Llanelli rail station

Llanelli rail station

This station, named Llanelly, was opened in 1852 as part of the South Wales Railway’s extension from Swansea to Carmarthen. Earlier railways ran roughly north-south, connecting industries to Llanelli’s docks. These tracks crossed the SWR’s line on the same level at four locations, causing conflict between train movements. The SWR merged into the Great Western Railway in 1863.

On 18 August 1911 an express train was stranded at Llanelli station by rail workers who extinguished the steam locomotive’s fire. Trade-union leaders had ordered members across Britain to stop work, after talks on 17 August over pay and conditions broke down.

Many other workers were discontented that summer too. In Llanelli large crowds of pickets, from various local industries, gathered at the level crossings each side of the station on 18 August. Home Secretary Churchill sent extra troops to the town – part of a deployment of 58,000 soldiers tasked with protecting railway assets around Britain.

On 19 August a determined effort was made to send a train through Llanelli, but pickets west of the station halted the train. The Riot Act was read, and the troops fired at the crowd. Two 20-year-old men were shot dead: Leonard Worsell and John John (known as Jac). The troops then returned to the station, their stronghold. Enraged local people rioted, and four of them died after a rail wagon loaded with explosives blew up.

The strike finished the same day, after the nervous government called managers and union leaders to talks. Trade unions were still not officially recognised by the railway companies, but the 1911 strike had demonstrated the power of collective action by workers.

Today Llanelli station is an important railhead for south-east Carmarthenshire. Arriva Trains Wales provides frequent trains east to Swansea and Cardiff and west to Pembrokeshire. Trains on the Heart of Wales line reverse here as they travel between Shrewsbury and Swansea.

The signal box west of the station is the last GWR Type 2 signal box in Wales, and was listed in 2013. The large goods shed east of the station is a physical reminder of how heavy industry once depended on railways.

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Postcode: SA15 2RN