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The Rhyddings, Brynmill, Swansea.



The Rhyddings
“The Rhyddings” 33x 41 cm


The magnificent red brick building at the end of our road used to be called the Rhyddings Hotel but in recent years has recently rebranded itself as “The Rhyddings at Swansea”. I have always admired it’s generously arched windows which look out north and west from the bar and the lounge bar.

Local legend has it that it used to be a coaching house. Presumably, the current building was constructed in the late Victorian period, as it is built from similar red brick to that of the Brynmill Junior School which was built in 1986.

Writer Kingsley Amis (of “Lucky Jim” fame as and father of Martin Amis)  later drank here in the late 1940s when it was run by ex-professional footballer Jack Fowler. I was would amazed if Dylan Thomas hadn’t drunk here too but I have yet to come across a reference to him doing so. He is known to have been keen on the Uplands Tavern and the pubs in Mumbles.

For some reason, locals use an Anglicised pronunciation of the name “Rhyddings” (with a hard “d” sound instead of the soft “f” sound that would be used in Welsh pronunciation. Perhaps this is simply a sign that Swansea is a very Anglicised town and sadly, Welsh is not often heard here. Medieval Swansea had an English community and much later the English from Devon and Cornwall came here in the 18th and 19th centuries came to work in the copper and tinplate industries.

The white building on the opposite corner to the Rhyddings is the Park Fish Bar which claims to be the oldest fish and chip shop in Swansea (running since 1974 since you ask). It is unusual to see the road outside The Rhyddings pub empty. There are usually cars parked there. The absence of cars illustrates how the community of Brynmill has been hollowed out by an imbalance of student houses. In many streets in this area, 80%-90% of houses are empty in the summer.  It makes for an eerily quiet summer. It’s like a ghost town. It’s very sad.

The imbalance also affects local businesses. Not only because the area is very empty in the summer months but even when they are here students tend not to drink in the local pub or eat chips from the chip shop. They drink at home and order their food from Adsa & Tescos or have takeaways delivered by some poor Deliveroo rider who struggled up the steep Swansea hills to deliver their food. Some do, of course, but Jeff, who used to run the Park Fish Bar, used to tell me tales of the days before the student houses swamped the area when families regularly bought fish, chips, and pizzas from his shop and the queue reached out the door and around the corner.  This is a shame as students undoubtedly bring youth and energy to the area but when there is such an imbalance it no longer feels like a healthy and varied community but instead some sort of annexe to the University Campus.

Note: Not to be confused with Rhyddings House, which is at the corner of Bernard Street and St Albans Road. I’ll be coming to that ghost of a house next.

14 thoughts on “The Rhyddings, Brynmill, Swansea.

  1. Great post Emma, used to love the Rhyddings. Never even thought about the hard ‘d’ pronunciation until now!

    1. Yes, I’ve wondered about it. I need to ask a Welsh speaker for their opinion on the matter. I think it means “freedom” in Welsh but I am not 100% sure.

    2. There was a centenary a few years ago and a local resident who was born in her house 85 years ago, remembered horse stables before they were knocked down for an extension.

      1. Thank you for this information, carolyn.

  2. Your paintings are so lovely and the colors catch my eye. Wales must be a very special place to live and a marvelous inspiration for painting.

    Thank you for the follow. It is appreciated.

    1. Thank you and Wales is a great place with friendly chatty people and wonderful scenery (but it does rain a bit)!!

  3. I’d say 1886 for Brynmill Junior School? And I would cycle to the Park Fish bar in 1967 for sure, to get a six penny bag of chips?

    1. Wow 6 penny bag of chips – its more like £2.50 these days! Thanks fot your memmories, Tim.

  4. Het rode huis trekt alle aandacht naar zich toe.

    1. Yes, it’s very distinctive! I like the red bricks too.

  5. Hi Emma, is that painting of The Rhyddings available as a print? I lived at 21, Waterloo Place from 1952 until we moved to the Mumbles in 1966. It was where I had my first taste of beer!

    1. Hello Steve, I missed this comment as I broke my leg on 8th March and was in the hospital for 9 days after that! You can buyt a print on Artmajeur here:-<

  6. Rhyddings is closed now. I doubt The Park is the oldest chippy. I remember using it in ’77 ish… and the owner complaining the the witch Thatcher had put VAT on his oil attacking working class cheap food. The oldest chippy in Swansea is possibly Ma’ Bennett’s fish parlour opposite the grand theatre. It become Belli’s in the 50s and closed in the 2000s Ma’ Bennett was my great great grandmother, she came from Grangetown in Cardiff, so the less said about that the better. Marc

    1. When I lived there Jeff ran the Park chippy. He was such a super chap. We’d always have an interesting chat about the world. His chips were great too.

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