How Swansea’s Wind Street grew from a row of quiet shops to one of Wales’ most famous party areas
For more than two decades, Wind Street in Swansea has been one of the most famous and popular nightlife destinations across the country.
Since the late 90s, pubs and bars have transformed the street into a mecca for partying, binge drinking, and celebrating, opening in large numbers to provide plenty of pub crawl opportunities. perfect at a stumbling distance from one place to another.
It is the place where many have created unforgettable memories and shared special moments in their lives, whether it is meeting their husband or wife, celebrating a special birthday party or having their funeral. of a young girl’s or a boy’s life. But it was never meant to be.
Read more: The colorful 1000-year history of Wind Street in Swansea and how it became the city’s beating heart
Wind Street’s original plan was for it to become a “cultural district” for the city.
It was hoped that this would create a distinctive area of cafes, restaurants, pubs, art galleries and workshops, and more than 70 developers and agents would approach Swansea Council to be part of the center’s transformation program. -city.
The authority had worked in partnership with the Welsh Development Agency to regenerate the area around the street, which had empty buildings and undeveloped land that it said needed to be reused to regain its vibrancy.
But in October 1997, it started to become clear that the vision was not going to go as planned. Alarm bells were sounded indicating that the project was “hijacked by ads”.
We reported at the time how West Cross advisor Des Thomas warned that ads appeared to be the only things being developed on the site, contrary to what was originally planned.
He warned that if the council did not want Wind Street to become an extension of the Kingsway, full of binge drinking young people, then something had to change
“Wind Street should be developed to attract a different clientele,” he said at the time.
“Some of the nice places out there now can be forced to leave if you allow it to continue in an ad theme. I hope my fears don’t come true.
“Hopefully the number of ad developments won’t continue to increase. There has to be that change if we are to make Wind Street the development we hoped it would be.”
Councilor Robert Francis-Davies also stressed the importance of remembering that Wind Street was meant to be part of the city’s cultural district and warned that if the street becomes all bars, which do most of their business at night, Wind Street would have a sense of death during the day.
“Potential developers should be encouraged to think about providing studio rental space for artists with a ripple effect to attract galleries, craft and art shops,” he told the era.
It arrived at the stadium that David Roe, owner of the Attic Gallery which was located on Wind Street and which was Wales’ oldest private gallery at the time, said the Cultural Quarter was a ‘laugh’ among Welsh art lovers.
He told the South Wales Evening Post: “To be completely honest the new cultural quarter has a lot more to do with pub culture. People who have been visiting us for decades from all over Wales can hardly believe what happened here in such a short space of time.
“We all wanted a new look for Wind Street. The traders here have been calling for changes for years. But now I wish I could have been quiet to some extent. I’ll be sad to leave Wind Street but we’ll have to go for it. practical reasons. Us My fear is that Wind Street will turn into a Kingsway-style drink circuit. ”
Swansea Arts Forum President Helen Griffin also expressed concern, telling us at the time: “We are very concerned about the pace and type of development in the Wind Street area. It seems to be straining everything but pubs.
“This is one of the few remaining areas of ancient Swansea and its apparently uncontrolled development is of great concern.”
That same month, the only major bank still on Wind Street, Lloyds Bank also closed. Another bank, Barclays, which closed in 1996, became Bank Statement in 1998, as it still is today.
Back then, the main nightlife scene in Swansea was along the Kingsway, which featured a mix of great clubs and popular bars that attracted people from all over town and from outside for a big night out.
But as big-name bars continued to flock to Wind Street’s new look and the famous Kingsway clubs hit hard times, slowly but surely the city’s nightlife moved.
For over two decades we’ve seen Wind Street become dominated by pubs and clubs, with a few restaurants in between, while the Kingsway has now grown into something entirely different. Swansea Council transformed it into an area incorporating landscaped grounds, cycle lanes and two-lane single-lane vehicle roads as well as the creation of wider pedestrian bridges.
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But now, in 2021, we see a new chapter in the history of Wind Street, and it looks a bit more like the shots that were illustrated for it in the first place.
Swansea Council is currently investing £ 3million to implement its vision of turning the street into an all-day destination with more opportunities for family fun, eating and meeting for coffee, rather than just to be a place where people go at night.
Major construction works have started and the project is expected to be completed before the end of this year. Right now, crews are improving and expanding some of the paved areas, raising and putting down existing sandstone flags, protecting trees, and preparing to install seating and new greenery.
The council says it intends to make Wind Street more attractive to businesses who want to offer out-of-home hospitality services and to customers who want to use those services.
And if there are still plenty of bars with even more openings, we are starting to see signs of a change of identity along the street, such as Founders & Co, inside the old Revolution. , which gives another atmosphere, compromising a coffee bar, bar, dining room, retail store and private event room.
It may have taken almost 25 years, but it looks like we are getting closer to the board’s original vision for Wind Street than what initially happened. It looks like we are on the verge of getting a happy medium in the future, with the day being used for coffee gatherings and al fresco dining, while the evening will continue to offer a bar scene for those who want to eat. like to go out and let go.
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