Mount Pleasant: An 'urban village' in Swansea (continued)

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Above: Mount Pleasant in the early 1990s. Looking east with St Judes church on the skyline. A City Mini bus struggles up the hill (lower centre) Most of the Mount Pleasant houses are of the typical speculative design that builders preferred at the end of the nineteenth century. A three bedroom terrace with a tunnelback extension to house a scullery and wc and coal house was popular with the more affluent white collar trades people. It was a safe design for Victorian builders, they knew there was a ready market for such houses, and variations of the design are found all across the country. The design had the added advantage of being very compact thus increasing potential profits for the builders and developers as they could cram large numbers of houses into very small plots, a typical development being 33 houses per acre.

The builders were very careful to recognise the trades and crafts of potential buyers of their houses. Street corner properties (of which there were many due to the characteristics of the byelaw gridiron layout), were built to a larger pattern to accommodate shops and storehouses. Whereas earlier types of Swansea urban street would show ordinary houses converted into small shops, the Mount Pleasant estate corner properties were designed as shops for the local community. Thus, much needed community infrastructure was built in to the design. The surviving evidence from directories and people’s reminiscences suggests that the street corner trading on the estate was successful almost from the day that the shops were built, building up to an incredible array of commercial properties integrated in to the residential streets. The shop system survived until the mid-1960s when the arrival of town based supermarkets started to compete with the old style stores which were gradually squeezed out of existence.

The southern part of the estate was steeper than the north and had also experienced a degree of stone quarrying. This meant that there were some steep gradients to be negotiated in the building of the streets. Thus, some of the houses have three floors on the downhill side (a typical Welsh building style), often built as a house above and a basement flat below.

 

 

The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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