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The Slip emerges

Up ] Early bathing in Swansea Bay ] The Slip emerges ] Swansea Slip : the place to be... ] Swansea Slip: The place to be (continued) ] Swansea Slip:decline and fall ] Swansea Slip: Cleaning up the act ] Swansea Bay : The cleanup starts here ] Building a bridge at Swansea Slip ] [ The Swansea Slip Bridge ] Bert and Dick at the Beach ] Early Swansea sewerage schemes ] Swansea's Main Drainage Scheme ] Swansea's Main Drainage Scheme (Continued) ] A Map of Swansea's Main Drainage Scheme ] Swansea's sewerage system under Mumbles Head ] The Mumbles Head sewer outfall ] Slip Statistics ]

Right: The Bay View stands in splendid isolation in this view of the Slip area in c.1909. The reputation of the area as a place for fun and excitement prompted the building in 1859 of a large hotel and funfair known as Bellvue Recreation Ground. Although it enjoyed mixed fortunes, it enhanced the area’s reputation as a popular meeting place. Eventually, the hotel was renamed the Bay View, and a further draw for crowds was built in the shape of the Swansea Baths and Laundry.

Swansea History Web. The Bay View pub in Swansea near the Slip.

Although both beach and gardens were substantial draws for both visitors and locals alike, the two attractions were unfortunately separated by a series of railway lines (including the Mumbles railway) that ran along the coast. The danger and inconvenience that this entailed was recognised as early as the 1870s when a rudimentary form of level crossing leading to a slipway down to the beach was constructed. By the 1880s, access to the beach was hindered by at least three railway lines that ran the length of the beach from South Dock to Blackpill. Under these circumstances, access ways to the sands were vital, and a number of archways were built under the lines at various points along the sea front. However, the level crossing at the Slip became the most popular point of access for the beach. It was also a popular embarkation point for the Mumbles Railway and the St. Helen’s Road Station was established there.

  Swansea Slip in c. 1900. Left: The Slip area in c.1900. The Bay View is coloured red and the Slip is green.
Continued in Swansea Slip: The place to be. Swansea History Web subscription details are here
 

SHW Microhistory: 5. 1940s Pillbox, Swansea Beach

Although Welsh castles are lovingly conserved, the defences of the twentieth century are being destroyed at an ever increasing rate.

As far as I am aware this little pillbox is the only survivor of coast defence on the beach at Swansea. Although there originally were a number of other examples of pillboxes and light anti-aircraft defence, this remains as the only survivor.

Pillboxes such as this were built on beaches in the southern half of the country as a response to the invasion scare of 1940. Many were hastily built by hard pressed building crews so they were often crude and badly positioned. In addition to the pillboxes, beaches would have had slit

trenches, barbed wire, and anti-tank obstacles to create a series of difficulties which would delay a landing by the German army. This example is an amended Type 26 pillbox which has loopholes on the sides for light machine guns or rifles. The front face does not have an embrasure in an effort to make it more survivable should it ever have come under fire from the beach. This may indicate that the pillbox was built in the light of battle experience in France where the German army proved themselves masters at quickly overcoming such defences. It is a sobering thought that the lifespan of the occupants of this type of pillbox would have been measured in minutes rather than hours in the face of a determined German attack.

Although a great deal of time and expense was devoted to preparing beach defences, the Germans never had the capability to make beach landings, they would have occupied a port and unloaded their vehicles and supplies with cranes from the holds of ships. Landing craft were not invented until the Americans realised they would be needed later on in the war. Nevertheless, defending Swansea against possible invasion was a serious precaution and very relevant because German army records found after the war indicated that they had prepared tactical street fighting maps for Swansea and fully expected to fight for the port in the way of the urban battles of Kiev or Rotterdam.

More SHW Microhistory

Edition Date August 2004 (Next Edition September 2004)

All content © Nigel A. Robins and Swansea History Web 2004

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