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An exhibition is planned: Swansea's innovative response

Swansea County Borough Council took the lead in Wales in the provision of Garden City-style housing.

Planning the exhibition

From the spacious villas of Uplands to the compact houses of Hafod, most of Swansea's houses in 1900 were built in terraces. Gardens were narrow strips, and the emphasis was on straight lines and right angles. Economical use of land was a priority, and the ideals of the Garden City pioneers had yet to make any impact on the development of the town.

Swansea Council was concerned about the housing stock and the plight of poorer families, and took an early interest in the new design principles. In 1906 councillors Ruthen and Solomon attended the Housing Reform conference, where the possibility was first discussed of holding a housing exhibition in Swansea, along the same lines as the Letchworth Cottage Exhibition of 1905. It was here too that Sir Raymond Unwin was first brought into contact with delegates from Swansea.

An exhibition committee was formed, with members from Neath Urban District Council, Newport Town Council and Morriston Trades Council, as well as from Swansea Borough. Land at Mayhill already belonged to the council, and with its commanding views over the bay and clean air away from the works, it was the ideal location for an exhibition. Approach roads were constructed and an area marked out for building. Architects were invited to design and build houses on a limited budget to demonstrate that cheap housing could be spacious and well-designed. Before long, designs were received and the building work began.

Read about the South Wales Cottage Exhibition

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