Ammanford (Welsh: Rhydaman) is a town and community in the county of Carmarthenshire, Wales, with a population 5,293 according to the Office for National Statistics (2001), increasing to 5,411 at the 2011 census. Located at the end of the Amman Valley, Ammanford is a former coal mining town and serves as the main shopping centre for many villages in the surrounding area.
According to the 2001 census, 75.88% of the population are competent in the Welsh language, compared to roughly 61% in Carmarthenshire as a whole and 21.8% in Wales as a whole.
Ammanford is served by the A483 and A474 roads and Ammanford local railway station is a stop on the Heart of Wales Line with trains to Llanelli and Swansea to the south and Shrewsbury to the north.
Ammanford is twinned with Breuillet, Essonne.
Ammanford took its current name on 20 November 1880. The community that existed then and now known as Ammanford dates back to around the early 19th century. At that time the main highways went through the area, not to it. The north-south road from Llandeilo and Llandybïe went to Betws, and the east-west road from the Amman Valley went to Penybanc and Tycroes, and further afield, both converging at a crossroads (now Ammanford Square). This in turn led to the development of coaching inns or staging inns and taverns catering for the needs of the traveller. The area eventually became identified by the name of one of these hostelries — Cross Inn.
The community of Cross Inn centred on the activity of the cross road, along with a small group of low-grade cottages sited in the vicinity of Carregaman Isaf which became known as Pentrefacas. Betws was a larger hamlet with the parish church, St David's, as its focal point. All the area to the west of the River Amman fell within the parish of Llandybïe.
This rapid growth appeared to have been the reason for changing the name of the village, as there was already another village in Carmarthenshire called Cross Inn. Prominent citizens convened a public meeting with a view to changing the name, and there was overwhelming support for the proposal, especially amongst the strong representation of church and chapel members who perhaps resented the hamlet bearing the name of a public house – the largest chapel in the village was then known as Cross Inn Chapel. There is still an engraved stone in the grounds of the chapel, now called Gellimanwydd or the Christian Temple, bearing its original name.
On the 1 October 1880, this article appeared in the local newspaper:
"It has been proposed to call CROSS INN, which is in the parish of Llandybïe, in the County of Carmarthen, from this time forth, after the Right Hon. Baron, who owns the place, Dynevor.
"By adopting a new name, it is hoped to get rid of all previous annoyances, and also, that the other Cross Inn may benefit by the change."
From later press reports, it seems that there was by no means unanimity in the selection of the new name. Several public meetings followed and eventually it was decided to refer the choice of a new name to a group of prominent local dignitaries.
On 20 November, the nominated committee met at the Ivorites Hall (on Hall Street, which took its name from this building). After a long discussion it was proposed by Mr. A. A. Morris of Wernolau, and seconded by Mr. W. Jones of the Cross Inn Hotel, that from this time forth, the village should be known as Ammanford. The proposal was accepted unanimously, there being no other name before the meeting. After the vote was taken, the chairman of the meeting, Watkin Hezekiah Williams (Watcyn Wyn), a local schoolmaster, could not resist announcing that 'Cross Inn' had finally been 'crossed out'.
The Industrial Revolution created a demand for coal, an essential source of power to operate the boilers of steam engines. Coal attracted investment which led to various companies, one of which was the Llanelly Railway and Dock Company, building an elaborate transport system of railways. The first railway was opened in 1840, linking Llanelli with Ammanford, reaching Brynamman by 1842 and later extending northwards to Llandeilo and beyond (see Ammanford railway station).
Coal could not be mined without manpower, and so an influx of workers began. People needed houses, services, entertainment, and schools. Within a relatively short period of time, what was once a quiet and tranquil agricultural community changed to a bustling town, hungry to absorb the land of old established farmsteads. The population increased explosively, with many of the migrants and their families coming from English language-speaking areas of Wales as well as from England, Scotland and Ireland.
Ammanford was part of the Carmarthenshire county constituency until it was divided in 1885 whereupon the town was located in the East Carmarthen constituency which was held until its abolition in 1918 by the Liberal Party. The Labour Party captured Llanelli in 1922 and have held it ever since. The MP from 1936 until 1970 was Jim Griffiths, a native of nearby Betws. However, in 1997, Ammanford was transferred to the new Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seat which was captured in 2001 by Adam Price of Plaid Cymru.
Ammanford was part of Carmarthenshire County Council from 1889 until 1974 and was usually represented by Labour councillors. It became part of Dyfed County Council from 1974 until 1996. Following the abolition of Dyfed it became, once again, part of Carmarthenshire, now a unitary authority.
Ammanford Urban District Council was formed in 1903 in consequence of sharp population growth. It was abosrbed into Dinefwr Borough Council upon re-organization in 1974. Dinefwr in turn was absorbed into the Carmarthenshire unitary authority in 1996. Ammanford's Town Council has continued as a community council. The community is bordered by the communities of: Llandybie; Betws; and Llanedi, all being in Carmarthenshire.
Ammanford is in the ecclesiastical parish of Ammanford and Betws. Ammanford formed part of the ancient parish of Llandybie although the parish church at Betws was much closer to the town. The established church was, however, slow to react to the growth of an urban community.
The nonconformist denominations, in contrast, were far more active and Ammanford was an important location as the 1904–1905 Welsh Revival unfolded.
The Ammanford Anthracite Strike was a riot at Ammanford in 1925 during a strike by anthracite miners who took control of the town by force and violence for 10 days. 200 Glamorgan police were ambushed by strikers at Pontamman Bridge during the so-called 'Battle of Ammanford'.
A number of signicant nonconformist chapels were established at Ammanford.
Ammanford hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1922 and 1970.
On 4 July 2002, Ammanford was granted Fairtrade Town status. This status was renewed by the Fairtrade Foundation on 27 December 2003.Neil Hamilton, MP
Jarcrew, pop group
Gareth Jewell, actor
Alexandra Roach, actress
Rae Jenkins, light orchestra conductor
Alex Jones, television presenter on S4C and the BBC's The One Show
Owain Wyn Evans, weather presenter on BBC Wales Today and BBC Radio Cymru and presenter of BBC's Ffeil
Donald Peers, singer
John Rhys-Davies, actor (The Lord of the Rings film trilogy)
Rick Smith, musician (Underworld)
Rheinallt Nantlais Williams, Professor of Philosophy of Religion and theologian
A motorcycle speedway long-track meeting, one of the few held in the UK, was staged at Ammanford. Local football team Ammanford A.F.C. play in the Welsh Football League Second Division, while rugby union team Ammanford RFC were formed in 1887 and play in the Welsh Rugby Union leagues. The local cricket team Ammanford Cricket Club are a major part of sports in the community/town. They wan the South Wales Premier Cricket League in 2012 but in 2013 got relegated back to the South Wales Cricket Association 1st Division. The 1st team is captained by ex-Glamorgan cricketer Alun Evans (cricketer)