Llantrisant enjoys a reputation as a thriving centre for arts and crafts, with many successful businesses operating in the old town. 

However, over the centuries Llantrisant was once one of the most important market towns in the county. It’s reputation as a major trading centre, with regular fairs and markets made it one of the most vibrant communities in south Wales.

For centuries craftsmen have operated here, such as leather workers, glovers, skinners, cordwainers, carpenters, smiths, clockmakers, butchers, maltsters, food sellers and above all, innkeepers. As a Corporation town it thrived when the Freemen gathered rights to trade freely within its boundaries and govern the market place and its tollhouses.

Sadly Llantrisant witnessed a general decline in its fortunes, particularly due of the growth of neighbouring Pontypridd in the last half of the 19th century which saw the demise of the market which existed for at least 700 years.

By the start of the 20th century Llantrisant was becoming a shadow of its former economic glory. The gradual decline of the fairs saw the closure of many public houses and although independent shops thrived under the early 20th century, the town had become unwelcoming and depressed.

Sadly the growth of neighbouring Talbot Green saw further demise of the old town shops, although the tides began to change with the start of the 21st century and now the town is beginning to thrive once more…

Llantrisant Stores

One of the most popular shops was a grocery shop on the Bull Ring, known as the Bee Hive and later to become Edith Dyer’s sweet shop, which was run by Thomas Hopkin Davies (1888-1952) and Mary Elizabeth Davies (1893-1967). 

The couple bought the Crown Stores on High Street and sold ice cream from a horse and cart. Their son, Collwyn Davies (1916-1991) ran a successful business in County Stores on the Bull Ring. In later years he opened a bookmaker’s before occupying the former Silkstone’s drapery at Bradford House, then moving to Crown Stores.

County Stores was eventually demolished and a nuts and bolts factory replaced it, followed by Planet Gloves. Other shops nearby included Manchester House (linen and cloth), Nottingham House (books and shoes) and London House (china and glass). By 1914 it was also home to Sladen Sweets & Shoe Repairs, Lloyd’s Bank, Bee Hive Sweet Shop, and a fish and chip shop owned by Mr Davies. In later years the shop was run by Mary Tintar, or “Mary Chips”. Directly opposite in London House, David Thomas opened his television and electrical shop in later years.

In 1903 John David demolished the cottages on the corner of Swan Street and Heol y Sarn to build a butcher’s shop. Better known as “Johnny White Hart”, he ran the White Hart pub on the Bull Ring after his mother passed away. He built the butcher’s shop on the north side of the Bull Ring but realised the warm sun shone directly on the shop front at midday and ruined the produce. In 1914 he bought a shop on the opposite side of the Bull Ring, now known as Traditional Toys. Johnny White Hart married Mary Louisa Williams (1878-1910) whose father was Henry Williams, landlord of the Bear, and the business was passed down to their daughter, Mary David, who worked there with her brother John. She closed the butcher’s shop in 1970 at the advent of decimalisation. 

On Southgate, Harry James ran a grocery business and small dairy before handing it over to his successor, Mervyn Collins, who later launched Collins Diaries in Cross Inn. Travelling further along Rose Hill was Sparnon Grocers and Tamplin the Butchers. There was also a cobblers, Clay the Barbers and Crown Stores on the left. Gwalia Stores was run by Ivor James, Penny Bazaar, Miss O’Connor’s open house for tea, Davies Shoe Repairs, Willis the Butchers, Tom Eastman’s chip shop, Clay the Barber’s, the Fountain Shop, Thomas and Evans and Sladen’s Sweets. Bradford House was a drapery store owned by Miss Silkstone.

Bristol House stood in the centre of the turning outside the Cross Keys. Alongside it was a small lane, known as Y Gwt Bach. Commercial Street was home to Llantrisant Post Office, chosen as a telephone exchange run by James Little. Mrs Peters’ Drapery, Kennedy Milk, Mrs Parker’s Shoe Repairs and Chemist was close by, along with Griffiths the Grocery and the Maypole Shop, better known as the Paper Shop in later years.