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The town hall by the castle

A civic centre at the heart of the town

Town hall by the castle

There are scant references to a shire hall in Swansea as far back as 1478, although its whereabouts are unknown. The first building that we definitely know about was started in 1585, but it may not have been finished then, and work continued on it until at least 1737.

It was situated next to the castle, on what is now the grassy area between the castle and Castle Bailey Street. It was a long, narrow building built over two floors, measuring 18 feet by 78. The main rooms were on the top floor, and access to them was via a stone staircase at the northern end, with a handsome porch at the top.

The main rooms consisted of the upper hall, used as a courtroom and a council chamber, and a smaller hall behind called the Grand Jury room. Over the gable end above the entrance was a small bell-tower. The ground floor consisted of a weighing house, store rooms and the town gaol. The stocks stood nearby.

By the early 1800s Swansea was changing, and the old town hall was no longer fit for purpose. It was replaced by a new building in the maritime quarter. After that it was used for several less glamorous purposes, and was finally demolished in 1856.

Read about the new guildhall built in the maritime quarter

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