Llandilo Fawr, Carmarthenshire
The parish of Llangeler established an institution in 1764 that acted both as an almshouse and a workhouse.
In 1832, Llangathen purchased an inn called The Serving Cross for the reception of the parish poor.
Llandilo (or Llandeilo) Fawr Poor Law Union was formed on 14th December, 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 20 in number, representing its 11 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Carmarthenshire: Brechfa, Llandifeisant, Llandilo Fawr (4), Llandybie (2), Llaneggwad (2), Llanfynydd (2), Llangathen (2), Llansawl (2), Llanvihangel Aberbythyrch, Llanvihangel Kilfargen, Talley (2).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 15,614 with parishes ranging in size from Llanvihangel Kilfargen (population 69) to Llandilo Fawr itself (5,149). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £5,653 or 7s.3d. per head of the population.
The Llandilo Fawr Union workhouse was erected in 1837-38 at Ffairfach, about half a mile to the south of Llandilo. Intended to accommodate 120 inmates, its construction cost was £2,243. The building was designed by George Wilkinson who was responsible for at least eight other workhouses in Wales. Its location and layout are shown on the 1907 map below.
The workhouse design was based on the popular square plan where accommodation wings for the different classes of inmate (male/female, infirm/able-bodied) radiated from a central supervisory hub. The area in between the wings formed segregated yards where the inmates could take exercise. An entrance block at one end contained a porter's lodge, board room and offices.
From 1930 to around 1948, the former workhouse operated as the Abercennon Public Assistance Institution. The buildings survived until the mid-1960s but were then demolished and the Awel Tywi care home now occupies the site.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Parc Myrddin, Richmond Terrace, Carmarthen, SA31 1HQ. Few records survive — main holdings are Guardians' minute books (1836-1930).
- Hooker, Geoff (2013) Llandilofawr Poor Law Union 1836-1886: 'The most difficult union in Wales'. (PhD thesis, University of Leicester. Available online)
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