The Llanelli Railway Goods Shed was built in 1875 at a cost of £3,737. It is a significant part of Llanelli’s industrial heritage, as it was once a busy warehouse linking road to rail, despatching goods to the various factories, wholesalers, shops and houses throughout Llanelli and its district.
The shed’s main building is contiguous with a two-storey office block, which is located at its western end and has dimensions of approximately 16m long x 9m wide x 10m high. The office block is thought to have been built as an extension onto the main shed early in the 20th century.
Between 1916 and 1921, the office block was extended to its current size. The roof covering would have been originally slate but was replaced at some point with corrugated composite material. It also appears that the chimney to the office building has been significantly lowered since its erection, which is likely to have occurred when the fireplace inside the office block was blocked up. Although the building structure is sound, due to the length of time since the offices were last used, the internal condition has inevitably deteriorated.
The inside of the office block is divided into a series of rooms of varying size, of which two, at the ground and first floor level, are large and would have housed clerical staff in the shed’s operational days. The other rooms are thought to have had various incarnations over the operational life of the shed.
At its peak of operation during the early-to-middle part of the last century, over 100 people were employed at the Goods shed with around 30 people working in the offices. The office staff would have worked under the supervision of a Goods Agent, who controlled and supervised all operations that took place at the shed and the yard.
Our trustees were fortunate to meet with Mr Thomas J Morgan, a former General Clerk for the Commercial Department of British Railways. Mr Morgan gave us a insight into the day-to-day workings that took place at the office block. He recalls a ‘Dickensian’ layout with long rows of high desks and stools and telephones which had a mouthpiece and earpiece attached to a cord. The office staff was made up of the Goods Agent, general accounts, invoicing and junior clerks, as well as a representative who liaised with customers on claims for delayed, lost or damaged goods. The Chief Clerk and his secretary were situated in a glass-partitioned office on the ground floor. Mr Morgan told us that the general clerical work, such as invoicing and tracing missing items, took place on the ground floor and the accounts department was based on the first floor. You can read more about Mr Morgan’s experiences here.
The Llanelli Railway Goods Shed ceased operation 1966, and for some time afterwards was used to stable diesel engines. The office building was used for a period in the 1970s to accommodate the British Railways Area Manager’s office, and finally as rail training centre until 2000.
The Llanelli Railway Goods shed Trust’s project aims to bring the Goods Shed back into use. Phase One of our project involves restoring the office block for local organisations, business start-ups and community groups to use as office and meeting space. As COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, travel and socialise, we are working hard to make sure that Phase One will allow us to create a space that works for our community.
We see Phase One as an exciting opportunity to grow, collaborate and move our town forward.