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SWANSEA BAY was shining like a diamond this week when it was frozen in the vice-like grip of a wintry blast.

And at night the lights of street lamps and houses across the beautiful crescent twinkled like the stars looking down on it, millions of miles away in space.

As the year creaked to a frosty end, the region could look back on the past 12 months with satisfaction.

The DT100 festival celebrating Dylan Thomas' birth in Swansea 100 years ago was a worldwide success with journalists from across the globe coming here to find out more about the fascinating, bibulous, womanising poet who started writing as a child, gazing down at the spectacular bay from his house in Cwmdonkin Drive.

Swansea University even spent PS104,000 on one of his early notebooks, his works were translated into Chinese, politicians, singers, actors, sportsmen and others took part in a 36-hour "Dylathon" tribute celebrating his words and more movies about his life were either completed or planned.

Rhossili Bay was again voted one of the world's best beaches by respected travel website TripAdvisor, another multi-million pound budget series of Fox TV's popular action series Da Vinci's Demons was filmed in the Bay Studios on Fabian Way, and, close by, the PS450m W Bay Campus, Swansea University's beach-front second campus and one of the biggest knowledge economy projects in Europe, steadily took shape, staying on course to open this year.

Local actors Michael Sheen and Sir Anthony Hopkins continued to get some of the biggest roles in Hollywood and on American TV and Catherine Zeta-Jones landed a major part in the film remake of one of Britain's favourite comedies, Dad's Army, alongside a line-up of some of Britain's finest actors.

And Swansea City continued to stay in the top echelons of the Premier League, the richest and most competitive football league in the world.

Not a bad year, then, but as 2015 begins the time has come to rebuild the centre of Swansea, the regional capital of this part of the world, which for too long has failed to reflect the hard work, pioneering spirit, inherent talent and, at times, sheer brilliance of those brought up here.

There may be many reasons why Swansea can have a Premier League football team but a centre which, to put it mildly, is past its best.

The Castle Quays project aimed at revitalising the centre goes back to 1994, a time when the internet was in its infancy, and it finally ended with no result in 2004.

The sale of the seafront Civic Centre this month should pave the way (hopefully after its demolition) for a dynamic, good-looking, waterfront city centre.

The people raised here have dazzled - now it's time for the city itself to shine.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 2, 2015
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