The Arcade, Llanelli
Llanelli is the largest town in Carmarthenshire. It sits on the Loughor estuary on the southernmost coast, some 10 miles west-north-west of Swansea and 12 miles south-east of the county town, Carmarthen. The town is famous for its proud rugby tradition and is a centre of tinplate production. In the mid 20th century, Llanelli was the largest town in the world where more than half the population spoke a Celtic language.
The name of the town
The name "Llanelli" is Welsh, meaning "Church of St Elli". The spelling 'Llanelly', an anglicised form, was also formerly used; it changed to "Llanelli" in government and official documents in 1965. The older spelling is still found in the name of 'Llanelly House' in the town. Another town by the name of "Llanelly" is found in Brecknockshire, near Abergavenny.
The presence of two double-L's in the town's name ensures that it is often mispronounced by those unfamiliar with the Welsh language. The "ll"s in the name are pronounced as a voiceless alveolar lateral fricatives (IPA symbol [ɬ]), a phoneme that does not exist in current English nor indeed in many languages of the world at all.
Around and about the town
Over the past decade, the emphasis on heavy industry that once played an important part in the district has changed to an emphasis on creating tertiary sector employment in leisure and tourism. Llanelli is now being developed as a leisure and tourism destination, with many ongoing developments such as the new Llanelli Scarlets rugby stadium, the Old Castle Works leisure village (see below) and a National Hunt racecourse at Ffos Las near Trimsaran
Some local attractions include:
- The Millennium Coastal Path, which runs along 13 miles of coastline from Loughor to Pembrey, with views of the Gower Peninsula and the opportunity for traffic-free cycling.
- Pembrey Country Park, on the outskirts of Llanelli, and with some 490 acres of parkland and Cefn Sidan beach 8 miles long and half a mile to the sea at its narrowest at low tide.
- National Wetlands Centre, a mile east of Llanelli, is one of nine wetland nature reserves managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
- Llanelly House, one of Llanelli's most historic properties; an example of an early 18th century Georgian town house, built by Thomas Stepney in 1714. The house, directly opposite the parish church, is currently in a poor state of repair, though town council has bought it and plans restore the house for civic and public use. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, stayed at the house several times.
- Parc Howard Museum in the grounds of Park Howard, with a collection of Llanelly Pottery and an art collection and material related to the history of the town.
Throughout the year, there are many festivals, carnivals and events held in or near Llanelli. Some of these include:
- Welsh International Open, a competition of the World Bowls Tour (February)
- Llanelli half marathon (March)
- Llanelli triathlon, Organised by Clwb Triathlon Llanelli (May)
- Wales Ladies Championship of Europe, golf tournament (August)
- Into the Future Festival — educational event about the environment and technology, organised by the local council (August)
- Llanelli Big Day Out — pop and live music event (August)
- Llanelli Beer Festival — CAMRA event (August)
- Llanelli Christmas Carnival (November)
Historically a mining town, Llanelli grew significantly in the 18th century and 19th century with the mining of coal and later the tinplate industry and steelworks. Many of these industries were served by the Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway which opened in 1803.
Llanelli became such a significant regional producer of tin that it was referred to as "Tinopolis" by the latter half of the 19th century. The closure of coal mines and competition from overseas steel plants meant that Llanelli, like many other towns in southern Wales, saw significant and sustained economic decline from the late 1970s.
The Reverend James Buckley was an ordained Methodist minister, born in Oldham in Lancashire in 1770. After moving to Llanelli towards the end of the 18th century, he became involved in the establishment of a small brewery in the town. After the death of the owner, the Rev Buckley came into the possession of the brewery and changed its name to Buckley's Brewery.
In 1998, the brewery was purchased by Brains Brewery, and production was transferred to their Cardiff brewery. However, Brains continue to produce The Reverend James, a bitter named in memory of the Reverend. The brewery has now been partly demolished.
Llanelli Waterside is a project to drive the regeneration of the Llanelli area by transforming the waterfront into a business, leisure and residential community. Currently, there are two seafront housing developments under construction. Pentre Nicklaus Village, located on the Machynys Peninsula has been the subject of recent criticism for being above the price range of local people. Pentre Doc Y Gogledd (North Dock Village) in the historic North Dock area is currently being developed by David Mclean homes and is currently on the last phase of development.
- People from Llanelli are sometimes nicknamed "Turks". The origin of this name is uncertain. One theory is that many Turkish sailors once called at the port of Llanelli during their voyages.
- Llanelli has hosted the National Eisteddfod five times: in 1895, 1903, 1930, 1962, and 2000.
- During the 1950s the town was the centre of tax protest by Trefor and Eileen Beasley, aimed at forcing the local council to issue tax demands in Welsh. The Beasleys refused to pay demands sent in English, and when bailiffs seized and sold their furniture to recover the money owed, their neighbours bought the furniture and returned it. The council relented on their policy during the 1960s.
- Paxton, J. (1999) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Places. 3rd edition. London: Penguin.
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press 2008.
- National Hunt Racecourse at Ffos Las, Trimsaran.
- Llanelli half marathon website
- Llanelli Triaethlon Club
- Ladies European Tour 2006 Schedule
- ItFF 2006 website
- LBDO 2006 website
- LBF 2006 website
- Felinfoel Brewery official site
- Gorseinon: An odd name for a pub
- Llanelli Town Council
- Llanellitown.com Online Business Directory for Llanelli Town Centre
- Millennium Coastal Park General information including facilities and contact details
- Bus timetables
- www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Llanelli and surrounding area
- Website of the Rectorial Benefice of Llanelli
- Llanelli Half Marathon
- Parc Howard, 27 acres of beautiful park in Llanelli including the Mansion and Museum.
- Radio BGM, Hospital Radio for the Prince Phillip Hospital.