Llanelli is surrounded by a number of villages and communities in the Llanelli Rural district. Some of these communities, especially ones that immediately surround the town, are often unofficially referred to as Llanelli. In many respects, Llanelli represents a continuation of the Newport-Cardiff-Swansea metropolitan belt into the more rural West of Wales; or conversely the start of the same.
The spelling 'Llanelly' is an anglicised form which was used until 1966, after which it was changed following a local public campaign. This is evident in the name of the local historic building, 'Llanelly House'. It can also lead to confusion with the village and parish, Llanelly, which is in south-east Wales near Abergavenny.
The town lies on the River Lliedi, although much of the river is not visible, especially in the town centre, where the river is underneath the town.
The first 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 that there were many as 5 hill forts from Old Road to the Dimpath. During the dark ages a saint named Elli or Ellyw who in legend is the son or daughter ( gender isn't known) of King Brychan set up a church on the banks of the Afon Lliedi. It was around this time that the people of Bryn-Caerau began to come down the hill either to the Felinfoel area or to near Saint Elli's church. This was the start of the building of the town and its church. Originally the church would've been a wooden or partly stone thatched chapel. It wasn't until the 1200s that they built the stone tower and a ste church. However the church (excluding the tower) was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century. The reason the church still looks old is for it was rebuilt with the same stones with the same plan. 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.
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 six times: in 1895, 1903, 1930, 1962, 2000 and 2014.
In the mid-20th century, Llanelli was the largest town in the world where more than half the population spoke a Celtic language. It is ranked the 7th largest urban area in Wales. According to the 2011 UK Census returns, 23.7% of Llanelli town residents could speak the Welsh language. However the area around Llanelli is a Welsh stronghold where 56% speak Welsh, 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 this policy during the 1960s when they accepted that the Welsh language should be equal with the English language.
In 1991 Llanelli was a distinct Travel to Work Area, but the 2001-based revision has merged the locality into a wider Swansea Bay Travel to Work Area.
The area around Llanelli in eastern Carmarthenshire is home to a number of manufacturing companies (including the Tata Steel Europe tinplate works at Trostre, and Dyfed Steels), many of which service the automotive industry. The Technium Performance Engineering Centre was developed at Llanelli Gate as a business incubator for businesses in the automotive, motorsport and aerospace sectors.
The traditional industries of Llanelli have been in gradual decline over recent decades and local government has responded by promoting developments such as the Machynys Golf Course, new retail parks at Trostre and Pemberton, and the Millennium Coastal Park, to help attract tourism. The core shopping area has now largely relocated from the town centre to the Trostre/Pemberton area.
Llanelli has a brewing tradition, with the Felinfoel Brewery in Felinfoel, located just outside the town.
The Reverend James Buckley was an ordained Methodist minister, born in Oldham, 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 brewery in Cardiff. However, Brains continue to produce The Reverend James, a bitter named in memory of the Reverend. The brewery has now been partly demolished.
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. Machynys Ponds, a Site of Special Scientific Interest notable for its dragonfly population, is 1 mile (1.6 km) to the south of Llanelli.
The parish church of St Elli is a Grade II* listed building Several other churches in the town are also listed buildings and have been made redundant by the Church in Wales and are now in private ownership. These include All Saints Church, and St Albans Church.
From the early 19th to the late 20th century, Llanelli was a major centre of Welsh nonconformism and there were many notable chapels in the town. Several of these have now closed and others are in serious decline. Their history was chronicled in a volume by BBC journalist Huw Edwards.
Of these chapels several are significant, including Capel Als, where David Rees was a minister for many years in the 19th century.
The Tabernacle Chapel, built in 1872–73, by John Humphreys of Morriston, is situated at corner of Town Hall Square, overlooking Town Hall. The site is bordered by Coleshill Terrace, Church Street and Coldstream Street. It is built of brown snecked rubble stone with extensive Bath stone dressings and a slate roof. A prominent feature is the four-pillared Corinthian arcade at the entrance. It was Grade II* listed in December 1992. It is used as a venue by the Llanelli Choral Society. Other listed chapels in Llanelli include Bethel Baptist Chapel in Copperworks Road, Park Congregational Chapel, at the junction between Murray Street and Inkerman Street, Zion Baptist Chapel at Island Place, and Hall Street Methodist Church.
The town's rugby union teams—the Scarlets regional side, competing in the Pro 12 League, and Llanelli RFC, competing in the Principality Premiership—play at Parc y Scarlets, opened in November 2008 just outside town in Pemberton.
Previously, the two teams had played at Stradey Park, home to Llanelli RFC for over 130 years. It was one of the stadiums used during the 1999 Rugby World Cup, hosting the Argentina v Western Samoa game on 10 October. Stradey Park is now being re-developed.
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 also a strong junior rugby core in Llanelli, including club sides such as Felinfoel, New Dock Stars, Furnace and the Llanelli Wanderers. In 2005, Coedcae School won the Inter-Schools Cup of Wales with an 8–5 victory over Brynteg Comprehensive.Rugby league
Llanelli's rugby league club are the West Wales Raiders and play in the Rugby Football League's League 1 competition. They are based at Stebonheath Park.Football
Stebonheath Park is the home of football club Llanelli A.F.C. Although the town has a rich rugby heritage, football is a very popular pastime. As a result, there are many active local football teams such Trostre Sports AFC, which is one of the area's best local football teams.Bowls
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 now has a first prize of £600. These are held from July to September in Parc Howard.Golf
The Llanelli area has two golf courses, including 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.Snooker
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 the company Tinopolis, one of the Britain's largest independent media producers. The company has many subsidiaries, which produce over 2,500 hours of broadcast television, including English language television programmes such as Question Time for the BBC and Welsh-language television programs such as Wedi 7 for S4C.
Coverage of local affairs is found in two local newspapers, the Llanelli Star (founded in 1909) and Llanelli Herald (launched in 2015), various online community news outlets such as Your Llanelli and a local radio station, Scarlet FM. Other stations that cover the area are 96.4 The Wave, Swansea Sound, Swansea Bay Radio and Scarlet FM's sister station Radio Carmarthenshire, and Radio BGM which serves the Prince Philip Hospital and the local community via its online service
Some local attractions include:The Millennium Coastal Path, which spans 13 miles (21 km) of coastline from Loughor to Pembrey, offers views of the Gower Peninsula and the opportunity for traffic-free cycling.
National Wetlands Centre, about 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Llanelli, near Llwynhendy and Bynea, is one of nine wetland nature reserves managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Llanelly House is one of Llanelli's most historic properties, an example of an early 18th-century Georgian town house. The house, located directly opposite the parish church, is currently in a poor state of repair, however the town council has recently purchased it with plans to completely restore the house for civic and public use. The house was built for Thomas Stepney, the Member of Parliament for Carmarthenshire, in 1714. John Wesley, the early leader of the Methodist movement, stayed at the house several times. The house was also featured in the first series of the BBC television show, Restoration.
Parc Howard Museum is set in the grounds of Parc Howard. The museum houses a collection of Llanelly Pottery (Llanelli spelt with a 'y' at the time of the pottery) an art collection and material related to the history of the town.
The Ffwrnes Theatre opened in late 2012, replacing the former Theatr Elli which was part of the Llanelli Entertainment Centre. A multi-screen cinema opened in October 2012. Millions of pounds are also being spent on regenerating the town centre shopping district.
Throughout the year, there are many festivals, carnivals and events held in or near Llanelli. They include:Welsh International Open, a competition of the World Bowls Tour (February)
Into the Future Festival — educational event about the environment and technology, organised by the county council (August)
Llanelli Big Day Out — pop and live music event (August)
Llanelli Beer Festival — official CAMRA event (August)
Llanelli Christmas Carnival (November)
Llanelli Ramblers Festival of Walks, an annual walking festival, late Spring Bank Holiday weekend (May)
Llanelli LGBT Day (August)
Llanelli is on the south coast of West Wales and is linked to many national locations via road, rail and air services. The town is linked to the M4 motorway via the A4138 and to Swansea via the Loughor bridge on the A484. Llanelli is served by regular local bus services between Swansea and Carmarthen and National Express coaches between many major UK destinations.
Rail provides an important link to the town from Llanelli railway station which is located at Great Western Crescent south of the town centre. The station is connected to Fishguard and Swansea along the West Wales Line and is the terminus of the Heart of Wales Line, which connects the town to Mid Wales and Craven Arms, and then Shrewsbury via the Welsh Marches Line. There are twice daily train services connecting the town with London Paddington and regular services to Cardiff Central, and Manchester Piccadilly. The district of Llanelli is also served by four local railway stations at Bynea, Llangennech, Pembrey &Burry Port and Kidwelly.
Llanelli is connected to the National Cycle Network from the north on NCR 43, and along the coast from the east and west on NCR 4. These routes are directly connected to the town centre via a cycle path.
The nearest passenger airport is Cardiff International Airport, 50 miles (80 km) away, although there is an airport within 2 miles (3.2 km) at Pembrey which provides passenger air charter services. October 2016 saw the 20th anniversary of Pembrey Airport which, during this period, had trained 9500 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. However Bryngwyn has a Welsh stream. There is a special school for children with disabilities, Ysgol Heol Goffa, and a private school, St Michael's, based in the Bryn area.
Coleg Sir Gâr (Carmarthenshire College) has its main campus at Graig near Pwll. It provides a college education for most of the town's further education students as well as a limited variety of 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).
In Prince Phillip Hospital is a postgraduate centre for medical training run by Cardiff University's School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education.
Llanelli is within the Llanelli parliamentary constituency, which is presently represented by the elected Labour party member Nia Griffith MP, and the National Assembly for Wales constituency, which is represented by Labour's Lee Waters AM. 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 on a local government level. Note that Llanelli Rural Council addresses some part of the town, but mainly the Llanelli Rural community. Recently, there have been many decisions made by the Carmarthenshire authorities, including the Carmarthenshire County Council and Local Health Board that have been very unpopular and damaging to the communities of Llanelli. 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, making the entire area independent of Carmarthenshire.
The community of Llanelli is bordered by the communities of Llanelli Rural; Llanrhidian Higher; and Llanrhidian Lower, the latter two being in the City and County of Swansea.
Llanelli is twinned with: Agen, France
Llanelli Waterside, a joint venture between Carmarthenshire County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government, is a project that aims 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.See Category:People from Llanelli
Phil Bennett, fly-half, Wales and British Lions.
Jonathan Davies, rugby footballer
Ieuan Evans, Llanelli 1984–1997, Wales, British Lions
Jeff Evans, First Class Cricket Umpire
Wyndham Evans, footballer and football manager
Ray Gravell, rugby player for Wales, the British Lions and Llanelli RFC, actor and broadcaster.
Dai Greene, athlete 400m hurdler, world champion and Gold medalist for IAAF championships at Daegu, South Korea
Terry Griffiths, world snooker champion (1979).
Neil Haddock, boxer, British Superfeatherweight Champion/European Lightweight title challenger.
Emyr Huws, midfielder, Wales and Cardiff City
Carwyn James, Llanelli, Wales, British Lions coach
Gareth Jenkins, coach: Llanelli RFC (1982–2003), Llanelli Scarlets (2003–2006), Welsh national rugby team (2006–2007).
Barry John, Llanelli, Cardiff, Wales, British Lions
Kyle Letheran, Plymouth Argyle F.C goalkeeper.
Flex Lewis, bodybuilder, ex-rugby footballer
Dwayne Peel, rugby player, Wales and British Lions.
Derek Quinnell, rugby player for Wales, British Lions and Llanelli RFC
Byron Stevenson, Wales international footballer.
Melbourne Tierney, rugby footballer
Eirian Williams, snooker referee.
Lord Elwyn Jones, Labour Lord Chancellor 1974–79.
Rod Richards, former Conservative member of parliament for Clwyd North West and former leader of the Conservative party at the National Assembly for Wales
Michael Howard, British politician, former leader of the Conservative party
Sir Tom O'Brien,17 August 1900 – 5 May 1970, British Trade Unionist, Labour MP from 1945-1959.
Juliet Ace, playwright and dramatist
Simon Armstrong, film, television and stage actor
Ronald Cass, film writer and composer
Huw Edwards, BBC newsreader
Pam Ferris, actress
Peter Anthony Freeman, author and storyteller
Jessica Garlick, Eurovision Song Contest 2002 UK entrant and Pop Idol finalist
Gary Griffiths, opera singer
Gareth Hughes, silent film actor, born in Halfway/Pemberton
James Dickson Innes, artist
Deke Leonard, rock musician, author, raconteur and TV panellist
Terry Morris, artist and photographer
Natasha O'Keeffe, television actress
Christopher Rees, singer, songwriter, musician.
Rachel Roberts, actress
Dorothy Squires, singer and second wife of actor Roger Moore.
Donald Swann, of Flanders and Swann
Huw Thomas, ITN, newscaster
Imogen Thomas, former Big Brother contestant and glamour model
Rev'd Dr Leslie John Griffiths, The Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, Methodist Minister.
Gwladys Yvonne McKeon, Australian marine biologist, born at Llanelli
Sir John Meurig Thomas, chemist
Brian Trubshaw, pilot of first flight of British Concorde