Ports and Resorts Project

Bibliography of Welsh Seaside Resorts Preface

The Project

Over the last few decades the study of seaside resorts has become part of the main stream of urban history, as their significance for understanding the broad process of urbanization has become clear. Funded by the Board of Celtic Studies, University of Wales, this one-year project represents the first phase of an ambitious study of the resort towns of the Bristol Channel region. A number of recent developments in Welsh urban history created a particularly favourable climate in which to launch the first phase of this research in 2006-7 and at the same time revealed the potential for new directions in research on urban Wales. Most studies of Welsh resorts (one notable exception being Dillwyn’s study of Pembrokeshire) have followed the single-town model. Tourist towns such as Llandudno, Barmouth, Rhyl and Barry, and the existing studies of Aberystwyth (Lewis) and Swansea (Boorman) fall into this category. The regional context of this project, with its strong comparative dimension, is relatively new as far as Welsh resort history is concerned and is designed to accommodate the urban history agenda of the project. The project has focussed on three Welsh seaside towns, their development as resorts and their place in the wider resort history of Britain. This focus allowed the project to be split into four equal quarters, one for each town specifically, and a final quarter to coordinate the material and prepare the results for insertion on the websites of Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities, and to provide material for a number of publications and conference papers.

The Towns

The aim of the research has been to examine the role of resort provision in shaping patterns of urbanisation in: Swansea, Tenby and Aberystwyth between 1750 and 1914. These three towns were chosen because they present good case-studies for comparative study. As ports, early Welsh seaside resorts, and corporate towns with a medieval heritage, they were alike in a number of important respects, and as such differ from other later-developing Welsh resorts. However, the three resorts contrast in their economic functions and the hinterlands and clienteles they served.

The Project Team

Comprised of Professor Peter Borsay and Dr Owen Roberts of Aberystwyth University and Dr Louise Miskell of Swansea University. They have overseen the publication of a special issue of the journal Urban History (May 2005) containing articles on aspects of Welsh urban history selected from contributions to a conference on ‘Understanding Urban Wales’ which they co-organised in September 2003. Kate Sullivan, a graduate of Aberystwyth University and a former archivist at the National Library of Wales, was appointed research assistant in December 2006.

The Archives

The National Library of Wales formed the main ‘base’ archive for the project. Other important repositories visited were the Tenby Museum and the Pembrokeshire Record Office for material on Tenby; West Glamorgan Archive Services, the Royal Institution of South Wales, University College Swansea, and Swansea Central Library for material on Swansea; Ceredigion Archives, University of Wales Aberystwyth and Aberystwyth Museum for material on Aberystwyth. The National Archives at Kew also provided additional material on all three towns, mainly in the form of the Local Government Board Records.

The Material

Comprises printed, manuscript, visual and on-line sources, and has been ordered according to type within the bibliography. The method of research was often dictated by the material itself. For instance, local government records are patchy, particularly for the earlier period, and in some cases have not survived at all. The town council papers for Tenby were in fact rescued from a skip during local government reorganization in the 1970s! Similarly, personal records are relatively scarce, and journals and diaries tend to be travelogues of wider tours in Wales and, with a few exceptions, contain only brief entries for the three towns. Most of the printed guides relating to the towns, as well as more general ones, have been included. There is a wealth of visual material in the form of paintings, postcards, photographs, maps and plans in the National Library of Wales and also in the local archives and museums, and, due to the limitations in time, our listing here is only a brief one. References from the Cambrian Online Index have also been listed.

The Bibliography

Intended as a source of information for academics and others interested in the history and development of the seaside resort in Britain. The material listed in the bibliography is by no means extensive, but is rather a starting point for further research. For ease of access, the bibliography has been organised into three separate documents – one for each of the towns – and within these into basic subheadings of the name of the repository and type of material. Thus, the bibliographical material relating to each town will be listed first under each repository visited, then under type of material – printed/manuscript/visual/on-line. In parts there is a certain amount of overlapping, for instance, much of the printed material is held in more than one repository. This has been noted where it occurs. For simplicity, links have been inserted in order to aid navigation through the bibliography. These have been kept to a minimum and do not go to any deeper level than the type of material. There is no search function, so if the reader is looking for a particular publication, for instance a printed tourist guide, he/she has to go to the required town/s, then to the relevant link (i.e. Printed Material) and scroll through the section headed ‘Tourist guides’ until the item is located. Items are listed either alphabetically or chronologically.

The Index

Designed to give some idea of location via page numbers, for quick reference. Again, not every item has a page number, so readers will have to follow the link/page number to the relevant category then scroll down to locate the item.

Appendix 1

The bibliographies for Aberystwyth and Tenby also contain a survey of visitors for the years 1869 and 1880, listing their places of origin, compiled from the local newspapers. There is no such survey for Swansea as visitor lists were not available.

Appendix 2

A bibliography of general publications on resorts in Britain.