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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
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Lampeter (Welsh: Llanbedr Pont Steffan or, more informally, Llambed) is a town in Ceredigion, South West Wales, lying at the confluence of the River Teifi and the Afon Dulas. It is the third largest urban area in Ceredigion after Aberystwyth and Cardigan.
At the 2001 National Census, the population was 2894, increasing to 2,970 at the 2011 Census. Lampeter is therefore the smallest university town in the United Kingdom. The university adds approximately 1,000 people.
The Norman castle of Pont Steffan (Stephen's Bridge in English) occupying a strategic position beside the River Teifi was destroyed in 1187 after it had been conquered by Owain Gwynedd. The remains of the castle later became the foundations for C. R. Cockerell's college building and still form part of the university campus.
Cardiganshire was one of the royal counties established by Edward I after the defeat of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf) at Cilmeri in 1282, when Lampeter fell under direct Royal Control. This, however, had little effect on the town and the Welsh language and culture continued to thrive. The first Borough Charter was granted in 1284 to Rhys ap Meredydd who was given the right to hold a weekly market. As many as eight fairs were also held each year under successive charters. One of these was the Dalis Horse Fair.
The town was ruled by a local aristocracy who lived in elegant mansions, including Brynhywel, Maesyfelin and the Lloyd baronets of Peterwell. As magistrates, they handed out the severest of penalties to offenders. The fairs and markets had become rowdy occasions characterised by violence and drunkenness and the stocks and whipping post in front of the town hall were frequently put to use in the 18th century.
The town developed the crafts, services and industries to cater for the needs of the rural area. There were several woollen mills, one of which in the mid-18th century was already producing the complex double-woven tapestry cloth later to become associated with the Welsh woollen industry. There were also blacksmiths, a leather tannery, carpenters, saddlers, bootmakers and hatters. The town was one of the main centres on the Welsh Drovers' road for the dispatch of cattle and sheep on foot to the markets of south east England. The large number of inns point to the town's importance as a rural centre and have names such as the Nag's Head, the Drovers and the Three Horseshoes.
Lampeter's war memorial was unveiled in September 1921. It was sculpted by Sir William Goscombe John.
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David formerly St.David's College, St. David's University College of the University of Wales, then University of Wales, Lampeter, now UWTSD, was founded in 1822 by Bishop Burgess of St David's Cathedral to provide training for those wishing to join the Anglican priesthood, or lead a principled lay life following a classical education in a Welsh degree granting college. In 1852 it was granted a charter to award the BD degree and in 1865 another charter enabled it to confer BA degrees in liberal arts. Its central building, based on an Oxbridge quadrangle was designed by Charles Robert Cockerell. Lampeter was a constituent part of the University of Wales from the early 1970s until 2008, when the original charter was used to reform higher education in West Wales with the integration of Trinity College Carmarthen, further education colleges in Cardigan and LLanelli, and the technical college known as Swansea Metropolitan into the University of Wales Trinity St. David's.
The university's rugby team was Wales' first, having been formed in 1850 by Rowland Williams after he brought the game from Cambridge.
Lampeter has a strong sporting community, which also serves to smaller settlements nearby, such as Cwmann and Llanybydder. Many sports are played in the town, with rugby union being the most popular. This is largely because Lampeter fielded the first rugby union team in Wales. The sport is believed to have arrived in the late 1840s, meaning the town has a very long tie and history with the sport. The town is represented by Lampeter Town Rugby from under 7s to under 16s and youth at junior levels, and at senior levels by both the 1st XV and by a 2nd XV, named Lampeter Saints. The popularity of the game can be seen when playing, especially during 1st XV or youth games, with large crowds gathering on Saturday afternoons.
Many other sports are played in the town, including association football, with the town being represented by a football team, their pitch being directly next to the main pitch of Lampeter Rugby club. The football team has junior teams as well as a 1st and 2nd team. The town is served by a leisure centre, which has a gym, a main hall and modern Tennis facilities. The town has a swimming pool and also a bowling green.
Lampeter's local Eisteddfod, Eisteddfod Rhys Thomas James Pantyfedwen, is held annually over the August bank holiday. It is particularly noteworthy for its competition for singers under the age of 30, colloquially known as Llais Llwyfan Llambed ('the voice of Lampeter's stage').
Dylan Thomas' links with Lampeter and nearby Talsarn, where he lived, have been documented. During the Second World War, he and Caitlin lived at Plas Gelli, a secluded mansion just outside Talsarn. The Dylan Thomas Trail links Talsarn and Lampeter with the other places in Ceredigion associated with the poet, such as Aberaeron and New Quay.
Transport in Lampeter was greatly improved with the opening of the railway in 1866 which linked the town to both Carmarthen and Aberystwyth, as well as the seaside resort of Aberaeron (although this branch was only opened in 1911). After the nationalisation of the railways, the passenger service to Aberaeron ceased in 1951. Passenger trains on the main line to Carmarthen and Aberystwyth continued until December 1964, when the track was badly damaged by flooding south of Aberystwyth and through trains were suspended. A service between Carmarthen and Tregaron continued until February 1965 but this was the era of the "Beeching Axe" and it took little political persuasion to decide that the cost of repairs would be unjustified and all remaining passenger services were withdrawn. Milk trains continued to the processing factories at Pont Llanio until 1970 and Felinfach until 1973. The line was eventually lifted in 1975. However, the section of the old line between Bronwydd Arms and Danycoed Halt still exists and is used by the Gwili Railway, a steam railway preservation society which operates a regular timetable during summer months. Local residents have been campaigning for the return of the railway to Lampeter but much of the trackbed to Carmarthen has been given over to other developments over several decades; bridges etc. have been dismantled and the cost would be prohibitive given the relatively small populations the line would serve.
Regular bus services operate through the town, connecting Lampeter to the larger towns of Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Swansea. Two buses a day continue beyond Swansea providing a through service to Cardiff. The local bus services are a lifeline to many people of the town, especially students of the town's university.
Lampeter is twinned with:
- "town and electoral division population 2011". Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Ceredigion
- Jenkins, J. Geraint. Ceredigion: Interpreting an Ancient County. Gwasg Careg Gwalch (2005) pg. 27.
- Jenkins, J. Geraint. Ceredigion: Interpreting an Ancient County. Gwasg Careg Gwalch (2005) pg. 29.
- "Eisteddfod Rhys Thomas James Panyfedwen". Lampeter Town Council.
- Evans, Janet. "Llais Llwyfan Llambed". bbc.co.uk/cymru.
- D. N. Thomas, Dylan Thomas: a Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow, Seren, 2000.
- Lampeter and St Germain Sur Moine, 2001, French seal of approval for town, Cambrian News, 15 February 2001
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