Swansea Copper Stories


The valley was the site of huge environmental changes as a result of the profitable metal industries that began to emerge in the late eighteenth century. Over centuries the river and its landscape was transformed into an incredibly dense production and transport infrastructure consisting of factories, railways and canals. During its heyday, the Hafod-Morfa works was one of many factories to change the landscape in this area. Hundreds of chimneys billowed out smoke of noxious pollutants, including large amounts of arsenic and sulfur swept on the nearby hills. The river Tawe drained pollutants from the surrounding works, which would ebb and flow with the tide. Although the copper industry declined in the 20th century, by the 1960s the Hafod-Morfa area was part of the largest site of industrial dereliction in Europe. Its relatively green and serene appearance today is the successful result of an ambitious and collaborative project of regeneration throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Click on the clips below to find out what the environment was like in this area during the 20th century.

What was the valley like?

Slag heaps and housing

What was your first experience of the site?

What was the air quality like in the works?

What was the air quality like in the valley?