Take a Look Back in Time
CLYNE FARM CENTRE HISTORY
Trace the fascinating history of Clyne. From the 14th century to the modern-day.
The Clyne area is made up of woodland, enclosed farmland and open common, and encompasses Clyne Farm, Clyne Woods (now known as Clyne Valley Country Park), Clyne Castle, and Clyne Common. The name “Clyne” is an Anglicisation of the Welsh word “Clun” meaning wood and meadow. It is pronounced “KLYN” (same as Calvin Klein).
It is estimated that mature mixed deciduous woodland developed in the area approximately 6000 years ago. In the 14th Century, Clyne Woods were part of the Forest of Clyne, a hunting preserve of the Lords of Gower. The woods, which were more extensive than they are now, were used for timber during the medieval period. An account in 1401 refers to using ‘great timbers from the forest of Clyne’ to repair Swansea Castle. There is documentary evidence that there was an intention to enclose the wood to create a deer-park (in 1306) though it may not have been fully carried out.
Coal mining may have started in the area as early as 1305, although it was not until the 16th Century that large-scale coal working began, in the form of Bell Pits.
In the 18th Century, the area was included in the Glamorgan Estate of the Dukes of Beaufort. During this time wood management in Clyne intensified. Industrial activity, in particular coal mining (which already had a long history at Clyne), was being extended. Mining provided a ready market for local wood products in the form of pit timbers. Clyne Wood was mainly used for timber wood, while the wood enclosures now on Clyne Farm were managed to produce underwood. There is documentary evidence for tan-bark production and the burning of wood for charcoal. There is also evidence of rabbit farming within Clyne Woods in the early 18th Century. Two linear pillow mounds, constructed to encourage rabbits to burrow in warrens can be found near The Keeper’s Cottage.
The name “Clyne Farm” first appeared on a map in 1760. It is thought however that the area was used for farmland much earlier. The farm was created by enclosing together various detached parcels of land and buildings. The current Clyne Farm Farmhouse and surrounding farm buildings are thought to have been constructed by at least 1638. We know this because the bread oven in the main farmhouse matches in style the oven in the Kennixton Gower Farmhouse in St Fagans National Museum of History.
During the 1800’s Clyne Valley featured coal mines, brickworks, canals, ironworks, arsenic works, copper works, and even a racecourse. Horse races were held at intervals between 1866 and 1927.
A tramway connecting with the Mumbles Railway (the horse-drawn Swansea and Mumbles Railway was the world’s first passenger railway service) was constructed in 1804 and a network of railway lines were built. The London Midland Scottish railway from the old Swansea Victoria Station to Shrewsbury passed through Clyne. The trackway is now a popular cycle/bridle/pedestrian path.
In the 1860s both Clyne Wood and Clyne Farm were sold to William Graham Vivian and were incorporated into the Woodlands Estate, which also included Clyne Castle.
Clyne was now developed as a hunting estate and deer were introduced. Exotic plants, such as rhododendron, were planted. Wood management however remained important. Clyne Wood was ‘seeded’ with conifers, and conifer plantations were established on Clyne Farm.
William Graham Vivian died in 1912. The Clyne Castle Estate was inherited by his youngest unmarried sister, Dulcie Charlotte Vivian. Dulcie Charlotte died in 1921 and at this date, the estate passed to her and William Graham’s nephew Admiral Walker-Heneage-Vivian.
Upon the Admiral’s death in 1952 the estate was broken up and sold off in separate lots. Clyne Wood was sold to a timber merchant who, in the face of tree preservation orders, was able only to fell selectively. After being bought and sold several times it was purchased by Swansea Council in the early 1980s, and the area was renamed Clyne Valley Country Park.
Clyne Farm was bought by Alexander Coombe Tennant as a wedding present for his wife. Alexander was a descendant of George Tennant a London solicitor who developed the Neath and Tennant Canal and gave his name to the Port Tennant area of Swansea.
In 1971 the Haden family bought The Keeper’s Cottage, the only residential property within Clyne Woods. The Keeper’s Cottage was originally built in the mid-1800s as the gamekeeper’s cottage for the Clyne Estate. The Cottage has a rich history and when it was owned by the Vivian family of Copperopolis fame many dignitaries were welcomed to enjoy hunting deer in the woods, often taking tea on the lawn of The Keeper’s Cottage. It is said that these dignitaries included former British Prime Ministers Stanley Baldwin & Sir Winston Churchill, and also royalty including Prince Edward who later became King Edward VII, & his grandson Prince Edward who later briefly became King Edward VIII. After a devastating bracken fire The Keeper’s Cottage was extended to create Barn Owl Lodge. Both woodland cottages are now available for self-catering accommodation.
Meanwhile Clyne Farm was being run as a dairy farm. By 1966 the dairy farming ceased, and beef rearing began. As no milking barns were required, this meant that many of the farm buildings were not used and fell into disrepair. The Tennant family sold Clyne Farm in 1989 and it was bought by their nearest neighbours the Haden family. A new adventure was about to begin for Geoff, his now late wife Marjorie, and their children Stuart & Sarah!
Geoff’s structural engineering background was put to good use, and the Haden family renovated the farm to create Clyne Farm Activity Centre. Offering bunk bed accommodation and outdoor activities, including horse riding, to mainly school and youth groups. Over the years the main farm site has been adapted to accommodate more families and groups. The farm is now simply known as Clyne Farm Centre.
21st Century and beyond
The Haden family look forward to many more years preserving the history of the Clyne name and area.
For a map highlighting many of the all historical sites in the Clyne area mentioned above Click Here.