(20) Llandrindod Wells

Distance from Craig-y-Nos Castle 45 Miles

Visitors coming across Llandrindod Wells for the first time are often surprised at the character of its architecture, its large buildings and wide streets. Its whole aspect mirrors the gentility of a Spa town, but one that has managed to avoid the atmosphere of decayed grandeur that has overtaken some less fortunate ‘watering holes’.

The springs gave birth to the town and while Llandrindod Wells itself cannot be said to have been in existence much longer than a hundred years, there are landmarks in its development that span two or three centuries. Originally the spot appeared in the taxation of 1291 as two names ‘Lando’ and ‘Lanvayloir’.

At one time known as Ffynnon-llwyn y Gog, ‘the well in the cuckoo’s grove’, after one of its springs, the town gets its present name from the Old Parish Church of the Trinity which stands above the lake.

There is a wealth of published information on the area and there is little doubt that the springs have been used, to quote Dr Wessel Linden, ‘from time immemorial’. The Romans were obviously familiar with them.

There is reference to the Saline spring being used in 1694 and some authorities put this as early as 1670. Later, a Mrs. Jenkins re-discovered the Sulphur spring while visiting the Saline (salt) spring near the site of the Pump House Hotel in 1736 and succeeded in effecting several cures from it.

The dosage must have been assessed by trial and error and over indulgence could produce unnerving results. Years later Cook’s Typography of Wales, written somewhere around 1830 reminds its readers that the sulphurous water is a purgative of no mean order and ‘should on no account be taken in the afternoon’. It also provides the somewhat daunting information that ‘when thrown on hot iron it emits a blue flame and smells like brimstone’ pointing out that ‘silver leaves have been changed in less than six minutes to a fine gold colour’. It goes on to say that the water is best adapted for an artificial bath - no doubt the nineteenth century version of an ‘instant tan’.

For the discovery of a Saline spring in the Rock Park, the Wells are indebted to a Mr. Pilot, who dreamt of its existence and location and, upon investigation, found that his dream was true. At least one member of Mr. Pilot’s family can be traced today living in nearby Newtown.

The Heart of Wales railway provides a lifeline for  many towns and villages along its 120 mile length between Swansea and Shrewsbury, and Llandrindod Wells lies at the midway point. 

Llandrindod bristled with hotels and apartments, new treatment centres, a golf course, bowling and putting greens, two pavilions, a dozen places of worship and a 14 acre boating lake.

Llandrindod has many other things to offer besides it medicinal springs. Its ample accommodation and timeless attractions of beautiful scenery, tranquility and good air, has been retained and its amenities have developed to make it a popular resort and touring centre.

The present population is approximately 5,000 but a return in 1817 numbered it as ‘180 persons’. The ‘History of Radnor’ tells us that of 13 successive years, two passed without a funeral, which was proof of the beneficial effects of its healthy air.