2 Aug 2016

The Heart of Wales Line

Angharad Phillips

Several weeks ago Radio Wales’s Jamie Owen came to the Garden to talk to the Regency Project about our work on this site.

It was a very easy interview for me, as Jamie has been involved in reporting the Garden from its very conception in the 1990s, and has a real knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject, asking all the right questions. As we didn’t (unfortunately) have time to go to Paxton’s waterfall in Cwm Felin Gat, we ‘made do’ by standing by the lovely waterfall in the Great Glasshouse. Sometimes it’s hard to pick from the many beautiful spots in this Garden.

We soon got into the fascinating history of the Middleton Estate, and the links with transport that invariably spring to mind. The Middletons and Paxton of course, made their money from the East India Company’s trade links from shipping across the globe, and Paxton moreover was one of the investors in the first public railway in Wales, in the Mumbles. This railway was not like any that you are probably thinking of as it was horse drawn! However, Paxton also invested in road links from Llandeilo to Carmarthen, and if you do decide to visit the Garden by coming on the Heart of Wales railway line, you will come along this road from Llandeilo to the Garden going through the village of Llanarthne.

Along that route you will see, high on a hill, Paxton’s Tower, which dominates this section of the Tywi Valley.

Although historians will tell you it was built to commemorate Lord Nelson, the residents of Llanarthne have a much more dramatic version. They will say that ‘Paxton’s Spite’ was built after Paxton, aggrieved that he wasn’t voted in as local MP, reneged on a promise to build another bridge over the Tywi, and used the money to build his imposing tower instead. Whichever version is correct there is no doubting he left his mark on the landscape.

It’s these wonderful stories that make Wales so interesting, and I am sure that as you listen to the four programmes in Jamie Owen’s Heart of Wales Line programmes you will hear some fascinating snippets from all across Wales. The series starts on August 6th, and goes on for another 3 weeks. The programme will also be available on iPlayer, so you can catch it at any time. And, as it’s on the radio, you don’t have to watch me widely waving my arms about as I enthuse over our lovely project.