Plans for an Eco Park at Machynys in Llanelli have been put forward by Carmarthenshire County Council.
The scheme drawn up by the council’s regeneration department goes hand in hand with an application for housing on neighbouring land.
The Eco Park will have a network of footpaths, ponds and landscaping. It is planned to enhance the appearance of the area through landscaping and planting, and to make the site more accessible. The proposed scheme will enhance former industrial land to create an area of historical, environmental and ecological value.
Physical Regeneration Manager Stuart Walters said: “The proposed development will enhance the local landscape and character of the area by creating a high quality environment to support local ecology and provide a valuable amenity space for the existing and future communities of South Llanelli.”
Planting in the landscaped area will offer many tones of colour and textures. Rank grass land/tall herbs are to remain intact as these provide a varied structure suitable for fauna including reptiles, amphibians and some invertebrates. It is intended for woodland planting to become established and form dense wildlife corridors, breeding sites and foraging resources. The removal and treatment of invasive and unwanted flora is to be part of the works and native plants will be encouraged to flourish.
The footprint of the Machynys Farmhouse / Top Farm building ruins is to be marked out with stone. This aims to acknowledge and preserve the archaeology and heritage of the local area. The remains of the walls from the walled garden are to be cleared of vegetation and fully restored. Bricks and stones recovered from the site are to be used for the repairs, ensuring they match with the existing wall fabric. An interpretive sculpture is also to be installed at this location.
Mr Walters added: “Officers of the county council have engaged with members of the local community namely the Bwlchygwynt & Machynys Lost Communities Group in developing these plans. The group is very keen to assist and contribute and have plans to design historic interpretation panels to be located within the park.”
Machynys probably has the most colourful history of all the distinct area that now make up the Millennium Coastal Park. It’s a history steeped in myth and legend and one that goes back a long way before the Industrial Revolution.
Legend has it that back in 513 the holy man Saint Piero built and endowed a splendid monastery on an island in the Loughor Estuary, which became known as Mynach Ynys (Monk’s Island).
Although there is no concrete proof of the monastery’s existence, it is well chronicled that a house of grand construction did exist on Machynys for a considerable time. Machynys house was purchased by the Vaughan family of Pembrey in 1627 and remained in their possession until 1705 when the family estate was shared out between the heiresses, one of whom married the leading local industrial figure Sir Thomas Stepney.
At some point, the Machynys house was replaced by a farm building, which remained in place until its demolition in the 1970s. All that remains of either building is a few remnants of wall and, so legend has it, a secret tunnel linking Machynys with somewhere in Penclawdd on Gower.
Both the house and farm stood proudly atop Machynys Mound and, over the generations, watched the dramatic changes to the landscape.
One of the biggest changes was the land reclamation programme that saw the island turn into a peninsula during the Industrial Revolution. This was done to claim more space for industrial use.
Industrialisation of Machynys began in earnest around 1841 with the construction of the South Wales Iron and Tin Works. A proliferation of factories followed over the next half century including a tinplate and chemical works, an iron foundry and a brickworks. One of the most famous of the Machynys factories was R.T. Mills which was build in the same year as the Titanic and was, allegedly, exactly the same size as the doomed ship.
The peninsula even had its own community know as Bwlch y Gwynt, several rows of terraced cottages built to provide accommodation for the people who worked in the local mills and factories. The homes were demolished in the 1960’s and the residents re-housed in nearby Morfa and other parts of South Llanelli.