Llechryd’s origins are in the 12th century when a cluster of buildings stood a little way north of the present bridge over the River Teifi. By the 14th century Llechryd had grown into a village with its own church – The Church of the Holy Cross – now a managed ruin cared for by Llangoedmor Community Council. There was further expansion during an industrial period in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the river was the main route of transportation for materials such as iron for Coedmor forge, tin and iron for Penygored tinplate works and limestone and coal for the lime kiln. Goods exported back down the river were agricultural machinery, tinplate and slate and sand from the quarries. Barges were often used to transport goods as far as Cardigan Bridge where they were loaded onto larger ships for onward transmission.
Coedmor iron works dating from the early 18th century, stood on the north side of the river west of the bridge. The remains of the leat can still be seen running through the meadows between the bridge and Llechryd Isaf.
The Penygored tinplate works was established in 1771. By 1810 the works had been dismantled but within this short life time it had become one of the largest of its kind second only to the works at Melingriffith in Glamorgan. The works appear to have been established here to take advantage of the plentiful supply of charcoal made possible by the many trees. A major factor would also have been the River Teifi, which was used to both power the works and to transport products to and from the major seaport at Cardigan at the mouth of the river. In 1791 Penygored was bought by Sir Benjamin Hammet who built an estate overlooking the works. The stone walls of the loading quay can still be seen behind Hammet House, which is now a hotel.
The lime kiln in the Coed Maidie B Goddard nature reserve was built in the 19th century. Limestone blocks were brought in by from places like Milford Haven, Carmarthen and Anglesey and burnt in local kilns to produce lime, which was used as fertiliser on local farmland.
Today the Teifi is famous for the quality of its environment and its rich habitats which sustain populations of fish, mammals, insects, plants, trees, mosses and lichens.
Fishing has traditionally been carried out on the Teifi in coracles. The Teifi coracle is a flat bottomed vessel with a willow frame covered with tarred calico. It is steered and propelled by a single operator using a single paddle. Local fishermen would often construct their own coracles in order to fish with nets for salmon in the river. Sometimes fishermen worked in pairs and spread a net across the river. Coracles have been used on the river throughout the years, mainly for fishing, but have also been useful in a number of other situations: transport of people and goods, controlling sheep dipping and postal deliveries during floods. Before it changed its course, the river Teifi flowed close to St David’s Church, Manordeifi. When the river overflowed its banks, the journey to church was only possible by coracle and even today a coracle is kept in the porch of the building.
In 1974 Llechryd man Bernard Thomas crossed the English Channel to France in his coracle. Bernard paddled from St Margaret’s bay in Kent to Cap Blanc Nez in France. Although the shortest crossing is about 22 miles he would have travelled nearer 30 miles because of the tides and currents. It took just 13½ hours.
References: RCAHMW, Cambria Archaeology, Trysor, National Coracle Centre Cenarth