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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Mumbles railway was 'remarkable'
Swansea and Mumbles Railway, circa 1810 (Picture: Dragon News)
The first horse-drawn carriage linking Swansea and Mumbles
The 200-year anniversary of what is believed to have been the world's first passenger railway is being celebrated.

The Swansea and Mumbles Railway began life as a horse-drawn carriage which ran along a line built to transport limestone from Mumbles to Swansea.

Over the years it saw the introduction of steam and later electric-powered trains until its final journey in 1960.

The publisher of a book documenting its history said the railway was a "remarkable achievement".

Entrepreneur Benjamin French launched the service for passengers who wished to explore the romantic scenery of the Mumbles area.

The original route ran from the Brewery Bank by the Swansea Canal around Swansea Bay to Castle Hill - today known as Clements Quarry - in the village of Oystermouth.

The people of Swansea and Mumbles retain wonderfully fond memories of this railway in its various guises
Publisher David Roberts

The first, four-wheel carriage was built mainly of iron and was pulled by one horse.

In 1813 a booklet describing the area put the fare at the relatively considerable amount of two shillings, but by 1823 the fair had been cut in half.

But by 1830 the service was withdrawn because of competition from horse-drawn buses and was out of action until the 1860s, when horse-drawn and steam trains began running alongside each other.

The service enjoyed its heyday in the years leading up to the Great War when the line was used by thousands of holidaymakers and day-trippers.

A restored town tram (Picture: Dragon News)
A restored Swansea tram representative of the 1934/4 trams

In 1929 electricity superseded steam when a fleet of red trains were introduced which operated throughout the war.

Although famous for its rock and roll motion, the electric train service was reliable and it was said the people of Swansea would set their watches by the train times.

To celebrate the anniversary, railway and tramway enthusiast David Beynon has produced an illustrated book documenting its colourful history.

Publisher David Roberts said: "The people of Swansea and Mumbles retain wonderfully fond memories of this railway in its various guises.

"It was a remarkable achievement for the Swansea area in particular and Wales in general to have such a global first - the efforts of those incredible early pioneers should never be forgotten."

The celebration is being held at Swansea Museum, and is being attended by members of the Mumbles Railway Society.


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