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Buckley's Brewery, Llanelli

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The brewery between the bottom of Thomas Street and the River Lliedi owes its origins to Henry Childs, who, from 1769, developed a substantial malting, brewing and public house venture, basing himself at the Falcon, a public house which would later become the offices of Buckley's Brewery. In 1798, Childs's daughter married the Rev. James Buckley, who was later remembered in the name of one of Buckley's (and later Brains's) ales. When Childs died in 1824, Buckley took over the brewery but also died fifteen years later and was succeeded in the business by his son James, who would in turn pass the business on to his own sons, James and William in 1883. The business expanded greatly in the late nineteenth-century forming Buckley's Brewery Limited in December 1894, amalgamating Messrs W. Bythway and Co Brewery (NPRN 466) in 1896 and Carmarthen United Breweries Limited (itself an amalgamation of Norton Brothers and Carmarthen Brewery) shortly thereafter. In 1903, it was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment as brewers to the Prince of Wales, and in 1910 when George V ascended to the throne, became brewers to the King. With this success the site expanded accordingly with the construction of new buildings on the site along the river.

Am historical image of the brewery from 1894 shows an expansive complex of buildings, entered via Swanfield Bridge (NPRN 43119), with multiple tall chimneys and decorative obelisks, likely constructed of red brick and local stone and many of them rendered. Along the river to the east of the bridge were a number of low buildings, likely old cottages and stables, to the north of which was a large range of sixteen bays, the end bays of four to five storeys and the main range of three storey with a large dormer in the centre. To the west of the bridge were two two-storey buildings oriented north-south, the northernmost of which had a round-headed arched passageway through it. Behind this range was the large malt house (NPRN 406465), barley kiln and brewing tower.

The site was greatly renovated in the 1970s in response to changing technologies. However, in the late twentieth century the business passed through several hands. Buckley's passed out of the family's management in 1983, passed into the control of Clowes and Cramer in 1986 and then Guiness in 1988?9. Relaunched as Crown-Buckley in 1989, the company became an independent Welsh brewery again briefly in 1993 before coming under the control of Brains in 1998. With its purchase by Brains, production of Buckley's ales moved to Cardiff and the Llanelli brewery fell into disuse.

In 2006, the majority of the brewery site, having fallen into a state of dereliction, was demolished in order to build a grocery store and residential housing. The exception was the Grade-II-listed malt house and neighbouring barley kiln which is currently (2018) undergoing extensive renovation for residential use.

(Sources: `Redevelopment Proposals, Former Buckley Brewery Site, Llanelli?, NMRW Archive, ERC 33296; Pete Crane, `Buckley Brewery Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, 2006 Archaeological Watching Brief and Building Recording? (Cambria Archaeology, 2006); `?The Maltings? ? Former Buckley Brewery, Llanelli: Restoration, Conservation & Extension ? (Powell Dobson Architects prepared on behalf of Pobl Group, September 2017); Brian Glover, Prince of Ales: The History of Brewing in Wales (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1993), pp. 138?47, 216?18; `Work begins to convert Buckley's Brewery in Llanelli?, BBC News, 24.04.2018)
A.N. Coward, RCAHMW, 06.12.2018
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