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The fishing sculpture in Ferryside.

Ferryside (Welsh: Glan y Fferi) is a village situated on the coast in Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK. It is 8 12 miles (13.7 km) south of Carmarthen, near the mouth of the River Tywi and close to golden sandy beaches.


St Ishmael's Church

Originating as a landing-place on the ferry route to Llansteffan (the ferry was used by Giraldus Cambrensis in 1188), it developed as a fishing village, and is now a popular place for retirement. Much of the village developed after 1852, when it became linked to Carmarthen and Swansea by Isambard Kingdom Brunel's South Wales Railway.

In 2006, the graveyard and grounds of the parish church, St. Ishmael's, was selected for an innovative project aimed at encouraging biodiversity in churchyards.

Cockle industry[edit]

Along with Laugharne, Ferryside was once at the heart of the cockling industry in Carmarthen Bay.[1] Cocklewomen from Llansaint could collect about 650 tons of cockles a year, and did so until around 1900. The cockle industry now experiences intermittent bursts of activity when the Ferryside cocklebeds are opened to commercial pickers: intensive 'strip-cockling' occurs and several hundred cockle-pickers work the estuary beds with tractors.

Ferryside beach

In 1993, Ferryside saw what are known locally as 'the cockle wars': fights between rival gangs on the beach,[2] notably between gangs from the Gower Peninsula, Liverpool, the Dee estuary and Glasgow. Because commercial quantities of cockles at Ferryside were rare, there were no licenses required to harvest them.[2] In addition to gaining the village rare visibility on the front pages of national newspapers, the cockle wars led to a Parliamentary inquiry and calls for the beds to be licensed. The British cockling industry has surprisingly close links to gangland: the Ferryside cockle wars may be seen as a precedent to unsavoury incidents such as the 2004 Morecambe Bay drowning of Chinese immigrant cocklers and turf wars at Newbiggin. Today, though, gangsters-in-wellies are infrequent visitors, and mainly oystercatchers and herons harvest the estuary's famous bivalves.

Analogue television switch off[edit]

For further information see Digital switchover in the United Kingdom and Ferryside television relay station.

On 30 March 2005, Ferryside and Llanstephan became the first areas in the United Kingdom to lose their analogue television signals. Residents of the Carmarthenshire villages - on either side of the River Tywi - voted to switch to digital after taking part in a pilot scheme.

Homes were given digital receivers for each of their televisions. A helpline was set up for residents' teething problems, and one-to-one support was made available to the elderly.

After three months, the households were asked if they wanted to keep the digital services or revert to analogue only. More than 85% of households responded and 98% voted to retain the digital services. Hence at the end of March 2005, the analogue channels, BBC One Wales, ITV1 and S4C, radiating from the Ferryside transmitter, were switched off leaving BBC Two Wales as the only analogue channel remaining. Viewers wanted to keep this channel because it provided certain programmes that the digital equivalent, BBC 2W, did not show.

STISH - Community Magazine[edit]

STISH is a monthly magazine by the St Ishmael's community for the villagers of Ferryside and Llansaint, run by volunteers to bring news of local events and articles of local interest.

Ferryside Lifeboat[edit]

The Ferryside Lifeboat represents a custom that stretches back more than one hundred and seventy years to 1835 when the first lifeboat was stationed in the village,[citation needed] just 11 years after Sir William Henry founded the RNLI in 1824.

The lifeboat is one of more than fifty independent lifeboats stationed around the British Isles that operate independently of the RNLI. It is launched by HM Coastguard in response to ’999′ calls and distress calls on VHF CH16. At Ferryside, the lifeboat station has to cope with the second largest tidal rise and fall in the world, making these waters some of the most hostile. Ferryside lifeboat is available 24 hours a day throughout the year and is staffed entirely by local volunteers. They rely wholly on donations received to keep the service going.

They currently operate from a lifeboat station on the foreshore of Ferryside constructed in 2010. This was opened by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester on 30 March 2010. The present lifeboat is a 5.85 metre Ribcraft semi-rigid infatable craft with twin 60 hp mariner four stroke engines, giving a top speed of approximately 30 knots. This lifeboat has reached the end of its ten year service life and will be replaced with a newly constructed 6.4 metre Ribcraft semi rigid inflatable with twin 90 hp engines later this year.[when?] A smaller second lifeboat is also available.

Each year they receive on average around 28 call outs.[citation needed] This number is expected to rise due to the increase in pleasure craft use recently and in coming years.


The village has a railway station which has regular rail connections to London Paddington, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, Carmarthen, Swansea, Cardiff, Crewe and Manchester Picadilly, regular buses between Carmarthen and Llanelli.


Ferryside has a post office, a pub which has a beer garden and pool table, a yacht club, a sports and social club (previously the rugby club), a general store, a hotel, family run restaurant, antiques shop and caravan park.

Until recently (spring 2009) the village also had an old fashioned newsagent store which sold sweets from jars, other confectionery. However, local competition and the economic recession lead to the store's closure.

Notable residents[edit]

Notable ex-residents of the village include the General Sir Thomas Picton (of Iscoed Mansion), a former governor of Trinidad who died at the Battle of Waterloo, Hugh Williams, the 19th century Chartist lawyer who played a prominent role in the Rebecca Riots and the portrait and landscape painter Gordon Stuart (five of whose portraits can be found at the National Portrait Gallery, including those of Kingsley Amis, Dylan Thomas and Huw Wheldon).Lord Edgar Stephens is renovating a house within the village with the view of moving in sometime in 2012.


  1. ^ "Carmarthenshire online encyclopaedia". Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Prestage, Michael (22 June 1993). "Pickers muscle in on bumper cockle harvest: Michael Prestage on a shellfish bonanza in South Wales that has led to violence". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°46′N 4°22′W / 51.767°N 4.367°W / 51.767; -4.367