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Llanelli Goods Shed - The Initial Facility Part 1

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

The Goods Shed in Llanelli was, throughout the first half of the 20th century, one of the most important centres for the handling of goods traffic in south-western Wales. However the genesis and early development of the “goods” facility in Llanelli is not well documented.


It is likely that provision was made for handling “goods” in conjunction with the development of the railway through Llanelli in the 1850’s. A portion of the Board of Health Plan of Llanelli from 1852 / 53 (below) though lacking in detail would appear to indicate that the original station was located somewhat closer to what subsequently became Station Road / New Dock Road than the the current station. buildings. The station is also evident on the plans in the Stepney Estate Map Book of the same date.



No information has been found to indicate the quantity or size of goods or parcels handled in the 1850 / 60’s or the facilities available at the railway station. In September 1860 there was a report of “A fire at the goods department of the South Wales Railway at Llanelli Station” The report stated that a gas leak and subsequent fire set a platform ablaze; the platform being crowded with goods of every description, including gunpowder. The fire was quickly extinguished before much damage was caused because use was made of large tanks of water close by the station. It is probable that the goods in transit were held in a space within the station building or possibly a shed on the platform, bulk goods being handled in sidings elsewhere.


A second fire occurred in 1871. This fire, cause unknown, destroyed the Goods Office - a small tar-roofed building on the “Downside” platform under the management of a Mr.Benjamin Rooke Frederick Heydon - with only minimal damage to the goods stored. Quite what goods and parcels were handled and in what quantity within or close to the “Goods Office” is unknown. It is assumed that bulk goods were handled outside and elsewhere. That the fire and destruction of the old wooden Goods Office was linked to the need for station improvements lest a similar event occur supports the notion that the two facilities were linked from the creation of the railway. A reference in the report to the consideration of the development of a replacement stone building probably refers to the creation of the current Goods Shed and associated single storey office blocks on a new site in Marsh Street, east of the station.


A letter in the Llanelly Star, 12th October 1935 reports a personal memory of Mr.D.D.Rowlands regarding the initial passenger railway station directly opposite the Station Hotel being partially destroyed in 1875, the cause being a lot of paper catching fire at night in the porter’s room. This event was evidently the catalyst for the redevelopment of the the current railway station with a bay platform slightly further west. Both the new railway station and the new Goods Shed, initially conceived after the 1871 fire, were operational by the end of 1875.



Station & Shed, 1880’s (1)
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The plan of Llanelli Station and Goods Shed (see pdf) surveyed 1878 shows that there was a “bay platform” associated with the “Up” platform which continued to be used until closure in 1968. A goods siding accessed from the main line east of the railway station existed alongside the “Down” platform with road access from New Dock Road. This siding was cut off at the New Dock Road end in 1880 and connected to the main line at the west end of the “Down” platform. At the same time the second goods siding as seen on the 1878 plan was added. Both were taken out of use in 1966.



The purpose of the “Office” on the “Downside” platform west of the station buildings is unknown. In addition there were goods sidings on the south side serving various “Stores” including a Bonded Store operated by Margrave Ltd. depicted in the above photo and the associated advertisement, see image below. The photograph would appear to show the roof of a railway wagon in the goods sidings and men at work by various open railway wagons.



References:

Mr.Lyn John. Llanelli Community Heritage.

Salisbury & Winchester Journal, 22nd.September 1860.

South Wales Press, 12th.January 1871.

Llanelly & County Guardian, 2nd.June 1881.

Llanelly Star, 12th.October 1935.

National Library of Scotland. Town Plans, 1840’s to 1890’s. 1 : 500 scale.

Llanelly Commercial Directories, 1870’s and 1890’s.

Railway around Llanelli - Michael Denman.

Photographs - original source and copyright unknown.


P.Barrett. December 2023.



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