Swansea History Web. Looking at Swansea's Main Drainage Sewerage Scheme from the 1930s.

Swansea's Main Drainage Scheme

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 ]

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By 1907 the population of Swansea was increasing rapidly past 100,000. The majority of these people were contributing to the pollution of the River Tawe either at work or at home. The filth of the river was also beginning to be apparent on the sands of Swansea Bay, which by this time was hugely popular as a focus for holidays for the masses of industrial workers of the South Wales valleys. In the hot summer weather (and Swansea had a run of hot summers in the early 1900s), the river turned into a foul stagnant liability with only sporadic relief from the flushing effect of the tide.

Swansea History Web. Dick German 'Fever Bay' 1907.

Both borough and various consulting engineers agreed that the only suitable scheme was for an outfall that took sewage a long way away from the river mouth. Ideally this would entail releasing effluent into the bay at a point where the general currents of the Bristol Channel would apparently disperse it away from the inner reaches of the bay. This was a popular view across the country. Many other municipal authorities viewed carefully placed sea outfalls as a cost effective solution to sewage pollution. The phrase 'out of sight, out of mind' characterises early sanitation perfectly. The Swansea scheme was no different in this respect than others at towns such as Blackpool, New Brighton and Whitby.

Right: A Dick German cartoon from a 1907 edition of The South Wales Daily Post. The original caption:

'It is reported that dissatisfaction exists over the site selected for the new pilotage house, inasmuch as a powerful aroma usually pervades the atmosphere at the spot.

The window was open, the curtain was drawn, a microbe flew in and a pilot had gone'


SHW Microhistory: 1. SHT 1858

1858 in 1982!

Swansea Harbour Trust's habit of dating the dock bollards with the year of their manufacture has left the port with a fascinating legacy of historical bookmarks. Unfortunately insensitive development by the local authority has meant that some of the best bollards have been destroyed, but enough survive to make any walk around the dock area interesting.

One of my favourites is this 1858 example which originally stood at the starboard approach to Weaver's Basin (the original North Dock Half-tide Basin).

A number of these larger bollards were inserted in the quayside walls to cope with the bigger ships that were using the port in the later 1850s. This one was used extensively to work ships in and out of the North Dock. If you look closely at it you can still see the marks where countless ropes and hawsers have dug into the iron over the years of its service. The picture above shows the original aspect of 1858 with Weaver's Flour Mill in the background. 1858 survived the Sainsbury's redevelopment and can still be seen at the rear of their rather nice restaurant.

More SHW Microhistory

1858 in 2002.

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