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Educational Resources

As you all know by now, my name is Medwyn and I am an historical mole detective. Some moles dig for worms, I dig through time solving crimes as I go, using the computer in my goggles to help me.

As any decent time traveller knows, you can't just wander back into the past knowing nothing of the time you're going to. It is here, in Swansea museum, that I gather a lot of my information. So if you're ever fortunate enough to get offered a job as a time travelling detective like me, then you'll know exactly what to do – start by visiting your local museum.

Here are some things I've found out about Swansea Museum.


Geoffrey James was one of the men who worked on the construction of the Museum. One day, when they laying the stones, Geoffrey and another man who worked on the site called George Bell, got into a fight over a pretty girl they both liked. The fight turned nasty, and George stabbed Geoffrey, and killed him.


Did you know that the Swansea Museum is the oldest museum in all of Wales? It was built in 1841 by a group of local people called "The Royal Institution of South Wales.”

These were a group of men who were mainly interested in science, literature (stories, plays and poems) and history.


Since opening, Swansea Museum has collected many artefacts, there's even a whole room full of cups and saucers and jugs – all made in Swansea over a 100 years ago.

There is also a reconstruction of an old Welsh kitchen and some very scary Celtic weapons!


Swansea Museum is also home to an actual Egyptian Mummy. The mummy was originally a priest called Hor who worshipped the Egyptian god Atum. Every day Hor had to put fresh clothes on the statue of the god in the temple. He must have been good at his job and paid very well because it was very expensive to be mummified.


1841 - Swansea Museum is built and opened by The Royal Institution of South West Wales, a group of local people who were interested in science, literature and history.

1841 - The Mahoney family move into the Museum. Mr Mahoney works as the Museum's Caretaker, and the whole family live in the cellar.

1851 - The Mahoney family move out after Mr Mahoney loses his job for taking money from his bosses.

1888 - The mummy is given to Swansea Museum by Field-Marshal Lord Francis Grenfell, who was born in the St.Thomas area of Swansea. In 1882 he was posted to Egypt and in 1885 he became Commander-in-Chief or "Sirdar” of the British Army in Egypt. His sister, Mary Grenfell visited him in Egypt and encouraged him in his love of archaeology and Egyptian history. He asked the archaeologist, Wallis Budge to buy the mummy, its coffin and other smaller items for the Royal Institution of South Wales (Swansea Museum).

1941 - During World War II Swansea is bombed by the German Air Force, called the Luftwaffe. This is known as the Blitz. A bomb lands in the lower library in Swansea Museum, but luckily it doesn't explode.

1954 - Swansea Museum reconstructs a horse-drawn Mumbles tram from 1804. This is to celebrate 150 years since these trams became the world's first passenger railways. Before this, trains and trams only carried things such as coal and wood, and not people.

1975 - The oil-burning steam tugboat called the 'Canning' is brought to Swansea Museum. A tugboat is a small powerful boat designed for towing or pushing larger vessels. You cannot go on board this boat but you can see her from the dockside.

1983 - A boat called 'The William Gammon' is given to Swansea Museum. It's named after a member of Mumbles lifeboat crew. He and seven other crew members died trying to rescue the crew of another boat called 'The Samtampa' on the 23rd of April, 1947.

1985 - A boat called 'Olga', which was built in 1909, arrives at Swansea Museum. This was a fast boat that took pilots out to bigger ships to guide them through the rough waters of the Bristol Channel.

1986 - Swansea Museum builds The Tram Shed, to house part of an old Mumbles train and complete old Swansea tram.

1991 - Swansea Museum and its collections are saved by Swansea Council who want to make sure that the collections remain available for the public to see.

2008 - The Museum Collection at Landore opens to the public one day a week, on Wednesdays, between 10 o'clock in the morning and 4 o'clock in the afternoon.


This story can be read in class as a preparation to their visit to the Museum. It also highlights life in Victorian Times.

Did you know that a family used to live in Swansea Museum?

When the museum opened in 1841 Mr Hugh Mahoney became the caretaker of the museum, and he and his family moved in.

Mr and Mrs Mahoney had 3 children when they first moved in, Honora, Eleanor and Elizabeth and they all lived in the cellar. Just imagine how cold and dark it must have been. I bet they bumped into each other a lot.

They didn't have any central heating in 1841 so the fire was very important to the family. Mrs Mahoney would never let the fire go out, because she had to use it for cooking and keeping the family warm. Poor old Mrs Mahoney, she had to cook on an open fire with big heavy saucepans. Living in the cellar meant that the family couldn't grow their own food so Mrs Mahoney and her children would trek along the muddy streets to the market in Oxford Street or to the town shops. There she would have bought cheese, bacon and porridge as well as fruit and vegetables. She probably would have made her own bread and taken it to the local baker to cook in his oven.

The museum didn't have a bath or any hot or cold water taps so Mrs Mahoney would have bathed her children in a large tub in front of the fire after heating the water in large saucepans on the open fire. If the family wanted any water, they'd have to pump the water from a stand pipe on the road outside the museum. It must have taken a good few journeys to carry enough water in buckets into the cellar for a bath!

As you can see, Mrs Mahoney worked very hard to make sure the cellar was warm and that her family were smart and well fed but she did have a lot of help from her children because they didn't go to school in the week, only Sunday school, where they read the Bible and learnt to write and do sums.

Mr Mahoney was the caretaker of the museum and this involved a lot of work.

He had to make sure that only the museum members and their friends could come and look at all of the wonderful things that were on display. He had to collect membership money and check visitors' membership cards as they came in, to make sure that nobody sneaked in.

Mr Mahoney was in charge of buying all of the coal to heat the museum's six fires. He also had to deliver letters, stuff dead animals with sawdust and put in glass cases. He also made sure that the museum grounds and gardens were kept tidy. He was expected to work from 6 o'clock in the morning until 10 o'clock at night. Would you like to work for that long everyday?

The Gentlemen of the Royal Institution were not very nice to Mr Mahoney. They were all rich men and thought they were very important and constantly ordered him around.

Mr Mahoney worked very hard until 1851, but then things went from bad to worse. In 1851, Mr Mahoney admitted taking £34 and 13 shillings from the Gentlemen of the Royal Institution. A shilling is an old type of coin that's worth about 5p in today's money. Mr Mahoney promised he would pay the money back. But after a long discussion, Mr Mahoney was dismissed and he and his family had to leave the museum and find somewhere else to live. Mr Mahoney had to find somewhere else to work too. At first they went to live and work on a farm called Townhill Farm but they didn't stay there for long as in 1852 the whole family, which by now had grown to 7 children instead of 3, moved by boat to Australia. Their journey began on the 27th of August 1852, but they didn't arrive in Australia until the 10th of January 1853. The trip was not very pleasant as there wasn't enough food for everyone on board the ship and sadly, Mrs Mahoney died 11 days after the ship set sail.

But there is a happier ending to the story. Mr Mahoney bought a farm near a city called Brisbane in Eastern Australia. He owned land and helped buy food for those who needed it. This made him an important man. He became so important and so well known that the Director of the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane asked Mr Mahoney to display the food he grew on his farm all around the world, at important exhibitions in Paris, France and London. This allowed people from all over the world to see that Mr Mahoney was a very good farmer.

Hafod Copperworks

Swansea has a long Industrial Heritage. Click on the link below to see a brochure outlining the history of the Hafod Copperworks:-

Swansea Blitz Pictures

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Other Museum Sites

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