Pentre Street, St Clears
|Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire|
St Clears is a small town on the River Tâf in Carmarthenshire. According to the 2001 census it has a population of 2,820, most of whom are Welsh-speaking, although there is a marked difference between the southern and northern ends of the town in percentage terms.
The town has a variety of local shops including two prize-winning traditional butchers and two craft centres. There are also several pubs serving good food.
The surrounding countryside is mainly rolling grassland consisting of moderate sized fields with well kept hedges. The main agricultural enterprise is dairy farming, with goodly numbers of sheep and beef herds. The soils are deep and productive and will grow good crops of potatoes and cereals, and the climate allows fruit growing as well. Although most of the land is farmed commercially the area is a haven for wildlife.
For holiday makers St Clears has a range of Bed & Breakfast, self-catering accommodation and campsites. It is within an hour's drive of two National Parks (Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast), the Gower Peninsula "area of outstanding natural beauty" and also the main Pembrokeshire ferry ports for Ireland (Fishguard and Pembroke Dock).
The Norman St Clears Castle was constructed in the twelfth century but only the castle mound now remains. The town, which was a Marcher borough, grew around the castle. Below the castle there was a port on the river Tâf, which could take ships of up to 500 tons according to a plaque at the site. The castle held out against Owain Glyndŵr.
Nearby Trefenty house became the home of a branch of the Perrot family in the 16th century, and it was here that the amateur astronomer Sir William Lower and a neighbour, John Protheroe, set up one of Britain's first telescopes in 1609, which they used to study the craters of the Moon and Halley's Comet.
In 1842, one of the local toll gates was destroyed in the Rebecca Riots.
The building of the railway was responsible for the decline of many of the small ports along the Bristol Channel coast, and St Clears was no exception. The railway passed about 2 miles north of the castle, and new building at the north end of the high street spread eastwards along Pentre Road, and then northwards again to the station. Pentre Road is now the main commercial centre of the town, and was formerly part of the A40 road until construction of the dual carriageway bypass.
The town's cattle market was important until its closure, but the town still has a large agricultural cooperative store. The town has also hosted an oil distribution centre and milk processing plant. Now smaller industrial units provide the main local employment.
- Trefenty: Some Observations and Reflections
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press 2008