An historic market town, Tregaron is today a centre for ‘Trotian’ - horse trotting and carriage racing. The annual summer event attracts competitors from all over the UK and Ireland. It is also the home of the Welsh Gold Centre selling Celtic inspired designs.
Tregaron - a truly Welsh market town
Tregaron is shown on the 16th century cartographer John Speed's map of Wales as the only Welsh town in Ceredigion. The other three - Aberystwyth, Cardigan and Lampeter were of Norman origin. The church, which stands on raised ground by the river Brenig, is dedicated to St Caron. Capel Bwlchgwynt chapel is another imposing building, built in 1775 for the town's Calvinistic Methodists.
Tregaron is at the heart of Ceredigion' livestock rearing area, specialising in store cattle and sheep, which sustain a thriving livestock market today. The area also has several Welsh pony and cob breeders, and a highlight of the year is the festival of harness racing in August.
Tregaron lies at a strategic point for gathering livestock for drovers to take the animals across the mountains along ancient tracks to the rich pastures of Herefordshire for fattening and to the markets of the English Midlands, London and South Est England. The stunning Tregaron – Abergwesyn mountain road was originally the first stage of the drover's route.
Before the coming of the railways it is said that around 30,000 cattle per year went through Tregaron and such was the trading importance of the town that the ‘Black Sheep’ Aberystwyth and Tregaron Bank was opened in 1810 to issue its own bank notes. The number of black sheep (y defaid du) engraved on the banknotes indicated the number of pounds (1, 2, 10 etc). Original bank notes can be seen at Ceredigion Museum.
Tregaron - a peaceful town
On the main square is a statue commemorating a famous son of Tregaron, Henry Richard became MP for Merthyr Tydfil, and campaigned tirelessly on Welsh and non-conformist issues that he earned the nickname 'Member for Wales'. As well as being an anti-slavery campaigner, Henry Richard was a founder and the first secretary of the Peace Union, a forerunner of the League of Nations and the present day United Nations. As a pillar of the temperance movement Richards’ statue naturally has his back to the Talbot pub.
Soar y Mynydd chapel lies in the mountains on the road to Llyn Brianne. Built in 1822 by Henry Richard's father to service farmers and drovers, it is possibly the most peaceful chapel in Wales.
Another of the town’s famous sons is the legendary 17th century Twm Sion Cati, also known as the ‘Robin Hood of Wales' who is said to have used his wit and bravery to outsmart gentry and crooks alike. A wood carving depicting Twm stands proudly on Tregaron Square.A wood carving depicting Twm stands proudly on Tregaron Square, and local artists and craftmakers continue to celebrate the man of humble beginnings who rose to become a Justice of the Peace, landlord, poet and historian, noted for his knowledge of genealogy and heraldry.