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A memorial for Swansea Jack

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Swansea Jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below: Jack's memorial on Swansea's seafront.
Between 1935 and 1937, Jack’s popularity soared. William Thomas was encouraged to take Jack to local functions and it became almost essential for dignitaries to have their photographs taken with Jack. As a fund-raiser for local charities, Jack became the essential guest. The black retriever supplied a pleasant and easily identifiable mascot or image for the town. Jack was a dream image, devoid of any manufacture or cynicism in an age which was largely devoid of the marketing and media hype that we see today.

At the height of his popularity with the people of Swansea, tragedy struck. Jack accidentally consumed rat poison which resulted in a slow, painful decline for the dog and considerable public upset. On 2 October 1937, Jack died and the local newspapers reflected a feeling of loss throughout the whole town. A heartbroken William Thomas by then living in Treboeth, buried Jack in the garden of his Roger Street home.

However, the Jack story does not end there. Public opinion in the town was deeply affected by Jack’s loss and discussions in the Borough Council chamber about the possibility of a memorial in one of the Borough’s many parks quickly led to a lively public debate in the local newspaper (The South Wales Evening Post). The Post supported the notion of a lasting memorial to Jack and gave plenty of coverage to the ensuing debate. Public campaigns were not new in Swansea, a local children’s home had been erected by public subscription soon after the Great War. The desired resting place for a memorial was clearly Victoria Park, already the site of a number of memorials and close to the popular meeting place of the Slip.

A suitable spot on the town’s promenade was selected and Jack was exhumed and reburied in a public ceremony on 21 October 1937. A year later, a massive public collection enabled a substantial memorial to be placed over the grave.

 

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