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Welsh: Glan y Fferi
Footpath down to the river, Llansteffan - geograph.org.uk - 1432669.jpg
Ferryside seen from Llansteffan across the river
Grid reference: SN3671010254
Location: 51°46’12"N, 4°22’12"W
Post town: Ferryside
Postcode: SA17
Dialling code: 01267
Local Government
Council: Carmarthenshire
Carmarthen East & Dinefwr

Ferryside is a village in the parish of St Ishmael, Carmarthenshire. It is 8½ miles south of Carmarthen near the mouth of the River Towy and close to sandy beaches. Originally a ferry crossing, then becoming a fishing village, it has developed as a holiday and retirement area. The village has its own lifeboat station and was the first village in the UK to switch from analogue to digital television.


Originating as a landing-place on the ferry route to Llansteffan (the ferry was used by Giraldus Cambrensis in 1188), Ferryside developed as a fishing village. In 1844 the population of the parish was 895.[1]

Much of the village developed after 1852, when it became linked to Carmarthen and Swansea by Isambard Kingdom Brunel's South Wales Railway.



St Ishmael's Church

The parish church is St Ishmael's, built on a rock near the shore.[1] In 2006, the graveyard and grounds were selected for an innovative project aimed at encouraging biodiversity in churchyards.


Ferryside has a post office, a public house (Poachers Rest), a sports and social club (previously the rugby club), a general store, hotel (Three Rivers Hotel & Spa), restaurant, antiques shop and caravan park.


Ferryside railway station has regular rail connections to London Paddington, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, Carmarthen, Swansea and Cardiff. Bus services connect to Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Community Magazine

STISH is a monthly magazine by the St Ishmael's community for the villagers of Ferryside and Llansaint, run by volunteers to bring news of local events and articles of local interest. Ferryside Village Forum is an online source of information.[2]


Ferryside is home to the River Towy Yacht Club which holds regular summer races with the Towy Boat Club based across the river at Llansteffan.[3]

Lifeboat station

The Ferryside Lifeboat was first established in 1835, 11 years after Sir William Hillary founded a national lifeboat service, which subsequently came to be the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Ferryside lifeboat was run by the RNLI until 1960, and was re-established as an independent service in 1966, one of 59 such stations around the British Isles. It is now part of St John Ambulance being a marine division of the ambulance charity and is launched by HM Coastguard in response to '999' calls and distress calls on VHF CH16.[4] With the second largest tidal rise and fall in the world making the local waters hostile, the lifeboat is available 24 hours a day throughout the year. It is staffed by local volunteers who rely on donations to the service for its funding.[5]

The current lifeboat station was constructed in 2010 and opened by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester. The service uses a 6.4 metre Ribcraft semi rigid inflatable with twin 90 hp engines, and a smaller craft. Callouts average 28 a year, a number that is rising as a result of an increase in leisure craft.[5]


Ferryside developed as a fishing village, particularly for shellfish.


Along with Laugharne, Ferryside was once at the heart of the cockling industry in Carmarthen Bay.[6] Cocklewomen from Llansaint could collect about 650 tons of cockles a year, and did so until around 1900. The cockle industry now experiences intermittent bursts of activity when the Ferryside cocklebeds are opened to commercial pickers: intensive 'strip-cockling' occurs and several hundred cockle-pickers work the estuary beds with tractors.

In 1993, Ferryside saw what are known locally as 'the cockle wars': fights between rival gangs on the beach,[7] notably between gangs from the Gower Peninsula, Liverpool, the Dee estuary and Glasgow. Because commercial quantities of cockles at Ferryside were rare, there were no licences required to harvest them.[7] In addition to gaining the village rare visibility on the front pages of national newspapers, the cockle wars led to a Parliamentary [8] and calls for the beds to be licensed.

Analogue television switch off

On 30 March 2005, Ferryside and Llanstephan became the first areas in the United Kingdom to lose their analogue television signals. Residents of the Carmarthenshire villages - on either side of the River Towy - voted to switch to digital after taking part in a pilot scheme.

Homes were given digital receivers for each of their televisions. A helpline was set up for residents' teething problems, and one-to-one support was made available to the elderly.

After three months, the households were asked if they wanted to keep the digital services or revert to analogue only. More than 85% of households responded and 98% voted to retain the digital services. Hence at the end of March 2005, the analogue channels, BBC One, ITV1 and S4C, radiating from the Ferryside transmitter, were switched off leaving BBC Two as the only analogue channel remaining. Viewers wanted to keep this channel because it provided certain programmes that the digital equivalent, BBC 2W, did not show.[9]

Notable people

Notable ex-residents of the village include the General Sir Thomas Picton (of Iscoed Mansion), a former governor of Trinidad who died at the Battle of Waterloo, Hugh Williams, the 19th century Chartist lawyer who played a prominent role in the Rebecca Riots and the portrait and landscape painter Gordon Stuart[10] (five of whose portraits can be found at the National Portrait Gallery, including those of Kingsley Amis, Dylan Thomas and Huw Wheldon).


Ferryside Beach
  1. 1.0 1.1 "GENUKI - St Ishmael". http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/CMN/StIshmael/index.html. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  2. "Ferryside Village Forum". http://www.ferrysidevillageforum.org.uk/about-us/what-does-ferryside-village-forum-do/. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  3. "River Towy Yacht Club". http://www.rivertowyyachtclub.com/. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  4. "Ferryside Lifeboat". http://www.ferryside-lifeboat.co.uk/. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Ferryside Lifeboat - History". http://www.ferryside-lifeboat.co.uk/our-history/. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  6. "Carmarthenshire online encyclopaedia". http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/CAR_CAU/CARMARTHENSHIRE.html. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Prestage, Michael (22 June 1993). "Pickers muscle in on bumper cockle harvest: Michael Prestage on a shellfish bonanza in South Wales that has led to violence". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pickers-muscle-in-on-bumper-cockle-harvest-michael-prestage-on-a-shellfish-bonanza-in-south-wales-that-has-led-to-violence-1493093.html. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  8. "House of Commons Debates". http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199394/cmhansrd/1994-10-31/Debate-19.html. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  9. "Digital Switchover Trial Report, 2005". http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk/pdf_documents/publications/Digital_SwitchoverTrial_Report.pdf. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  10. "National Portrait Gallery - Gordon Stuart". http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp08008/gordon-stuart. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ferryside)