Betws // is a small village and community on the River Amman, some 15 miles north of Swansea, Wales; it is part of the ecclesiastical parish of Betws and Ammanford. The nearby mountain, at the western end of the Black Mountain, is named after the village, and has a large area of common land.
History and location
The name 'Betws' is generally thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon 'bed-hus' - a house of prayer, or oratory, and means "chapel" in the Welsh language. Until the 19th century, when Ammanford developed extensively, Betws was the largest village in the area.
Until the 13th century, Betws was part of Gower, which is now known as the county of Swansea but the old commote border of the rivers Amman and Loughor moved south and Betws has since the Acts of Union been part of Welsh-speaking Carmarthenshire.
Until 1817, when a road was built along the Amman valley, Betws was only accessible by roads crossing the mountain from Neath and Swansea. This inaccessibility is commemorated in a local saying, which refers to the division between Betws a'r Byd (Betws and the world). There was a sign on the Amman bridge to this effect: Betws this way, the rest of the world that way.
The people of Betws like to make the distinction between themselves and those over the river in Ammanford.
The road bridge between Betws and Ammanford on Park Street was completed in 1892 and rebuilt in 1990 by T Richard Jones (Betws) Ltd. T. Richard Jones (Betws) Ltd. ('TRJ') is a major building contractor, originally based in the village but now located on the Ammanford side of the river.
The land for Betws Park was given to Ammanford district Council by Lord Dynevor in 1903, but the council used it as a rubbish dump until the early 1930s. After this, it was properly developed by local volunteers as a park with tennis courts. On 23 June 2007, a new 'Memorial and Sensory Garden' was opened in the park.
Betws Park Workshops are a collection of industrial units rented by various businesses. The workshops were opened in 1991, having previously been a screw manufacturing factory (1970-1981) and a lightbulb factory (1983-1986).
The Caemawr housing estate was built in 1947, and the Bwtrimawr estate in 1976.
Ammanford No. 1 (1890-1925) and No. 2 (1891-1976) Collieries were at the north end of Betws. The Tycoch nightclub now occupies some Ammanford No. 1 buildings. Betws drift coal mine opened in 1976 and closed in 2003 and the land is being redeveloped as housing and industrial units, including LBS Builders Merchants.
As of May 1, 2008, the Betws ward electorate was 1,450 and the County Councillor is Audrey Jones (Independent), replacing John Dorian Evans (Labour).
Betws Rugby Club currently fields two rugby union teams: The first team finished 1st in WRU League Five South West in 2007-8 season and the second team finished bottom of Llanelli District Division 1.
Ammanford football club have a ground at Rice Street, Betws, which is currently being reconstructed.
- Balladeer, Donald Peers, was brought up in Heol-y-felin.
- Jim Griffiths, first Secretary of State for Wales and MP for Llanelli lived at the corner of Pentwyn Road and Park Street, where his father William was the village blacksmith (an anvil stands outside the house that occupies the site today). His elder brother David Rees Griffiths found fame as the poet Amanwy.
- Ivor Richard, Baron Richard was born in Betws and attended Betws Primary School.
- Henry Grindell "Death Ray" Matthews had a laboratory on Betws mountain from 1934 until his death in 1941.
- Terry Magee, charity volunteer and former boxer.
A wide variety of birds can be seen around Betws: Red kites, ravens, buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks on the mountain; kingfishers, dippers and cormorants on the river; jays and woodpeckers in the woods.
- (ward 2011)"Ward population 2011". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
- Locksmith, WTH (1999) Ammanford: Origin of Street Names & Notable Historical Records ISBN 0-906821-37-1
- See the notes by Roger Turvey Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-27. Retrieved 2007-07-13. Article including Cowley Map of 1744, Kitchen Map of 1764, Carey Map of 1794 and Lewis Map 1833.
- TRJ Website Archived October 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Betws - part of the Amman & Loughor Heritage Trails series of leaflets.
- Ammanford - Betws Church Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Dontstayin.com forum for Tycoch Nightclub Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- BBC NEWS | Wales | South West Wales | Tears as colliery closes Archived August 3, 2003, at the Wayback Machine.
- LBS Ammanford website Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Website of local anti-windfarm group, with many photos of local scenery. Archived March 10, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
- BBC News article about the approval of the windfarm. Archived October 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- 2001 Census
- Betws results for 2008 local elections[permanent dead link]
- WRU League table Archived June 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- League table from West Wales sport Archived January 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Article about balladeer Donald Peers Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Article about Jim Griffiths Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Article about the poet Amanwy Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Article about Baron Richard Archived February 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Article about "Death Ray" Matthews Archived February 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Ammanford Fire Station's page about Terry Magee's fundraising; although most articles give his hometown as Ammanford, the postal town which includes Betws; this page includes an article which states that he lives in Betws Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Historical data
- Parish website
- Betws Mas o'r Byd (Betws Beyond the world) Carol Murphy & Chris Dixon, eds. Index only online.
- Website about Ammanford with much about Betws
- Betws community website
- Forlorn Britain - Exploring the remains of Betws Colliery[permanent dead link]
- www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Betws and surrounding area