Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 12:42 UK

Trail follows footsteps of famous

Rachel Roberts and the blue plaque on the house where she was born
Actress Rachel Roberts who starred in films such as This Sporting Life and Picnic at Hanging Rock and was married to Rex Harrison was born on Tyisha Road

In the last five years almost 40 blue plaques have been erected commemorating famous people, events and industries in Llanelli.

The birth place of Hollywood actress Rachel Roberts, the site of the old Royalty Theatre where Charlie Chaplin performed and the town's once booming tinplate industry have all been marked.

This week sees the launch of a new book creating a trail for anyone wanting to follow the story of the town and its people.

The book and the plaques themselves are the work of a small group of volunteers who formed Llanelli Community Heritage on St David's Day 2004.

Chairman John Wynne Hopkins said: "We formed the group to do this project because we felt it needed to be done.

"It all started by looking at famous people, which is what London did.

Famous people with blue plaques in Llanelli
Rachel Roberts - actress - born in Llanelli
James Dickson Innes - Welsh landscape painter - born in Llanelli
Amelia Earhart - aviator - the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane which landed near the town in June 1928
Emmeline Pankhurst - addressed a meeting of the suffragette movement at the Parish Hall in 1912
Charlie Chaplin - actor and director - performed in Llanelli
John Wesley - preacher and theologian - preached in Llanelli on eight occasions between 1766 and 1788
T.M & Walter Davies - inventors of the Stepney Wheel - manufactured in Llanelli

"We've since brought in industry and famous buildings - buildings that we've lost or that had some famous connection.

"When we started it we were being told - you will never do it - all the plaques will be destroyed with graffiti.

"But nothing has happened - I think we had graffiti on one panel which is amazing when you think where some of them are."

During the past five years they have raised almost £60,000 to carry out the research, produce and install the plaques, and also erect interpretation panels at points of major interest.

Some of the money has come from grants, but many of the plaques have been sponsored by individuals and businesses in the town.

"We thought initially it was going to be quite hard to get hold of the funding - but we are amazed we've been able to do the work we have done," added Mr Hopkins.

"We've had a lot of individual sponsorship.

"We had one of the local Indian curry houses who sponsored the John Wesley blue plaque and a local nightclub owner sponsored another."

For the last three years the group has organised a tour of the plaques on an open top vintage bus - and the idea of the book is that locals and visitors will now be able to follow the route on their own.

John Wesley and the Verandah Indian Restaurant
A blue plaque stands on an Indian Restaurant close to where John Wesley used to preach

"Everybody has a great time - we have a good look at all the plaques and show them where the new ones are.

"We find that as we finish one project we immediately get another area phone us up and say can you do the same for us."

Dafydd Roberts, another member of the group, said they had no intention of finishing any time soon.

"The plaques commemorate people in the area, events in the area, industry in the area," he said.

"For instance very few people knew that Llanelli was a hotbed of the Rebecca Riots.

"The purpose of the book is people can follow the plaques as a trail around the various areas of Llanelli.

"The schools already make a lot of use of the information in the blue plaque booklets.

"As we add more we'll probably have a second volume."

The Blue Plaques of Llanelli book is launched at the St Elli Shopping Centre at 1030 BST on Saturday.

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