Llanelli stands on several borders in Wales. Industrial town, or still belonging to its rural Carmarthenshire hinterland? Welsh or Englishspeaking? Plaid or Labour? Shaped by its workers or by the small number of families who employed them? It all makes Llanelli that much more interesting than a town of its size has any right to be.
Jon Gower has written a lively and engaging account of Llanelli and its environs, from how to pronounce ‘Llanelli’ to how a village in rural Carmarthenshire became a European centre for iron, steel and tinplate. He examines this industrial heritage but also its residue today, hitching a lift on the delivery of Llanelli-manufactured widgets to a manufacturer in Germany. He charts the industrial decline and transformation into leisure, particularly sport (Stradey or Parc y Scarlets?) beer and the environment. Then there’s the nearby cockling, farming inland and the leisure/ ecological development of the coastal path and park.
Shaped by and shaping all these things are the people: steelworkers, farmers, professional and amateur sportsmen, artists and writers, the small local bourgeoisie, the famous who may have left the town but still carry a part of it in them.The Llanelli identity may be complex but it is embraced by an almost tribal people.
Broadcaster, journalist and writer Jon Gower proves well- equipped to explore Llanelli and its culture in both languages in an entertaining book full of fresh insights and fascinating stories. From Burry Port to Trimsaran it’s all there.
'Real' Series Editor: Peter Finch