill Chapel.

Call in for a cuppa, bring your photographs share your memories.
Hear about our Star Path the first in Wales. Swansea Your Story is displaying photographs and memories of life on the hill along with photographs from their lottery funded project a town and city in photographs.

The event takes place at Hill Congregational Chapel North Hill Road between 3pm – 5pm. Leisurely walks will be lead to the park to show how the area has been improved the new play area and our Star Path the first in Wales only the second anywhere to see it at its best though you need to visit at night when the path gives off its magical glow. Other events being run by the friends include Ti Chi on Saturday Mornings and a foresting event on Sunday 31st August.

Free event. For further Information telephone 07794 450918, 07706 275984, or email

Bryn y Don Park

The green space that joins North Hill to Mayhill, is a little-known Swansea park. Thanks to the newly formed Friends of Bryn y Don Park, an area of Swansea that had become rundown and underused has undergone a transformation, much of the work having been undertaken by local residents.

The Park is reached from North Hill Road by walking up ‘Bryn y Don’ Road past the 6 houses that overlook North Hill. The Park is situated behind and above Sea View Terrace from where panoramic views of the city can be enjoyed. The Park boasts the First Star Path in Wales. Every night from dusk to dawn, the path gives off a magical glow.

A fork in the path leads either to the lower entrance on Baptist Well Place past garages and a car turning area or the higher entrance at Baptist Well Place. At the top of the hill is a children’s playground and picnic area.

Memories of Phil Arnold (now living in Canada)

I lived in number 18 North Hill Road right next to the Farmer’s Arms.

18 North Hill Road was a two up two down with a lean-to out the back and a toilet about 25 feet down the back garden. We had no running hot water and only a gas ring until I was about 4 or 5 to cook on.

From the time television was introduced all the kids in the area went to “Paddy’s” house, She ran a bookies service which she legitimized in later years. But every day for children’s hour we could go into her house and watch TV. We finally had a television when I was about 7.

My mother smoked ‘Players Weights’ at the time and it was my job to go down to Trollope’s to buy them. Most times Gordon was behind the counter and would rhyme to me, “Phil, Phil, from Gibbet Hill, never worked and never will.” This must have been somewhat of an omen because I grew up to intensely dislike manual labour. He would also on occasion grab my hand and bend my finger down onto the first joint and torture me with armburn (twisting the skin in opposite directions). Years later my mother told me that he had been in a Japanese POW camp and “came back in a hell of a mess”. I remember the brothers, Hadyn and Frank but I know there was at least one other.

I remember Florrie and Ivor Walters who were the newsagents and sold vinegar by the jug full, out of a huge glass bottle wrapped in straw. They had a tiny shop next to Hill Congregational. Living next to the Farmers gave me an early view of the problem with alcohol. It also gave me a way to get into my back garden by climbing the wall and crossing over. The landlord then had a corgi, and they kept chickens and used china eggs to encourage laying.

When very young I played in the Anderson shelter that was still out our back, then suddenly, one day it was gone.I have memories of it being so big but of course as I was only about 28 inches high everything seemed big. My mother told me a story that once, right in the middle of an air raid my grandfather, who would have been about 75, saw a glowing light in the street right outside our house. He went to the light, ignoring all protestations to the contrary, picked it up and placed it in a bucket of water. Thatlight was the ignition light of an incendiary bomb. Apparently, he would say his reasoning was

“I went through the first lot and came out all right.”

I don’t remember many of the neighbours except Tommy and Lilly Trick and The Dahlgrens’ (Robert) and the Hearns (Sheila) across the street.

I lived about 200 yards from the Swansea Boys Club yet never put foot in the place.

Nearly opposite the Boys Club was the Jews Burial ground (that’s what it was known as in my time) and I was fascinated by what secrets lay beyond the high, black wall and the iron gate. Although I never had the courage (or the mean spiritedness) to climb in.

Living on North Hill Road and going to Terrace Road School meant that I could come home over the fields that ran along-side the back of Mount Pleasant Hospital. It was a hold-over from Victorian misery and still housed some long time workhouse “inmates”. I remember a very tall man with gigantism; a man who was bent over at the waist and who shouted and screamed a lot (what horrors did he still see?).

It was a frightening place for children but as boys we took that as a challenge to sometimes sneak through the hospital grounds on our way to school, always afraid we would bump into one of the scary men. Ivor was one of those, although he wasn’t a bit scary. He must have been a friend of my grandfather. He was a midget who because of his condition was abandoned by his parents and left in the “care” of the workhouse. He walked with the aid of sticks and used to come to our house ever so often to use my grandfather’s shoe last to repair his boots. He wore glasses and had a very pinched little nose. He was always very kind and friendly to me and was a happy little man.

Wanting and needing notice and acceptance, I one day jumped from the wall of the hospital onto the garden below (just by Millers Shop). Word spread and I was dared to do it over and over again which, of course, I did. It is a jump of about 10ft and I always landed on my feet without hurting myself or so I thought. I’ve had back problems all my life, due in part; I’m sure, to that stupid act. We had great adventures. We “climbed Everest” on our way up to the field in front of the Round top school. Even with friends we never went right up to the school in case the crazy kids from Mayhill got hold of us. We played “best faller” copying dying acts from TV and films.

I remember a boy (David?) fell down the quarry at the back of Hill Street and was in a strange leg splint for months — I think he must have broken his pelvis.

It’s strange what memories do to you. I remember mostly long, hot summers and strangely floating lolly pop sticks in the gutters swollen with rain. I remember getting thruppence for school.

I remember cockle women from Penclwydd who sold cockles and whelks and lavabred (yeuck!) The fishman and the bread man, the coal man who had walk through our house to pile the coal in the garden, and the ashman. It probably wasn’t but life seemed so much simpler then.



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