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Mount Pleasant: An 'urban village' in Swansea (continued)

Abbreviations and Bibliographies ] Early Welsh Industrial Housing ] Evans Terrace in North Hill: High Density Victorian housing ] The Swansea Cottage Exhibition 1910 ] The First Welsh Garden City ] Greenhill ] Swansea's Garden Suburb ] Housing: Sources before 1800 ] Swansea's 'Homes for Heroes' ] Nineteenth Century Housing History in Wales ] Swansea's housing problem; A background ] Early Housing in Swansea 1902-1910 ] Henrietta Street in Swansea ] Early Landore in Swansea ] New Street in Swansea ] Housing History Basic Reading ] Recorder Street in Swansea ] Mount Pleasant in Swansea: An early map of the area ] The Mount Pleasant Estate in Swansea ] Mount Pleasant: An 'urban village' in Swansea ] Mount Pleasant in Swansea : A plan of the completed estate. ] Mount Pleasant in Swansea : A list of shops 1900 to 1960 ]

Above: Mount Pleasant in the early 1990s. Looking east with St Judes church on the skyline. A City Mini bus struggles up the hill (lower centre) Most of the Mount Pleasant houses are of the typical speculative design that builders preferred at the end of the nineteenth century. A three bedroom terrace with a tunnelback extension to house a scullery and wc and coal house was popular with the more affluent white collar trades people. It was a safe design for Victorian builders, they knew there was a ready market for such houses, and variations of the design are found all across the country. The design had the added advantage of being very compact thus increasing potential profits for the builders and developers as they could cram large numbers of houses into very small plots, a typical development being 33 houses per acre.

The builders were very careful to recognise the trades and crafts of potential buyers of their houses. Street corner properties (of which there were many due to the characteristics of the byelaw gridiron layout), were built to a larger pattern to accommodate shops and storehouses. Whereas earlier types of Swansea urban street would show ordinary houses converted into small shops, the Mount Pleasant estate corner properties were designed as shops for the local community. Thus, much needed community infrastructure was built in to the design. The surviving evidence from directories and people’s reminiscences suggests that the street corner trading on the estate was successful almost from the day that the shops were built, building up to an incredible array of commercial properties integrated in to the residential streets. The shop system survived until the mid-1960s when the arrival of town based supermarkets started to compete with the old style stores which were gradually squeezed out of existence.

The southern part of the estate was steeper than the north and had also experienced a degree of stone quarrying. This meant that there were some steep gradients to be negotiated in the building of the streets. Thus, some of the houses have three floors on the downhill side (a typical Welsh building style), often built as a house above and a basement flat below.


SHW's Book of the Month:

Salt by Mark Kurlansky

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This is not a local history book and Mark Kurlansky is a journalist not a local historian. Nevertheless he has produced a fascinating history of one of the world's basic commodities. I first came across Kurlansky with his book about the history of Cod. I think anyone who wants to know about the history of the Bristol Channel has to be familiar with the fish and how it encouraged Bristol fishermen to discover the Grand Banks. Salt is another offbeat yet fundamental bit of our history. We've had a popular web page on salt for ages and Swansea had a Salthouse Point at the mouth of the River Tawe for centuries. Kurlansky takes you on a journey across space and time to discover the importance of salt for mankind. From Jericho to Gandhi, salt has had an important part to play. This is a lovely book that enhances the quality of history for it adds depth and value to something we use every day. (Nigel Robins)

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