Welshpool or 'Trallwng' 1 in the Welsh language, is a small market town located in the upper reaches of the Severn Valley in Wales close to the border with England. Founded in the thirteenth century, it was known simply as 'Pool' for centuries until the coming of the railways in the nineteenth century, when the railway companies became worried that travellers might become confused between the 'Pool' (without an e) in Wales and the Poole (with an e) in Dorset, England, and rechristened 'Pool' as 'Welshpool' and the name has stuck ever since.


There was a castle at Welshpool probably since the 1190's around which it is likely a settlement grew. Sometime in the mid thirteenth century its importance grew when the castle became the caput of the Welsh kingdom of Powys Wenwynwyn during the reign of Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn. (Relocated from Mathrafal in the east which was probably too close to the border with Gwynedd for comfort.) This however didn't stop Llywelyn ap Gruffudd from burning the castle in 1274 when he dispossessed Gruffudd for the second time.

The first references to the town of Welshpool as such are from the thirteenth century when Welshpool became a borough under the title of Burgus de Pola, that is the 'Borough of Pool', by a charter granted by Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn in the year 1263. (In fact Welshpool is one of only two borough towns in Wales to have received their charters from native Welsh rulers.2) It was granted the right to hold a weekly market, remained the administrative centre of the Marcher Lordship that succeeded the kingdom of Powys Wenwynwyn and by 1292 there were 106 burghers within the town.

The lordship passed out of the hands of the de la Pole family (as the descendants of Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn called themselves and into the hands of the Herbert family and the new lords of Powis (as they styled themselves) moved their residence to Powis Castle which they had built nearby out of red sandstone.

Although the original borough merely consisted of to 60 acres this was enlarged to a total of 20,426 acres by a charter granted by Edward de Cherleton, the Lord of Powys on 29th June 1406 as a reward for the towns refusal to join the revolt of Owain Glyndwr.

Following the Acts of Union 1536-1543 it became part of the county of Montgomeryshire (basically old Powys Wenwynwyn with the lordship of Montgomery tacked on) and Welshpool became a parliamentary borough and returned its own Member of Parliament until 1728. The town formally lost its status as a borough under Local Government Act 1972 which transferred its principal powers to the Montgomeryshire District Council which itself later disappeared into the modern unitary authority of Powys.

Welshpool today

Modern Welshpool has a population of just under 6,000 (much the same as it did a century ago); it has a few pubs, a Somerfield supermarket and a couple of fish and chip shops.

Despite a dash of light industry and tourism it remains essentially a market town whose economic life is dominated by the hill farming of the neighbouring countryside and the Welshpool Livestock Market remains the largest one day market for livestock in Wales as well as one of the largest centres for the sale of sheep in Europe.

For the tourist it has a restored octagonal cockpit, a narrow gauge steam train - the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway - and one end of the Montgomery Canal. Offa's Dyke passes nearby and Powis Castle remains standing in all its remodelled seventeenth century glory, safe in the care of the National Trust and featuring one of the most renowned gardens in Britain.

Welshpool even has its own 'airport' (that is, a runway for light aircraft) and a football team that now plays in the League of Wales, although not within great deal of success at the moment. As a former borough it still proudly displays its own coat of arms, featuring 'The Red Castle in Powys' (i.e. Powis Castle) on a field azure, with or without an encircling wreath of speedwell, and the motto Heb Dduw, heb Ddim that is 'Without God, without anything', surmounting a scroll with its ancient title 'Burgus de Pola' emblazoned across.


1 Older variations include Trallwm, Trallwg and Trallug.

2 The other being nearby Llanfyllin which also fell within the territory of Powys Wenwynwyn and was granted its charter by Gruffudd's son Llewelyn ap Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn.


Information on Welshpool from


and on Welshpool Castle from


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