Swansea shown within the City and County of Swansea
Swansea city centre in Swansea, Wales, UK, lies slightly inland from the River Tawe and Swansea Bay. It contains the main shopping, leisure and nightlife districts in Swansea. It covers most of the Castle ward and the eastern fringes of the Uplands ward. However it is currently expanding eastwards with the re-development of the north of Swansea Docks in to a combined comercial and residential district.
The heart of the city centre was bombed severely in 1941 in what is now termed the "Three Nights Blitz". Forty one acres of the city centre and 857 premises were destroyed beyond repair. Many local businesses had to be relocated just outside of the area of devastation. In the long term the bombing necessitated the complete rebuilding of the city centre, a task which fell upon the county borough of Swansea. Preliminary plans were drawn up in 1943, a Compulsory Purchase order was obtained in 1946 and reconstruction work began in 1947. The reconstruction task took over thirty years to accomplish. With the old shopping centre around High Street flattened, Swansea's main shopping district was rebuilt around the new Kingsway.
Swansea Market/Quadrant Centre vicinity
At the heart of the city centre lies Swansea Market
, the Quadrant centre and the St. David's Shopping Centre
. The Quadrant Shopping Centre
is a shopping centre that opened in the late 1970s. Chain stores such as Debenhams
dominate the centre. On the south side of the shopping mall is a multi-storey car park. Located on the west side of the centre is Swansea bus station
. Beside the Quadrant centre, to the south east is the Tesco
superstore. The store is located on the site of a former gasworks.
High Street was once the main shopping street in Swansea and formed the central axis of the shopping centre. It was completely destroyed in World War II
. Leaving just a few buildings standing gutted including half of the now demolished Woolworth Building, the Elysium Cinema building, the New Castle Buildings and smaller stores to the northern end including the historical Bush Inn.
Swansea Castle is to be found at the southern end of the street. Opposite the castle is the Castle Square. Towards the northern end is Swansea railway station and the Swansea Grand Hotel. The stretch between the castle and railway station is dominated by local retailers, discount retailers and a few pubs, restaurants, fast-food outlets and three of Swansea's gay bars, Hush, Champers and The Kings. The street becomes mainly residential, north of the railway station. In this residential stretch, there is one wedged shaped building on the corner with Prince of Wales Street. This is the Palace theatre, the venue where Anthony Hopkins staged his first professional performance, the oldest theatre in Wales, one of only 2 remaining purpose built music halls left in the United Kingdom and the first place in Wales to screen a moving picture. It was once used as a nightclub but is now mostly derelict.
The Kingsway/Oxford Street vicinity
Until the development of Wind Street as a nightlife zone, the Kingsway was the centre of night life in Swansea. While many of the bars have shut down due to competition from Wind Street bars, the largest night clubs in Swansea are still located here. Apart from the night life venues, The Kingsway has a number of banks, shops, fast food outlets and branch of the YMCA
. Swansea's former main Post Office was located on this road too but recently moved to W.H. Smith inside the Quadrant Shopping Centre about 250 yards away.
In 2006, the Kingsway was re-engineered to become a one way street for cars. The southern traffic lanes are now dedicated two way bus lanes developed in conjunction with the First Cymru's new Swansea Metro bus route. At the eastern end of the Kingsway was a large roundabout incorporating a pedestrian subway. The subway has now been filled in and the roundabout replaced with a traffic light crossroad and wider pedestrian walkways.
Oxford Street is now the main shopping street in Swansea. The street is dominated by chain stores. It belongs to a pedestrianised zone around Swansea Market and the Quadrant Centre. Oxford Street actually stretches from Castle Square to the east all the way to the far west of the Sandfields area. The Sandfields stretch of Oxford street is mainly residential.
Princess Way links Oxford Street and The Kingsway to the east. The David Evans department store on the street has been demolished and is currently undergoing re-development.
Street markets are held in the city centre during the Christmas season. They are usually sited on Oxford Street, Princess Way and Castle Square.
Wind Street/Salubrious Place
Wind (waɪnd) Street was once a haunt of the poet Dylan Thomas and location of the covered alleyway 'Salubrious Passage'. It became a backwater in the second half of the 20th century when the commercial centre of Swansea shifted. It boasts the highest concentration of listed buildings in Swansea. Following redevelopment at the beginning of the 21st century it is now known for its pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the No-Sign Wine Bar and The Olde Cross Keys pub. 2007 saw the completion of the development of the street's lower, south-eastern end as 'Salubrious Place', including an Aspers Casino, a Vue Cinema, a hotel, parking and additional eating and drinking venues.
During the Second World War, the pubs of Wind Street saw the visit of a young star-to-be. A group of American GIs stationed in Swansea entered the Adelphi pub. An Australian soldier also stationed in Swansea saw this and proceeded to taunt the young GI, who was drinking milk, that he was not strong enough to drink alcohol. Unfortunately for him he had picked on the young Rocky Marciano who went on to become one the world's greatest heavyweight boxers. Rocky floored him with one punch. Marciano himself confirmed this story .
Princess Way (Ffordd Y Dywysoges) links Kingsway Circle to the north with Oystermouth Road to the south. The northern section of the street is fully pedestrianised and is fronted with shops. The southern section is fronted with pubs, restaurants and offices and has a Travelodge hotel, a VUE cinema and Aspers casino. The central portion of Princes Way opens onto two squares.
Castle Square links Pricess Way with Castle Street. Castle Square is a concreted square that slopes upwards towards on steps to Swansea Castle to the east forming an amphitheatre-like space. It has grass verges and a few trees on its sides, and two fountains. The square is faced to the south by Caer Street which is lined with shops in buildings which have a mock Tudor facade. In July 2008, a new permanent BBC TV big screen was constructed on the southern corner of Castle Square, which will show BBC coverage of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 as well as local content.
St. Mary's Square links Princess Way with Whitewalls. St. Mary's Church sits in the middle of the square. It is fronted by the Quadrant Centre to the east; a clothes shop to the north; and offices and shops to the south.
is an area on the west bank of the River Tawe
in the Lower Swansea valley
. The area includes several "out-of-town" style stores and entertainment units. There are car parking spaces in this area, but at peak periods this area is subject to traffic congestion. A highly visible building in the area is the Plantasia
- a large triangular tropical plant house. Entertainment in the area include a 10 screen cinema
and a ten pin bowling
Alexandra Road vicinity
Alexandra Road is in an area to the north of the city centre at the foot of Townhill. It is home to a campus Swansea Metropolitan University
which has several premises in the area. The arts wing of the institute, is located in a building that once housed the Dynevor Secondary school. The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery
is located here as is Swansea Central police station
is located here in a new building on the site that was once occupied by a fire station. It was relocated from an older building that stood on the corner of Orchard Street/Alexandra Road. The building next to the old police station, opposite the Glynn Vivian gallery once housed the old Swansea Central Library
, which has now been relocated to the Civic Centre
. Both the old police station and library have been converted into student flats for students of Swansea Metropolitan University
. The Swansea Magistrates Court is located opposite of the police station. The Mount Pleasant Baptist Church sits in the far south of the area on the Kingsway.
Entry and exit roads
St Helen's Road and Oystermouth Road
St Helens Road is the main street for entering and leaving the city centre from the south west of Swansea. The south side of the street is dominated by fast food outlets, restaurants, ethnic grocery stores and ethnic restaurants ranging from Indian to Chinese to Spanish. Bryn-y-mor Road links to St. Helen's where many student bars more restaurants can be found. The north side of the street has a number of solicitors and health centres. The road contiunes past the Guildhall after which it connects with Oystermouth Road. Oystermouth Road begins near the Leisure Centre
and separates the shopping area of the city centre with the Maritime Quarter
. It contiunues along the coast of Swansea Bay
. The north of the road has a number of Bed and Breakfast
establishments near the city centre area.
Walter Road is the main thoroughfare departing the city centre to the west, linking the city centre to the Uplands
district. Most of the road consists of substantial three storey town houses, many of which are converted for use by small professional practices like accountants, solicitors, estate agents, civil engineers and surveyors. There are few properties left which are still residential with nearly all being used as flats and bedsits rather than family homes.
The side streets around Walter Road are mainly residential consisting mostly of three bedroomed properties. The residential mix consists mainly of families. A number of properties have been converted into bedsits for use by students of Swansea University south of Walter Road and Swansea Metropolitan University north of Walter Road.
Carmarthen Road is a stretch of the A483 road departing the city centre from the Dyfatty traffic junction in a a north westerly direction. It is a dual carriageway for all of its length but its speed is limited to 30 or 40 mph depending on the section of the road and is policed by speed cameras. Carmarthen Road has a mix of developments throughout its length including residential, retail and commercial parks and industrial units.
Fabian Way, a stretch of the A483 road
, departs the city centre to the east. It bypasses St. Thomas
and Port Tennant
to the north; and Swansea Docks
and the SA1 Swansea Waterfront
development to the south. The Fabian Way continues through Crymlyn Burrows
where it connects with the M4 Motorway
at the Earlswood junction (M4 Junction 42).
In January 2007, it was announced that developers Hammerson
and Urban Splash
were chosen for a £1 billion redevelopment of the city centre, aided by the local council and the Welsh Assembly Government
. The two developers previously collaborated on Birmingham
development. The plan by architects BDP , includes of additional retail space, 1,000 homes and new leisure, office, hotel and conference facilities.
The city centre is served by buses at the Swansea bus station
and by trains at Swansea railway station
at the northern end of High Street. Additional Multi-bay bus stops are located on the Kingsway and on St. Mary's Square. A new bus rapid transit
system called the Swansea Metro
is currently being implemented.
There are three Park and Ride sites with dedicated buses serving the city centre:
A fourth Park and Ride site is planned for the south of Swansea with the proposed site located in Blackpill serving both the city centre and Mumbles.