Swansea (Fairwood) Airport

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The aerodrome, which had been kept on a care and maintenance basis since 1945, was decommissioned by the Air Ministry in 1956, In 1957 a civilian airport began operating at Swansea under the control of Cambrian Airways. However, in 1959 the Corporation assumed full responsibility for the airport and set up an Airport Committee to supervise this project. In 1969, extra finance being needed, this Committee became the Swansea and West Wales Airport Consortium Committee, which consisted of fourteen other local authorities, six of them contributing financially towards the operating costs of the airport. This arrangement was discontinued with the reorganisation of local government in 1974. The Swansea City Council once more took full responsibility for the airport and its entire operation until 1994, when it was leased to a private company. As far as we are aware, the civilian history of the airport has never been investigated and much information can be gained from the records of committee proceedings held in the West Glamorgan Archive Service.

There is a plan of Fairwood Common aerodrome lodged at West Glamorgan Archives Service showing the Aerodrome in 1945Ref No. D38.

 

SHW Microhistory: 2. Blitz bomb damage

Swansea Central Police Station  bomb damage.

Swansea's old Central Police Station in Orchard Street is one of the few surviving buildings that still has the scars of the air attacks of the Second world War.

The Orchard Street side of the building is peppered with gouges into the brickwork as a result of a large bomb detonation at roof height above a building opposite the station. The damage was most likely caused by a German fragmentation bomb detonating as it hit the walls or roof of other buildings.

Fragmentation weapons were used by all sides in the war because they would cause dreadful wounds to firemen and rescue workers or anyone within a large radius of the detonation. The police station was not a specific target but it was sufficiently close to the centre of the bombing to be exposed to danger for most air raids. Most of the buildings hit in the Swansea raids were either completely rebuilt after the war or demolished so such signs of the violence of the air

attacks is comparatively rare. Even as late as 1940, a number of British government advisors believed that German aircraft would not have the range necessary to attack west coast ports such as Swansea and Cardiff. It is to the eternal credit of the officials of the County Borough of Swansea in the late 1930s that they spent a greatdeal of time and effort in preparing for air raids which probably saved a number of lives across the Borough when the attacks came.

The building is shortly to be redeveloped and I have no idea whether the damage will be removed or left untouched. I know many people walk past each day and have no idea what the marks mean, which is a shame because this is part of the city's history and a far more eloquent testimony to the sacrifice of the war years than the anti-aircraft gun that sits at the New Cut bridge.

More SHW Microhistory

Swansea Central  Police Station bomb damage.
cover

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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