St Clears shown within Carmarthenshire
|Population||2,995 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Mid and West Wales|
|UK Parliament||Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire|
St Clears (// sənt-KLAIRZ; Welsh: Sanclêr) is a community and small town on the River Tâf in Carmarthenshire, Wales. According to the 2001 UK census, it has a population of 2,820 people, most of whom are Welsh-speaking, although there is a marked difference between the southern and northern ends of the town in percentage terms[clarification needed]. The population had increased to 2,995 at the 2011 census.
The Priory Church of St Mary Magdalene (Church in Wales) was founded in around 1100 as a Cluniac priory of St Martin-des-Champs, Paris. It is considered to have the best surviving Norman stonecarving in Carmarthenshire. The church was restored in 1853–5 and in 1883–4. The stained-glass windows date from about 1929. It is a grade II* listed building.
The Norman St Clears Castle was constructed in the 12th century. The castle mound can still be seen. The town, which was a Marcher Borough, grew around it. Below the castle there was a port on the river Tâf, which could take ships of up to 500 tons according to a plaque at the site. The castle held out against Owain Glyndŵr.
Nearby Trefenty House became the home of a branch of the Perrot family in the 16th century, and it was here that the amateur astronomer Sir William Lower and a neighbour, John Protheroe, set up one of Britain's first telescopes in 1609, which they used to study the craters of the Moon and Halley's Comet.
In 1842, one of the local toll gates was destroyed in the Rebecca Riots.
The building of the South Wales Railway in the 1850s was responsible for the decline of many of the small ports along the Bristol Channel coast, and St Clears was no exception. The railway passed about two miles north of the castle, and new building at the north end of the High Street spread eastwards along Pentre Road, and then northwards again to the station. Pentre Road is now the main commercial centre of the town, and was formerly part of the A40 road until construction of the dual carriageway bypass.
The town's cattle market was important until its closure, but the town still has a large agricultural cooperative store. The town has also hosted an oil distribution centre and milk processing plant. Now smaller industrial units provide the main local employment.
The photographer and film-maker Stanley Phillips lived in St Clears and documented life in the town and the surrounding area (active 1910–1961). His work appeared in the News Chronicle and the Daily and Sunday Mirrors, and in local newspapers. His films include The Last March of Mr. Jonah Rees at St. Clears (1930), which is in the collection of the National Library of Wales. He worked closely with Colonel William Buckley (whose work is also in the National Library of Wales) and E.V. Williams, both keen film makers. The permanent exhibition of Phillips' photographs and film at the Mezzanine Gallery in St. Clears includes photographs of the aviator Amy Johnson, World War I flying ace Wing Commander Ira Jones, and racing drivers Sir Malcolm Campbell and J. G. Parry-Thomas, who both attempted world land speed records at nearby Pendine Sands.
The town has a large bilingual primary school, Ysgol Griffith Jones.
The surrounding countryside is mainly rolling grassland consisting of moderate sized fields with well kept hedges. The main agricultural enterprise is dairying, but sheep and beef are very important as well. The soils are deep and productive and will grow good crops of potatoes and cereals, and the climate allows fruit growing as well. Although most of the land is farmed commercially the area is a haven for wildlife.
The highlight of the farming year is the St Clears YFC annual show which is held in May.
- "Ward and community populations 2011". Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- "Priory Church of St Mary Magdalene, St Clears, Carmarthenshire". Stained Glass in Wales. University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- "ST MARY MAGDALENE'S;ST CLARA'S CHURCH, ST CLEARS". Coflein. Royal commission on the ancient and historical monuments of Wales. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene, St Clears". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- Jones, Francis (1979). Jones, E. Vernon, ed. "Trefenty: Some Observations and Reflections". The Carmarthenshire Historian XVI: 45–62. ISSN 0576-7849.[dead link]
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press 2008
- "The Last March of Mr. Jonah Rees at St. Clears [motion picture]". National Library of Wales. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- "Mezzanine transformed into gallery cataloguing village past". Carmarthen Journal. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- BBC NEWS | South West Wales | Station campaign picks up steam
- www.geograph.co.uk : photos of St Clears and surrounding area
- Pearce, Christopher. "The Cluniacs in Wales: Malpas and St Clears". Monastic Wales.