Amgueddfa Blog: Historic Photography

Recently working through the John Dillwyn Llewelyn collection, I was reminded of this amazing photograph of Swansea taken in 1858. The image was taken on the 15 March 1858 at 1 o'clock with an exposure of 15 minutes. It was taken by Welsh photographer John Dillwyn Llewelyn using a ground breaking process invented by him in 1856 called the Oxymel process. This was a development of the wet collodion process and used a solution of acetic acid, water & honey to preserve images. This meant that glass negatives could be prepared in advance and exposed in the camera as required, and produced a dry plate that could be kept for days. This new process meant landscape photographers no longer needed to carry with them portable laboratories and darkroom tents.

The photograph shows Swansea taken from St. Thomas on the 15 March 1858. To the far left, above the roofline, Mumbles Head can just about be made out. In the background (slightly to the right) can be seen the North Dock with buildings around it, and sailing ships in the dock. In front of that is the railway embankment alongside the New Cut of the river Tawe. In the foreground can be seen a number of houses, including the 'White Lion Inn', and to the far right it is just about possible to make out the remains of Swansea Castle.

I thought that it would be interesting to try and identify the viewpoint from where this photograph was taken and to see how the view might have changed since 1858. I therefore contacted my colleague Andrew Deathe at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea to see if his knowledge of the area would allow him to identify the viewpoint.

Living locally Andrew was able to take this modern view in May 2015. He took the photograph by standing on the road which is in the foreground of the 1858 image, which is called Bay View, in St. Thomas. The house in the original image is just behind his viewpoint. John Dillwyn Llewelyn seemed to be standing half way between Bay View and Windmill Terrace (which wasn't built for another 20 years).

The skyline of Swansea has seen many changes over the years and it is difficult to tell that the two images are taken from the same viewpoint. However it is still possible to make out Mumbles Head to the left and part of Swansea Castle to the right. The railway embankment has been completely removed, and there is no trace or it or the tunnel today. In place of the old North Dock buildings, you can see the glass pyramid of Plantasia. The tower of St. Mary's church can't be seen unfortunately, as it is behind the BT Tower.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

Preserved within the collections is a Cardiff horse drawn tram. The tram was built by the Falcon Works, Loughborough in the 1880s and run by Cardiff Tramways Co. When the Cardiff Tramways Company was taken over by the City in 1902 the routes were electrified and the horse-tram was sold to the Cardiff Ladies Temperance Guild and used in the Docks as a snack-bar selling non-alcoholic beverages. About 1930 ownership passed to Mrs Elizabeth Leach of Tremorfa who ran it as 'Walters' Tavern' and in due course this ladies daughter, Mrs Walters, took it over. In 1955 her brother Mr Ekstrom, took it over and ran it for a further ten years until it closed in 1966. It was removed in Summer 1968.

This slide, recently accessioned into the collection, shows the tram in use as a refreshment stall at Roath Dock, Cardiff.

The tram is currently on loan to the National Tramway Museum in Crich were it is on display.

These photographs show the tram awaiting restoration in 1979, and then after restoration work was carried out by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

The final photograph shows a similar tram on Newport Road, Cardiff c.1890. It ran on the The Royal Oak - Newport Road - Pier head service.

 

A recent donation was this wooden board with a paper roster/list attached. The roster lists information about locomotives, winding engines, and saw mills at Dinorwic Slate Quarries. Unfortunately it is in poor condition and will need some conservation work carried out on it. The board had three headings, ‘locomotives’, ‘winding engines’ and ‘saw mills’.
Under the heading ‘locomotives’ the following information is recorded: old name of locomotive; present name of locomotive; location of locomotive; works number; date; remarks e.g. firebox renewed; firebox and tubes material. The roster records information about 20 locomotives.
Under the heading ‘winding engines’ the following information is recorded: place; started working; drive; circ & length of winding rope; circ &  length of standing rope; remarks. The roster records information about 11 winding engines.
Under the heading ‘saw mills’ the following information is recorded: place; started working; drive; no of dressing machines; no of tables; kind; diar of line shaft; revs line shaft. The roster records information about 10 saw mills.

 

Last year we were donated this painting by John Uzzell Edwards. It was on display at the National Waterfront Museum for a while and has just come off display to be accessioned and stored at the National Collections Centre in Nantgarw. The painting is acrylic and mixed media on canvas. It was painted on 2011 and is titled ‘Swansea Quilt’. The painting was inspired by a quilt made in Swansea by a woman who worked in the milliners department of a Swansea shop (she used fabric off-cuts from the shop).

This print shows the quilt which inspired John Uzzell Edwards.

 

This month we also acquired another painting. Probably gouache on board/paper it shows Merthyr Vale Colliery from Aberfan, and is dated 1902. It is signed by an artist called David John Evans. We haven’t yet been able to find anything out about him, so if anyone has any information on this artist we would love to hear from you.

The sinking of Merthyr Vale No. 1 Colliery began in 1869, and coal was first produced in 1875. Merthyr Vale Colliery No 2 was sunk some years later. In 1902 the colliery employed 3,064 men and produced 830,000 tons of coal. Reaching its peak in 1913 , when it was the largest colliery in the South Wales coalfield, manpower and output reduced over the years until the colliery eventually closed by British Coal in August  1989.

This photograph shows Merthyr Vale Colliery in 1960 showing tips on the hillside. It was the spoil from Merthyr Vale Colliery that slipped down the mountainside onto the community of Aberfan on the 21st October 1966. Engulfing Pantglass Junior School and a number of houses 144 people were killed, 116 of whom were children.

‘J. Eurof Martin Collection’

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW

Again this month, a number of interesting objects have been added to the industry & transport collections. The photograph below was taken on 22nd July 1926, and shows a group of 29 slate quarrymen. The location is unknown, but it was probably taken at either Dinorwig or Penrhyn slate quarry. If you are able to help identify where the photograph was taken, or recognise any of the men we would love to hear from you.

These three ceramic pieces were designed and made by the artist George Thompson, a potter resident in Amlwch, Angelsey. They are inspired by the Parys Mountain copper mines.

Ceramic plaque with red ocre slip and copper glaze.

Ceramic pot with stand made from pink crank clay with graphite and copper glaze.

 

Ceramic dish with graphite, red ochre and orange ochre slip.


The photograph below shows the remains of a Cornish beam-engine house and chimney stack at Parys copper mine, Anglesey, 1964.

 

This is a diorama of Parys mountain copper mine from the museum’s collections. It was made about 1967 for display in the industry galleries at Cathays Park.

 

This medal commemorates the cutting of the first sod of the King’s Dock, Swansea. On the 20th July 1904 the Royal Yacht Victoria & Albert arrived in Swansea Bay. The yacht arrived at the Prince of Wales Dock where King Edward VII and Queen Alexandre disembarked. The dock was named ‘Kings Dock’ in his honour. After the ceremony the King and Queen rode through the streets of Swansea in an open top carriage. The Dock was official opened on the 20th November 1909. It covers 72 acres (29 ha), and is still in use today, being the main dock of the Port of Swansea.

 

Photograph showing congested shipping (both sail and steam) at King's Dock about 1910. Not long after the dock was opened. 

 

The view below shows the King’s Dock. It was taken by the photographer John Eurof Martin and dates to the mid-20th century.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW