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Llanelly, Carmarthenshire

Historical Description

Llanelly, a market-town, a seaport, a contributory parliamentary borough, the head of a poor-law union and county court district, and a parish in Carmarthenshire. The town stands on the river Burry, which forms the estuary of the Loughor, 11 miles NNW of Swansea, 16 W of Neath, 19 SE of Carmarthen, and 214 from London. It was only a village about 1813, but in consequence of its advantageous site near the sea for the outlet of a large portion of the South Wales coalfield, it has grown into a large, bustling, and prosperous seat of population and commerce. It is irregularly built, but is well paved and well drained, and is well supplied with water from waterworks in the town, a reservoir having been formed by banking up the river Lliedi. It has a head post office, and a branch post, money order, and telegraph office at Llanelly Docks, and stations on the South Wales section of the G.W.R., and at the terminus of the Llanelly and Vale of Towy branch of the same railway. There are extensive tin-plate, copper, iron, lead, and chemical works, a pottery, brick and tile works, saw and flour mills, breweries, mailings, and rope works. Several collieries are in the neighbourhood. A handsome new town-hall was erected in 1894-95 at a cost of £14,000. The Athenaeum is a substantial stone building erected by public subscription and opened in 1857; a wing was subsequently added as a memorial to Mr R. T. Nevill. The Athenaeum is partly occupied by the Mechanics' Institute, which has an extensive library, a reading-room, a geological museum, and a school of art, and partly by the Chamber of Commerce; there are also class-rooms and rooms for meetings, &c. A handsome stone building was erected in 1894 as a higher grade school, on ground adjoining the People's Park. The parish hall was built in 1887 in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. The Morewood Memorial Building was erected in 1889 for the use of the workmen of the Morewood Tinplate Works. The marketplace covers an area of 3 acres in the centre of the town. A third of it was covered in 1894-95 at a cost of £4000, and forms a very large hall. There are a custom-house, three banks, a workhouse, and an hospital. The parish church, in the centre of the town, is a fine old building with an embattled tower. All Saints' is a chapel of ease to it. St Paul's Church serves for a separate ecclesiastical parish, constituted in 1846, and was erected in 1857, and restored in 1879. St Peter's (enlarged in 1892), Christchurch, St John's, St Barnabas, and St David's are chapels of ease to St Paul's. There are Roman Catholic, Baptist, Calvinistic Methodist, Congregational, and Wesleyan chapels, and two cemeteries. A chimney in connection with two copper works, 320 feet high, is a conspicuous object for miles around; it is the loftiest chimney in England or Wales, and is only exceeded in height by those of Glasgow. Markets are held on Thursdays and Saturdays, fairs are held on Holy Thursday, 30 Sept., and 1 Oct. Three weekly newspapers are published.

The harbour is protected by a breakwater, and has two wet and one dry dock. The Llanelly or New Dock is a floating dock capable of accommodating vessels of about 17 feet of water with entrance gates 31 feet wide. A short branch from the G.W.R. enables trucks to be brought alongside the vessels for loading or discharging. The Copper Works Dock is also a floating dock, and has railway communication with the New Dock. The Lead Works or Pemberton Dock is not now used. The Carmarthenshire Dock has a smooth paved or pitched bottom, enabling vessels to lie dry at low water; there is a good patent slip adjoining this dock, capable of taking up vessels of 500 tons register. Anthracite and steam coal are largely exported. Steamers ply regularly between Liverpool, Birkenhead, Cardiff, Newport, and this port. The chief imports are copper ore and grain, and the chief exports are coal, culm, copper cake, copper sheeting, tin-plate, iron, and fire clay. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1894 was 30 (6300 tons). The entries and clearances average 1000(160,000 tons)per annum. The customs revenue in 1893 was £3430.

Llanelly is a borough by prescription, but has no extant charter. It was formerly governed by a portreeve and burgesses, but is now governed by a local board of health of 18 members. It unites with Carmarthen in sending a member to Parliament. It is a seat of county courts and petty sessions. Population of the parliamentary borough, 24,307. The parish contains also Llwynhendy, Dafen, Felinfoel, Hengoed, and part of Glyn. Acreage, 17,594 of land and 98 of water, with 308 of adjacent tidal water and 1864 of foreshore; population of the civil parish, 32,034; of the ecclesiastical, 10,713. Population of the ecclesiastical parish of St Paul's, 13,191. Dafen and Felinfoel form separate ecclesiastical parishes. Stradey Castle, Bryn-y-Caeraw Castle, Glyncoed, and the Dell are chief residences. An ancient camp, supposed to be British, is in the vicinity of the town. The head living is a vicarage in the diocese of St David's; net value, £201 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of St David's. The living of St Paul's is a vicarage; net value, £300 with residence. Patrons, the Crown and the Bishop of St David's alternately.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Registration districtLlanelly1837 - 1974

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Carmarthenshire is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers online: