Llangollen (ɬaŋ'ɡoɬɛn) is a small town in Denbighshire, north-east Wales, situated on the River Dee and on the edge of the Berwyn mountains.
Llangollen takes its name from Saint Collen
(from the Welsh llan
meaning 'place of' and gollen
meaning Collen), a 7th century monk
who founded a church
besides the river here. 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 this St. Collen may also have connections in both St. Collen, Cornwall
Standing high above the town to the north is Castell Dinas Bran, the former stronghold of the Princes of Powys. Beyond the castle is the limestone escarpment known as the Eglwyseg Rocks. The outcrop continues north to the area known as World's End. The area nearest to the castle is the Panorama Walk, and a monument to local poet I.D. Hooson (from the nearby village of Rhosllanerchrugog) can be found there.
Valle Crucis Abbey was established in nearby Llangwestl in about 1201, under the patronage of Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor of Castell Dinas Brân.
The bridge at Llangollen was built in about 1345 by John Trevor, of nearby Trevor Hall, who later became Bishop of St Asaph. It was extended to cross the railway when this was built in the 1860s and was widened in the early 1960s. The upstream side has new masonry which blends in with the older structure.
On the outskirts of the town is Plas Newydd ("New Place" or "New Hall"), where The Honourable Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler (the Ladies of Llangollen) lived.
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.
Llangollen was an important coaching stop for the Mail coach on the old mail route along the A5 road from London to Holyhead.
The Ellesmere Canal
was intended to connect the coal mines
to the canal
network and hence to the sea via the River Mersey
and the River Severn
. The plans were altered and instead of connecting Trevor northwards to the sea along the route of the River Dee, Wales
, and southwards to the Severn, the canal instead ran eastwards to join on to the national network at Hurleston Junction
on the (now-named) Shropshire Union Canal
. A feeder (navigable to Llangollen) was constructed from the canal at Trevor to tap water from the River Dee at Llantysilio
(at the weir called "Horseshoe Falls
"). After company mergers, this canal became part of the Shropshire Union System. Until recently the canal 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 this function as a water supply which kept the canal 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 of this canal, twisting through beautiful Welsh hills and across the Dee Valley on the famous 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 new marina, built at the end of the navigable section, allows more summer visitors to moor overnight in Llangollen, but the beauty of the canal, and the manoeuvres of the multi-coloured narrowboats are attractions even for non-boaters.
The railway had been extended from Ruabon
, via Acrefair
and Trevor, to reach Llangollen by 1865, operating both passenger and goods services. This Ruabon Barmouth line
later became part of the Great Western Railway
. One hundred year later the line was closed under the Beeching Axe
in 1964. However, part of the line was later restored and now operates as the Llangollen Railway
, a tourist attraction. In 2002, the Rainhill locomotive trials
were re-staged on this line.
Llangollen was predominantly a farming
area. Most of the farms in the hills around the town would have been involved in sheep farming
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
The water mill opposite Llangollen railway station has been converted into a public house, "The Corn Mill" The building 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.
Since 1904, the town has been the home of the Llangollen Silver Band. The Brass Band perform at a wide range of local functions and concerts throughout the year. The band has a 'training' section, and provides free musical instruments and tuition to children and adults, many of whom go on to join the senior band.
Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod
Llangollen is most famous for the annual Llangollen International Eisteddfod, a week long event, usually starting on the Tuesday, and ending on the Sunday of the same week. During the week people from all over the world take part in musical and dancing competitions.
A parade, led by the Llangollen Silver Band, is usually held on the Tuesday of the Eisteddfod week, in which both the locals and visitors, take part dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments, whilst marching the streets of Llangollen.
Llangollen Fringe Festival
The Llangollen Fringe Festival is an independent arts festival, usually held in mid July. Initially the festival was held in a tent on a playing field, and later a weaver's shed. It is now held in the Town Hall. The Fringe includes music, comedy, theatre, dance and workshops.
Artists who have taken part in the Llangollen Fringe include The Damned(with Captain Sensible), Cerys Matthews, Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst, Juan Martín and The Black Seeds.
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."
Llangollen relies heavily on the tourist industry
Llangollen on the River Dee, Waleshosts white water Slalom canoeing
, 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.
Cricket , football and rugby union teams play at Tower Fields, which overlooks the town and the International Eisteddfod field and pavilion.
Thermals rising up the valley sides to the south of the town are used for paragliding. mountain bikers enjoy the hills.
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.