History Project


The History Project

In April 2018 we launched a major new project to explore in detail the 183-year history of the Royal Institution of South Wales.


At the public launch of the History Project in Swansea Museum on 28 April Andrew Davies, chairman of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, said that RISW ‘formed a remarkable network of renowned scientists, engineers and other pioneers. This exciting initiative will help us understand more about the links between the RISW's Victorian pioneers and Swansea's present and future’.

Click here for the remarkable beginning of the RISW

The main outcome of the Project will be a substantial printed book, entitled Swansea's Royal Institution and Wales's first museum. It will tell the story of the Institution from its beginnings as the Swansea Philosophical and Literary Society in 1835 to the present day. In its early history the society brought together a remarkable collection of individuals whose scientific and technical expertise was held in high regard not only locally, but also at a national and international level. In 1841 the RISW opened Swansea Museum, the first public museum in Wales.

The volume, edited by Helen Hallesy and Gerald Gabb and fully illustrated, will be published late in 2021 by the University of Wales Press. It will feature expert contributions from historians, scientists, RISW members and Swansea Museum staff. Its themes will include the institution’s foundation and its intellectual and civic contexts, the pioneering scientists, industrialists and historians who led it from its early days, the establishment and evolution of Swansea Museum and its collections, and the research, educational and more recent activities of RISW members.

Anyone interested in the RISW, Swansea Museum, the development of museums, the history of Swansea, and the intellectual history of Britain will want to own a copy of the book.

We need to raise around £15,000 to cover the costs of publication costs (the book's price will not exceed £25, so as to keep it within the reach of as many people as possible). If you would like to make a donation towards the cost of publication, please contact Iwan Davies, Hon. Secretary, RISW, Bryncerrig, Ffynone Road, Swansea SA1 6DE, 01792 469833, secretary@risw.org. Your donation will secure you a copy, and your name will appear on the list of subscribers in the book.


Use the 'Library' picture to view the library of resources as it grows!