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What happened next: the planning of a Garden City estate

Windswept farmland is transformed into a modern housing estate

From farm to estate

Several things happened in the aftermath of the exhibition. First of all, a Borough Architect was appointed in 1911, enabling the council to undertake design work in-house. Then in 1912 Sir Raymond Unwin and George Bell the Borough Surveyor worked on the layout for an ambitious housing development that was to cover all the council-owned lands on Townhill and Mayhill.

Increasingly grandiose schemes were advanced for developments of up to 500 houses. There were discussions about how to achieve this and how many properties should be built together as a block. In 1914 an experimental row of six houses was completed near the exhibition circle. Known as the Mayhill Sample cottages, these can be seen today as even numbers 2 to 12 Islwyn Road.

The First World War effectively put a stop to these plans, and the little cluster of houses that had been built up at Mayhill remained, popularly known as Mayhill Garden City. When building was to begin again, many of the original plans would be abandoned in the face of new guidelines.

After the War, the housing situation nationwide was at a crisis point. The 1919 Housing Act was passed, ordering each local authority to submit a housing scheme. As Swansea had already undertaken so much preparatory work, it was in a position to submit a scheme almost straight away, and within months of the passing of the Act, the first phase of building up on Townhill had begun. 

And as the estate was being built, so the work of clearing the slums quietly progressed. By 1940:-

  • 227 sites had been designated as being unfit for human habitation 
  • 1245 houses had been demolished 
  • 1621 families and 6034 people had been re-housed

Interested in reading further?
The Archive Service sells a book entitled "Homes for Heroes", about the development of Townhill and other council estates in Swansea. Click here to find out more.

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