The village of Glais in winter as seen from a local mountain known as Glais Mountain.
|Population||838 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Mid and West Wales|
Glais is a small semi-rural village of less than 1,000 people located in Swansea, Wales. The village is separated into two different electoral wards by a stream known as Nant-Y-Pal which runs through the middle of the settlement. To the north of Nant-Y-Pal, Glais comes under the Clydach Electoral Ward while to the south Glais falls under the Llansamlet Electoral Ward.
Unusually for place names, Glais is not named after the stream Nant-Y-Pal but instead its name literally translates to Stream.
Meaning of the place name Glais
The word Glais is Welsh for stream or rivulet. Glais is a common element in Welsh place names particularly amongst locations in South Wales, however the village Glais in Swansea is the only example in Wales where the word stands alone. All other locations containing the word Glais occur as a composite element referring to a single particular stream's name thus making Glais quite unique in that its name literally translates as the geographical feature of a stream or rivulet that can be applied anywhere worldwide.
In the early 20th Century Glais was a small village boasting a proud religious community with up to four churches of differing denominations, the oldest of which is a Welsh Dissendent chapel called Pentwyn and was built in 1834 upon a glacial moraine which itself was called Y Garth. The name plate for Pentwyn was later moved to a new Chapel of worship called Seion in 1840 which still exists to the present day.
In 1881 an Anglican Church, St Pauls, was built on School road, formally Cefn Y Garth, and is still a practising church in use with local residents for services of worship and other services. A year later in 1882 and on the same road Glais Primary School was opened to the public for children aged under 11 years old. In 1891 a Tabernacl, Welsh Baptist chapel called Peniel, was built on Station Road on the south side of the village and closed in 1999.
Cattle stock was often driven from as far away as Llandeilo and kept in cattle pens until they were collected by their new owners and moved to their new farm, suggesting Glais might acted as a commercial hub for the farm trade in the early years of the villages history.
The village hosted a racecourse sometime during the 19th and 20th centuries but the first known date references back to 1920 for an equestrian event. The facility was amended for pedestrianism and Greyhound Racing in 1928 after the Swansea Corporation decided to not allow Greyhound Racing at St Helen's in Swansea town's centre. By the 1960s, Glais Stadium had been transformed into a general recreational facility with bowling green, tennis courts and sports fields. The earlier stand was retained.
Today, the sports grounds are largely taken up by the 18-hole Tawe Vale Golf Club, a former 9-hole works course developed for use by employees of the INCO Nickel Works (the former Mond Nickel Works) nearby. The bowling green has, however, survived.
On 15 April 1912 W.J. Rogers, a resident of Glais and his nephew Evan Davies, a resident of Alltwen, lost their lives aboard the fateful RMS Titanic. Their bodies were never recovered and thus they were commemorated on the family headstone in Capel Seion.
Glacial Terminal Moraine
With a pristine example of glacial moraine called the Garth, Y Garth in Welsh, in the south of the village's boundaries the location is one of over a thousand sites in Wales that is officially designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The feature is regarded as "one of the best examples in Wales of such a formation dating from this period" and "has helped geologists reconstruct the environment of Wales at the end of the last Ice Age".
The site is largely undisturbed by industrial human activity apart from an old and disused coal mine with many of the rocks carried from far afield during the last Ice Age is still exposed for scientific study today. There is also an old school present which has since been converted into a bungalow. This has led the site being protected from development. Due to large size of the geological feature the River Tawe, Swansea's largest river, is diverted through natural means to the west towards Clydach. The site also contains a natural wall that drops suddenly 130 feet downwards at the front of the moraine due to the material from further up the valley being deposited.
Glais is served by the B4291 (Birchgrove Road) as its main road artery passing through the centre of the village, connecting the settlement with Birchgrove to the South and Clydach to the North and West. Between Glais and Clydach lies a four-exit roundabout further connecting the village to the town of Pontardawe which lies to the North East and the Ynysforgan roundabout to the South West. Due to its geographical location Glais thus has excellent access to both junctions 44 and 45 of the M4 motorway. The B4291 serves as an excellent route between the upper Swansea Valley and Skewen.
There is just one additional road that provides an entrance into Glais called Ynysymond Road which leads to Alltwen.
Public Transport is provided by the First Group who operate four bus routes which pass through Glais. Routes 61 and 67 operate Monday to Friday which travels to Llansamlet to Swansea College and Clydach to Tycoch College accordingly, while Route 144 travels from Swansea City Centre to Morriston Hospital via Bonymaen, Trallwn, Tesco, Asda and Morriston and Route 145 travels from Swansea City Centre to Morriston but this time via Bonymaen, Tesco, Birchgrove and Clydach. Both of these Routes operate from Monday to Saturday.
There are nearby Comprehensive Schools: Birchgrove Comprehensive and Cwmtawe Comprehensive. Birchgrove provide free bus travel through private contractors, whilst Cwmtawe pupils must pay a small fee.
Glais Rugby Club
Glais Rugby Club was formed in 1896 which along with Trebanos can lay claim to being one of the oldest teams in the Clydach district. Albert Harding, father of former Welsh international and British Lion winger Judge Rowe Harding, is credited as being the pioneer of the village's only and still surviving rugby club much to the opposition of a large group of residents against sport at the time.
Originally playing in green and gold colours this changed to blue and white hoops before finally settling to all blue. At the beginning of its existence Glais was considered a "nomadic" club playing their home games several sites including the Mond Field and Garth Field before establishing their home grounds permanently at Glais Rugby Field.
In 1912-1913 the club won it first major trophy as champions of the Swansea and District R.U. Challenge Cup, this came after losing out to the second division championship via a Play-Off game against Cwmtwrch at Ystalyfera. Estimates place crowd attendance above 3,000 which is far in excess of the population of Glais.
Glais Rugby Club ran out with much success during the 1920s and won several Swansea District titles between 1922 and 1927 which included one Fourth Division league and cup title, one third division league title, one second division cup title, three first division league titles and one first division cup title. Glais had also finished the 1928 season top of the First Division yet again however this triumph was invalidated after an administration error meant the club had not been registered at the beginning of the 1928 season.
To this day, the club remains an integral part of the Glais community and currently ply their trade in the SWALEC Division 5 South West. They enjoy a long and peaceful, yet fiercely competitive, rivalry with Vadre Rugby Club.
Glais Stadium hosted greyhound racing from 1927 until 1939.
Nicholas of Glais
Thomas Evan Nicholas, the famous Welsh poet and radical, was a minister at Seion Chapel in Glais between 1904 and 1914. He helped found the Independent Labour Party, supported the coal miners of Glais in the disputes of 1905, 1909–10 and 1911, and was Welsh editor of the Merthyr Pioneer, the ILP newspaper. He opposed WW1, like his close friend Keir Hardie, and in 1918 he stood as the ILP candidate in Merthyr and Aberdare, Hardie's old seat. He was a foundation member of the Communist Party when it was set up in 1920. He is popularly known as Nicholas of Glais and the street Nicholas Road in the same village is named directly after him.
He was famous for poems which concentrated on injustice, the battles between the working class and the power of capital, as well as pacifism. Arrested in WW2 at the same time as the Communist South Wales Miners leaders, he was not released when the miners went on strike until their leaders were released, but was kept in prison for four months - first in Swansea, then in Brixton. He was denied paper lest he write something to stop the war. They allowed him chalk and a slate. The poems he wrote in Welsh are available into English translated by Dewi Emrys in "Prison Sonnets". The most significant poem there is titled 'Terminus'. Asked how could a Congregational Minister write such a poem ending "..Give me man's hell. not God's remorseless Heaven," he replied "You must use language people can understand, and, it is only the problems that make Life interesting.
Glais Forum was set up on Facebook in 2014 to showcase the events and share the news going on within the village of Glais and currently has over 460 active members.
- "Glais, Wales, United Kingdom". Collins Maps. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "ELEMENTS 'G'". someplacenamesinsouthwales.com. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "Glais". Countryside Books. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Capel Seion, Glais, Ynysymond, Glamorgan". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Equestrianism and Pedestrianism at Glais Race Course". Arena Pontardawe. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "GLAIS RACECOURSE, GLAIS STADIUM, SWANSEA". Royal Commission. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Centenary to recall those who perished with Titanic". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- GEOCaching. "The Glais Moraine Earthcache". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "The Glais Rugby Story" (PDF). Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "Rugby Union Leagues on Pitchero". Retrieved 27 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
- personal communication Ilyan Thomas[verification needed]
- Thomas, Guto (23 October 2004). "Secrets of jailed rebel exposed". BBC News. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "T. E. Nicholas (Niclas y Glais) (1879-1971)". Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s8-NICH-EVA-1879.html Biography of T.E. Nicholas by D. Ben Rees in Welsh Biography Online, National Library of Wales