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Brecon ( ) is a long-established market town and community in southern Powysmarker, mid Walesmarker, with a population of 7,901. It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshiremarker; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powysmarker, it remains an important local centre. Breconmarker is the third largest town in Powysmarker.

Early history

In Roman Britain Y Gaer, Breconmarker (Cicucium) was established as a Roman cavalry base for the conquest of Roman Wales and Brecon was first established as a military base.

After the Dark Ages the original Welsh name of the kingdom in whose territory Brecon stands was (in modern orthography) "Brycheiniog", which later became anglicised to Brecknockshire or Breconshire, and probably derives from the personal name of the Irish Brychan, the eponymous founder of the kingdom. The English name of Brecon town may also be derived from Brychan.

The Welsh name, Aberhonddu, means "mouth of the Honddu". It is derived from the River Honddumarker, which meets the River Uskmarker near the town centre, a short distance away from the River Tarrell which enters the Usk a few hundred metres upstream.

Before the building of the bridge over the Usk, Brecon was one of the few places where the river could be forded.

Coming of the Normans

The confluence of the Honddu and the River Uskmarker made for a valuable defensive position for the Norman castle which overlooks the town, built by Bernard de Neufmarche in the late 11th century.

Priory and cathedral

Less than a mile from the castle stands Brecon Cathedralmarker, a fairly modest building compared to many cathedrals. The role of Cathedral is a fairly recent one, and was bestowed upon the church in 1923 with the formation of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon from what was previously the Archdeaconry of Brecon - a part of the diocese of St David'smarker.

Present day Brecon

Today Brecon is a thriving community, and is popular as a holiday destination, being on the northern edge of the Brecon Beaconsmarker National Park, affording among the best views of the Brecon Beacons themselves, a range of hills, including Pen-y-Fanmarker, the highest point in southern Britain at 886m.

August sees an annual Brecon Jazz Festival. Concerts are held in both open air and indoor venues, including the town's market hall and the recently opened 400-seat Theatr Brycheiniog.

Brecon's Speakers Club Brecon Speakers Club opened in January 2008.

Military town

The east end of town also has two military establishments:
  • Dering Lines, home to the Infantry Battle School (formerly Infantry Training Centre Wales), where Infantry Officers and Other Ranks are trained, and
  • The Barracks, home to 160th Brigade.
Eight miles to the west of Brecon is Sennybridgemarker Training Area, an important training facility for the British Army.

Cattle market

The west end of Brecon has a small industrial area, and recent years have seen the cattle market moved from the centre of the town to this area, with markets held several times a week.


Brecon has many primary schools, with a secondary school and further education college (Coleg Powysmarker) on the northern edge of the town. Due to Brecon being a rural area, bus trips of over an hour are not uncommon for pupils making their way to school. The town is also home to Christ Collegemarker, a private boarding and day school with a strong academic, sporting and musical tradition.


Brecon is located near where the east-west A40 (Monmouthmarker-Carmarthenmarker-Fishguardmarker) meets the north-south A470 (Cardiffmarker-Merthyr Tydfilmarker-Llandudnomarker). The nearest airport is Cardiff Airportmarker.

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canalmarker runs for 32 miles between Brecon and Pontypoolmarker. It then continues to Newportmarker. The canal was built between 1797 and 1812 to link Brecon with Newport and the Severn Estuary.

The canal basin in Brecon was re-developed in the 1990s and is now the site of Theatre Brycheiniog.

Former railways

The Neath and Brecon Railway reached Brecon in 1867, terminating at Free Street. By this point, Brecon already had two other railway stations:

Through services from the Midlands ceased in 1930, while services to Neath ended in October 1962.

Town twinning

Points of interest

Notable residents


Additional photographs

Image:Brecon shopping centre.jpg|
Brecon shopping centre



  1. Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Powys Retrieved 2009-11-22
  2. Castles of Wales
  3. Davies (2008), pg80.
  4. Brecon
  5. Welcome to the new British Army Website - British Army Website
  6. Victorian Brecon - railway stations

External links

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