Llanelli 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 north-west of Swansea and 12 miles south-east of the county town, Carmarthen.
The town had a population of 25,168 in 2011, estimated in 2019 at 26,225.
Culture and language:
Llanelli hosted the National Eisteddfod six times between 1895 and 2014.
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.
In 1991 Llanelli was a distinct travel to work area, but a 2001-based revision has merged it into a wider one of Swansea Bay.
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.
The longstanding Felinfoel Brewery continues in Felinfoel, just outside the town.
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. Since then the Llanelli 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 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.
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, Llangennech and the Llanelli Wanderers. In 2005, Coedcae School won the Inter-Schools Cup of Wales with an 8–5 victory over Brynteg Comprehensive.