Former telescope maker’s shop, Swansea

Link to Welsh translationLink to French translationFormer telescope maker’s shop, 20 Wind Street, Swansea

For many decades, 20 Wind Street was occupied by the Cousens family, makers of watches and nautical instruments. In 1854, Richard William Cousens ran the business, which was described in 1874 as a “chronometer maker and optician”.

Chronometers measured time more accurately than other timepieces and were used by mariners to measure longitude. In 1854 Swansea was a thriving port, with large volumes of copper ore being brought in for smelting. The North Dock, completed two years earlier, was a stone’s throw from Wind Street (where Plantasia and the Parc Tawe Retail Park stand today).

Photo of Swansea-made telescopeSupplying seafaring equipment provided jobs for many of Swansea’s residents. There were 12 businesses making timepieces in Swansea in 1854. Five of them were in Wind Street.

A telescope in the collection of Nick Denbow was made in 1890 and is engraved with: B.R. Cousens, Swansea (see photo). It was used in naval service in the First World War, and would have needed a support (rather than being hand-held) because it weighs c.2kg.

Basil Rayson Cousens was probably the last of the instrument makers at 20 Wind Street. In January 1900 the business was transferred to Swansea shipbuilder Edward Towers by Edith Annie Crooke (formerly Cousens).

The building was then occupied by the National Electric Wiring Co. Ltd. which supplied “lighting, heating power, bell and telephone installations” and pledged: “No experimenting at customers’ expense.” In 1926 the building was home to Lewis & Tyler Ltd, makers of machine belting, as well as two stockbrokers and an accountant.

With thanks to Nick Denbow

Postcode: SA1 1DY    View Location Map

Nick Denbow’s telescope blog

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