Friday, 26 August 2016

Swansea

The watery theme continued on Saturday when we took the bus into Swansea and the National Waterfront Museum.  I particularly wanted to see the exhibition of Mid-century railway posters on the theme of Summer Holidays.  It was an absolute delight.  Of the permanent collection the 'Transport, Materials and Networks' gallery is particularly good.



The good time had by all.



'Look darling, over there, somebody's fallen down and broken their leg.'




The NWM stands on the Victoria Quay of the Tawe Basin, a former dock that is now a marina.  It is the last remaining industrial building - the other quays have been lined with restless and mediocre housing.
The centre of Swansea was heavily bombed in the last war and great swathes of the urban fabric had to be rebuilt, and on the whole it's pretty dull.  Though the indoor market is very good.  The eastern half of St Margaret's St was re-aligned slightly and re-named King's Way and given - at its east end - a great rond-point in the French Beaux Arts tradition.  Unfortunately there are no lines of plane trees lining the street or a massive, bombastic monument  - such as an honorific column - to act as a focus and urban node.  Money was tight in Post-war Britain, and in any case we're not given to such grand gestures.  A shame in this case.  However to the north-east of the NWM is an intact area of Pre-war cityscape and rather satisfying, if somewhat seedy, it is.  Georgian and Victorian housing, some of it quite grand; vulgar Edwardian public buildings, and The Swansea Museum and the Dylan Thomas Centre.  Both of these are housed in nineteenth century public buildings.  The chaste, Ionic, Neo-classical Museum was built as the Royal Institution of South Wales (founded in 1835), and is Wales's oldest museum.  It's a bit run down to be honest, but it contains a most wonderful collection of Swansea Pottery.  I'm very found of transfer ware and there are some lovely examples on display as well as grander hand-painted porcelain. Magically they are housed in original mahogany display cases and look splendid.  Sad though that the former institute library is denuded of books.  I wonder where they all went?
In the same area look out also for the Transport Museum, where you can sit in a tram - the Mumbles Train - and also the atmospheric Mission gallery in Gloucester Place.  Both are worth a visit.

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