Introduction to Flannel Street
GENERAL BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION TO FLANNEL STREET
(This information taken from original Abergavenny Local History Society Survey 1980)
The street once linked Cross Street (the main thoroughfare of the walled medieval town) to
Castle Street, which was probably the centre of the prehistoric settlement and later (11th
and 12th centuries), the main street in the first planted Norman town of Bergevensis.
In the early 1960s, the western end (along with most of Castle Street and Tudor Street) was
demolished to make way for the building of the main Post Office. Before rebuilding began,
the Abergavenny Archaeology Group carried out a rescue excavation and found pottery and a
flint arrow head of the Bronze Age, which confirmed the site of a prehistoric settlement.
In the final weeks of the excavation, the north-west gateway and ditch of the Roman Fort of
Gobannium were discovered. (See Excavation Report in Monmouthshire Antiquary Volume III,
Part II, 1972-73)
The line of Flanel Street almost exactly followed the line of the Roman ditch.
The name “Flannel Street” comes from the flannel mill which stood on the site of the
present Boots Store (nos. 1 and 2 Cross Street). Part of one of its looms was still in
place in 1960 before the 1970 demolition of the building that housed it, for an extension
to the Burgess’ ironmongery store. When flannel weaving declined in the town and Newton
(Powys) became the main centre of the Welsh wool weaving industry, “Abergavenny” flannel
continued to be made there.
The Cross Street notes consider the possibility of steps at one time blocking the roadway
from the top end of Cross Street through to High Street . If they did exist, then Flannel
Street would have been the only way through from Cross Street to the medieval market
triangle bounded by Nevill Street, High Street and St John’s Street.
On the 1834 map, the street is named Flannel, but on the 1800 map, it is named Butcher’s
Row. Medieval streets often contained tradesmen of one kind. The name Butcher’s Row,
and not Flannel Street, appears in St Mary’s Parish Registers from the first Volume (date
?1558) and certainly from 1650s.
In the 19th century, it contained a large number of eating houses, five butcher’s shops and
a slaughter house.
Only the odd numbers 1-7 remain on the north side of the street. The even numbers on the
south side were all demolished in 1968.