Llandarcy is a village near Neath in Neath Port Talbot county, Wales. It lies near the busy M4 Motorway/A465 junction, Junction 43. The village was newly built to house the workers for the petroleum oil refinery built by BP Oil in the 1930s to cater for the increasing demand for petrol(gasoline) with the increase of the number of motor cars.
Crymlyn Bog lies downstream of the refinery and was always a most important wet-land area and has for many years been designated as a Site of Scientific Interest of international significance. The cessation of most activities at the refinery has removed some damaging sources of pollution that were seriously impacting the biological communities of the bog.
BP’s first oil refinery was built at Grangemouth in Scotland with the site of Llandarcy being chosen for its proximity to Swansea docks where crude oil could be transported by sea from the Middle East combined with extensive rail transportation. This was an important target for the German bombers during World War II.
The village comprised approximately 250 houses constructed of stone with a community centre and local shop. Many workers moved from Scotland to bring their expertise from the established refinery at Grangemouth to open the facility. Over the last three decades the operations at the refinery were gradually been scaled back first to a lubrication oil facility and currently simply to a bitumen plant.
The village is named after William Knox D’Arcy, founding director of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC). APOC is the forerunner to BP. The village was sold to the local municipal authority in 1974.
Part of the site of the refinery is now occupied by offices of the Environment Agency Wales.
The village is known notoriously, especially to local people, for the murders of school girls Pauline Floyd, Geraldine Hughes and Sandra Newton in September 1973. The murderer was discovered years later by DNA evidence by South Wales Police to be Joe Kappen who was a bouncer who worked in local clubs and pubs in Neath. He died in early 1990 at age 49 due to cancer.
The disused land from the scaling down of the oil refinery has been distributed to various parties for new use. Plans are afoot to re-develop some of the brownfield land into a village. The Prince’s Trust is an interested party in this development, to develop the area as an “Urban Village” in the same vein as the Poundbury village project.
The working name for the new village at the refinery site is Coed Darcy. The site is expected to contain 3 new primary schools, one new secondary school, health and fitness facilities, about 4,000 new homes and a new access road to the Fabian Way.
Founded 2005 (a merger between Skewen Athletic and Neath)
Nickname The Eagles
Capacity 2000, Seats 500
Admission prices £5 adults, £3 concessions, £1 children
Amenities Refreshments, Clubhouse, Car parking inside ground.
Record league attendance 309 v Port Talbot Town, 01/01/08
How to get there Leave the M4 at junction 43, and take the B4290 signposted for Skewen. Ignore the lane for Skewen and keep left, following the road around the bend. Take the turning right immediately off the bend (signposted for Llandarcy), taking care not to turn into the entrance for the old oil refinery by mistake! Helpfully, there is a sign marked for “Neath AFC” and “Llandarcy RFC” on the fence by the turning. Follow the road for about 200 yards and go left into the car park. The ground is visible from the junction 43 slip road coming from the east.
Nearest railway station Skewen (1.6 miles)
Neath Athletic have only existed in their current form since 2005, when neighbouring Welsh League outfits Skewen Athletic and Neath decided it was in both clubs’ best interests to merge.
It was an instant success as Athletic powered their way to runners-up spot in the First Division and, with champions Goytre United declining a step-up to the Welsh Premier, would have been promoted at the first attempt but for problems meeting ground criteria.
However, the following season Neath had ironed out those problems and won a place in the top flight as undisputed champions with a league record 92 points.
Both of the clubs in the merger have parallel histories and have played each other many times in the past.
Skewen Athletic can trace their history back to the 1920s when they played as Garthmoor FC in the Swansea Gwalia League. In 1934/5 they won the Neath League Championship and Open Cup, reaching the final of the West Wales Amateur Cup in 1939.
The joined the Welsh League Division 2 (West) after the war, moving to Cwrt Herbert. This was followed by a change of name to Neath Athletic but it was not until 1967/8 that they finally reached the top flight of the Welsh League.
In order to meet the ground criteria they were forced to move to the Greyhound Stadium in Skewen and changed their name to Skewen Athletic.
But after struggling to survive in the First Division and to finance the rent for the stadium, they moved to Tennant Park, their home until the merger.
Their last three years before linking-up with their neighbours were their most successful, winning successive promotions from Division 3 to Division 1.
Neath AFC is a recent incarnation of a club that can trace its origins back to 1922 when the UK’s first oil refinery was opened at Llandarcy. They also played in the Gwalia League before becoming a founder member of the Neath League in 1931.
Playing as National Oil Refineries, they appeared in the first two West Wales Amateur Cup Finals but lost on both occasions. However, they finally triumphed in 1951 by beating Plasmarl and won the trophy again four years later.
By the late 1940s, NOR were also playing in Welsh League Division 2 (West) and there were plenty of derby games against their eventual partners.
Following the acquisition of the refinery, the club became BP Llandarcy and stayed so for the next 45 years. In 1958 they left the Welsh League, returning in 1971 and won promotion in 1977 as Abacus League Division 1 champions to make it to the top flight for the first time.
In 1996 and 1997, the club beat Swansea City to lift the West Wales Senior Cup with both games being played at the Swans’ former Vetch Field home.
Main honours Welsh League champions 2006/7
Club histories and stats based on information compiled by David Rapson.
Postal address Llandarcy Park, Llandarcy, Neath, SA10 6JD
Matchday telephone 01792 812036
The following season saw us go one better and achieve promotion as champions with all the necessary work carried out at Llandarcy Park. During our first season in the WP it quickly became evident that new UEFA ground criteria was going to be unachievable at Llandarcy and the search for a new home began.
The feasibility of building a new ground was discussed with the council and other parties but this proved to be a non-starter and we entered into discussions with Neath RFC about a ground share at the Gnoll. It was a stadium that would instantly make us the best-equipped club in the League with regard to the new Uefa ground criteria.
After a lengthy process a deal was thrashed out for Neath FC to play at the historic Gnoll Stadium and on the 16th July 2008 Swansea City visited to play the first game of football at the Gnoll in its 125-year history ). A bumper crowd of nearly 5000 people watched this game.
And so for the beginning of the 2008/09 Neath FC moved to play football at the Gnoll.
How to get there Exit the M4 at junction 43 and follow the A465 into the town. At the roundabout, follow the signs to Cimla and Pontrhydyfen. At the traffic lights, go straight ahead until you approach a second roundabout. The Gnoll is directly ahead.
Nearest railway station: Neath (0.5 miles)