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  National flag of Wales featuring the Welsh red dragon     Architectural Gallery

Swansea's architectural heritage reveals the story of the city's development between the Middle Ages and evolving still in the 21st Century. The prosperous Victorian era as a seaport of world importance gave rise to some of the city's most opulent buildings, both in scale and exquisite decoration, oozing civic confidence and an embryonic cultural self-discovery. The legacy of the former industrial centuries have paradoxically left its reminders with buildings representing an idyllic or pastoral existence - the cottages, halls and castles built by the fabulously wealthy architects of industry.

Oxwich Cottage, Gower

Swansea Guildhall - the city hall

Swansea Guildhall, 1930 - 1934

Victoria Park, Swansea

architect - Sir Percy Thomas

A complex consisting of the city hall, Brangwyn Concert Hall and county law courts, built on the eastern border of Victoria Park by the edge of Swansea Bay. Finished in white Portland stone, the tall finger of an art nouveau clock tower stretches from the chambers below like a lighthouse. The prow of a Viking longboat, reminiscent of Swansea's 11th Century origins, is decoratively built into the elegant tower. The "stripped" classical style is a 1930's architectural gem of international significance. Internally, the walnut lined neo-classical debating chamber contrasts Grecian columns with a frieze depicting scenes of the Welsh Eisteddfod - one of the oldest cultural festivals in the world. The vast Brangwyn concert hall is adorned with huge, frenetically detailed colourful panels by Sir Frank Brangwyn, commissioned for the British House of Lords following the First World War. These contain scenes of the British Empire but were considered inappropriate for the prudish "Lords" due to their depiction of topless native girls! Read the full story of the Brangwyn Panels here

Copyright City & County of Swansea

Pic copyright City & County of Swansea




Associated British Ports, Adelaide Street, Swansea

Morgan's Hotel, 1903

Adelaide Street, Swansea

architect - Edwin Seward

A florid baroque pile in red brick and white stone, resembling highly decorated icing dripping from a cake. Built to represent Swansea's cosmopolitan seafaring links with the past and an exciting future world for Associated Ports, the interior features stained glass exploring compasses, exploration and maritime themes. A splendid mural adorns the boardroom depicting tall masted ships on River Tawe, overlooked by Swansea Castle. These have been splendidly restored in the conversion to Swansea city centre's five star hotel, "Morgan's". Topped by a Greek statue-clad clock cupola intended to remind the original tenants Swansea Harbour Trust of the essence of time, the building was a winning design out of 100 entries.


Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Alexandra Road, Swansea

<  Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, 1909  

     Alexander Road, Swansea

    architect - Glendinning Moxham

Commissioned by a wealthy local industrialist to house his family's priceless art collection, including paintings by Gustave Dore, the florid baroque revival Edwardian building wasn't completed until after Richard Glynn Vivian's death in 1911.

    Swansea Museum, 1841 >

Victoria Road, Swansea

architect - Frederick Long

The first museum in Wales, established by The Royal Institution of South Wales; built in the stone porticoed and colonnaded neo-classical style, the ultimate statement of pretension in the   Victorian era.  The museum attracted the early patronage of Michael Faraday.

Swansea Museum, Victoria Road   


 John Wesley's Cottage, Oxwich, Gower, Swansea

John Wesley's Cottage "The Nook"  Oxwich, Gower ... circa 1800


Keeper's Cottage, Clyne Gardens, Blackpill, Swansea

Keeper's Cottage   Clyne Park, Swansea  ... circa. 1850



Dylan Thomas Literature Centre, Somerset Place, Maritime Quarter, Swansea

Dylan Thomas National Literature Centre of Wales, 1825

Somerset Place, Swansea Maritime Quarter

original architect - John Collingwood

The old Swansea Town Hall was built in 1825 in the Doric style by local builder Thomas Bowen. Extended in 1848 by architect William Richards, it remained as a functional town hall until the present civic centre, Swansea Guildhall, replaced it in 1934. Built from sandstone, the facade features eight Corinthian columns and sweeping arched windows, richly decorated by gargoyles. Sixty years later, the old town hall was refurbished for use as The National Literature Centre of Wales (Ty Llen in Welsh), the first literary institution of its kind in the U.K. The centre has been named in honour of Swansea's most famous literary son, Dylan Thomas, and was opened in 1995 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.



Swansea Castle, Castle Street

Swansea Castle, started from 1287

architect - Bishop Henry de Gower

Replacing an earlier wooden castle destroyed by the Welsh, the present medieval building was established by the hated Norman ruler Lord Henry de Beaumont. Also ruined by Welsh hero Prince Owain Glyndwr, the southern wall is a reminder of the grandeur of a considerably larger site and contains a surviving wall featuring the stone Gothic arcading which was the hallmark of architect Henry de Gower, Bishop of  St Davids. The castle's function was as a centre of power and law courts for the district, which was still in use in the 19th Century as a debtor's prison.



Cross Keys Inn, St Mary's Street, Swansea

Cross Keys Inn  St Marys Street, Swansea

Victorian Tudor style restoration by Victor Ward of Swansea's oldest pub, established on the site of a 14th Century hospital. It incorporates a gabled block containing the original medieval hospital windows. The historic picture of the inn by Calvert Jones dates back to 1852. A sign proclaims, "the oldest public house in Wales".

Cross Keys Inn, St. Mary's Street, Swansea - 1852


Sketty Hall, Singleton Park, Sketty, Swansea

Sketty Hall  Sketty, Swansea   ... 1758



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