The Clock Tower
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Machynlleth (pronounced [maˈχənɬɛθ] (
Machynlleth was the seat of Owain Glyndŵr's Welsh Parliament in 1404,and as such claims to be the "ancient capital of Wales". However, it has never held any official recognition as a capital. It applied for city status in 2000 and 2002, but was unsuccessful. It is twinned with Belleville, Michigan.
Machynlleth hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1937 and 1981.
There is a long history of human activity in the Machynlleth area. In the late-1990s, radiocarbon dating showed that copper mining was taking place in the Early Bronze Age (c. 2,750 years ago), within a mile of the town centre.
There are legends of a once fertile plain, the Cantre'r Gwaelod , now lost beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay.
The Romans settled in the area; they built a fort at Pennal (Cefn Caer) four miles west of Machynlleth, and are reputed to have had two look-out posts above the town at Bryn-y-gog and Wylfa, and another fort, called Maglona, at Machynlleth.One of the earliest written references to Machynlleth is the Royal charter granted in 1291 by Edward I to Owen de la Pole, Lord of Powys. This gave him the right to hold "a market at Machynlleth every Wednesday for ever and two fairs every year". The Wednesday market is still a busy and popular day in Machynlleth 700 years later.
The Royal House, which stands on the corner of the Garsiwn, is another of the mediaeval houses that can still be seen today. According to local tradition, Dafydd Gam, a Welsh ally of the English kings, was imprisoned here from 1404 to 1412 for attempting to assassinate Owain Glyndŵr. After his release by Glyndŵr, ransomed Gam fought alongside Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt and is named amongst the dead in Shakespeare's Henry V . The name Royal House undoubtedly refers to the tradition that Charles I stayed at the house in 1643.
The weekly market and biannual fair thrived, and in 1613 drew complaints from other towns whose trading in cloth was being severely affected. A document dated 1632[ citation needed ] shows that animals for sale came from all over Merionethshire, Montgomeryshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Denbighshire, and prospective buyers came from Flintshire, Radnorshire, Brecknockshire, Herefordshire and Shropshire, in addition to the above.
The Dyfi Bridge (Welsh : Pont ar Ddyfi) was first mentioned in 1533, by Geoffrey Hughes, "Citizen and Merchant taylour of London" who left £6 13/4 "towards making of a bridge at the toune of Mathanlleth". By 1601 "Dovey bridge in the Hundred of Mochunleth" was reported to be insufficient, and the current one was built in 1805 for £250. Fenton describes it in 1809 as "A noble erection of five large arches. The piers are narrow and over each cut-water is a pilaster, a common feature of the 18th century".[ This quote needs a citation ]
Rowland Pugh was the Lord of Meirionedd,and lived at Mathafarn about two miles east of Machynlleth. Pugh supported the Royalist side in the English Civil War. On 2 November 1644, Sir Thomas Myddleton of Chirk Castle was marching on Machynlleth with a force of the Parliamentarian army, when he was ambushed by a force organised by Pugh. In retaliation for the attack, Myddleton burned down Mathafarn on 29 November 1644, along with a number of houses in Machynlleth.
Laura Ashley's first shop was opened in Machynlleth (at 35 Maengwyn Street).
The disappearance of April Jones in October 2012 received a large amount of coverage in the UK media.
Mary Cornelia, the daughter of local landowner Sir John Edwards married Viscount Seaham, the second son of the third Marquess of Londonderry, in 1846 and they set up home in Plas Machynlleth . He became Earl Vane on the death of his father and the fifth Marquess on the death of his half-brother.
To celebrate the 21st birthday of their eldest son, Viscount Castlereagh, the townspeople subscribed to the erection (at the town's main road intersection) of the clock tower, which has become widely known as the symbol of Machynlleth. The tower, which stands on the site of the old town hall, is the first thing many visitors will notice. The foundation stone was laid on 15 July 1874 amid great festivities.
Another son, Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest, was the last member of the family to live at the Plas and was killed in the Abermule train collision on the Cambrian Railways, of which he was a director.
The house was given to the townspeople in December 1948 under the stewardship of the then Machynlleth Urban District Council.
Various local government re-organisations saw responsibility for the Plas pass first to Montgomeryshire District Council, who in 1995 converted it into the Celtica Visitor Centre. Celtica interpreted the history and culture of the Celts with a walk-through audio-visual exhibition housed in a purpose-built addition to the house. The £3 million attraction was part-funded by the European Union. The centre had a high-profile in the Welsh media, with opera singer Bryn Terfel officially opening the attraction in October 1995.
Powys County Council took over Celtica and the house when it was formed as a unitary authority in 1997. The centre was successful in attracting tourist, school groups and conferences for a number of years, however initial visitor number predictions proved to be too ambitious and the council was unwilling to prolong its subsidy and with little scope for alternative investment Celtica closed in March 2006, and the house stood empty while Powys County Council sought to relinquish responsibility for it in line with their policy of selling many of their publicly owned buildings.
At this point, Machynlleth Town Council, realising that the town was in danger of losing the Plas house and grounds, which they saw as belonging to the community in the spirit of the 1948 bequest, began discussions with Powys Council with a view to the Town Council taking ownership of the Plas.[ citation needed ] On 1 April 2008, in a move thought to be unprecedented for a community council of its size, Machynlleth Town Council took ownership of the Plas and its parkland and facilities. It has reopened the restaurant by leasing it to a local licensee and the 1st and 2nd floors of the main building are rented out as office space. Medium-sized meeting rooms and conference space are also offered for hire.
From 1859 to 1948 the town was served by the narrow gauge Corris Railway, which brought slate from the quarries around Corris and Aberllefenni for onward despatch to the markets. The railway's Machynlleth station building, built in 1905, can still be seen alongside the road approaching the town from the north.
Machynlleth main-line station was built by the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway, and continues to provide a link to Aberystwyth and the Cambrian coast to the west and Newtown and Shrewsbury to the east. Services were operated by Arriva Trains Wales and subsequently are operated by Transport for Wales .
Machynlleth is home to the signalling centre that controls the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) on the Cambrian Line. The system went into full operational use in March 2011.
Machynlleth retains its strong Welsh character, with Welsh spoken alongside English. The 2011 Census indicated that 67% of the population have some knowledge of Welsh, with 39% able to read, write and speak the language.
Machynlleth has a special role in Welsh history because of its connection with Owain Glyndŵr, a Prince of Wales who rebelled against the English during the reign of King Henry IV. Owain was crowned Prince of Wales in 1404 near the Parliament House, which is one of three mediaeval houses in town, in the presence of leaders from Scotland, France and Spain, and he held his own Parliament in the town. He held his last parliament in the nearby village of Pennal, by the Church of St Peter ad Vincula. It is thought that after the rebellion floundered, Owain went into hiding in the area around Machynlleth.
Tourism is the primary employment sector with a wide range of activity based attractions (for example several mountain biking trails) as well as the visitor centre at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Agriculture continues to play a significant part in the make-up of the town and surrounding area. Another important local industry and employer is the renewable energy sector. Driven by the Centre for Alternative Technology (a research centre dedicated to the development of sustainable technologies), the area also hosts a wind farm at Cemmaes. The area now has a rapidly expanding renewable energy industry with several small to medium-sized companies now operating in or around the town.
The town has a large market on Wednesdays which includes traditional Welsh together with Spanish and French food stalls.
The town has hosted the Machynlleth Comedy Festival annually since May 2010, featuring comedians such as Jon Richardson, Pappy's, Josie Long, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring. The festival dominates the town for a weekend, with events running over three days in nine venues.
Machynlleth lies on Glyndŵr's Way and the Dyfi Valley Way, two long-distance footpaths.
Machynlleth is the home of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Wales. It originated in 1986 as Y Tabernacl, a centre of performing arts in an old chapel, a private initiative by former journalist Andrew Lambert. In 1994 this was expanded with a new complex of art galleries, a recording studio and a language laboratory.Lambert had previously tried to convert the town's old railway station into a hotel and museum, employing international architect Richard Rogers.
MoMA Wales hosts the annual Machynlleth Festival, as well as its own annual open exhibition of art.
Machynlleth is the home of Ecodyfi, a locally controlled organisation that was set up to foster and support a greener community and economy in the Dyfi Valley.
Machynlleth has a town council, elected from the ward, with fourteen councillors.
The ward elects a county councillor to Powys County Council, though the current county councillor, Michael Williams, was unopposed again at the May 2017 election. He had been elected unopposed since first winning the seat in 1980. He had also sat on the Machynlleth Town Council since 1974.
Machynlleth Town Football Club, founded in 1885, plays in the Spar Mid-Wales district league and the reserve team is in the Cambrian Tyres Division 2 Amateur football league. The Machynlleth Rugby Club plays in the North Wales Division 2.
Glyndŵr's Way is a long distance footpath in mid Wales. It runs for 135 miles (217 km) in an extended loop through Powys between Knighton and Welshpool, and anchored on Machynlleth to the west.
Montgomeryshire, also known as Maldwyn is one of thirteen historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. It is named after its county town, Montgomery, which in turn is named after one of William the Conqueror's main counsellors, Roger de Montgomerie, who was the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.
Welshpool is a town and community in Wales, historically in the county of Montgomeryshire, but currently administered as part of the unitary authority of Powys. The town is situated 4 miles (6.4 km) from the Wales–England border and low-lying on the River Severn; its Welsh language name Y Trallwng means "the marshy or sinking land". Welshpool is the fourth largest town in Powys.
Pennal is a village and community on the A493 road in southern Gwynedd, Wales, on the north bank of the Afon Dyfi/River Dovey, near Machynlleth.
Dovey Junction railway station is a railway station on the Cambrian Line in Wales. It is the junction where the line splits into the line to Aberystwyth and the Cambrian Coast Line to Pwllheli. Passenger services are provided by Transport for Wales. There is a single island platform.
Abermule is a village lying on the River Severn 6 km northeast of Newtown in Powys, mid Wales. The A483 Swansea to Chester trunk road, the Cambrian Line railway, connecting Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury, and the Montgomery Canal, close to the river, all pass through Abermule.
Sycharth is a motte and bailey castle and town in Llansilin, Powys, Wales. Until 1996 Sycharth was in the historic county of Denbighshire, but was then transferred to the Shire area of Montgomeryshire within Powys. Sycharth Castle was the birthplace of Owain Glyndŵr.
George Henry Robert Charles William Vane-Tempest, 5th Marquess of Londonderry, KP, styled Viscount Seaham between 1823 and 1854 and known as The Earl Vane between 1854 and 1872, was a British aristocrat, businessman, diplomat and Conservative politician.
Llanwrin is a small village in the valley of the Afon Dyfi in Powys about two miles north-east of Machynlleth.
Derwenlas is a hamlet in northern Powys, Wales. It is part of the community of Cadfarch.
Seaham Hall is now an English country house, now run as a spa hotel, in County Durham.
Plas Machynlleth was the Welsh residence of the Marquesses of Londonderry. It is situated in the market town of Machynlleth in Powys, Wales. It was brought into the family by the marriage of George Henry Robert Charles William Vane-Tempest, Viscount Seaham, to Mary Cornelia Edwards, whose father Sir John Edwards had extended and renamed the house. It is a Grade II* listed building.
Morben is a hamlet in northern Powys, Wales. Part of the historic county of Montgomeryshire from 1536 to 1974, it lies on the Afon Dyfi and was once the home of a number of riverside quays, including Cei Ward and Y Bwtri. The site of Cei Ward lies alongside the A487 opposite Plas Llugwy, where the road, railway and river run close together. Y Bwtri lay on the bend of the river opposite Pennal and was the site of a shipyard.
Sir John Edwards, 1st Baronet, was a Whig politician who served as Member of Parliament for Montgomery from 8 April 1833 to 23 June 1841. The Edwards Baronetcy, of Garth in the County of Montgomery, was created for him in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom on 23 July 1838. Since he had no male heirs, the estate passed to his daughter Mary Cornelia Edwards (c.1829-1906) and the title became extinct on his death.
The Royal House in Machynlleth is a 16th-century Merchants House with extensive interior timber framing, clad in stone on the outside, with two massive chimney stacks. The building has been dated by denchrochronology or tree-ring dating giving felling dates for timbers within the house of 1559–1561, and for the rear store-house range of 1576. The Building was acquired by the Machynlleth Tabernacle Trust and excavations and survey were undertaken by CPAT before restoration work was started in 2005. The restoration was supported by the Heritage Lottery funding supported the restoration in 2006
Owain Glyndŵr's Parliament House was traditionally the building where Owain Glyndŵr held a parliament after being crowned Prince of Wales in 1404. The origins of this structure are probably later. The existing building may be 15th century in origin, but has been extensively rebuilt particularly by David Davies of Llandinam who purchased it in 1906. It was opened on 20 February 1912 to provide a social centre for the town. The present rubble exterior is an interpretation of its C15 appearance probably by the architect Frank Shayler, who may also have designed the adjacent Glyndŵr Institute.
Ysgol Bro Hyddgen is a bilingual, all-age (4-19) school situated in Machynlleth, Powys.
The Dyfi Bridge, also known as the Machynlleth Bridge, Pont Dyfi or Pont ar Dyfi, is a road bridge carrying the A487 road across the River Dyfi north of Machynlleth, Powys, Wales. It is described as "one of the finest bridges in Montgomeryshire" by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust.
Mathafarn is a house and farm near Llanwrin, in Wales. The earliest house here was built before 1485, and Mathafarn plays a significant role in Welsh and English history.
Lord Herbert Lionel Henry Vane-Tempest KCVO was a British company director. He was a director of the Cambrian Railways and died in the Abermule train collision in January 1921.
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