There are a number of excellent books available on the history of Machynlleth, and I wouldn't even begin to think of trying to match them. However, just as a taster, there follow some historical snippets and links.
You'd be well advised to check out http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/llyncau/index.html which provides a useful starting point.
So what does Machynlleth mean?
I'm not getting drawn into that argument, but take a look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/whatsinaname/sites/videoexplorer/pages/?jumpTo=machynlleth, which sounds plausible!
What must be the oldest inhabitant of Machynlleth is the "Grey Stone", a standing stone estimated to date back to the Bronze Age. It's now right in the middle of a housing development, which unfortunately detracts just a little from its ambience. There's a Web Site somewhere which lists it as having magnetic qualities relating to ley lines. Hmm...
The Romans are reputed to have had a lookout at Gallt-y-Gog and, opposite, at the Wylfa. (Gwylfa = lookout.)
It has been said that there was a church established in Machynlleth in the 6th Century by a Cornish Saint, St Cybi, and the name is still commemorated as the name of a farmhouse on the Wylfa named Caergybi. The medieval church features in a taxation document of 1254, but at some stage poor old Cybi was dropped in favour of St Peter. There's a detailed history of St. Peter's at:
Markets & Fairs
In 1291 a charter was granted to hold a weekly market and a biannual fair in Machynlleth. These thrived, and in 1613 drew complaints from other towns whose trading in cloth was being severely affected. A document dated 1632 shows that animals for sale came from all over Merioneth, Montgomery, Cardigan, Carmarthen, and Denbigh, and prospective buyers came from Flint, Radnor, Brecknock, Hereford and Shropshire, in addition to the above.
Uwchygarreg = "above the Stone", is the old name of a parish close to Machynlleth, and is said to refer to a stone on Parc Common where taxes were paid on animals going to Mach market. In this same general area (just beyond Treowain, on the Forge road) is the so-called Carreg Fasnach, a niche in the rock, where it is said that markets were held during times of plague, the money being washed in the nearby Nant yr Arian (money/silver brook).
He warrants a page of his own. Enter here.
The Earl of Richmond's troops drank at Garsiwn Well on 11 Aug 1485, before marching on to the Battle of Bosworth Field.
Maengwyn Street is named after a couple of quartz boulders, still to be seen, and which have probably been there for over 500 years.
Dyfi Bridge was first mentioned in 1533, by Geoffrey Hughes, "Citizen and Merchant taylour of London" who left £6-13s-4d "towards making of a bridge at the toune of Mathanlleth". By 1601 "Dyfi bridge in the Hundred of Mochunleth" was reported to be insufficient, and the current one was built in 1805 for £250. Fenton describes it in 1809 as "A noble erection of five large arches. The piers are narrow and over each cut-water is a pilaster, a common feature of the eighteenth century".
On 29 Nov 1644, a Civil War battle took place near Dyfi Bridge between Cromwell's Army, commanded by Sir Thomas Myddleton of Chirk Castle, and the Royalists. A great many were killed and Mathafarn was burnt down on same day. Many houses in Mach occupied by Royalists were also burned down.
John Wesley passed through Mach on a number of occasions, but there's no record of him stopping there. He seems to have had an exhausting itinerary:
Tuesday, 20 Mar 1750. On horseback Cardiff to Aberdare to Brecon with only 1 hr's rest. Rain. Thrown by horse twice.
Wednesday, 21. To Builth for mid day. 4-5 pm set out for Rhayader. I was much out of order in the morning; held out to Llanidloes, rested for 1 hr, then on to Machynlleth. About an hour and a half before we came to Dolgelly, the heavy rain began.
In England and Wales tithes were originally paid in kind to support the parish church, e.g., lambs, wool, milk, crops, etc. However, the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 allowed for the substitution of payment of money in its place, based upon the land and its state of cultivation. In order to do this, detailed Tithe Maps were required and, in 1842, in common with the rest of England and Wales, a set was produced for the Machynlleth area. These maps provide a fascinating window on the area at this time, and preserve for us the field names from this era. I've had a go at translating these names - if you're interested, enter here.
Plas Machynlleth and the Londonderrys
The Londonderrys and their association with the town warrant their own pages. Enter here.
http://www.proni.gov.uk/records/private/theresa.htm has lots of information on the Londonderry family and their connections with Machynlleth.
The Corris, Machynlleth and River Dovey Tramroad was opened in 1859, using horsedrawn vehicles, and employing almost 13 miles of 2ft 3in gauge track. Steam locos were introduced in 1879, and the line re-named the Corris Railway. The original Dyfi railway bridge was replaced by a steel girder bridge in 1906. The last train ran in 1948, the line having been run down by its final owners, the GWR, since their purchase in 1930. Passenger trains ceased in 1931, there were further reductions in 1943, progressive demolition in 1948, and final removal of the Dyfi railway bridge in 1949. See:
for history/background/news of Corris Railway, and
http://www.corris.co.uk/corris00e.htm for details of the Corris Railway Society .
http://history.powys.org.uk/history/mach/machmenu.html Excellent history of Machynlleth and the Dyfi Valley, as part of the Powys Digital History Project. Very good pictures, graphics, maps, etc.
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wlspfhs/Pages/Journal.html *Cronicl Powys*, the journal of the Powys FHS. This is a superb Web site for anyone interested in Family History relating to the once and future counties of Montgomeryshire, Brecknock and Radnorshire.
There's some interesting history relating to the Workhouse and to schools in Machynlleth, at http://history.powys.org.uk/history/mach/macpoor3.html
http://www.old-maps.co.uk/ - fully navigable 1891 maps of the UK. Type in Machynlleth, and off you go. Well worth a look, but beware - it's addictive.
http://westwales.co.uk/pictures/pix_list.htm 100s of pics, including a few from the Mach area.
http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/AWork?id=24152 Nice old drawing entitled "Watermill Near Machynlleth", from a collection in the Tate. Love to know where this mill was - no reason to suppose that it is Felin Crewi, just up the road in Penegoes, which has been completely renovated.
http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ArtistWorks?cgroupid=999999961&artistid=606&page=1 Famous son of the area, the landscape painter Richard Wilson was born in Penegoes around 1712/1713. You can search this Tate Gallery site by entering his name or the title of any his works held by them, such as Llyn-y-Cau. More at:
Washington NationalGallery of Art.