Helping us to turn the page on decades of city memories
BACK in 1998 when people everywhere were gearing up for the arrival of a new Millennium, something happened that was to have a lasting effect on the way Swansea remembers its past.
At the time, Tony Blair was busy tackling all the issues that being Prime Minister brought, the Google internet search engine was founded, JK Rowling was serving up her second Harry Potter book and the Ford Focus was about to take to the roads.
But it was also the year in which Swansea people turned the pages of a pictorial nostalgia book entitled Images of Swansea.
No one, not even the book's compiler, former Evening Post journalist David Roberts could have realised that its success would signal the start of a long running annual series.
The latest book, Swansea Our City, has just hit the shelves, bringing the tally to 16 in consecutive years and adding to what has grown into one of the most unique community photo albums in the UK, something that the people themselves can contribute to and be part of. Once again its miscellany of pictures provides an unfailing antidote to fading memories.
There may have been 16 books, but the only similarity is that they remind us each year that the Swansea scene, both its faces and places, is ever changing.
The 16 years since the series began have brought their own major developments, some of which are featured in the latest book.
It provides an opportunity to walk the city streets Swansea people used to walk in decades past and visit the locations that those same people shared a soft spot for — places like Singleton Park, Castle Gardens and some of Gower's delightful bays in times when the beaches were covered with more sand than today.
Swansea Our City embraces all aspects of life and along the way ensures that the nurses who staffed ward nine at Singleton Hospital won't forget the day they said farewell to a colleague in 1979; the youngest members of a Killay school will always remember meeting some of its oldest past pupils, or the Morriston shoppers who encountered an unexpected check-out assistant when a new store opened in the town can enjoy a memory jerker.
This is a book that many people are sure to open and spot themselves on its pages.
With the main city traffic gateway currently undergoing enormous change, the book also offers some interesting insights on what would have greeted travellers between the city centre and Mumbles down the decades, scenes far different from those of today.
"It is hard to believe that Swansea Our City is the 16th book I have compiled in as many years, particularly as the publication was intended as a one-off," said David who spent 30 years at the Evening Post.
Even harder to grasp is just how much the city has changed in that time.
"Once again it is a book about the people, by the people themselves and mirrors many aspects of their everyday lives in a unique way," he said.
"Though it is an enormous logistical exercise to collate and then safely return the pictures that are offered it never fails to generate some exciting finds.
"There are some delightful shots of the Swans in action at the Vetch, as well as a lovely bird's eye view of the old ground itself this year, but street scenes and people pictures all combine to add a further, fresh and interesting mix."
"There is no doubt that the books have won the affection of many since they were first published.
"The fact that people are keen to offer their photographs year after year is also a clear indication of the pride that Swansea residents have in their community."
The more recent images contained in Swansea Our City also underlines the fact that people can be as nostalgic for something that happened just a few months ago as that which occurred decades back in time.
All of that means Swansea can boast its very own photo album and one that so far is as enduring as Harry Potter, the Ford Focus and of course Google.
Swansea Our City by David Roberts is published by Bryngold Books.