Site Name: CARDIGAN RAILWAY TERMINUS; ST. JULIAN’S CHAPEL; CAPEL SIDAN.
In 1188 Gerald de Barri (Giraldus Cambrensis) and Archbishop Baldwin recruited men for the Third Crusade, on this site.
“…On the Cemais side of the river, not far from the bridge, the people of the neighbourhood being assembled together and Rhys and his two sons Maelgwn and Gruffydd being present, the word of the Lord was persuasively preached both by the Archbishop and the Archdeacon, and many were induced to take the Cross, one of whom was an only son and the sole comfort of his mother, advanced in years, who steadfastly gazing on him as if inspired by the Deity, uttered these words: “O most beloved Lord Jesus Christ, I return thee hearty thanks for having conferred on me the blessing of bringing forth a son whom thou mayest think worthy of thy service.” Another woman at Aberteifi, of a very different way of thinking, held her husband by his cloak and girdle and publicly and audaciously prevented him from going to the Archbishop to take the Cross, but three nights afterwards she heard a terrible voice saying “Thou hast taken my servant from me, therefore what thou most lovest shall be taken away from thee.” On her relating this vision to her husband they were struck with mutual terror and amazement and falling asleep again she unhappily overlaid her little boy whom, with more affection than prudence, she had taken to bed with her. The husband, relating to the Bishop of the Diocese both the vision and its fatal prediction, took the Cross, which his wife spontaneously sewed to her husband’s arm. Near the head of the Bridge where the sermons were delivered, the people immediately marked out the site for a chapel on a verdant plain as a memorial of so great an event, intending that the altar should be placed on the spot where the Archbishop stood while addressing the multitude and it is well known that many miracles (the enumeration of which would be too tedious to relate) were so performed on the crowds of sick people who resorted hither from different parts of the country…”
A chapel dedicated to St. Julian was erected here and was circular in shape – known also as Capel Sidan. In 1536 and 1539 reference was made to:
“…a tenement situate and lying within the lordship aforesaid at St. Julian’s chapel, demised by indenture to Hoell ap Jenkyn ap Owen…”
In 1793, Sir Richard Colt-Hoare wrote the following:
“…On the Cemais or Pembrokeshire side of the river Teifi and near the end of the bridge there is a place still called Park-y-cappel or the Chapel Field which is undoubtedly commemoration of the circumstances recorded by our author…”
By July 1802 the remains of St. Julian’s Church had vanished and the site was occupied by a cottage called Capel Sidan or Castell Sidan. In 1804 David James lived at Capel Sidan. In April 1821 Jenkin Jenkins of Castell Sidan died aged 71. In 1828 Benjamin Thomas lived at Castell Sidan. Two buildings seem to be indicated here on the 1838 Tithe Map. In 1841 the following persons lived at Castellsidan: John Jones, 30, labourer; Mary Jones, 30, his wife; and William Jones, 2, their son. In 1845 a proposal was made for a railway from Carmarthen, through Cardigan, to St. Dogmaels. Circa 1847 John Davies was born here. On October 28th 1850 John Evans and Sarah Evans, son and daughter of David & Elizabeth Evans of Castellsidan, were baptised by the Vicar of St. Dogmaels. In 1851 Castell Sidan was occupied by: Evan Jenkins, 40, butter merchant; Margaret Jenkins, 35, his wife; and their six children – Mary Jenkins, 13; John Jenkins, 11; Margaret Jenkins, 9; Eleanor Jenkins, 6; David Jenkins, 4; and Elizabeth Jenkins, 1. The other house here was occupied by David Evans, 25, agricultural labourer, and his wife, Elizabeth Evans, 27, and their children John Evans, 4, and Sarah Evans, 1.
In 1854 The Cardigan Harbour Improvement Company, together with the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway Company, intended to run a railway along the north bank of the Teifi to Cardigan, then across to St. Dogmaels, and then to a deep water mooring at Alltycoed. On July 4th 1855 Elizabeth Evans of Castell Sidan was buried at St. Dogmaels having died aged 29. On November 20th 1855 David Evans, 29, widower of Castell Sidan, son of David Evans, tailor, married Margaret Jones, 30, of Pentood. In 1861 the following persons lived at Castell Sidan: David Evans, 35, labourer; Margaret Evans, 33, his wife; Sarah Evans, 12, their daughter; David Evans, 9, their son; William Evans, 4, son; and Margaret Evans, 2, daughter. Ca. 1864 Rev. Henry James Vincent wrote the following with reference to the above remarks by Colt-Hoare:
“…There is no field of the name of Park y Cappel near Cardigan Bridge at present, and Sir Richard must have written the foregoing note, not from personal observation, but from reports or some handbook of travels. In a very old M. S. entitled ‘Epitome of Grant of 35th of Henry 8th to John Bradshawe Esq.’, among other tenements is Fo. 2. 13 a burgage called ‘Arnarde’. In the margin is the following remark: “The tenement by it is now called Capel Andrew als. Castell Sidan.” This tenement is on the farm of Pentood Isaf, just above the marsh, and if Meyrick’s assertion be true – that the old Cardigan Bridge was higher up the river than the present, it might exactly answer the description of the spot where the said chapel was built…”
The more generally accepted view is that the former chapel was dedicated to St. Julian. The Whitland branch line was begun on 8th November 1870. On 27th October 1871 there were further plans announced for rail links with either Newcastle Emlyn or Crymych. In July 1871 the Whitland line reached Glogue. By 27th August 1875 surveying of several routes for a rail link between Crymych and Cardigan, was under way.
On 6th September 1876 it was falsely claimed that Cardigan was the only county town in England and Wales without a railway station. On 27th October 1876 David Griffith Davies of Castle Green (Cardigan Castle) took £1000 in shares in the Whitland-Cardigan Railway. On 7th June 1878 the location of the Cardigan Railway terminus was being debated. The first sod of the extension was cut on 23rd August 1878. Work was temporarily halted on 23rd May 1879.
The go-ahead for work to continue was given on 11th August 1882. The extension from Crymych was said to be “…signed and sealed…” on 16th March 1883. On 27th April 1883 the first sod was cut, albeit for the second time! On 24th July 1884 the first train stood at the site of the new terminus. By 19th September 1884 the site was being cleared. On 23rd January 1885 work on the new station was under way, the engine shed being erected on the site formerly occupied by the medieval chapel. On 10th August 1885 a special pre-opening excursion went from Cardigan to Tenby.
An inspection of the line was conducted on 2nd July 1886. The line and the station were opened officially on 1st September 1886. The buildings were probably designed by J. B. Walton. On 15th November 1889 the Great Western Railway took over the line. On 7th October 1896 severe flooding at Pentood affected rail services. In 1899 there were four trains to and from Cardigan daily, with a fifth added to the timetable during the summer. The journey to London Paddington took nine hours, including an hour waiting for the connection at Whitland Junction. In April 1899 there were allegations of theft from the station – a long-serving porter was suspected. On 25th November 1899 half a train of luggage trucks free-wheeled from near Boncath to Cardigan, where they crashed in the goods yard, causing considerable damage, estimated at several hundreds of pounds.
On 17th September 1902, 19-year-old George Williams was crushed to death between an engine and a truck here. Special timetables were drawn up for the Cardigan Agricultural Shows of December 4th 1902 and August 12th 1903. Messrs. S. Jones & Co., coal merchants, had premises here from 1903. In 1905-06 Mr. T. E. Chubb was the station master. In 1906 Mr. T. E. Chubb, station master, left Cardigan. In February 1908 Mr. Fortune was the station master.
In August 1911 the station platform was significantly enlarged by the re-positioning of a fence. On 4th October 1912 there was praise for the attractive gardens here. Until 1914 Thomas Henry James was the station master. Cardigan Territorials and volunteers, left from here for the front in 1914. In September 1914 Mr. C. E. Morris became the station master. The terminus witnessed the return to Cardigan in 1915, of the survivors from H. M. S. “Majestic”. In 1915 D. Rees opened a coal yard here.
On 28th July 1916 Anglo-American Oil’s pump house and a cart-shed here were destroyed by fire. In February 1918 station master Mr. E. C. Morris left for Oxfordshire. Mr. R. I. John was his successor as station master. On 2nd August 1918 new rail links to Fishguard and Aberystwyth were being considered. On 17th January 1919 the Mayor of Cardigan, Cllr. John Evans, proposed that a light railway be built between Cardigan and Newcastle Emlyn. The G. W. R. announced on 8th August 1919 its intention to run cars between Cardigan and Newcastle Emlyn. By 25th January 1924 the rail strike was affecting local services. In April 1925 David Jones became the station-master and remained so until October 1937 when he left for Neyland. On 24th March 1946 Benjamin Daniel John, the Stationmaster, died. On 26th April 1946 Alderman W. J. Phillips of Pembroke Dock, who had been that town’s ‘Victory Mayor’ the previous year, became the new Stationmaster until 1949.
On 1st January 1948 the line became part of the Western Region of British Railways, following nationalisation. In August 1949 Mr. A. Sharman succeeded Mr. W. J. Phillips as the Station Master. In 1956 Mr. E. L. Roberts became the station-master. On 14th February 1958 it was agreed to use an acre of land here for a car park. On 17th October 1958 rumours that the line was being considered for closure were denied. On 2nd January 1959 local traders called for the introduction of diesel rail buses on the line – an idea first mooted the previous year.
On 30th January 1959 rumours that the line was scheduled to close were denied. In January 1960 station-master Mr. E. L. Roberts was succeeded by Mr. J. Davies. On 3rd March 1961 fears for the future of the line were voiced again. On 1st December 1961 the forthcoming closure of the line was confirmed, to local dismay. The impending closure was confirmed on 16th March 1962 and was approved by the minister on 6th July that year. A private company expressed an interest in running the line. The last passenger train left the station on 8th September 1962.
On 16th November 1962 Cardigan Borough Council pleaded for the retention of the freight service. On 25th May 1963 the last freight train left Cardigan. Track lifting had begun by 29th November 1963. The rails had been completely removed by 14th February 1964. On 4th September 1965 the station was completely closed and the last of the staff removed.
On 20th May 1966 it was announced that the former station was to be sold. By 11th August 1967 Cardigan Borough Council were interested in purchasing the property and formerly elected to do so on 1st December that year. On 16th May 1969 part of the old station passed to Cardigan Cattle Market. By 23rd April 1971 J. E. Howard had stores and offices in the old passenger terminal building. The passenger terminus was demolished circa 1989.
The goods shed survives (2013). Rubble stone tall single-storey construction with pitched slate roof, split levels with lower W section. South wall had 12-pane sash to lower left section, then 9-pane cambered headed lights to outer bays of taller section with boarded sliding timber doors to ground floor, graded roofed corrugated metal canopy above. E end has double canopy sloping down to centre piece. Old photographs show the former passenger terminus building here as a long narrow single storey building with slate hipped roof and paired west end red brick stacks. Plate glass sashes to openings and large flat roofed timber canopy above platform. The station had a McKenzie and Holland signal cabin with brick base, boarded timber sides and pitched slate roof, glazed upper walling.
Itinerarium Cambriae, Geraldus Cambrensis 1188-9
Pembrokeshire Records Office: HPR/145/16
Llangoedmor Parish Registers
Ledger of David Davies, Bridge House, Cardigan 1830
Tithe Map for St Dogmaels 1838.
Census Returns 1841; 1851; 1861
St. Dogmaels Parish Register – Baptisms 1813-58
St. Dogmaels Parish Register – Marriages 1837-1970
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1870-71; 1875-79; 1882-86; 1889; 1896; 1898-99; 1902; 1905; 1908; 1911-12; 1914; 1916; 1918-20; 1922; 1924-25; 1935; 1937; 1946; 1948; 1958-67; 1969; 1971; 1973; 1994; 2001; 2010
Letter – To the Directors of the Whitland & Cardigan Railway Co, 06/05/1880
The Whitland & Cardigan Railway Act 1881.
Poster – Trip to Tenby 10/08/1885
Timetable – Cardigan-Whitland, May 1888
A Guide to Cardigan & District, W E Yerward James 1899
Poster – Cardigan Fatstock Show – Special G W R Service 04/12/1902
Poster – Agricultural Show – Special G W R Service 30/07/1903
Letter-Head – S Jones & Co, Railway Station 03/11/1903
Ticket – G W R Cardigan, c1905
The History of St Dogmaels Abbey, E M Pritchard 1907
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1914; 1926
G W R Receipt 31/07/1916
The Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary at St. Dogmaels, H M Vaughan 1917
All About Cardigan, Cardigan Chamber of Commerce 1923
Letter-Head – National Union of Railwaymen – Cardigan Branch 25/12/1933
Episcopal Acts Relating to Welsh Diocese 1066-1272 Vol. I, J Conway-Davies 1946
Planning Permissions – New Workshop, Station Yard 22/11/1982; Extension of Car Park 23/12/1987
The Gateway to Wales, W J Lewis 1990;
The Whitland & Cardigan Railway, M R C Price 1991.
© Glen K Johnson 18/07/2013.