In 1804 Parliament granted permission for the building of a five mile, horse-drawn railway along Swansea Bay. The railway opened for freight traffic in 1806. The following year it was given approval to transport passengers. In doing so, it became the first example of the regular conveyance of passengers by railway in the world.
The Swansea & Mumbles Railway was closed in 1855 but reopened in 1864. There were now two competing companies operating services on the line. One was horse drawn and the other offered a steam service. In 1898 the two companies merged, built a pier at the Mumbles end of Swansea Bay, and extended the line to the pier.
In 1929 the railway was electrified and boasted a fleet of 13 tramcars, which were the largest tramcars in service in the UK. The popularity of the service continued to grow and during the 1930s some five million passengers per annum used the service. The railway was closed down in January 1960.