Discovering Carmarthenshire

Museums of Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire Museums

Roll back the centuries and learn about Carmarthenshire’s industrial, cultural and agricultural past at the county’s fascinating museums. These treasure houses tell the story of Carmarthenshire’s rich and diverse heritage and uncover some gems of history dating back to the beginning of time.

Carmarthenshire County Museum

Carmarthenshire County Museum

Step into Carmarthenshire Museum and embark on a journey of discovery into an intriguing past full of exciting treasures.

This is the perfect place to soak up the history of a county steeped in heritage, myth and legend and the atmosphere is spellbinding.

The building is a slice of history in itself. The old house in Abergwili has been in continuous use since about 1290; beginning life as a college and later becoming a palace, home to the Bishop of St David’s. Each room is brimming with history. This is where the New Testament was first translated into Welsh and where the last piece of Merlin’s Oak can be found - legend has it that the day the oak is removed from Carmarthen, the town will fall.

Discover mammoth bones from Croygan Cave, near Laugharne; Stone Age axes, Roman gold and gravestones from the time of King Arthur.

There are fine paintings, Welsh dressers, local pottery and so much more. One of the most striking exhibits is a large stone carved frieze of the Battle of Waterloo hero, General Picton.

Carmarthenshire County Museum
Abergwili, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire SA31 2JG.
01267 ​228696.

Parc Howard Museum

Parc Howard Museum

At the end of the 19th Century, the town of Llanelli was the Tinplate manufacturing centre of the world - something which earned it the nickname of 'Tinopolis'.

During this time the town grew from a small village into a bustling hub of industry. Today you can explore the town’s industrial past with a visit to the museum at Parc Howard Mansion, an impressive building set in beautiful parkland.

The house was built in 1885 by the Buckleys, a family with a long association of brewing. It was given to the town of Llanelli in 1912 by Sir Stafford and Lady Howard.

The Mansion tells the story Llanelli’s hey-day. Among the displays is the story of the 'Stepney Spare Wheel', one of the first spare wheels made for cars during the early years of motoring. The wheels were made by the Davies Brothers in 1904 and were sold all over the world.

Parc Howard is also home to the largest collection of Llanelly Pottery and a showcase for a gallery of paintings depicting the town’s lively and colourful past. There are also regular exhibitions displaying works by local artists.

Parc Howard Museum
Felinfoel Road, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA15 3LJ.
01554 772029.

Kidwelly Industrial Museum

The historic castle town of Kidwelly played a key role in the 'Tinopolis' success story of 19th Century Carmarthenshire when Llanelli and its surrounding area was home to around half the world’s production of tinplate.

As well as having one of best-preserved medieval castles in Wales, Kidwelly can lay claim to the second oldest recorded tinplate works in the UK. The buildings and machinery are rare survivors of this important industry. Kidwelly Tinplate Works was established in 1737 and was only the second of its type in Britain. Its founder, Charles Gwynn, encountered many problems as did others, but the basic necessities were there - water power, iron from nearby and a port to receive tin from Cornwall.

The works had a chequered history, as reflected in the fortunes of Kidwelly town itself. At its peak in 1908, it employed between 350-400 people; but during periodic closures there was great poverty and distress. The works finally closed in 1941 when, because of the war, the supplies of tin dropped off. After the closure the site was used for storage but the machinery was left there and can still be seen today. Also on show are pieces of machinery from the Morlais Colliery and a blacksmith’s shop.

This museum is unique as it is the only one dedicated to the interpretation of the tinplate industry in general and specifically the individual processes involved in making tinplate.

Work on a long-term project to put up a building to house the museum’s locomotives is nearing its conclusion. Plans are being drawn up to improve visitor information. Visitors can enjoy a cup of tea at reception and there is ample car parking. The museum opens for Easter and then from Spring Bank holiday until the end of September. Please check opening times before visiting.

Kidwelly Industrial Museum
Mynyddygarreg, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire SA17 4LW.
01554 891078 / 01267 228696.

Pendine Museum of Speed

Pendine Museum of Speed

Explore the history of Pendine’s 'Sands of Speed' in a dramatic building overlooking the beach.

At the heart of Pendine’s Museum of Speed is the area’s past as a centre for attempts on the land speed record, most notably when it was broken in 1924 by Malcolm Campbell in his V12 Sunbeam Bluebird at an average speed of 146.163 mph.

Campbell was to break the record on three separate occasions on Pendine’s long sandy beach and there were many endeavours to usurp him. In 1927, Parry Thomas was killed trying to beat Campbell’s new record of 175mph.

'Babs', the vehicle in which Thomas made this attempt, was excavated and fully restored and now takes pride of place during the summer months among other record breaking vehicles and racing memorabilia. The museum also shows historic motor bikes. Please check opening times before visiting.

The Museum of Speed, Pendine
Pendine, Carmarthenshire SA33 4NY.
01994 453488‎.

National Wool Museum

National Wool Museum

The National Wool Museum is located in the former Cambrian Mills in the village of Dre-Fach Felindre in the beautiful Teifi Valley, Carmarthenshire. This valley was once the centre of a thriving Welsh woollen industry.

In its heyday there were 25 mills working in and around the village and Dre-Fach Felindre became known as ‘The Huddersfield of Wales.’ Shirts and shawls, blankets and bedcovers, woollen stockings and underwear were all made here to be sold in local markets and then exported to all parts of the world.

The Museum’s historic working textile machinery shows the process of weaving woollen cloth from fleece to fabric. A gallery displays the wide range of woollen textiles produced by mills throughout Wales. The Museum is also home to a commercial weaver and a raised walkway gives visitors a unique view of their looms in production.

Visitors can browse a wide range of contemporary woven Welsh textiles and gifts in the shop as well as enjoy homemade light lunches and cakes in the cafe.

Groups are welcome, please contact 02920 573070 to book.

Entry and parking at the Museum is free.

National Wool Museum
Dre-fach Felindre, near Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul,
Carmarthenshire SA44 5UP.
02920 573070.

West Wales Museum of Childhood

West Wales Museum of Childhood

Children of all ages will be mesmerised by a trip down memory lane at the West Wales Museum of Childhood.

The museum is home to a unique collection packed full of memorabilia. As well as the usual teddies, dolls, cars and trains, there is an extensive display of costumes, a schoolroom and some 10,000 exhibits from the past.

These include figures inspired by cult television series such as Dr Who, Batman and The Avengers. Many of the 'made-in Wales' toys were exported all over the world. Among the most well-known were the die-cast Corgi Toys models. Some of these cars and figures were made famous by film and television such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Batmobile and the DB5.

The museum is set in 12 acres of beautiful countryside at Pen-ffynnon, Llangeler, and housed in traditional stone Welsh farm buildings arranged around the old farmyard.

West Wales Museum of Childhood
Pen-ffynnon, Llangeler, Carmarthenshire SA44 5EY.
Tel : 01559 370428.