Langland Bay

Sunset over Langland Bay. Photograph © Simonswansea66

Langland Bay is a popular coastal holiday resort near Mumbles, Swansea.

History
Langland Bay, together with Caswell Bay, Rotherslade, Limeslade Bay, Bracelet Bay and Port Eynon, is managed by Swansea City Council. Because of its relative proximity to Swansea as well as to the Valleys, Langland and Caswell Bays in particular were extremely popular in the 1950s and 60s with coach day trippers as well as being serviced by the South Wales Transport bus route 85 which operated in the summer months. At other times of the year a walk was necessary from Langland Corner, at the top of Langland Bay Road.

Langland, and the adjacent Rotherslade, or ‘Little Langland’ as it is sometimes known, were once the location for three hotels, the Langland Bay Hotel, the Ael-y-Don and the Osborne Hotel. Three further hotels, the Brynfield Hotel, the Langland Court and the Wittemberg were located in the immediate hinterland. All, bar one, have closed over the past fourty years and have either been demolished and replaced with luxury apartments (Langland Bay & Osborne), converted to a Nursing Home (Brynfield), converted to flats (Ael-y-Don), closed and been subjected to arson attacks (Langland Court and, previously, the Osborne) or partially demolished and re-opened in its original Victorian core as the Little Langland Hotel (Wittemberg).

By far the most dominant building, built in the mid-ninteenth century and backing on to the Newton Cliffs, was originally known as Llan-y-Llan. Built in the Scottish Baronial style by the Crawshay family, the Merthyr Tydfil Ironmasters, it was used as their summer residence. In the first part of the twentieth century it later became part of the Langland Bay Hotel, and later again the Club Union Convalescent Home for miners. After a period of closure it has been renamed Langland Bay Manor and is in the process of being converted into 27 luxury apartments.

As well as the beach huts that still exist, Langland Bay was famous for its ‘community’ of green canvas beach tents. These were erected annually, usually between April and early September, on the stoney storm beach in front of the promenade. A popular local spectacle was the early September ‘spring tide watch’ when rough seas would occasionally cause the loss of one or two. Somewhat safer and more sheltered on the higher ground of the Langland Bay Golf Club, a further two rows of tents were permitted. All finally succumbed to increasing levels of vandalism in the 1970s.

Langland Bay has always been the site of sports innovation. Every year in the early 1960s saw local teenagers becoming amongst the first in the country to take up American innovations such as skateboarding, surfing and fibreglass canoes, which followed on from their parent’s use of canvas sea-going canoes earlier in the century.

Access and Facilities
A coastal path links Caswell Bay to the west and Rotherslade and Bracelet Bays to the east. The bay is accessible by road and is serviced by public transport for a short period during the school summer holidays; there are also two large Pay and Display car-parks. Hot and cold snacks are currently available from two small shops, though these tend to operate limited opening times during the winter and focus on ice-creams and gifts for children. Public showers are available near the beach and a St John Ambulance Hut and Information Office operate at peak times.

Swansea City Council operate a Surf Lifeguard service at the beach from the end of May to the beginning of September.

The beach hosts approximately 100 Council-owned holiday beach huts, the newest 12 of which at the western end of the Bay were built in the early 1960s. Over the years some have been refurbished, but numbers 40 -72 are gradually falling in to a sorry state of repair.

At the eastern end of the Bay are a number of privately owned beach huts within their own grounds and gated car park. A new bar/cafe development is underway at the western end of the beach promenade which should be complete in time for the 2007 summer season.

Sports in Langland
Tennis

Langland Bay features six tennis courts that can be hired by the public. These have been the location in recent years for the extremely popular Swansea Junior Tennis Championships supported by Swansea City Council. In the 1960s the courts hosted a similar tournament but covered a wider age range. It was the origin of a number of Wimbledon hopefuls.

Golf
Langland Bay Golf Club overlooks the bay from the west. The 18 hole course is relatively short with a standard scratch score of 69, however the exposed headland can be subject to unpredictable winds that can often affect the game.

Surfing
Langland is the popular with the local surfing community due to its convenient location near residential Mumbles and the variety of different waves that can be ridden at different tide levels. At low tide Crab Island provides what is arguably one of the best shaped and most powerful right hand waves in the country, however, many are put off by the fact that the wave breaks onto the exposed reef, so it is considered far too dangerous for novice surfers. Langland Point and the Sand Bar offer a more gentle wave on days when the swell is large. At mid-tide the reef (which is more secluded from the main swell) provides a smaller but often crowded wave. At very high tide the shore-break deposits unwary surfers directly onto stones. Several local surfers have entered the world professional circuit, most notably Carwyn Williams, whose parents ran a small hotel in the resort. Carwyn Williams once beat Australian Damien Hardman the World champion at the time in Hossegor, France.

Fishing
Fishing is not commonly practised in Langland these days, either from the beach or from the rocky shore. A strikingly marked large rock on the western side of the bay called Cross Rock used to be a popular spot to fish at high tide in the summer months with float and soft crab. Catches included bass, black bream and dogfish. Langland Point held similar promise, but the use of spinners or feathers here sometimes delivered mackerel as well as bass. Occasional dab and plaice were caught with lugworm or ragworm fom the beach, although the worm population of the beach has always been small.