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Outcrop at north end of Betws Mountain - - 64603.jpg
Grid reference: SN633116
Location: 51°47’13"N, 3°58’55"W
Population: 1,875  (2001)
Post town: Ammanford
Postcode: SA18
Dialling code: 01269
Local Government
Council: Carmarthenshire
Carmarthen East & Dinefwr

Betws is a small village on the River Amman in Carmarthenshire, some 15 miles north of Swansea, Glamorgan; it is part of the ecclesiastical parish of Betws and Ammanford. The nearby mountain, at the western end of the Black Mountain, is named after the village, and has a large area of common land.

History and location

The name 'Betws' is generally thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon 'bed-hus' - a house of prayer, or oratory, and means "chapel" in the Welsh language. Until the 19th century, when Ammanford developed extensively, Betws was the largest village in the area.[1]

Map of the Lordship of Gower, showing Betws (later detached), Kilvey (later added), and the Town and Franchise of Swansea. The language boundary - with English to the south - is shown as a dotted line.

Until the 13th century,[2] Betws was part of Gower, which is now part of the county of Glamorgan but the old commote border of the rivers Amman and Loughor moved south and Betws has since the 1535 been part of Carmarthenshire.[3]

Until 1817, when a road was built along the Amman valley, Betws was only accessible by roads crossing the mountain from Neath and Swansea. This inaccessibility is commemorated in a local saying, which refers to the division between Betws a'r Byd (Betws and the world). There was a sign on the Amman bridge to this effect: Betws this way, the rest of the world that way.

The people of Betws like to make the distinction between themselves and those over the river in Ammanford.

The road bridge between Betws and Ammanford on Park Street was completed in 1892 and rebuilt in 1990 by T Richard Jones (Betws) Ltd.[1] T. Richard Jones (Betws) Ltd. ('TRJ') is a major building contractor, originally based in the village but now located on the Ammanford side of the river.[4]

The land for Betws Park was given to Ammanford district Council by Arthur Rice, 6th Baron Dynevor in 1903, but the council used it as a rubbish dump until the early 1930s. After this, it was properly developed by local volunteers as a park with tennis courts.[1] On 23 June 2007, a new 'Memorial and Sensory Garden' was opened in the park.

Memorial stone in Betws park. The plaque on the right reads "This peaceful garden is a living tribute to those who lost their lives in wars, mining accidents and other tragic incidents. THEIR MEMORY IS OUR HERITAGE."

Betws Park Workshops are a collection of industrial units rented by various businesses. The workshops were opened in 1991, having previously been a screw manufacturing factory (1970-1981) and a lightbulb factory (1983-1986).[1]

The parish church in the village is dedicated to St David. It dates to the 14th century but was renovated in 1872.[5][6]

Betws Primary School was built before 1846, extended in 1928 and refurbished in 1988.[1]

The Caemawr housing estate was built in 1947, and the Bwtrimawr estate in 1976.[1]

Ammanford No. 1 (1890-1925) and No. 2 (1891-1976) Collieries were at the north end of Betws.[1] The Tycoch nightclub now occupies some Ammanford No. 1 buildings.[7] Betws drift coal mine opened in 1976 and closed in 2003[8] and the land is being redeveloped as housing and industrial units, including LBS Builders Merchants.[9]

There are plans to build a wind farm on Betws Common.[10][11]


Betws Rugby Football Club currently fields two rugby union teams: The first team finished 1st in the WRU League Five South West in the 2007-8 season[12] and the second team finished bottom of Llanelli District Division 1.[13]

Ammanford Association Football Club have a ground at Rice Street, Betws, which is currently being reconstructed.

Notable people

  • Balladeer, Donald Peers, was brought up in Heol-y-felin.[14]
  • Jim Griffiths,[15] first Secretary of State for Wales and MP for Llanelli lived at the corner of Pentwyn Road and Park Street, where his father William was the village blacksmith (an anvil stands outside the house that occupies the site today). His elder brother David Rees Griffiths found fame as the poet Amanwy.[1][5][16]
  • Ivor Richard, Baron Richard was born in Betws and attended Betws Primary School.[17]
  • Henry Grindell "Death Ray" Matthews had a laboratory on Betws mountain from 1934 until his death in 1941.[18]
  • Terry Magee, charity volunteer and former boxer.[19]


A wide variety of birds can be seen around Betws: Red kites, ravens, buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks on the mountain; Kingfishers, dippers and cormorants on the river; Jays and woodpeckers in the woods.


Outside links