Take a look back in time
About Us - Clyne Farm Centre History
Clyne Farm through the years...
Clyne Farm (Fferm y Clun in Welsh) has a fascinating and varied history.
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 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 occurred, 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 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 between 1779 and 1784.
During the 1800’s Clyne Valley featured coal mines, brickworks, canals, iron works, 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 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 track way 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. It is thought that the Keeper's Cottage was built during this time as the residence for the Clyne Estate Gamekeeper. It was and still remains the only residential property within Clyne Woods.
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 on 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 Farm was bought by Alexander Coombe Tennant, son of Charles and Winifred Coombe Tennant, as a wedding present for his wife. 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.
The Coombe Tennant's ran Clyne Farm first as a dairy farm and subsequently as a beef farm. By 1966 the farm had ceased to be a busy working farm and fell into almost dereliction.
In 1971 Keeper's Cottage was bought by the Haden Family as their family home. After a devastating bracken fire Keeper’s Cottage was extended to create Barn Owl Lodge. In 1988 the Coombe Tennant family decided to sell Clyne Farm and it was bought by their nearest neighbours, the Haden family.
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. The Centre opened in 1989. Over the years the main farm site has been adapted to accommodate more families and groups. The farm and its estate including Keeper's Cottage and Barn Owl Lodge are now simply known as Clyne Farm Centre.
21st Century and beyond
In 2019 Clyne Farm Centre celebrates its 30th year in its current form. The Haden family look forward to many more years preserving the history of the Clyne name and area.
With reference and thanks to D.K.Leighton, ‘The land-use history of Clyne Wood and the evolution of the Clyne landscape’, Studia Celtica, 31 (1997).