A new walking tour called Swansea in Gloom is uncovering some of the strangest tales from the area around Swansea Railway Station.
If you’ve never heard of the twice hanged man, the ghost of Powell Street or tragic Fanny Imlay, you’ve missed some of Swansea’s most curious tales.
A new walking tour exploring the area around Swansea railway station lifts the lid on these and many other strange stories from Swansea’s past.
Swansea in Gloom begins at HQ Urban Kitchen before heading up to Dyfatty to hear about hangings in Swansea, and then to an eerie graveyard for a story of a scandalous suicide and a wandering ghost.
After that it takes in the Palace Theatre, to hear about the old-time stars who trod the boards there, then heads towards the castle for many more eerie tales. The stories span hundreds of years of Swansea’s history, from the establishment of its castle to the ravages of World War II.
The tour is led by Swansea local Jamie White and was conceived by Gareth Willis-Falco, a project manager for creative regeneration agency Urban Foundry, which runs the tour and is headquartered next to the HQ Urban Kitchen café bar.
“The idea of the tour is to help grow the café’s customer base and to bring more people into Swansea’s creative quarter,” he says. “Swansea’s creative quarter overlaps with the old town of Swansea and we thought it’d be great to run a fun, Edinburgh style walking tour that features some grim and interesting tales.
“We really wanted to accentuate the storytelling element and to show how important the old town is as part of Swansea’s history.”
Gareth says the tour would not be possible without the help of local artist Rose Davies (aka Rosie Scribblah) who grew up in the Dyfatty area and shared many of the juicy tales that feature on the tour.
“She really is an expert in the area,” he says. “It was incredible what I learnt in just one meeting with her, and the whole tour spring boarded from there. She told me about Gibbet Hill, the cholera pit and lots of other fascinating stories and has been very generous to the project.
“I’m also very grateful to Gwilym Games from Swansea Library, who was very helpful providing some of the old maps of Swansea so that we could see the things like where the old town gates were, the town ditch, and the washing lake.”
He adds that he’s impressed by tour guide Jamie’s storytelling abilities, which help to bring the tales to life with plenty of interesting sippets of historical information.
“He really paints the scene around you when he’s doing the tour,” he says. “It will give you a whole different view of Swansea and it’s really nice for us to be sharing these stories. We’re trying not to reveal too much detail about them because we want them to be a surprise for the people on the tour!”
The tour got off to a strong start: the first ever tour on February 15 totally sold out. The tours will now run every other Wednesday and every other Saturday – and Gareth has plans to add more tour dates and develop other tours to run alongside Swansea in Gloom.
“We’d like to do a tour based on a book titled The Bad Girls of Swansea, and we’d like to run a tour that visits some of the pubs along the High Street,” he says. “We’re also thinking of doing a ‘look down’ tour and a ‘look up’ tour. Once Swansea in Gloom is properly established, we’re really looking forward to bringing more ideas to life.”
Book onto the tour via Eventbrite by clicking here.