Swansea to Pontarddulais Train Journey on Film 1964


Record of one of the last train rides – on the “old puff puff” – from Swansea’s Victoria Station to Pontardulais. The line was closed soon afterwards, part of the reshaping of the railway system undertaken by Dr Beeching, chair of the British Railways Board. The footage was shot by Swansea’s Borough Librarian, Leslie M Rees, and his deputy, with Mr Rees later providing a commentary (he happens to mention that the jail, seen in passing, has an excellent branch library). 

This line ran from Swansea Victoria to Pontardulais, calling at Swansea Bay, Mumbles Road, both Killay and Dunvant at one time, Gowerton, Gorseinon and Grovesend. Once the Beeching axe struck, the train ran simply from Swansea to Gowerton and on to Llanelli and from Llanelli to Pontarddulais via Bynea and Llangennech. The ‘new face of British Railways’ is seen – a diesel train (“not half so romantic as the old puff puff”) heading for Shrewsbury, few passengers embarking or disembarking. “Of course”, comments Mr Rees, “that probably is the reason why all these trains are being taken off, we just don’t use them.” 

National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales preserves and celebrates the sound and moving image heritage of Wales, making it accessible to a wide range of users for enjoyment and learning. Its film collection reflects every aspect of the nation’s social, cultural and working life across the 20th century, giving a fascinating insight into Welsh filmmaking, both amateur and professional.

Glynn Vivian Talk, 17 February – Smelting and Selling: the Vivians and the Copper trade in nineteenth-century Swansea

Community Café: Professor Louise Miskell

Glynn Vivian Artist Talk.

17 Feb 2017
12.30PM. Ends at 1.30pm
This event is free.
Glynn Vivian
Alexandra Road Swansea SA1 5DZ

Smelting and Selling: the Vivians and the Copper trade in nineteenth-century Swansea

Room 1

Booking essential.

Vivian and Sons is perhaps Swansea’s best known nineteenth-century copper firm. They epitomised the town’s rise to fame as a centre of the global copper trade. This talk looks behind their successful image at some of the challenges and difficulties faced by the Vivians as they worked to establish their copper smelting business at Hafod. Drawing on evidence from the extensive Vivian correspondence held at the National Library of Wales, their efforts to produce high quality copper and to build up a substantial customer base for their products will be explored alongside their relationships with Swansea’s other leading copper firms.

All activities are free.

Community groups in Swansea ‘feel undervalued’ …


15 January 2017

Volunteers and community groups which have taken on services to stop Swansea council from axing them feel undervalued, a report has said.

The finding was made during a review into how the council can help residents run services in their own communities.

About 75 have been taken on by groups including community centres, recreation areas and clubs.

The report to this week’s cabinet said more needs to be done to recognise their good work.

Thirty-nine community centres are run by voluntary management committees along with six bowls clubs including the main Swansea bowls centre and Swansea Bowls Association – an umbrella group for smaller clubs.

On top of that, there are about 30 “friends of parks” groups which work in partnership with the council carrying out litter picks, reporting maintenance issues and putting on events.

Talks are also taking place about the future of sports pitches as the council continues to look at ways of making savings.

“There was a consistent message from our evidence gathering that many community volunteers and community groups do not feel valued either by their communities or by the council,” the councillor-led scrutiny panel report said.

“We believe that recognition for the work of volunteers is important not just because this is the right thing to do, but also because it provides encouragement and it lets them know that they have the support and backing of the council and the wider community.”

The report also found some people see handing services over to communities as a “threat rather than an opportunity”.

There was also “concern” raised by some about the level of service being provided if the council is not involved and the longer term sustainability of projects because of the current age of many volunteers.

Ten recommendations have been made including publicly promoting the roles of volunteers and creating an award category in the annual Lord Mayor’s Awards.

In response to the report, Mark Child, cabinet member for wellbeing and healthy city, said: “Community groups and volunteers are often the lifeblood of their communities. Without them we’d all be poorer.”

He added: “Community groups have a great track record of achievement.

“An important part of this is that they are often embedded in their neighbourhoods so it means they’re better able to shape services so they meet the needs and expectations of local residents.”

Hotel idea for Swansea’s Hafod copperworks site


Plans to regenerate Swansea’s former Hafod copperworks site could also include a hotel and leisure complex.

Heritage Lottery funding has already been granted to set up a distillery and visitor centre to attract up to 50,000 visitors per year.

But a hotel complex has been earmarked by Swansea council which would also be used by sports fans attending matches at the nearby Liberty Stadium .

Council leader Rob Stewart said there was an “opportunity” for the scheme.

The copperworks dominated the world copper market for 150 years, but has lain derelict since 1980.

CU@Swansea, a partnership between the council and Swansea University, has been working since 2010 to preserve the buildings and heritage of the Grade II-listed works.

Along with those works, which form part of the Tawe corridor regeneration strategy, the Penderyn distillery would be the centrepiece of the project.

The hotel would be built on land which is used as a car park on match days for the Liberty.

Riverside homes, restaurants and water sports facilities make up the rest of the strategy.

Copperopolis: Swansea’s Heyday, Decline and Regeneration – Professor Huw Bowen talk …

16 March: In the second lecture of the 2016 History of Capitalism series, Huw Bowen, Professor of Modern History at Swansea University, explored the significance of Swansea, the city at the centre of a world-wide trade network in the 19th Century due to its dominance of world output of smelted copper. Introduced by Hywel Williams, Senior Adviser at the Legatum Institute.

More information: http://www.li.com/events/copperopolis…

Last Hafod-Morfa walk this year . . .

Don’t forget our last guided walk for 2016 of the Hafod Morfa Copperworks will be on Wednesday 2nd November. The walk starts at 2:00 p.m. from the Swansea Museum Collection Centre situated in the Landore Park and Ride Car Park. There is no charge – but to book your place please phone the Museum Collection Centre on 01792- 467282.

‘Beauty and horror’ in the industrially scarred landscapes of South Wales …

These two links are from The Guardian, 24 October 2016.

John Vidal takes to the skies with US photographer J Henry Fair on an aerial toxic tour of south Wales – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/24/industrial-scars-landscapes-of-south-wales-toxic-j-henry-fair

The Hafod and Middle Bank Works, c. 1840. Note the ships far up the river

The Hafod and Middle Bank Works, c. 1840. Note the ships far up the river

Lower Swansea Valley with the wind blowing unusually from the east

Lower Swansea Valley with the wind blowing unusually from the east

White Rock Ferries talk, 21 October …

John Ashley will talk about the White Rock Ferries Families at Growing up in Victorian Swansea.

A history day presented in partnership with Swansea U3A and the  Historical Association, Swansea Branch, at the Waterfront Museum, Swansea Marina, on Friday 21 October, 11 am – 4.30 pm.

Entry is free. No need to register in advance but please don’t arrive halfway through a talk.

11.00    Welcome

11.05    Setting the scene: a snapshot of Swansea in 1849 (Sarah Goodall)

11.15    Child Paupers in the Swansea Workhouse (Bernard Lewis)

11.45    A Victorian Education in Mumbles (John Powell)

12.15    Victorian Street Food (Sarah Lever)

12.45    morning plenary

1.00    lunch break

2.00    Work opportunities

Monologue, The Victorian Parlourmaid (Debra John)

2.45    Life, leisure, labour – jobs for young people in Victorian Swansea (Sarah Gregory)

3.15    Copper and ferry families (John Ashley)

3.45    Leisure – Swansea Bay and the development of parks (Sarah Goodall)

4.00    Plenary session

4.30   Close

Old Dy’vorians Association Lecture at the UWTSD Dynevor Campus on 20th October at 7-00 pm …

Distinguished TV scientist to deliver annual lecture in Swansea

Distinguished scientist, award-winning author and TV presenter Professor Richard Fortey FRS FRSL, will deliver the annual Old Dy’vorians Association Lecture at the UWTSD Dynevor Campus on 20th October at 7-00 pm.  Professor Fortey1 will be speaking about his new book, The Wood for the Trees2, published earlier this year.

Professor Fortey said:

“I had dreamed of having my own piece of woodland for many years, but somehow there was never enough cash in the bank. In 2011, thanks to fronting a BBC4 television series based upon one of my books, I was suddenly solvent enough to turn that dream into reality.  We purchased a small patch of classical beech and bluebell ancient woodland in the Chiltern Hills.

“I soon realised that to understand the natural history of the woodland we had to explore its human history. Far from being “wildwood” it had been managed by the same estate for nearly a millennium. The wood became a research project, and this talk summarises some of our discoveries: everything from geology to a ghost story.

“Now I have a clearer view of what makes “nature” in our small island. I have learned to see the wood for the trees.

Professor Fortey was Keeper of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum, London and President of the Geological Society of London during its bicentenary in 2007.  In 1993, his first trade book, The Hidden Landscape, was named the Natural World Book of the Year.  He won the Lewis Thomas Prize for science writing (2003) and in 2006 won the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Prize for public communication of science.

His eight major popular science books also include, Life: An Unauthorised Biography (1998), shortlisted for the Rhône-Poulenc Prize, and (2001), Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the UK’s most prestigious non-fiction award.  In 2005 Earth: an Intimate History was shortlisted for the Royal Society’s Aventis prize for science books. Life: an Unauthorised Biography was listed as one of ten ‘Books of the Year’ by the New York Times.  He has also written humorous books (sometimes anonymously) and comic verses about dinosaurs for children.

His many television appearances include: in 2012, the BBC 4 series Survivors: Nature’s Indestructible Creatures, which took a global look at modern-day species whose ancestors survived mass extinction events in the Earth’s history.  In 2013 he presented the BBC 4 programme The Secret Life of Rock Pools.  In 2014, he presented the BBC 4 three-part series Fossil Wonderlands: Nature’s Hidden Treasures, when he travelled to fossil sites to learn more about the distant past.  That year he also presented The Magic of Mushrooms, in which he showed that fungi (another major enthusiasm) had close but still poorly understood inter-relationships with plants and animals.  Earlier this year he presented the three-part series Nature’s Wonderlands: Islands of Evolution on BBC 2.


Lecture: ‘The Wood for the Trees’

Speaker: Professor Richard Fortey FRS FRSL

Venue: Dynevor Campus, University of Wales Trinity St David’s, De la Beche Street, Swansea.

Date: Thursday, 20th October.

Time: 6-00 pm (Complimentary refreshments in the Dynevor Cafe) for 7-00 pm (Start of Lecture in the Samuel Roberts Lecture Theatre).

Tickets:  The lecture is FREE.  No ticket required.


Mr Phill Davies (Secretary, ODA) Tel: 01792 883978   E: phillipdavies47@btinternet.com.

Dr Ted Nield (President, ODA) T: 07815 146676.  E: geoscribe@yahoo.co.uk.


  1. A print-quality photo of Professor Fortey is available on request from nield@geolsoc.org.uk or geoscribe@yahoo.co.uk.
  2. The Wood for the Trees: The Long View of Nature from a Small Wood, by Richard Fortey. Published by William Collins (2016, ISBN 978-0-00-810466-5).