Points of in­ter­est

Carmarthen Journal - - The Walk -

WHEN Bishop Jenk­in­son be­came bishop in 1825 both the palace and grounds had fallen into de­cay.

The palace was re­built and the grounds re­designed in a style where the plants were the cen­tre of at­ten­tion, all paid for by the bishop.

This was to be the last time the Bishop’s Park had any ma­jor land­scap­ing works un­der­taken. Bishop Jenk­in­son died in 1840 but his legacy at Aberg­wili was al­ready se­cured as in the same year his palace was de­scribed as be­ing a ‘no­ble man­sion’.

Now, nearly 200 years later, with Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil and lot­tery her­itage fund­ing and other fund­ing the gar­dens will be re­stored to their mid-1800s glory.

Peny­banc: The Mor­ris fam­ily, de­scended from a line of landown­ers at Llanstephan, were prom­i­nent pri­vate bankers in Car­marthen. Thomas Charles Mor­ris (1808-1886), sher­iff of Car­marthen­shire in 1866, who suc­ceeded to his fa­ther’s es­tate, pur­chased Peny­banc Ucha, Aberg­wili, from Richard Poole, a Lon­don lawyer in 1848.

The old house was de­mol­ished, and a new man­sion was built. Mary El­iz­a­beth, Thomas’ wife, felt that Peny­banc (Penny Bank) was not an ap­pro­pri­ate name for a banker’s house, and there­fore re­named the new man­sion, Bryn Myrd­din. The Bryn Myrd­din es­tate is still owned by the Mor­ris fam­ily. Thomas Charles Mor­ris also pur­chased the Green cas­tle es­tate in Llan­gain.

Ponty­ates is a for­mer min­ing vil­lage within the Car­marthen­shire an­thracite coal­field si­t­u­ated on the banks of the Gwen­draeth Fawr River.

From the 18th Cen­tury un­til the mid-20th Cen­tury min­ing played an im­por­tant part in the de­vel­op­ment of the area.

It sits ad­ja­cent to the B4309 that runs be­tween Car­marthen and Llanelli which are both about 10 miles from the vil­lage.

It is set in a ru­ral area that hosts im­pres­sive views of the sur­round­ing val­leys from the top of the hill.

Ponty­ates owes its ex­is­tence to the min­eral wealth that lies be­neath the ground. It is sur­rounded by ev­i­dence of the coal, iron ore, sil­ica and lime­stone in­dus­tries that trans­formed the area from a quiet, ru­ral val­ley into a busy in­dus­trial com­mu­nity dur­ing the 19th and 20th cen­turies.

Ponty­ates used to have its own rail­way sta­tion run by the Burry Port and Gwen­draeth Val­ley Rail­way com­pany (BP&GVR) and was one of the sta­tions that lay be­tween Llanelli and the coalmine at Cwm­mawr.

The fact that the line was built down along the old canal route meant that it was prone to flood­ing.

The line which reached Ponty­ates in 1859, was im­por­tant for car­ry­ing col­liers to and from work as well as mov­ing the coal they pro­duced. The sta­tion at Ponty­ates was opened near the level cross­ing in 1909 closed in 1953 and closed to coal traf­fic in 1996.

De­spite it be­ing no longer in use, the rail­way line still runs across the road to­day and can be walked across as part of the min­ing her­itage trail. The track bed is now a pop­u­lar trail for walk­ers that in­clude the Ponty­ates Min­ing Her­itage Walk.

The his­toric house of Glyn Abbey has its ori­gins in the 15th Cen­tury. This was home to three Lord Lieu­tenants of Car­marthen­shire and later to a group of Bene­dic­tine Monks 1903-1905.

The Gwen­draeth Val­ley was a hot­bed of the Re­becca Riots in the early 1840s. A gate near the river bridge in Ponty­ates was one of those torn down.

The fa­mous Kymer’s canal be­gan life in 1766, one of the first coal canals, was built to Car­way in the 1760s to make it eas­ier to ex­port an­thracite coal from lo­cal col­lieries to the coast for on­ward trans­porta­tion by coastal ships. It linked pits at Pwll y Lly­god to a dock near Kid­welly.

Ac­cess to the dock grad­u­ally be­came more dif­fi­cult as the es­tu­ary silted up and an ex­ten­sion to Llanelli was au­tho­rised in 1812.

Progress was slow, and the new canal was linked to a har­bour at Pem­brey built by Thomas Gaunt in the 1820s, un­til The Kid­welly and Llanelly Canal Com­pany’s own har­bour at Burry Port was com­pleted in 1832 and the sys­tem was ex­tended right up the Gwen­draeth Val­ley.

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