The South Wales Railway opened in stages from 1850, the line through Llanelli being opened on 11th October 1852.
The final part of the route to Fishguard was postponed and instead, a terminus built at Neyland for the Irish traffic. It was not until 1906 that the extension to Fishguard was eventually built.
The Great Western Railway undertook a very large programme of investment in the 1870s, rebuilding many stations and improving the goods facilities to accommodate the increasing traffic, and also to attract more business. Proposals for rebuilding of both the station and goods shed at Llanelli appeared in the early 1870s, perhaps, coincidentally with the removal of the broad gauge. However, they were more likely to have been driven by the substantial increase in demand, particularly for goods facilities for the tinplate industries of the area.
Llanelli was to become one of the most important centres for tinplate in the world, and the Great Western Railway had an ideal opportunity to capitalise on the growth of the industry in the Llanelli and surrounding area.
The improvement of rail facilities at Llanelli entailed redeveloping the existing South Wales Railway station site to accommodate a larger station. Prior to the works to the station taking place, the contract for erecting the new goods shed was let first and the building completed by 1875.
Goods traffic in its pre – World War II pattern generally declined on the railways and the need for the traditional goods sheds at stations became less as modernisation of rolling stock and methods such as containerisation and bulk traffic were promoted. Thus many of the smaller goods facilities were abandoned, and during the 1960s and 1970s were demolished, sometimes to make way for a different type of commercial development.
Llanelli, however, is believed to be unique in South Wales in retaining its goods shed whereas those other stations on the line have had their, often Brunel-designed, goods sheds demolished.
Furthermore, the Llanelli shed was probably unique in its size and importance when built by comparison with other goods sheds along the line. None would have been similar to that at Llanelli since no investment on the same scale took place.
Although a few of the goods sheds built by the Great Western Railway during their massive expansion programme in the 1870s still survive, none of them are in this part of South Wales. The goods shed at Llanelli represents a style of architecture typical of the Great Western Railway in that period, but few examples remain.
Extracts taken from Stainburn Taylor Conservation Assessment 2003
A significant historical event occurred at the goods shed in Llanelli on August 19th 1911. A large crowd had gathered at the station in support of a strike held by railwaymen. Troops were sent to ensure trains were not held up, and in the ensuing disorder the Riot Act was read and two bystanders were shot and killed. This sparked a riot in the area which involved the looting and burning of wagons at the Goods Shed and tragically resulted in four people being killed in the explosions that followed.
Taken from a Statement compiled October 2011
Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust