Lower Swansea Valley Project Records

Scope and Content

Minutes of committees and sub-committees concerned with the organisation of the Lower Swansea Valley Project, 1961-1981; Records relating to studies carried out into the social, environmental and geological background to the Lower Swansea Valley, and its further development, 1918-1985; Records relating to the planting scheme, 1961-1984; Records relating to the running of the Lower Swansea Valley Project, 1974-1980; Records relating to the Prince of Wales's Committee 1973-1981; Publications produced by Swansea City Council and other bodies explaining the work done by the Lower Swansea Valley Project, 1973-1998; Press cuttings relating to the Lower Swansea Valley Project, 1964-1978.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Lower Swansea Valley Project was one of the leading regeneration projects in Europe. The Lower Swansea Valley is sited to the East of Swansea city centre and runs along the valley floor and valley sides of the River Tawe. Following massive industrial growth in the nineteenth century, the area had become prosperous but ugly. Following World War I, however, the industries started to decline, leaving derelict and 'poisoned' land.

In 1961, the Nuffield Trust, with the Welsh Office and the Local Authority, sponsored a survey of the derelict acres on the valley floor. It was carried out by the University College of Swansea and known as Lower Swansea Valley Project. The purpose of the survey was to gather the facts about the area - physical, social and economic which would act as a basis for the valley's reclamation and use.

The survey produced a number of study reports from which a report on the lower Swansea valley was published. It recommended that derelict areas in the valley should be acquired by a single authority (i.e. Swansea Council) in order to allow regeneration and development of the area as a whole. The University College of Swansea worked collaboratively with the Council, along with other organisations such as the Forestry Commission.

A conservator was employed by the project to undertake planting work in association with the Forestry Commission, however, his job soon expanded to cover other aspects. Several main areas of work emerged which included physical regeneration through an extensive planting programme to improve the visual appearance of the area and act as a physical catalyst to start the process of physical rehabilitation. A large part of this involved local businesses and industrial landowners agreeing to fund planting on their land. There was also a continuous programme of education through involving schools in the planting process and giving educational talks etc. The university ensured there was a significant research aspect to the project and this still continues today. There was also a significant community aspect to the project which contributed towards both the education and conservation programmes. Work placements were provided for young people struggling to gain employment and there were also holiday work camps organised through the International Voluntary Service and the Quakers.

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