Bringing back magic of old railway
BOXES of Kleenex have been known to be on hand at the very mention of the old Mumbles Railway.
Long gone it may be, but it is certainly not forgotten.
Which is where the emotion comes in.
There are many out there who believe that getting rid of the first passenger railway in the world, as happened in 1960, was just about the biggest mistake ever made in Swansea.
Once it is gone, it will never come back, they said then, and they are still saying it now.
But every so often there is fresh hope, not for the return of something which started rolling over 200 years ago, but for a modern version.
Such a time is with us again.
Swansea Council wants to move the latest idea ahead with a feasibility study on a £521 million scheme to bring trams back to the area.
It is not the first time in recent years that such a plan has had a public airing, with councillor Rob Speht, chairman of the authority's environment, regeneration and culture and overview board involved now, talking up the idea as far back as September 2004.
The current scheme under consideration is a part private- funded one from engineering firm Laing O'Rourke, a light rail transit system stretching from Port Talbot to Llanelli.
That is all for the future, and many will hope the scheme has one.
In the meantime, misty-eyed memories of the truly original version continue to abound, of the first passenger railway in the world dating back to 1807, first as a horse-drawn service, then by steam and later by electric.
Journey's end was reached on January 5, 1960, and the masses came out to give it a proper farewell in the style of a funeral.
Auld Lang Syne was sung and more than 200 clambered aboard the "hearse", with hundreds more standing at each station to cheer the train as she went through. A five-mile cortege of cars followed all the way from Southend to Rutland Street with horns blowing a lusty goodbye.
Men wore black ties, some were even in undertakers' tops, while thick black veils and black coats were the order of the day for some women. Frank Dunkin, the oldest driver on the line, aged 71, had the honour of being in control for the finale, which included a rendition of the Welsh national anthem. At Rutland Street, the railway's town terminus, crowds watched as four top-hatted "bearers" shouldered the "coffin" of the Mumbles Railway into the South Wales Transport waiting room.
Among its many fans was America-based Swansea rock star Spencer Davis, who called for its return in 2006 to coincide with a tribute he had penned on his CD So Far. And on a flying visit between gigs on the Spencer Davis Group's German tour, he fulfilled a long-standing invitation to visit the Swansea Museum's tramway centre in Dylan Thomas Square, where he was delighted to be given a DVD of the colourful history of the railway.
Spencer, who has lived in California since 1970, has always had strong views about the railway's demise.
"I know all about the history of the train and I have educated people in California about it," he said then. "The horror that was perpetrated upon it would be the equivalent of getting rid of the cable car system in San Francisco."
He described the seasonal promenade land train of recent years as meaningless.
"It is screaming out for a light rail system," he added. "Now there is this development for SA1 it is not just the economic importance, but the importance of infrastructure on traffic. The park and ride depots that come along are going to be meaningless as well. You're are still going to have jams."
He feels strongly enough to display a passion from afar for a missing part of his hometown, and there are others happy to do the same from within. People like Tony Cottle.
The Mumbles Railway Society chairman also gave a guarded welcome to the new plans. "It would be a wonderful idea, but would people give up their cars?" he said.
On the much-missed Mumbles Railway itself, he believes the reaction to its passing said it all.
"It served the people then, and it would have served the people now," he said. "During the snow it never stopped. People always got to work, and that was the end of it."