Until the late 19th century Ammanford was still regarded as a small village in the parish of Llandybie, part of the Llandeilo rural district, it was then know as “Cross Inn”. This community, which took its name from its old hostelry, began to grow in importance and size as both a commercial and industrial area. So as to avoid any confusion with another Cross Inn in the county it was decided to change the Village name, so on the 20th November 1880 Cross Inn became known as Ammanford. Although the history of Ammanford is deeply rooted in its industrial growth the area has a much more colourful and ancient past under the old name Cross Inn and the whole area is rich in historical and legendary tales.
The Town’s early days where centred round the area called Heol Wallasey and Quay Street. Heol Wallasey “ Heol-y-Post” so called because the first post office was situated in the centre of the street, now know as “Field Street”. At the turn of the Century there where just a few dwellings and college Street was simply a lane leading to the lodge, a little cottage situated on Tir-y-dail Square. Open pastures bordered this land and extended to the road we now call High Street. Banc-yr-Tan was the name given to these fields, owned by the Cross Inn, then a farm as well as a hostelry.
College Street was named after the ministerial college, established at the turn of the century by the poet and world renowned hymnologist, Watcyn Wyn Williams. This then small building was situated at the end of Brynmawr Lane and was used as a Sunday school by the English Baptist church. Watcyn Wyn was celebrated in his day as a wit, poet and raconteur of no mean feat and his son was the first headmaster of the Amman Valley Grammar School.
Excavations carried out in the district from time to time have revealed Roman and sometimes prehistoric remains. Not that far away at Pantillyn are the Craig Derwyddon caves where in 1813 was found ten or eleven human skeletons. A century later at Landybie, stones where discovered that showed traces of fire, a hyena's tooth and a well preserved human molar. East of Ammanford at Penlle'r-Castell just beyond Mynydd-y Betws "Betws Mountain" the remains of a late 13th Century stronghold was discovered, most likely garrisoned by a marcher Lord. Betws situated on the East bank of the River Amman is probably the oldest part of the district, the name derives from the English word "beadhouse", an ancient chapel or pilgrim's rest house…
In a field adjacent to Tir-y-dail house is a 12th Century Motte and Bailey Castle, once a farmstead of considerable size and importance. The site was excavated in 2010 and full details of the dig can be reviewed by following the link at the bottom of this page. There is a local legend that the name Tir-y-dail was not really Welsh for "land of leaves" but referred to the "dail" or parliament that may have been held there. ( Artist's impression by Richard Jones ).
King Arthur and his knights are said to have trodden the mountains and valleys around Ammanford. According to legend, Llynllech-Owen, a lake situated to the north west of the town, is said to have been made by the carelessness of one of the King's knights, Owen Lawgoch, who after slaking his thirst at a spring, omitted to replace a stone slab that was meant to ebb the flow of water. A large area was flooded and, realising his mistake, Owen fled to a cave near Landybie, where he is said to be still sleeping and will not awake until Arthur himself shall wake him.
The Betws and Black Mountain bear evidence of prehistoric occupation, with cairns dotted about in many places. A group of three cairns on the Black Mountain are visible from the centre of Ammanford Town. Another large cairn called Carreg Arthur is situated on Mynydd-y Betws "Betws Mountain and according to legend this was once a troublesome stone in the shoe of King Arthur and was thrown down by him as he hurried across the mountain top to join his men in the valley. Many such tales, often more interesting than factual history are told about this historic part of Carmarthenshire.
Although the growth of Ammanford was largely due to its anthracite coalfields it has moved forward to meet the challenges of the 21st Century with great changes taking place. The town is well placed to adapt itself well for both industrial and residential growth, Ammanford is a progressive town with a friendly welcoming atmosphere.