Gwlad Nini 1700 to 1997
Gwlad Nini 1700 to 1997
A time of economic and social change.
The period from 1700 has seen a huge cultural, social, religious and economic change.
The start of the industrial revolution, the finding and mining of coal and the conversion of some of the local mills and small forges, the population of area increased drastically.
The area changed from a sparsely populated welsh speaking rural base into an industrial area with heavy metal production and coal mining.
The coming of the railways to service the industry and the opening of a new station which they called Gorseinon caused the small hamlet near Llys Nini to change its name to Penllergaer. The village at the centre of the local industrial development was called Rhyd Y Maerdy, but soon became associated with the new Gorseinon railway station. This caused some confusion as the small hamlet near Llys Nini had been known as Upper Gorseinon. In order to reduce the degree of confusion Upper Gorseinon changed its name to that of the nearby Estate - Penllergaer. However, if you look at the old school house in Penllergaer the plaque in the wall still announces it as Gorseinon School.
The growth of coal mining and the railways will be dealt with in a separate section of this site.
The 19th Century saw social discontent across Wales. The Chartists were demanding the vote for the ordinary working man, people were unhappy with the Poor Laws and Corn Laws, moreover in South Wales landowners had formed Turnpike Companies which built and controlled the roads, demanding huge tolls for passing the toll gates. Locally, these factors led to riot, with people forming bands of men who attacked the toll gates at night and often dressed as women, led by a "woman" on a white horse who they called Mam or Rebecca. The toll gates at nearby Bolgoed and Rhydypandy were attacked in the 1840s, the story is written up under the section called Rebecca. (Under Places)
Nonconformity had begun locally in the 17th Century but the increased population and the Religious Revival in the 19th Century saw a large number of chapels being built. This is described in the section on church and chapel and religion.
The First World War 1914-18 saw a number of local men volunteer for the forces, some of whom did not return and are commemorated on the war memorials in Penllergaer, Pontlliw, Gorseinon and Pontarddulais. Henry Rees of Llys Nini signed up and thankfully returned home at the end of the War. His story is in the section on Living at Llys Nini from 1767.
Although Gwlad Nini, unlike Swansea, was not extensively bombed during WW2, there was a huge and lasting effect brought out by the mechanism of farming during that period. There was also an influx of both POWs and American GIs and many women took on roles that had until then been the preserve of men. See the Section on WW2.
Until 1977, the old Swansea Road (A48) had been the major east / west arterial road through the area, to Swansea and beyond. The 1970s saw the extension of the M4 or Llangyfelach Bypass through Gwlad Nini and through Llys Nini Farm. The group has undertaken a great deal of research on the building of the M4 and a section on that aspect of the area's history will soon be written.
In 1994 the local RSPCA Branch bought Llys Nini and converted it into an animal rehoming centre. The old farm had to be replaced but the footprint and character of the old building was preserved and the remaining 78 acres of land on the farm started being managed for the benefit of wildlife and the local community