Skyline of Llanelli town centre
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||SA14, SA15|
|Fire||Mid and West Wales|
|Senedd Cymru - Welsh Parliament|
Llanelli ("St Elli's Parish"; Welsh: [?a'ni] ) is a market town and the largest community in Carmarthenshire and the preserved county of Dyfed, Wales. It is located on the Loughor estuary 10.5 miles (16.9 km) north-west of Swansea and 12 miles (19 km) south-east of the county town, Carmarthen. The town had a population of 25,168 in 2011, estimated in 2019 at 26,225. The local authority was Llanelli Borough Council when the county of Dyfed existed, but it has been under Carmarthenshire County Council since 1996.
The spelling Llanelly was an anglicised form used until 1966, when it was changed to Llanelli after a local public campaign. It remains in the name of a local historic building, Llanelly House. It can also lead to confusion with the village and parish of Llanelly, in south-east Wales near Abergavenny.
The beginnings of Llanelli can be found on the lands of present-day Parc Howard. An Iron Age hill fort once stood which was called Bryn-Caerau (hill of the forts). Evidence suggests there were five hill forts from Old Road to the Dimpath. During the early medieval period, it is said a saint named Elli, or Ellyw, who in legend is the son or daughter of King Brychan, established a church on the banks of the Afon Lliedi. The original church would have been a wooden or partly stone, thatched structure. It was not until the 1200s that the stone church was built. Its original tower stands to this day. The current church (excluding the tower) was built at the beginning of the 20th century. With the establishment of the church in the early medieval period, a market town grew. However, it remained relatively small compared with Carmarthen and Kidwelly, both in Carmarthenshire, until the industrialisation of Britain speeded up at the end of the 18th century.
Llanelli then became such a significant regional producer of tin, and even referred to as "Tinopolis" in the latter half of the 19th century. Lying near the Western fringe of the South Wales Coal Field, Llanelli played an important role in industry, with coal exported through three small docks along with the copper and tin produced within the town itself. Although Llanelli is not located within the South Wales valleys, coal from the Gwendraeth and the Loughor Valleys was transported to Llanelli for export. The Stepney Family and other prominent families (including the Raby family, Howard family and Cowell family), played an important role in the development of the town. Aside from industry, Llanelli is also renowned for its pottery, which has a unique cockerel hand-painted on each item. A collection of this pottery can bee seen at the Llanelli Museum in Parc Howard.
Llanelli people are sometimes nicknamed "Turks", for uncertain reasons. One theory is that many Turkish sailors once called at the port on their voyages.
In the mid-20th century, Llanelli was the world's largest town in which more than half the inhabitants spoke a Celtic language. It is ranked as the seventh largest urban area in Wales. According to the 2011 UK Census returns, 23.7 per cent of Llanelli town residents habitually spoke Welsh. However, the area around Llanelli is a Welsh stronghold, in which 56 per cent do so in communities such as Llwynhendy and Burry Port.
During the 1950s, Trefor and Eileen Beasley campaigned to get Llanelli Rural Council to distribute tax papers in Welsh by refusing to pay taxes until their demand was met. The council reacted by sending in the bailiffs and selling their furniture to recover the money owed. The Beasleys' neighbours bought the furniture and returned it to them. The council finally reversed its policy in the 1960s, giving Welsh equal status with English.
Several firms, including Tata Steel Europe tinplate at Trostre and Dyfed Steels, are based in the Llanelli area and service the automotive industry. The Technium Performance Engineering Centre was developed at Llanelli Gate as a business incubator for businesses in the automotive, motor sport and aerospace sectors.
The traditional industries of Llanelli have gradually declined in recent decades. Local government has responded by seeking to attract tourism with developments such as the Machynys Golf Course, retail parks at Trostre and Pemberton, and the Millennium Coastal Park. The core shopping area has now moved largely from the town centre to the Trostre/Pemberton area.
Rev. James Buckley was an ordained Methodist minister, born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1770, who after moving to Llanelli towards the end of the 18th century became involved in establishing a small brewery. After the death of the owner, Buckley gained possession of the brewery and changed its name to Buckley's. In 1998, the brewery was bought by Brains Brewery, which transferred production to its facility in Cardiff. However, Brains continues to produce The Reverend James, a bitter named in Buckley's memory. However, the brewery has been partly demolished.
In the past decade, the longstanding emphasis on heavy industry has shifted towards the tertiary sector employment in leisure and tourism. Ongoing developments include the new Llanelli Scarlets rugby stadium, the Old Castle Works leisure village (see below) and a National Hunt racecourse at Ffos Las near Trimsaran. Machynys Ponds, a Site of Special Scientific Interest notable for its dragonfly population, lies a mile to the south.
From the early 19th to late 20th centuries, Llanelli was a major centre of Welsh nonconformism. Several of the chapels have now closed and others are in sharp decline. Their history was chronicled in a volume by the BBC journalist Huw Edwards. Those of significance included Capel Als, where David Rees was a minister for many years in the 19th century. Llanelli had Independent (Congregationalist) chapels as Tabernacle, Siloah and Soar.
The Tabernacle Chapel built in 1872-1873 by John Humphreys of Morriston overlooks the Town Hall. It is built of brown rubble stone with extensive Bath stone dressings and a slate roof. There is a prominent four-pillared Corinthian arcade at the entrance. The building was Grade II* listed in December 1992. It is used as a venue by the Llanelli Choral Society. Other listed chapels include Bethel Baptist Chapel in Copperworks Road, Park Congregational Chapel, Zion Baptist Chapel at Island Place, and Hall Street Methodist Church.
Situated on Waunlanyrafon across the road from the police station is the local Catholic Church, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church.
The parish church of St Elli has a medieval tower, the main body being rebuilt by G. F. Bodley in 1905-1906. It is a Grade II* listed building. Several other churches in the town are also listed buildings, but made redundant by the Church in Wales and now in private ownership. They include All Saints' and St Alban's.
The town's rugby union teams - the Scarlets competing in the Pro14, and Llanelli RFC in the Principality Premiership - play at Parc y Scarlets, which opened in November 2008 in Pemberton. Previously they had played at Stradey Park, home to Llanelli RFC for over 130 years and one site used for the 1999 Rugby World Cup, hosting the Argentina v Western Samoa game on 10 October. Stradey Park is being redeveloped.
The Welsh folk song "Sosban Fach" (Little Saucepan) is mostly associated with Llanelli RFC. Many rugby clubs have notable scalps collected from touring international sides, but on 31 October 1972, Llanelli claimed perhaps the greatest by beating the New Zealand All Blacks. The Scarlets side emerged 9-3 winners at Stradey Park.
There is a strong junior rugby core, including club sides such as Felinfoel, New Dock Stars, Llangenech and the Llanelli Wanderers. In 2005, Coedcae School won the Inter-Schools Cup of Wales with an 8-5 victory over Brynteg Comprehensive.
Stebonheath Park is the home of football club Llanelli A.F.C., which plays in the Cymru South. The town has many active local teams and tournaments such as the 2018 Challenge Cup, where West End United beat Trostre Sports AFC.
Llanelli hosts the annual Llanelli Open Bowls Tournaments, the oldest and most prestigious of which, the Roberts-Rolfe Open Singles event, has been run since 1926 and has a first prize of £600. The contests are held from July to September in Parc Howard.
The Llanelli area has two golf courses: the Machynys Peninsula Golf & Country Club which hosted the Wales Ladies Championship of Europe from 2005 until 2008, and Glyn Abbey Golf Club, which was named Welsh Golf Club of the Year 2009.
Llanelli is the birthplace and home of Terry Griffiths OBE, snooker world champion in 1979 and runner up in 1988. Now a coach and snooker commentator, he runs The Terry Griffiths Matchroom in the town centre.
Llanelli is home to Tinopolis, one of Britain's largest independent media producers. It has subsidiaries that produce over 2,500 hours of broadcast television, including English language programmes such as Question Time for the BBC and Welsh-language television programs such as Wedi 7 for S4C.
Coverage of local affairs appears in two local newspapers, the Llanelli Star founded in 1909 and Llanelli Herald launched in 2015,. Online coverage is found on Llanelli Online. The main county-wide radio station is Radio Carmarthenshire. Other stations covering the area are 96.4 The Wave, Swansea Sound, Swansea Bay Radio and Radio BGM, which serves the Prince Philip Hospital and the local community via an online service
Some local attractions include:
The Ffwrnes Theatre opened in late 2012, replacing the Theatr Elli, which was part of the Llanelli Entertainment Centre. A multi-screen cinema opened in October 2012. Much is being spent on regenerating the central shopping district.
Llanelli holds festivals, carnivals and events throughout the year. They include:
Llanelli is linked to the M4 motorway via the A4138 and to Swansea via the Loughor Bridge on the A484. It is served by regular bus services between Swansea and Carmarthen and a National Express service to London.
Services from Llanelli railway station on the Great Western Crescent south of the town centre connect with Fishguard Harbour and Swansea along the West Wales Line. It is the terminus of the Heart of Wales Line for Craven Arms and Shrewsbury. There are daily Great Western Railway services with London Paddington and regular services with Cardiff Central and Manchester Piccadilly. The district is also served by stations, at Bynea, Llangennech, Pembrey & Burry Port and Kidwelly.
The nearest passenger airport is Cardiff Airport, 50 miles (80 km) away, although Pembrey, 2 miles (3.2 km), provides air charter services. October 2016 saw the 20th anniversary of Pembrey Airport, which during that period trained 9,500 military pilots jointly with the MOD range at Pembrey Sands.
The first Welsh-medium primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, was established in Llanelli in 1947. The English medium secondary schools are St John Lloyd, Bryngwyn and Coedcae; the only Welsh medium secondary school is Ysgol y Strade. St Michael's School is a private school for ages three to eighteen. Ysgol Heol Goffa is a special school for children with disabilities.
Coleg Sir Gâr (Carmarthenshire College), with its main campus at Graig near Pwll, provides a college education for most of the town's further education students and some vocational undergraduate degrees through the University of Wales. There are sixth form colleges at Ysgol Gyfun y Strade (Welsh medium) and St Michael's (English medium).
|Mayor||Cllr. Roger Price|
|Carmarthenshire County Council|
|Leader||Cllr. Emlyn Dole|
|Cllr. J. Edmunds (Bigyn)|
Cllr. E. Morgan (Bigyn)
Cllr. J. P. Jenkins (Elli)
Cllr. J. Prosser (Glanymor)
Cllr. L. Roberts (Glanymor)
Cllr. R. James(Lliedi)
Cllr. S. Najmi (Lliedi)
Cllr. S. Curry (Tyisha)
Cllr. A. McPherson (Tyisha)
|United Kingdom Parliament|
|National Assembly for Wales|
Llanelli is in the Llanelli parliamentary constituency, currently represented by the Labour party member Nia Griffith Member of Parliament (MP), and by the Senedd constituency of Labour's Lee Waters MS. Llanelli is run on a community level by Llanelli Town Council and Llanelli Rural Council (depending on the area of town) and Carmarthenshire County Council at local government level. Llanelli Rural Council addresses some part of the town, but mainly the Llanelli Rural community. Llanelli's politics has been Labour-dominated for decades. Its geographical location has led to a sense of exceptionalism in relation to the rest of Carmarthenshire, which is dominated by Plaid Cymru. In reaction to this, there have been calls to reinstate the local government district of Llanelli either as a county or as the City of Llanelli.
The community of Llanelli is bordered by the those of Llanelli Rural, Llanrhidian Higher and Llanrhidian Lower, the latter two being in the City and County of Swansea. Llanelli Borough Council, based at Llanelli Town Hall, was the area local authority until Carmarthenshire County Council was established as the unitary authority in 1996.
Llanelli Waterside, a joint venture between Carmarthenshire County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, aims to transform the waterfront into a business, leisure and residential community. There are two seafront housing developments under construction. Pentre Nicklaus Village, located on the Machynys Peninsula has been criticised for being above the price range of local people. Pentre Doc Y Gogledd (North Dock Village) in the historic North Dock area is nearing completion by David McLean homes.
Notable Llanelli people with a popflock.com resource page in alphabetical order by section: