This famous dog was originally owned, as a pup, by Taulford Davies who lived at 2 Cwmgelli Cottages on Cemetery Road , near Treboeth. William Thomas, who became the owner of the dog, moved from Riverside Cottages in Landore to Roger Street , in Treboeth.
Swansea has its own local hero, the life saving dog ‘Swansea Jack’. Swansea Jack’s life saving career began in 1931 when he saved a 12 year old boy who had fallen into the North Dock. The town council awarded him a silver collar.
William Thomas – Presented to Jack for his second life saving 1931
Presented to Swansea Jack in recognition of his 21st rescue from drowning – 21st September 1935
Swansea Jack with the Mayor of Swansea and guests at the Guildhall
John Gordon was born 1924; he retired from the despatch department of Co-operative House in 1986 and lived in Compass Street , Manselton. Gordon met Swansea Jack in 1933 when Gordon was just nine years old. Jack’s owner William Thomas moved into the Victoria Hotel in College Street . John and the dog became inseparable; he took him for walks and accompanied him when he attended fetes and carnivals. Jack wore a padded harness; someone had made for him, with a collecting box strapped on either side and raised hundreds of pounds for charity. On one occasion they travelled by train to Newport for the Gwent Hospital Carnival. They also attended Swansea Hospital Carnival and Nazareth House Fete and done all the flag days like the Poppy Appeal. They would stand on the corner of Oxford Street and Waterloo Street outside a store called Edwards the Eagle and Swansea Jack would wait obediently while passers-by put pennies in his box. Gordon was parted from his dog when William Thomas left the Hotel to live with his married daughter in Treboeth and it was there that the dog died in 1937.
John Gordon age 10 with Swansea Jack collecting for charity in Newton Road in 1935
John Gordon recalls his friendship with the wonder dog, when he was 63 in 1987 and living in Compass Street, Manselton.
In September 1937 Jack suffered an illness which lasted almost a month, after he picked up rat poison put down near his home in Treboeth. On the 2nd October Jack’s special life came to a tragic end, the dog died, aged 7 years, of suspected phosphorous poisoning (an ingredient in rat poison). The dog's body was wrapped then buried at the bottom of the garden of William Thomas ' home in Roger Street .
The Swansea public called for a lasting tribute, a local schoolmaster suggested that the famous dog should have a proper burial place. Victoria Park was considered, but the town council's preferred site was the Promenade
Jack Harris a local builder and undertaker, who also lived in Roger Street, made an unpolished oak coffin which bore a brass plate inscribed with ~
SWANSEA JACK DIED 2nd OCTOBER 1937 LIFE SAVING HERO
At a cost of £2-0s-0d, less one shilling discount, and this was paid by the local schoolmaster. Eighteen days after its death and internment the dog was exhumed, and was found to be perfectly clean and had not deteriorated.
The receipt for Swansea Jack’s coffin
The dog was placed on its side in the coffin, and on Thursday 21st October 1937 Swansea Jack was interned at a place befitting the canine hero ~ near the sea. To commemorate Swansea Jack's bravery a memorial stone was erected on the burial site. It was unveiled on Saturday 1st October 1938. The memorial stone was made by the monumental sculptor 1. Cecil Jones. It measured 6ft by 3ft and weighed 11/2 tons.
To the side of the life-size bronze model of the dog's head the epitaph reads ~
ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF SWANSEA JACK
THE BRAVE RETRIEVER WHO SAVED 27 HUMAN
AND TWO CANINE LIVES FROM DROWNING
LOVED AND MOURNED BY ALL DOG LOVERS
DIED OCTOBER 2ND 1937 AT THE AGE OF 7 YEARS
NE'ER HAD MANKIND MORE FAITHFULL FRIEND THAN THOU WHO OFT THY LIFE DIDS'T LEND TO SAVE SOME HUMAN SOLE FROM DEATH
A year later Cecil Jones’s memorial was unveiled on the promenade, close to Jack’s buried remains.
This plaque is now displayed in the window of 19 Roger Street .