Time Team

Season 19 Episode 6

Swansea, Wales

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Aired Sunday 5:45 PM Feb 26, 2012 on Channel 4
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Episode Summary

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Swansea, Wales
AIRED:

A copper bottomed dig.

Two hundred years ago, Swansea was one of the wealthiest cities in the country, if not the world. The source of those riches was neither the coal nor the steel recently associated with the area, but copper.

The Welsh port city once led the world in copper smelting, but today there's almost nothing to be seen of this unique heritage. So Tony Robinson and the Team investigate one of the very first copper works, White Rock.

Records show that its Great Workhouse housed as many as 20 furnaces, right by the River Tawe, and also that copper production once devastated this landscape, leeching deadly toxins into the ground and sending countless workers to an early grave.

The poisonous fumes blighted the landscape, and the valley was described as akin to Dante's Inferno, with smoke, noise and pollution. It's a complete contrast to what can be seen there today.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
    Huw Bowen

    Huw Bowen

    Convenor of History Research, Swansea University

    Guest Star

    Ronnie Maddock

    Ronnie Maddock

    Retired copper engineer

    Guest Star

    Ian Gough

    Ian Gough

    Welsh Rugby Player

    Guest Star

    Glyn Jenkins

    Glyn Jenkins

    Graphical Artist

    Recurring Role

    Ian Barclay

    Ian Barclay

    Digger Driver

    Recurring Role

    Ian Powlesland

    Ian Powlesland

    Digger/Archaeologist

    Recurring Role

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

    FILTER BY TYPE

    • TRIVIA (1)

    • QUOTES (5)

      • Tony: I'm in Swansea in South Wales, epicentre of an industry that changed the world and it's not steel and it's not coal and it not slate. It's an industry intimately connected with the slave trade that employed thousands of people and generated inconceivable wealth for the privileged few. If I'd been standing here two hundred years ago, this is what I would have seen (raises black and white sketch of industrial town) known as Copperopolis it was copper smelting that put Swansea at the very heart of the industrial revolution. We want to discover why this sleepy backwater became the birthplace of the global copper trade. As usual we've got just 3 days to come up with some answers but let me tell you without copper we wouldn't have any walkie-talkies, we wouldn't be able to work that digger, we certainly wouldn't have any geo-phys all pretty crucial stuff, well maybe not the geo-phys.

      • Tony: (v.o.) Copper production once devastated this landscape, leeching deadly toxins into the ground and sending countless workers to an early grave.
        Matt: The real danger is getting any of the soil in your mouths, so gloves on at all times and when you go offsite gloves off, wash hands all that kind of stuff.

      • Alex: But there's a chance then if we do find something you'll be able to come down here and look at it and…
        Ronnie: and say it's mine.

      • Francis: Thing is we had rain this morning, so there's no dust. If there was dust we'd ask you to wear a mask, it's why we're wearing gloves. This ground is so polluted from the days of copper smelting, there's arsenic, there's sulphuric acid, there's cadmium, there's lead and cyanide. Lick that floor and you're dead.
        Tony: I don't think I will then.

      • Mary-Ann: And that's what ties this simple copper bracelet to one of the worst crimes in human history

    • NOTES (3)

    • ALLUSIONS (0)

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