Brick houses and slate roofs lend Llangollen unity
Llangollen shown within Denbighshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Clwyd South|
|Welsh Assembly||Clwyd South|
Llangollen (Welsh pronunciation: [ɬaŋˈɡɔɬɛn]) is a small town and community in Denbighshire, north-east Wales, situated on the River Dee and on the edge of the Berwyn mountains. It has a population of 3,412.
Llangollen takes its name from the Welsh llan meaning "a religious settlement" and Saint Collen, a 6th-century monk who founded a church beside the river. St Collen is said to have arrived in Llangollen by coracle. As there are no other churches in Wales dedicated to St Collen, it is possible that he may have had connections in Colan in Cornwall, and Langolen in Brittany.
Situated above the town to the north is Castell Dinas Brân, a stronghold of the Princes of Powys. Beyond the castle is the limestone escarpment known as the Eglwyseg Rocks. The outcrop continues north to World's End in Wrexham. The area nearest the castle is the Panorama Walk, and a monument to poet I.D. Hooson from the village of Rhosllannerchrugog can be found there.
The bridge at Llangollen was built in about 1345 by John Trevor, of Trevor Hall, who became Bishop of St Asaph. It was extended to cross the railway in the 1860s and widened in the early 1960s. The upstream side has new masonry which blends in with the older structure.
The ancient parish of Llangollen was divided into three treanau (trean being the Welsh for "third"): Llangollen Traean, Trefor Traean, and Glyn Traean.
- Llangollen Traean contained the townships of Bachau, Cysylltau, Llangollen Abad, Llangollen Fawr, Llangollen Fechan, Feifod, Pengwern and Rhisgog.
- Trefor Traean contained the townships of Cilmediw, Dinbren, Eglwysegl, Trefor Isaf and Trefor Uchaf.
- Glyn Traean contained the townships of Cilcochwyn, Crogeniddon, Crogenwladus, Erwallo, Hafodgynfor, Nantygwryd, Pennant and Talygarth.
Today Llangollen relies heavily on the tourist industry, but still gains substantial income from farming. Most of the farms in the hills around the town were sheep farms, and weaving was an important cottage industry in the area for centuries. Several factories were later built along the banks of the River Dee, where both wool and cotton were processed. The water mill opposite Llangollen railway station is over 600 years old, and was originally used to grind flour for local farmers.
In the late 19th century, Llangollen had a weekly newspaper, the Llangollen Advertiser.
Llangollen hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1908. The Gorsedd ceremony was held on the Hermitage Field, next to Plas Newydd, and the circle of stones were later moved into the grounds of the hall. The eisteddfod itself took place on the old Vicarage Field at Fronhyfyd and was visited by David Lloyd George, accompanied by Winston Churchill.
Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod
The annual Llangollen International Eisteddfod starts on a Tuesday and ends on the following Sunday. It opens with a parade led by the Llangollen Silver Band, in which both the locals and visitors take part in dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments.
Llangollen Fringe Festival
The Llangollen Fringe Festival is an independent arts festival, usually held in mid July in the Town Hall. The Fringe includes music, comedy, theatre, dance and workshops. Artists who have taken part in the Llangollen Fringe include Sir Clement Freud, Lesley Garrett, Rhys Ifans, The Damned, Cerys Matthews, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Juan Martín, the Black Seeds, John Cooper Clarke, Will Self and the Race Horses.
Dee Rocks is a local fundraising music, usually held during May when the town hall is transformed into a music venue. The inaugural event took place on 29 May 2004, and the now annual fixture raises in excess of £12,000 for local good causes.
Songs and nursery rhymes
- "Llangollen Market", traditional
- "Ladies of Llangollen", Ian Chesterman
- "Pastai Fawr Llangollen" (The Great Llangollen Pie), Arfon Gwilym
- According to an anonymous rhyme, the bridge over the Dee is one of the Seven Wonders of Wales.
- The nursery rhyme "Mary had a little lamb" is frequently, but incorrectly, linked with Llangollen. Its true origins are in the United States: "This is a lovely folklore story, but sadly Mary Thomas of Llangollen was not the heroine of the nursery rhyme ... The Mary of the rhyme was Mary Sawyer and the school was the Redstone Schoolhouse in Sterling Massachusetts, U.S.A."
The Ellesmere Canal was intended to connect the coal mines and ironworks at Ruabon and Wrexham to the canal network and thence to the sea via the River Mersey and the River Severn. The plans were altered and instead of connecting Trevor northwards to the sea via the River Dee and southwards to the Severn, the canal ran eastwards to join onto the national network at Hurleston Junction on the Shropshire Union Canal near Nantwich. A feeder canal, navigable to Llangollen, was constructed from Trevor to tap water from the River Dee at Llantysilio (at the weir called "Horseshoe Falls"). After company mergers, the canal became part of the Shropshire Union System. Until recently it was properly called the Llangollen Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, though it is now known as the Llangollen Canal.
The canal supplied enough Dee water to supply Crewe and Nantwich, and when commercial carrying failed in the 1940s, it was its function as a water supply which kept it open. The canal is unusual amongst Britain's artificial waterways in having a strong (up to 2 miles per hour) flow. Since the use of canals for leisure took off in the 1970s and 1980s, the route, twisting through beautiful Welsh hills and across the Dee Valley on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, has made it the most famous and busiest in Britain. The canal is an important part of Llangollen's attraction as a holiday destination. A marina, built at the end of the navigable section, allows summer visitors to moor overnight in Llangollen.
The railway was extended from Ruabon, via Acrefair and Trevor, to reach Llangollen by 1865, operating passenger and goods services. Thie Ruabon to Barmouth Line became part of the Great Western Railway. One hundred years later the line closed under the Beeching Axe iof 1964, closing to passengers in early 1965, and to freight in April 1969. The line was lifted in May 1969. However, part of the line was restored and operates as the Llangollen Railway, a tourist attraction. In 2002, the Rainhill locomotive trials were re-staged on the line.
Llangollen on the River Dee hosts white water Slalom canoeing and kayaking, being host to International and UK events. The International Canoe Federation (ICF), the European Canoe Union (ECU) and the British Canoe Union (BCU) all hold events in Llangollen.
Llangollen was the finishing point of the first massed-start cycle race held on British roads, on 7 June 1942. The 59-mile Wolverhampton-Llangollen race was organised by Percy Stallard in defiance of the sport's governing body, the National Cyclists' Union, but with approval from all police chief constables through whose districts the event ran.
|Climate data for Llangollen|
|Average high °C (°F)||5.8
|Average low °C (°F)||2.1
|Precipitation mm (inches)||128.2
- Glyn James, former professional footballer. Played over 400 games for Blackpool during the 1960s and 1970s and represented the Welsh international team on nine occasions.
- The Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby.
- Lawton, Paul. Llangollen Station - A History. Chester: W.H. Evans.
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