William Thomas was born in Lan Manor, Trewyddfa, Morriston, in 1816. His father was agent to the Morris family, and a partner in the Millbrook Iron Company. William Thomas joined that firm, and married in 1853 in
The rapid increase of industrialisation in the 19th century had left little land for recreation, and while the Council’s plans to lay out
John Dillwyn Llewelyn of Penllergare responded to William Thomas’s challenge by offering the 42-acre Cnap Llwyd Farm, near the ruins of Morris Castle, to the people of
William Thomas went on to secure the land for Victoria Park, opened in 1887 in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, Brynmelyn Park the following year, as well as the Recreation Ground at St Helen’s, and Brynmill Park. He was appointed Chief Magistrate, and after 23 years retired from the Council in 1894. The Eastside was accommodated with the opening of
Bandstands were a regular feature of those early parks, which in the case of Victoria Park could also be used for drill by the local militia, and staging Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. There were games of tennis and bowls at several parks, with cricket at Parc Llewelyn, and
The statue of the man who inspired all these was funded by public subscription and unveiled in Victoria Park in 1906, three years before the death of William Thomas, the “pioneer and champion of open spaces”.