Points of interest
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.