The Windmill At Caswell & The Water Supply by Wendy Cope

By
Wendy Cope
 

In 1883 a windmill was erected on the hill above Caswell Bay.  In conjunction with a series of ropes it was used to pump water from a well at the foot of the cliff to a small reservoir at Summerland Lane.  It was part of a scheme to provide a public water supply for Mumbles instigated by a small, local, private company whose number included Sir John Jones Jenkins, later Lord Glantawe, who lived at The Grange, West Cross, Roger Beck, who lived in Newton, and a Miss Morgan.  Coming from a limestone source the water was hard but was otherwise praised.

 

 

 

In 1890 the windmill’s ownership passed to the Oystermouth Waterworks Company which built a tank at the beach and linked this by pipes to a pump house run by steam which pumped the water up to the reservoir to keep it full.  The windmill had proved to be inefficient as its ability to do the job had depended on the wind which was sometimes not enough and at other times too fierce.  It was badly damaged by a gale in the winter of 1887/8,   but it was kept as an auxiliary to the steam engine.  Later, the pumping engine was powered by oil and then by gas.  By 1900 the windmill had ceased to be used but it remained a landmark for captains of coastal vessels travelling up the Bristol Channel. 

 

 

As the local population increased it became more difficult to keep the reservoir full and supply everybody’s need for water.  Due to failures of supply many Mumbles houses had their own tanks to store water against such shortages.  

 

About 1908 the Oystermouth Urban Council took over the water undertaking and by 1915 it had come to an agreement with Swansea Corporation for them to feed the reservoir.  However, after the First World War when Oystermouth ceased to be independent and became part of Swansea, the water supply was guaranteed.

 

 

The windmill continued to stand on the hill until the middle of July 1930 when smoke was seen rising from the structure.  With the help of a troupe of scouts the fire was extinguished but only one of its four supports remained intact. 

 

As it was now a danger to the public it was destroyed by placing charges of dynamite at the base of the windmill.  It was blown up and the remains fell onto the beach below.   The Daily Post suggested that the fire had been started maliciously by mischief makers.    

 

 

 
 
During the 1920s the disused pump house on Caswell beach was converted into a café and shortly after the windmill was destroyed, the present reservoir at Picket Mead was constructed.

 

 
Photos: The site of the windmill today