J.H. Evans and Sons: Gathen Yard

Gilmour Evans at Gathen Yard in the 1930s: his great uncle William Valentine Evans standing rear

Coal, copper, lead, iron, tinplate, the development of the railway and the docks transformed Llanelli in the nineteenth century from a sleepy village into a bustling industrial town.

John Herbert Evans (1869-1933) and his brother William Valentine Evans (1881-1967), a wheelwright who build the wheels for Llanelli’s first mail coach, left the Carmarthenshire countryside to found the Western Wagon Works at Gathen Yard which flourished there for ninety years, fabricating equipment for the tinplate industry.  The business was run by John Herbert’s son Griffith Aneurin Evans (1899-1964) and then by his son Robert Dewsberry Evans (1940-1994) until its closure in the 1980s.

Griff and Doris Evans and their sons (L-R) Alan, Robert and Gilmour.

David Thomas Edwards (1851-1918) and his family were among thousands of Welsh workers who emigrated to the United States to work in the steel and mining industries there.

Evy Thomas (1835-1874), son of a stonecutter, worked as a mason in the tinplate works but died young after inhaling particles of stone. Three of his sons worked in the tinplate industry and his daughter Lizzie (1873-1943) married another mason Robert Dewsberry (1874-1926).

Edward Wells

Edward Wells (1829-1882) was just over three feet tall who kept a close eye on gas pipes being laid in Llanelli.  He became such an expert on their location that according to my father he was known as “Willy bach gas”. According to a newspaper of the time, as a child caution had to be exercised on his behalf “lest some enterprising itinerant showman kidnapped him”. He’s buried in Adulam Cemetery in Felinfoel.

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