Ammanford is a town and community in the county of Carmarthenshire, Wales, with a population 5,293 according to the Office of National Statistics (2001). Located at the end of the Amman Valley, Ammanford is an ex-mining town and serves as the main shopping centre for many villages in the surrounding area.
According to the 2001 census, 75.88% of the population are competent in the Welsh language, compared to roughly 55% in Carmarthenshire as a whole and 21.8% in Wales as a whole.
Ammanford took its current name on 20 November 1880. The community that existed then and now known as Ammanford dates back to around the early 19th century. At that time the main highways went through the area, not to it. The north-south road from Llandeilo and Llandybïe went to Betws, and the east-west road from the Amman Valley went to Penybanc and Tycroes, and further afield, both converging at a crossroads (now Ammanford Square). This in turn led to the development of coaching inns or staging inns and taverns catering for the needs of the traveller. The area eventually became identified by the name of one of these hostelries — Cross Inn.
The community of Cross Inn centred on the activity of the cross road, along with a small group of low-grade cottages sited in the vicinity of Carregaman Isaf which became known as Pentrefacas. Betws was a larger hamlet with the parish church, St David's, as its focal point. All the area to the west of the River Amman fell within the parish of Llandybïe.
The Industrial Revolution created a demand for coal, an essential source of power to operate the boilers of steam engines. Coal attracted investment which led to various companies, one of which was the Llanelly Railway and Dock Company, building an elaborate transport system of railways. The first railway was opened in 1840, linking Llanelli with Ammanford, reaching Brynamman by 1842 and later extending northwards to Llandeilo and beyond. (See Ammanford railway station).
Coal could not be mined without manpower, and so an influx of workers began. People needed houses, services, entertainment, and schools. Within a relatively short period of time, what was once a quiet and tranquil agricultural community changed to a bustling town, hungry to absorb the land of old established farmsteads. The population increased explosively, with many of the migrants and their families coming from English language-speaking areas of Wales as well as from England, Scotland and Ireland.
This rapid growth appeared to have been the reason for changing the name of the village, as there was already another village in Carmarthenshire called Cross Inn. Prominent citizens convened a public meeting with a view to changing the name, and there was overwhelming support for the proposal, especially amongst the strong representation of church and chapel members who perhaps resented the hamlet bearing the name of a public house. Another consideration appears to be that the largest chapel in the village was then known as Cross Inn Chapel: a conflict of ideals, to say the least. There is still an engraved stone in the grounds of the chapel, now called Gellimanwydd or the Christian Temple, bearing its original name.
From later press reports, it seems that there was by no means unanimity in the selection of the new name. Several public meetings followed and eventually it was decided to refer the choice of a new name to a group of prominent local dignitaries.
On 20 November, the nominated committee met at the Ivorites Hall (on Hall Street, which took its name from this building). After a long discussion it was proposed by Mr. A. A. Morris of Wernolau, and seconded by Mr. W. Jones of the Cross Inn Hotel, that from this time forth, the village should be known as Ammanford. The proposal was accepted unanimously, there being no other name before the meeting. After the vote was taken, the chairman of the meeting, Watkin Hezekiah Williams (Watcyn Wyn), a local schoolmaster, could not resist announcing that 'Cross Inn' had finally been 'crossed out'.
Ammanford was an important location as the 1904–1905 Welsh Revival unfolded.
The Ammanford Anthracite Strike was a riot at Ammanford in 1925 during a strike by anthracite miners who took control of the town by force and violence for 10 days. 200 Glamorgan police were ambushed by strikers at Pontamman Bridge during the so-called 'Battle of Ammanford'.
Ammanford hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1922 and 1970.