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Llanidloes’s location almost dead-centre in Wales accounts for much of its character. It’s a crossroads town straddling lush, rounded border country and mountainous ‘Wild Wales’ with a rural – and surprisingly industrial – heritage. This mix of influences is apparent in its architecture, which ranges from black-and-white half-timber (a classic borderland look) to ornate Victorian.

First impressions can be deceptive. When you arrive in Llanidloes the first place that catches your eye is its historic timber-framed Market Hall, a ‘magpie-style’ black-and-white building that’s characteristic of the Wales/England border country. But it’s not entirely representative of Llanidloes. Look around and you’ll see a pot-pourri of architectural styles – red-bricked Georgian, decorative Victorian and Edwardian, and traditional country-town terraces.


A foot in both camps

This playful mix of styles speaks volumes about Llanidloes’s location. It might well be located smack in the middle of rural Wales. But it occupies a spot that represents an east–west transition zone where the border country’s gentler, softer hills suddenly rear up into the remote moors, forests and barren plateaux of the Cambrian Mountains


Llanidloes is therefore a country town with a difference, a staging post between cross-border influences – epitomised by that timber-framed Market Hall – and the ‘Wild Wales’ of the Cambrians.


It’s also untypical because of its history and economy. Surrounded by farmland, it’s still a social and shopping hub for the rural community, as well as a convenient stopping-off point on the north–south A470 trunk route through Wales. But many visitors are completely unaware of the town’s surprising industrial past.


A hive of industry

Beneath Llanidloes’s green and pleasant surroundings there’s a mineral-rich geology of silver- and lead-bearing rocks. In the 17th century silver was mined locally. The boom years came later from the 1830s onwards, when increases in the price of lead led to a surge in mining activity. For a time, the mines near the town were the most productive in Europe.


Today, it’s difficult to believe that laid-back Llanidloes was such a busy place. In addition to its silver-lead mining past the town was also home from the 18th century to a thriving textile industry, producing fine flannel cloth. To see evidence of this, walk down Short Bridge Street to the river where an imposing three-storeyed building – now converted into flats – was originally a water-powered flannel mill.


Short Bridge Street is lined with shops and pubs (the latter, many timber-framed and full of character, are to be found in unusually high numbers here, a legacy of the town’s thriving, thirsty industrial past). The more engaging shopping thoroughfare is Great Oak Street leading to High Street, where you’ll find an eclectic range of small independents selling bikes and antiques, crafts and books, organic food and Welsh quilts.


Politics and religion

The pleasingly proportioned Trewythen hotel is a Grade II listed building with an interesting back story due to its links with the 19th-century Chartist Movement. With the decline in the textile trade and resulting hardship for its workers, Llanidloes became something of a hotbed for this grass-roots campaign for political rights, which led to rioting and imprisonment.


The hotel’s restaurant, named after the Chartists, is one of a number of places to eat and drink along Great Oak Street (the Great Oak Café, for example, serves up a tasty menu of salads, soups and vegan goodies – when the sun’s out, head for its lovely courtyard with attached wildlife garden).


Further along, where Great Oak Street meets High Street, you’ll find the Angel Inn of 1748, where the Chartist radicals used to meet, and Minerva Arts Centre featuring the work of local art and craftspeople, with a special interest in quilts.


At the opposite end of town, beside the river at the back of Long and Short Bridge Streets, there’s the Church of St Idloes, a medieval building on the site of an ancient Celtic religious settlement. Noteworthy features include an impressive hammer-beamed roof and pillars from the Cistercian church of Abbey Cwmhir.



  • The long and the short of it. It’s easy to find your way around Llanidloes. Go down Long Bridge Street and you come to the Long Bridge over the River Severn. Guess where you end up when you walk down Short Bridge Street?


  • Message in a bottle. According to local folklore there’s a bottle under the Short Bridge that contains the malignant spirit of Lady Jeffries, who could not rest in her grave because of her misdeeds. She will be freed when the ivy at either side of the bridge joins in the middle and reaches the parapet.


  • What’s in a name? The historic Royal Head on Short Bridge Street is an amalgamation of two pubs, the Royal Oak and King’s Head. To confuse matters even more, it’s now known as the Whistling Badger at the Royal Head. Or simply the Whistling Badger. Take your pick.


  • From little acorns. Llanidloes has textiles in its blood. In addition to its flannel-producing heritage it was home to the first shop, a modest affair opened by Laura Ashley, whose fashion company grew into an international brand.


  • Are two heads better than one? Surely this is one of the quirkiest exhibits you’re likely to find in any museum, anywhere: a stuffed lamb with two heads, at Llanidloes Museum.


  • The magnificent Severn. Llanidloes is the first town on the mighty Severn, Britain’s longest river. You can trace its source in the Plynlimon Mountains to the west by following the first section of the long-distance Severn Way footpath. It’s a fair walk, mind you – 15 miles/24km.



There’s a lot to see in Llanidloes. To help you on your way we’ve highlighted a few of the things you won’t want to miss. There’s no need to tackle everything in the exact order listed below, but we’ve tried to lay things out in a way that makes sense as you go from place to place. If you’re on a tight schedule, just take your pick from the places that interest you most.


Market Hall

This striking black-and-white half-timbered building is the only one of its kind surviving in Wales. Dating from the early 17th century and constructed as a marketplace and courthouse at a meeting place of four medieval roads, it stands on top of hefty timber pillars with an open, cobbled space below where the markets were once held. A stone in the old marketplace commemorates visits by evangelist John Wesley, who preached here in 1748, 1749 and 1764.


Town Hall and Llanidloes Museum

The Grade II listed Town Hall, opened in 1908, is a fine example of the Arts and Crafts architecture, a style with medieval Gothic and Renaissance influences, with a series of arcaded bays topped by a tall clocktower.


Llanidloes Museum is located within the Town Hall. The town’s energetic, eventful past stretching back 300 years is recalled in exhibits from the textile and mining industries. The political dimension is covered by a display dedicated to the Chartist Movement, while the ‘bread-and-butter’ side of life features in a recreated Victorian kitchen and laundry. There’s also a parlour with period furnishings and a gentleman’s study with a collection of natural history cases.


It’s worth asking about the free town walks, starting at the Town Hall and led by local experts, that take place from June to September.

The Trewythen

Standing opposite the Town Hall, this hotel has interesting associations with the Chartists, a mass movement that campaigned for political rights. A plaque on the wall marks the spot of a Chartist outbreak on 30 April 1839 when townsfolk released three men arrested and detained in the hotel for their alleged Chartist activities following riots in the streets. The men were set free but not for long: they were rearrested along with 30 others, all of whom were either imprisoned or transported.


Minerva Arts Centre

This spacious shop and exhibition space displays a wide range of local art and crafts. It can also be seen as a contemporary link with the town’s continuation of its historic textile industry. Owned and managed by the Quilt Association, it stages regular exhibitions of antique and vintage Welsh quilts.


The Mount Inn

This cosy inn and B&B stands in a prominent spot on the site of Llanidloes’s first stronghold, a Norman motte and bailey castle. The inn was one of the many alehouses that served Llanidloes’s boom-town industrial population in the 17th and 18th centuries.


Bridgend Factory

Built in 1834, this large, handsome building was one of the many flannel mills in the area, most of which have now disappeared. Originally water powered, this three-storeyed mill has been converted into flats, though it retains its industrial character. In the mid-19th century the town’s iron and brass foundry was located next to it.


Church of St Idloes

Occupying a site founded by a 7th century Celtic saint, the church is of medieval origin with a massive 14th-century stone tower capped by a wooden belfry, a feature characteristic of these parts. The church is also noteworthy for its late-medieval hammer-beam roof and splendid early 13th-century arcade of five stone bays, rescued from the Cistercian Abbey Cwmhir in the hills to the south following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536.

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