Rebecca and Tyrfran

Tyr Fran blue plaqueIn 1843 the whole of west Wales was gripped in the civil disturbances known as the Rebecca Riots. Aimed mainly at the unfair tolls that were charged for the use of the turnpike roads, the rioters, disguised with blackened faces and attired in women's clothes, would attack and destroy the offending tollgates and their attached gatehouses.

The town of Llanelli and its district did not escape this turmoil, for its roads were under the control and management of the Three Commotes and the Kidwelly Turnpike Trusts. These trusts had been described by a government solicitor as being more odious and obnoxious than any others. Old plans show that the town's roads were secured by at least 15 tollgates and toll-bars. Perhaps for this reason both the Furnace and the Sandy tollgates were destroyed at the beginning of August 1843.

It may be that the last of Rebecca's attacks in Llanelli came on Saturday 30th September 1843, when she removed the Tyrfran Tollgate on the road to Felinfoel and dropped it down the shaft of a nearby coal pit. According to old documents and newspapers the gatehouse and gateposts remained untouched.

When the Dragoons reached the spot not one person was to be seen although they were billeted within 200 yards of the gate [possibly the Union Workhouse].
Old town plans show that the site of the tollgate was at the corner of the lane close to Felinfoel Road and Parc Howard Avenue. Some of the troops were billeted at the Union Workhouse, lately Bryntirion Hospital.

But by this time the tide was turning, probably as a result of the resolutions passed at the Great Meeting on Mynydd Sylen and probably because of Williams Chambers' influence, about 40 local farmers recovered the gate from the Dimpath coal pit and returned it to its hinges the following Monday morning.

31st January 2014 unveiling of the plaque.

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