Companies would set up boundary markers such as this to define the limits of their land ownership. In 1872 the Great Western Railway Company acquired the Swansea Canal Navigation Company, paying a sum of £107,666, plus a further £40,000 to the Duke of Beaufort for the Trewyddfa section of the canal near Morriston.
However, competition from the Swansea Vale Railway, and later from the GWR’s own line between Swansea and Morriston, eventually led to a substantial reduction in canal-borne traffic, and the Swansea Canal showed its first working loss in 1895. Its final year of being marginally in profit was 1902, and in 1921 the total amount of cargo carried was just 10,600 tons. The lower section of the canal was closed and filled in shortly after the First World War, and traffic ceased completely when the last cargo of coal was carried from Hill’s Colliery, Clydach, in 1931.
When the Great Western Railway Company bought the Swansea canal they would have placed these markers alongside the canal; where the canal ran in a cutting the markers would be found at the top of the slope; where it was on embankment the markers would be at the bottom of the slope. Woe betide anyone caught encroaching onto land owned by one of these large companies, the full force of the law would be brought to bear to remove them from the land.
Today you can see boundary markers alongside motorways and major roads. Instead of isolated posts the boundary is now defined by the wooden fence running alongside the road, all the land between the fence and the road is part of the highway, the land the other side belongs to someone else.