Plas-y-Mor today


As you walk the coastal path from Burry Port harbour to Pembrey harbour you pass an isolated dejected looking house overlooking the estuary and the golf course. What are the origins of the house? Who lived there and what is it its history?
It was built in 1935 for socialite Milly Gravell as her dream house when she married David Brinley Morris, a local, well known successful lawyer who was also Clerk to Burry Port Urban District Council and Pembrey Parish Council.

Milly had expensive tastes and shocked the local community with a fast car and fashionable London clothes. They entertained lavishly in their new home but were not destined to enjoy this heady lifestyle for long. War came in 1939 and Milly and Brinley generously entertained officers from the nearby Pembrey Airfield.

The Ministry of Supply requisitioned Plas-y-Mor and all its grounds in 1942 and the house underwent major building alterations both inside and out. It became the club house for the workers at the Royal Ordnance Factory and the airmen stationed at Pembrey Aerodrome.

In the light of unrest in Europe in 1935 Government officials began looking for sites for aerodromes. They visited Cae David Farm between Pembrey and Kidwelly and in 1937 began to build Pembrey Aerodrome. Also around this time Nobel’s Explosives Manufacturing Co., which had produced high explosives during WW1, was re-opened as the Royal Ordnance Factory. It was one of four factories in Britain producing TNT and employed 3,000 men and women who all had to be housed locally. Prefabs, known in the area as The Hostels were built on land which once formed the gardens and fields of Plas-y-Mor.

Later the area became known as Benghazi, a nickname given to the site which included the clubhouse and the Hostels. A soldier on leave from the North African campaign remarked it was such a busy bustling place that it was just like Benghazi – the name stuck.

The buildings were functional and cosy, but not very attractive. As there was a housing shortage the prefabs were homes to many families after the war. The whole site was demolished in the early 1970s and Tan-y-Bryn housing estate built to replace it.

As for Plas-y-Mor itself, Milly and her husband did briefly return but eventually sold it in 1947.

Ellen Davies  
December 2018