Mount Pleasant: An 'urban village' in Swansea

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Right: A rare photograph of Mount Pleasant around 1890. Terrace Road School can be seen in the centre skyline. The rest of the estate has yet to be built.

Although now suffering badly in its new role as a student bed sit land, the Mount Pleasant estate still displays some of the elements of the ‘urban village’ that it once was. A clearly defined community with a school, chapel, many shops and a public house, from its completion, Mount Pleasant was one of the most readily identifiable localities in the Victorian town.

The estate was built between 1880 and 1900, mainly by the Bennett Brothers (a prominent building firm that still survives today). The estate was laid out as a classic byelaw gridiron, with no allowance for the rolling topography of the fields beneath. Although the terraced streets appear uniform, close inspection will reveal subtle differences in the design of each street of houses. Often you will find that small groups of three or four houses will share similarities in window shape and size or door shape, or even the tiles in the front porches (where they survive). Thus the uniformity, that many people expect in a terraced street shows a surprising degree of variation. The reason for this is that the houses were built in small batches of three or four rather than whole streets at a time as would be more common today. Such piecemeal development is typical of Victorian builders and explains the rather long time scales of some of the estates being build at the turn of the century.

It was clear from the outset of the building that a school would be essential and the monolithic Terrace Road School was built in 1888 to cater for the local children, well in advance of the bulk of the houses which were completed in the following decade.




The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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