Toggle mobile menu visibility

The Georgian Guildhall in the Maritime Quarter

By the early 1800s Swansea was changing and the old town hall was no longer fit for purpose.

Georgian Guildhall
In 1825 the corporation resolved to build a new guildhall, and a site was chosen for a new civic building in the Burrows. Formerly a patch of sandy meadows between the town and the sea, it had been turned into a fashionable development with elegant terraces and an assembly rooms. It was a fitting place for the imposing new building. Work started later on that year, and it was finally completed in 1829. It was an elegant-looking building with a well-proportioned façade. A grand double flight of steps led to the main entrance at first floor level. Inside there were two court rooms, along with various smaller rooms.

However, it soon became clear that the new building was not enough. The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 more than doubled the size of the borough, bringing in the industrial parts along the Swansea Valley as far as Morriston. In 1848 the decision was taken to enlarge the building and give it a new façade. When it was finished, the building looked quite different, with classical columns and much increased accommodation. Later in the century it was embellished with the addition of a statue of John Henry Vivian, and two Russian canons captured during the Crimean War.

Like its predecessor, the guildhall by the docks was eventually found to be too small for the requirements of the ever-expanding town of Swansea, and the decision was taken to build a new civic centre. The old building has been used for various purposes over the next seventy five years; most recently it was refurbished and christened Ty Llên when Swansea hosted the UK Year of Literature and Writing in 1995 and is now the Dylan Thomas Centre.

Read about the building of the new guildhall built in 1934