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The Swansea Industrial Heritage Research ‘Golden Mile’ Wales can lay claim to be the world’s first industrial nation. By the late nineteenth century, the south of Wales in particular was internationally recognised as a centre for heavy industry, coal production and maritime trade. This concentration of industry and innovation left a rich legacy of published and archival resources that can be used to support a wide range of historical, economic and cultural research.

Swansea hosts six research significant libraries and archives that together constitute one of the finest research facilities for the industrial heritage of Wales. Most are situated within Swansea’s historic maritime quarter, within a mile of one another. This leaflet outlines briefly the key strengths of each institution.


Swansea Museum Swansea Museum, which opened in 1841, is the oldest museum in Wales. The Museum was founded by the Royal Institute of South Wales, which was established in 1835. Since 1990 the Museum has been under the guardianship of the City & County of Swansea. The Museum operates over four sites: the Collections Centre at Landore, the Pontoon in the Marina, the Tramway Centre in Dylan Thomas Square and the Museum itself. The Museum’s collections are wide ranging, from historic maritime vessels to fine Swansea porcelain, providing a valuable resource for researching the background, lives and times of the peoples of the City and County of Swansea. The Museum also has a historic library relating to the collections with books and ephemera dating back to the 19th century. Specialist staff members are available to help and advise. Access to the reference library is only by appointment and books are not available for loan. Opening times

Swansea Museum: Tues to Sun 10am-5pm and Bank Holiday Mondays. Museum Library: By appointment only. Museum Collections Centre, Landore: Wednesdays 10am-4pm Historic vessels in Swansea Marina: Seasonal opening or by appointment. Museum Tramway Centre: Seasonal opening or by appointment.


Telephone: (01792) 653763 Email: Victoria Road, Swansea, SA1 1SN

Websites Address

National Waterfront Museum In addition to displays telling the story of industry and innovation throughout Wales over the last three centuries, the Museum houses an extensive research library. The library comprises more than 25,000 volumes and a photographic archive of over 40,000 images relating to the industrial, maritime and transport history of Wales. Researchers can also access the expertise of a team of specialist curators and the collections of the whole of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.


As well as a representative collection of industrial histories, the library also holds technical and instructional works for these industries. The library includes a complete set of Lloyds Registers from 1836 to present day (plus selected volumes from 1764 to 1832), and a series of volumes listing the shipwrecks that have occurred around the coast of the British Isles. The library also holds good runs of published lists of working mines and quarries from the 1850s to the present day, and runs of significant periodicals including H.M. Inspectors of Mines Annual Reports, which include lists of fatal accidents from 1850 to 1914. We presently subscribe to over forty current periodicals. The reference library is open to the public, by appointment only. As a reference library the books may not be borrowed although books may be loaned to other libraries through an interlibrary loan service. If you would like to use the library you will need to make an appointment; this should be made with the curator responsible for the section of the library that you wish to see.

Opening times

Library: Museum:

Contact Website Address

Monday to Friday: 10.30am-1pm & 2-4.30pm Closed on weekends and national holidays Daily: 10am-5pm

Telephone: (01792) 638950 Email: Oystermouth Road, Swansea, SA1 3RD

West Glamorgan Archive Service The West Glamorgan Archive Service collects documents, maps, photographs, film and sound recordings relating to all aspects of the history of West Glamorgan. It is a joint service for the Councils of the City & County of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot County Borough. All items held by the Archives that are contained in the public catalogue and marked as available can be used for research by the general public in the archive search room in Swansea Civic Centre. The archive operates a reader’s ticket system, which also gives you access to other archives in Wales, including Swansea University Archives. Opening times

Tuesday: 9am-7pm Wednesday to Friday: 9am-5pm Saturday: 10am-4pm (Family History Centre only) Closed Sunday


Telephone: (01792) 636589 Email: Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea, SA1 3SN

Website Address


City & County of Swansea Library Service Local Studies Collection The City & County of Swansea Library Service maintains a major local history collection at the Central Library, in the Civic Centre. It contains source material for local history and genealogical research, relating not only to Swansea but also to the rest of Wales, and includes: Printed Works The Welsh and Swansea Collections comprise over 120,000 books, pamphlets and volumes of periodicals, both antiquarian and modern, including the journals or transactions of numerous historical and archaeological societies. It also includes extensive runs of trade directories, electoral registers, telephone directories, guide books etc. Newspapers and periodicals The Library holds extensive runs of local and Welsh newspapers on microfilm, including The Cambrian, which was the first to be published in Wales and dates back to 1804. The Cambrian Index The computerised index to The Cambrian ( has been developed by Swansea Library Service and is an important resource for those researching the history of south Wales. It is an ongoing project, constantly growing. Maps and plans These cover the period c. 1835 (tithe map and apportionment copies) to date. Internet access The Internet contains much information of interest to researchers in Welsh, local and family history. Email and internet facilities are freely available at Central Library and at all other libraries across the City & County of Swansea, in time slots of 2 hours per day. This includes free access to, one of the premier family history research websites. Census Returns The Library holds microfilmed copies of Census returns for the years 1841,1851,1861,1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901, for all of the City & County of Swansea area. Access to online census information via the website (up to and including 1901) is provided free of charge. Ask Library Line Service This is a free service provided by experienced information librarians who will answer factual questions, help to find relevant information and resources or refer to other agencies when appropriate. Opening times

Tuesday to Friday: 8.30am-8pm Saturday & Sunday: 10am-4pm Closed on Monday


Telephone: (01792) 636464 Email: 4

Website Address Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea, SA1 3SN

Swansea University Richard Burton Archives The Richard Burton Archives is the home of Swansea University’s archive collections. The archives are situated in the library and information centre on the Singleton Campus of Swansea University. The key strengths of the archives are: Local archives: including business archives of the metal and engineering industries in Swansea and the surrounding area and Mumbles Railway, Methodist records for Swansea and Gower circuit and parish records of St David’s Priory. South Wales Coalfield Collection: records of the NUM (South Wales Area) and its branches or lodges, Miners’ Institutes and photographs and personal collections from individuals throughout the South Wales Coalfield. Literary collections: particularly records of Welsh writers in English. University records: records of the University from its establishment in 1920 onwards. The archives are open to all and staff are always willing to answer queries and give advice, simply make an appointment if you wish to use the archives. Opening times

Monday to Friday: 9.15am-1pm and 2-4.45pm Tuesday evening during term time by prior arrangement


Telephone: (01792) 295021 Email: Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea, SA2 8PP

Website Address

South Wales Miners’ Library Established in 1973, the South Wales Miners’ Library holds a diverse and comprehensive resource for researching the history and legacy of the South Wales Coalfield. The collection includes books, pamphlets, journals, trade directories and yearbooks, posters, oral history recordings, videos and banners relating to the social, cultural, educational and political histories of the South Wales Coalfield.


The library also supports the wide range of courses taught by Swansea University’s Adult Continuing Education Department, and includes an extensive local history collection. The library is open to everyone and staff members are always willing to help with queries and give advice. No appointment is necessary.

Opening times

Term Time: Monday to Thursday: 9am-8pm Friday & Saturday: 9am-5pm Sunday: Closed


Telephone: (01792) 518603/518693 Email: Gower Road, Swansea, SA2 7NB

Website Address

Vacation: Monday to Friday: 9am-5pm Saturday & Sunday: Closed


Researching Swansea's Industrial Heritage  

Information leaflet on archives and resources in Swansea to help with your research into industry and social history in Swansea.

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