During the Summer Bank Holiday in August I decided to have a look at the 1940s Swansea Bay Museum. I noticed it years ago and everytime I was going to Swansea I promised myself to go “next time”. The 1940s Swansea Bay is on the way to Swansea, in the middle of an industrial estate. I was a little bit confused as to whether I was going the right way, even though it’s clearly sign-posted. As I arrived I noticed an old Jeep parked there so I knew I was in the right place!
What I really liked is that the whole place is divided into small areas where you can wonder as you please. 1940s music is playing in the background and the first few rooms have been made to look like a typical 1940s home. There are clothes available to try on and plenty of frames with newspaper clippings and useful background info on WW2.
There are loads of mannequins there as well. When I went I was the only one there and found it a bit eerie.
I really liked that room, which reminded me of the little houses in St Fagans.
The porcelain dogs on the cabinet were really cool. If one day I have my own place I want 1940s furniture, and a set of these dogs. After feeling like you’re in the comfort of your own home, the next room is a sobering reminder of what life was back then. Sirens are screaming and you are plunged into the darkness of an air-raid shelter.
Stepping out of the shelter you then walk through a typical 1940s high street with lots of little shops. A small room has been turned into a small “cinema” and plays a DVD called (I think) “These were the days”. I wish I took some pictures of the shops, there are lots to see there.
I found this poster really cute. Maybe that’s the way to get children to eat their 5 a day!
No replica of a high-street would be complete without a pub! This one has got a lovely piano in one of the corners. I know a lady going to the pub on her own would have been highly frowned upon at the time, so I didn’t stay very long and retreated to the back room!
I did make a point of dressing up 1940s style on that day. This is not a vintage dress as such (it’s H&M- bought years ago) but the shape and the drape are really feminine and suit the era so well. There is lots of information on WW2 and how it affected the area. Swansea was badly bombed and several aerial pictures just show the extent of the damage sustained by the city.
As I got out and went back in my car, I found myself very thoughtful. It was interesting to see WW2 from a British point of view. Britain was never invaded, but nonetheless suffered heavily during this awful conflict.
WW2 is still a very sensitive subject in France. Up until recently we were made to believe that during l’Occupation everyone was either a collabo or a résistant. The reality was not as black and white, people were scared, and most didn’t do anything. There are reminders everywhere in France of what happened during these dark times (especially where I come from since it was on the ligne de démarcation). Most of the families will have been affected one way or another (my late Grandad was sent by force to Germany as part of the STO (Service du Travail Obligatoire).
I really recommend Swansea Bay- all in all, a great experience and lots of food for thought.
Location: Baldwin’s Crescent | Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea SA1 8PT, Wales
Entry Fee: £5.50 – check the website for opening times
You can also take a rather enjoyable promo tour via YouTube