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Swansea Harbour in 1771

This plan shows the original Swansea Harbour towards the end of the eighteenth century before any notable attempts had been made to alter or improve it for shipping. The bay is a large expanse of sand, mud and pebbles brought down from the Black Mountains by the River Tawe. By the 1770s the mouth of the river had stabilised into two main distributaries or channels known as the East and West Bars. The navigable limits of the channels were well known by local pilots and some were marked by barrel posts and markers. The eastern portion of Swansea Bay was known as Fabians Bay and was characterised by masses of Old Red Sandstone and limestone pebbles which were used extensively as a building material in the medieval town. Large numbers of pebbles can still be seen in the remaining walls of the castle in the centre of town.

At low tide the River was only two or three feet in depth at the most. For most of the year it was easily fordable at many points although it became a formidable barrier at high tide or times of flood. Ships had to sit on the mud and stones (known as 'the layer') at low tide.

 

 

The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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